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FTC: We Don’t Need No Steenkin’ Net Neutrality

Yesterday, Ars Technica (man, I love cool Latin blog names!) covered a report on Net Neutrality by the Federal Trade Commission’s Internet Access Task Force. The report, “Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy,” minimizes the debate, noting that there are few current problems in the area.

In a statement, FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras said:

This report recommends that policy makers proceed with caution in the evolving, dynamic industry of broadband Internet access, which generally is moving toward more – not less – competition. In the absence of significant market failure or demonstrated consumer harm, policy makers should be particularly hesitant to enact new regulation in this area.

Court Ruling Could Force Search Engines to Track and Hand Over Private Data

A court ruling against TorrentSpy could create a dangerous precedent that would require other search engines and ISPs to create and store user data.

With privacy advocates already concerned that Google’s keeping data for 18 months, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pressing a California court to overturn a ruling that would make it a requirement for internet companies keep sensitive data and hand it over in a civil lawsuit.

The ruling came in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by motion picture studios against TorrentSpy, a popular search engine that indexes materials made publicly available via the Bit Torrent file sharing protocol. TorrentSpy has never logged its visitors’ Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Notwithstanding this explicit privacy policy, a federal magistrate judge has now ordered TorrentSpy to activate logging and turn the logged data over to the studios.

“This unprecedented ruling has implications well beyond the file sharing context,” EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry said.

German Gmail Users, Achtung!

If you live in Germany and you are a Gmail user, it might be time to start considering backing up any important emails. A post over at Google Blogoscoped reported yesterday that Google is threatening to discontinue Gmail due to a recently passed German law.

The Blogoscoped article states:

”According to this law, email services [in Germany] will be forced to maintain personally identifiable records attached to email accounts. What exactly this might mean for Google I don’t know, but perhaps it would result in Gmail having to start requiring full addresses (and perhaps even having to verify an address by sending a snail mail to the user).”

The news was originally reported by the German news source Heise Online. The Heise article, which is written completely in German, can be found here.

Thank Google for Any Delays to Microsoft Vista Service Pack 1

Microsoft has proved the value in the saying “easier to ask for forgiveness than permission,” when it comes to Vista. After Google complained to the Justice Department that Vista unfairly made it difficult to use a desktop search tool other than Microsoft’s own “Instant Search”, the company has acquiesced and agreed to make changes when it releases Vista Service Pack 1.

So, we can all thank Google for delaying the release of Vista SP 1. Why? If you were Microsoft, would you be in a hurry to change Vista from its default Microsoft offering? We’ll likely not see SP 1 until the end of the year, giving MSFT almost 12 months to switch computer users over to Instant Search.

It’s a crafty move and proves there’s value in simply seeing what you can get away with.

Class Action Lawsuit Against Google’s YouTube Adds Plaintiffs

It looks like England’s Football Association Premier League, has found some support in its class action lawsuit against YouTube.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that France’s tennis federation, a French soccer league and a music publisher have all thrown their hats into the ring.

Federation Francaise de Tennis, Ligue de Football Professione and Cherry Lane Music Publishing Co., which owns rights to music catalogues for artists such as Elvis Presley and Quincy Jones, said in a statement they “join and strongly support” the copyright- infringement claims against YouTube and Google.

Google Privacy Debate Hits Australia

The recent concern surrounding privacy laws is now making waves in Australia.

The European Union announced last week it was investigating whether Google has breached European privacy laws, and now the Australian privacy experts have added their opinion, as reported in the Australian Financial Review:

“Australians using US-based internet search engines are exposing themselves to privacy laws that are routinely bypassed by the US government and opening themselves to invasions of privacy that would never be allowed in other countries”

The issue here, the Aussie experts say, is that US privacy laws are different to Australian ones, and that Google could at any time be forced to give up the information they are holding to the US government. Of course, Google maintains that they have legitimate reasons for collecting information about internet users, but Australians are now being warned that US-based search engines, particularly Google, may be breaching their privacy rights.

GoDaddy Inherits RegisterFly’s Domains

GoDaddy will inherit some 850,000 of the domains originally registered by RegisterFly according to this week’s ICANN agreement. RegisterFly has been struggling for some time. Last month, a federal judge issued an injunction enabling ICANN to terminate RegisterFly’s accreditation. This came after many different problems and customer complaints, not the least of which were fraud accusations.

E-Commerce Times describes one of the fiascoes well:

Those problems include allegations of fraud and that RegisterFly aggressively cajoled customers to purchase upgraded services. Some customers complained to ICANN that they missed deadlines for renewal of domains, only to see those domains transferred to a company owned by RegisterFly CEO Kevin Medina, who then offered to sell the domains back at a higher price.