Tag: France

French Windows privacy slammed

c3f9850de05b9d4e64c50e5353a17117The French government is furious that Windows 10 appears to collect rather too much user data.

France’s National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) has order Microsoft to comply with the French Data Protection Act within three months. and “stop collecting excessive data and tracking browsing by users without their consent.”

In addition to this, the chair of CNIL has notified Microsoft that it needs to take “satisfactory measures to ensure the security and confidentiality of user data”. The notice comes after numerous complaints about Windows 10, and a series of investigations by French authorities which revealed a number of failings on Microsoft’s part.

Microsoft is accused of not only gathering excessive data about users, but also irrelevant data. The CNIL points to Windows 10’s telemetry service which gathers information about the apps users have installed and how long each is used for. The complaint is that “these data are not necessary for the operation of the service”.

The company is also criticised for its lack of sufficient security — such as the four-digit PIN used to protect payment information which does not have a limit on the number of guesses that can be made. The CNIL’s list of complaints does not end there. It also took exception to the activation of an advertising ID for tailored advertising without user consent, the lack of cookie blocking options, and the fact that data is being transferred out of Europe to the US.

In a statement, the CNIL said:

Given the above, the Chair of the CNIL has decided to issue a formal notice to Microsoft Corporation to comply with the Act within three months. This proceedings only commits French Data protection authority. The other data protection authorities belonging to the WP29 Contact group are continuing their investigations within their respective national procedures.

The purpose of the notice is not to prohibit any advertising on the company’s services but, rather, to enable users to make their choice freely, having been properly informed of their rights.

It has been decided to make the formal notice public due to, among other reasons, the seriousness of the breaches and the number of individuals concerned (more than ten million Windows users on French territory).

Vole is probably not too concerned. It fully expects the cheese munching surrender monkeys to back down when the three month deadline it is up, but if France’s objection is heard by the Germans, who are a lot more earnest about privacy then it might have a fight on its hands.

Facebook angers the Berlin courts

what-we-learned-about-facebook-ceo-mark-zucke-L-gl5gYRA regional court in Berlin found that the social notworking site Facebook had not changed its terms and conditions statement to adequately address intellectual property concerns.

The court fined Facebook $109,000 a week after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s visited Berlin to collect the first ever Axel Springer Award for entrepreneurship and something people call innovation.

However, four years ago, a German court found that Facebook’s terms and conditions did not address the circumstances in which users’ intellectual property could be used by Facebook or even licensed to third parties.

The regional court in Berlin ruled today that while Facebook did change the wording of the statement on intellectual property in their terms and conditions, the message remained the same.

Facebook, however, said that the problem was with the timing. “We complied with the order to clarify a single provision in our terms concerning an IP license a while ago. The court felt we did not update our terms quickly enough and has issued a fine, which we will pay.”

However, the court’s ruling stated that the problem was not with the speed by which the clause was updated, but with the fact that the key message was never changed.

This is just one in a string of legal problems for Facebook in Germany and throughout Europe. They have been under fire for their use of facial recognition technology, which prompts users to ‘tag’ people in their photos.

In 2012, the District Court of Berlin ruled that Facebook violated user rights with its FriendFinder function, a decision which was upheld in a lower court in 2014, and again on January 15 of this year.

Facebook is also in trouble with the French authorities for suspending the account of a teacher who posted a famous nude painting.

The Austrian Supreme Court will also hear if a privacy lawsuit initiated by Viennese lawyer Max Schrems in 2014 should be treated as a class action.

French demand $1.76 billion from Google

taxmanFrance has told Google to pay $1.76 billion in back taxes after the nation said “non” to the outfit’s clever tax avoidance schemes.

Google has been getting a lot of this lately.  The British government also demanded a billion or so but thanks to David Cameron’s superior negotiating ability he managed to beat the company down until it only had to pay $181.18 million and a packet of pork scratchings.

However the French don’t appear to be surrendering this time. “As far as our country is concerned, back taxes concerning this company amount to 1.6 billion euro,” a French government official said.

French tax authority usually issues at least one preliminary assessment before its final assessment, which can be challenged in court if not accepted, tax advisers say.

Earlier this month, Finance Minister Michel Sapin ruled out striking a deal with the U.S. search engine company as the British government recently did, saying the sums at stake in France were “far greater” than those in Britain.

France, Britain and other countries have complained at the way Google, Yahoo! and other digital giants generate huge profits in their countries but have their tax base in countries such as Ireland, where corporate tax rates are far lower.

