News to know: EU investigates Google, Irish SOPA, Mobile bill shock, Twitter data mining

Summary:News to know -- February 23-March 2: A look back at the news from London, the UK and wider Europe, on all the bits that were missed during the week's coverage.

Can you hear that? That's the sound of a writer's echo, for reasons being that last week I was far from London, and instead cheating on my home capital with two U.S. cities.

Despite one's rather potent jetlag and the body clock mismatch of not being on Greenwich Mean Time, it has been far from a quiet week for UK and European news. Here's what you need to know.

Google investigated by European authorities over probable law breach

Search giant Google is being investigated by French authorities under the instruction of European regulators, after it was found to be most likely in breach of European law when it combined and consolidated its privacy policy.

Google brought into effect its new privacy policy for all its online services on March 1st despite warnings from European, Japanese, and South Korean authorities that the changes breached local laws.

But until Europe's new data laws come into effect in the coming years, currently under European Parliament scrutiny, Google will likely face meaninglessly small fines compared to a fine of a potential 2 percent of its global annual turnover.

Ireland's 'SOPA' brought into force, despite European opposition

While SOPA remains on the Congressional shelf, its spin-off little 'Big Brother' bill has passed in Ireland. Irish authorities have denied that it would lead to the blocking of websites, but if the UK's legal challenges against torrent sites are anything to go by, many remain skeptical.

Dubbed the "Irish SOPA", but officially named the European Union Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2012, it allows copyright holders to request court injunctions against ISPs and enforce blocks on websites in the country.

While Spain has already suffered at the hands of U.S. lobbying and threats of trade sanctions, it is not clear whether Ireland fell to the same fate. Having said that, the European Parliament and Europe's digital agenda chief Neelie Kroes both made it clear that while it supports copyright enforcement, it was against SOPA-like legislation.

Then again, even the European Commission has been under the thumb of the U.S. by the "fierce" lobbying of its data law proposals.

UK telecoms regulator seeking roaming cap changes to avoid 'bill shock'

Have you ever been abroad, only to return with a phone bill that has almost had your jaw hit the floor with surprise? Any seasoned traveller will know to add a bolt-on or tariff change to their mobile account before they travel. But with the rising costs of data and increase capping, many still underestimate the final cost at the end of their monthly billing cycle.

Dubbed "bill shock", costs between European countries --- while still a single market economy --- remain incredibly high. European regulators currently cap a user's bill at €50 a month when roaming in the EU. But UK telecoms regulator Ofcom wants that to change, and is in consultations with mobile network operators.

Let's just hope the European's and the U.S. mobile networks strike a deal, because if I pay any more than $215 for seven days again, I think my head will explode.

Twitter 'sells your data' for data mining, archiving

The microblogging giant has opened up the doors to its archive to UK firm DataSift, allowing private third-party firms to access a vast amount of historical Twitter data for marketing analysis. ZDNet's Eileen Brown explains that it also includes users' location data and "information on the links that [users] post in tweets".

Twitter donated an archive of every public tweet ever made since its 2006 founding to the U.S. Library of Congress. But this new commercial venture has already sparked controversy and anger from users. DataSift has over 1,000 companies already on an access waiting list.

It just goes to show that even though 99 percent of tweets may be "noisy" or "irrelevant", companies will still pay vast sums for seemingly unimportant information.

Related:

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Wi-Fi

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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