But the complaints have made little legal headway because EU tax law protects companies against paying tax in a country where they do not have what is termed a “permanent establishment”.

France says “no surrender” to Google

GermanSurrender2While the UK is pleased to let Google get away with paying trivial amounts of tax, the French who since the death of Napoleon, are not renowned for standing up to big threats are refusing to negotiate with the bullying search engine outfit.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin ruled out striking a deal with Google over back taxes as the British government recently did with the US internet giant.

“French tax authorities do not negotiate the amount of taxes owed, there is a discussion underway about which rules apply, that’s perfectly legitimate,” Sapin told journalists on the sidelines of a finance sector conference.

Sapin told the conference that the sums at stake in France were “far greater” than those in Britain, where Google reached a $187.11 million settlement for the period since 2005.

The negotiation caused an outcry particularly since the government is chasing poor people for small sums of tax but seems to have given Google a get out of jail free card for millions over the last decade.

French regret complete surrender on AZERTY

GermanSurrender2The French government is regretting letting too many people surrender to that nasty roast beef eating QWERTY keyboard and that its superior French keyboard AZERTY lacks the ability to communicate with the rest of the world.

France’s culture and communication ministry acknowledged that residents of the country are facing problems when using different keyboards within their own country, a problem the ministry said it would begin trying to solve. In a statement released this week, the ministry moaned that French keyboards, which use the AZERTY layout rather than the QWERTY layout familiar to English speakers, make it unnecessarily difficult to type common symbols and letters.

Meanwhile the 26 letters of the alphabet as well as common accented letters like é, à, è, and ù are generally represented similarly on an AZERTY keyboard, the ministry said that the @ symbol and the € symbol are inconveniently or inconsistently placed, as are commands to capitalize symbols like “ç”.

Capitalising accented letters is problem in legal texts and government documents where every letter of the names of people and businesses are capitalized. Often, an accent is the only distinguishing factor between two similarly spelled words.

The ministry said that the “hardware limitations” of the French AZERTY keyboard “have even led some of our fellow citizens to think that we should not accentuate capital letters.”
All this is leading some French writers to adopt more anglicized ways of writing and the ministry does not what its “œufs” becoming “oeufs.”

The French culture and communication ministry said that software can often overcome the limitations of the physical keyboard, and autocorrect goes a long way in helping. But they are facing the fact that it is almost impossible to write in French correctly with a keyboard marketed in France.
Then there is the small matter of regional languages like Occitan, Catalan, Breton, and Polynesian which are too hard to type.

Now the French want to come up with a new keyboard and has asked France’s standards organization AFNOR (or the Association Française de Normalisation) to study the best layout for a French-language keyboard. The deadline for a proposed layout would be this summer.

The layout will almost certainly still adhere to France’s current AZERTY layout but with some changes.

French conservatives say “non” to encryption

french-revolution-pictures-22-622x415The French Parliament is considering surrendering to a idea put forward by the conservative Republican party which would ban strong encryption.

Tech companies will have to configure their systems to allow Inspector Clouseau and other “inspectors of the ler” to have access to their data.

The amendment to the vast “Digital Republic” bill was introduced in the French National Assembly, parliament’s lower house, by eighteen politicians from the conservative Republican Party.

The Digital Republic bill, which covers everything from net neutrality to the online publication of scientific research, will be examined and debated this week along with 400 amendments to it.

The anti-encryption amendment is largely seen as a response to the two deadly Paris terrorist attacks in 2015.  The attackers repeatedly used unencrypted communications in the leadup to the killings but that does not matter.

The French government has come under sustained criticism for sacrificing liberty for security. The country has been in a state of emergency for two months, a legal status that gives President François Hollande vast new law-enforcement powers.So it appears that Hollande cant win.


Nokia gets key internet link

wellington-bootAlcatel-Lucent is refusing to sell  its undersea cables unit, which means that the former rubber boot maker Nokia will get its paws on the operation after completing its acquisition of the Franco-American group.

Nokia is spending $17 billion on Alcatel-Lucent as it wants to better compete with market leader Ericsson and low-cost Chinese powerhouse Huawei.

Alcatel had previously planned to sell a majority stake in Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN) or list the business separately. However it now opted to keep the unit instead.

The division, which has facilities in Calais, France and Greenwich, Britain, on the site where the world’s first transatlantic cable was manufactured in 1858, will become part of Nokia.

Ministers had thought of asking the French sovereign fund to take a stake in ASN, to ensure it keeps activities that are strategic to France’s surveillance apparatus on French soil.

But Alcatel-Lucent said France had surrendered on the idea of fighting against the submarine cable unit being bought by Nokia.

“We constantly exchange with the government, they are aware of our decision,” the spokesman said. “This will be part of discussions, but there was no objection,” a spokesman said. .

ASN has more than 575,000 kilometers of fiber-optic cable systems deployed worldwide, along with the maintenance of 330,000 kilometers of undersea systems.

France says Google must remember to forget

google-logo-art-image-hdThe French government has rejected Google’s request that it surrender and forget about a ruling extending the “right to be forgotten” to all Google’s websites.

The French has demanded that Google  close a loophole that let searchers  defeat a judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) last year.

CJEU has recognised the right to be forgotten in May 2014, allowing people to ask search engines to not display certain links resulting from a search on their name.

The CJEU case was triggered by a Spanish lawyer asking that Google no longer respond to a search on his name with links to a years old administrative announcement in a local newspaper concerning the court-ordered auction of his property to pay debts.

The right to be forgotten isn’t about erasing such traces just making them harder to find.

There’s also a public interest exception so newspaper reporters, and ordinary citizens for that matter, won’t have to spend weeks combing paper archives for evidence of politicians’ past misdeeds.

Google removed certain results on request from searches performed on google.fr, google.co.uk and its other European sites, and even providing an online tool to make it easier for people to request removal of links to information about them.

But the disputed links continues to be displayed on google.com, giving anyone who wanted uncensored search results an easy way around the court ruling.

That annoyed the French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL), the country’s privacy watchdog, which in May this year ordered Google to conceal disputed search results across all its sites.

Google filed an informal appeal against that order in July, arguing that the order amounted to censorship, would restrict the public’s right to information, and sought to extend French law outside French borders.

However now CNIL turned down Google’s request, saying it considered Google’s various domain names merely as different paths to the same processing operation; limiting the right to be forgotten only to some domains would make it easy to circumvent.

CNIL also rejected Google’s accusation that it was going beyond its jurisdiction, saying that it just wants non-European companies to respect European laws when offering their services in Europe.


French government wants to surrender to Big Content

GermanSurrender2The French Government, which is desperate to surrender to Big Content, is trying to enable the credit card companies to stop payments to businesses the movie and music business do not like.

Fleur Pellerin, France’s Minister of Culture and Communication, initially suggested that payments to and from pirate sites should be blocked where possible. Now it seems the plan is that Big Content provides a list of whoever it does not like and these are automatically blacklisted by credit card companies.

Several leading online payment processors including PayPal, Visa and MasterCard discussed a possible pirate blacklist agreement with copyright holders. Most services already prohibit copyright infringing services in their terms of use, but the new plan would go beyond current measures.

Basically it would mean that without a police investigation, trial, or any due process, a content holder can make an allegation based on spectral evidence and shut down a business.

According to Minister Pellerin both parties are working on a voluntary agreement which would see copyright holders create and maintain a “pirate site” blacklist. The payment providers will then use this list to prevent sites from signing up or to terminate current accounts.

“The copyright holders will be able to report structurally infringing websites to payment processors, using their own skills and tools,” Pelerin claims.

He claims that the copyright holders are the experts when it comes to spotting pirates so effectively their word should be good enough.

“In other words, the lists will be made by educated professionals and the actual blocking will follow soon after,” Pellerin claimed.

So the new plan differs in that the blacklist would not receive Government oversight. Some people fear that without proper oversight the blacklist may become too broad and destroy businesses which are not deemed illegal by any court.

Brits lead way on watching less TV

old-school-tvA survey from IHS looked at major European TV viewing habits and found that Brits watch less conventional TV than ever before.

IHS surveyed people in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The Europeans watch far less TV than the USA, with Americans averaging nearly six hours every day. The data is based in viewing habits in 2014, contrasted with 2013.

In contrast, British people watch less than three hours a day, but have shifted to catch up and recorded programmes.

The French spend 216 minutes watching broadcast TV a day but the speed of online growth is slower than in the UK.

In Germany, traditional broadcasting remains strong, while in Italy people watch more broadcast than before. The Spanish watched an average of 242 minutes of TV every day, but online video viewing has grown by 24 percent.

American people watch 531 minutes of TV a day and IHS believes that while Europeans turn on the radio for background noise, US citizens would rather switch on the telly.