News to know: SOPA, Net neutrality, UK online outlaws, Google's effect on spying

News to know -- November 14-18: 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.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

This week has been dominated by European resolution changes, legal disputes and changes to the online principles we all hold dear.

But as always, we reach the end of the week and realise that there was so much more to cover, to take heed of, and to understand about our partners in London, the UK and wider Europe.

Europe ‘on track’ to adopt net neutrality rules

The European Parliament this week saw a majority vote in favour of adopting a resolution on net neutrality. This forms as a further bid to enable every bit, byte and packet that travels within the European web to be treated fairly and equally, and not favour one kind of traffic over another

A hot topic and controversial point for many Internet regulators and providers, ISPs on the whole object to net neutrality rules because it forces the adoption of traffic management technologies, which they would have to fund on the most part themselves.

UK could be affected by U.S. SOPA anti-piracy law

The controversial Stop Online Piracy Act currently being considered in the U.S. could block websites belonging to UK and European companies.

Major organisations, from Facebook to Mozilla, Microsoft and Google all stand firm against the law, which could court-order ISPs and search companies into taking offensive action against sites that allege to infringe copyright.

In terms of jurisdiction, many UK and European companies run from the .com or .org domain names, which would be affected by SOPA, even outside the United States. Because these domain names are routed through the U.S., combined with the vague written nature of the proposed bill, some believe UK websites could be shut down from the U.S. web.

The European Parliament passed a resolution earlier this week in a bid to block the SOPA anti-piracy law before it is even debated, let alone ratified.

UK privacy watchdog: 'Unenforceable' right-to-delete law should not go ahead

Though European politicians are hopeful that legislation can be drafted and ratified to give European citizens the 'right to be forgotten' on the web, by forcing companies to delete data that is stored on them, the UK's data protection agency is somewhat sceptical.

In the briefing [PDF], the Information Commissioner's Office said that the 'right to be forgotten' should not be introduced, because it: "could mislead individuals and falsely raise their expectations".

UK a nation of 'accidental' online outlaws

Amid the summer riots and the super-injunction controversies, according to latest research, nearly half of all Britons are unaware of the laws over posting potentially libellous or defamatory content, or something that might be in contempt of court.

Out of the 44 percent, most failed in the copyright section of the legal knowledge test, with a third of Britons are unaware of the legalities behind uploading photos and song lyrics to social networks, in respect to copyright. While privacy was slightly higher, lack of knowledge in relation to defamation was at 42 percent.

The results shows a somewhat worrying view of the lacking understanding of the law around the web, in the same week that a British man was jailed for four years for inciting further riots on Facebook.

Former spy chief: ‘Google effect’ makes UK’s spies work harder

Sir David Pepper, former director of GCHQ, the UK's signals and electronics interception intelligence agency, warned that in a day and age of Google, Britain's spies have to work harder to produce 'genuinely secret' intelligence.

Because of street-level imagery and satellite photography from Google's respective Street View and Maps service, it in some cases makes expensive spy satellite systems redundant because the intelligence on the most part already exists on the web.

Dubbing it the "Google effect", it also adds pressure on the intelligence services, who use somewhat old-fashioned technologies on the face of it -- compared to modern publicly available mapping services, because politicians and officials were demanding it quicker than ever before.

Adding a warning to the younger generations, he said: "You can find out a lot about potential spies without ever meeting them, simply by looking at their online footprints", suggesting that the digital trail from online communities and social networks is making the selection process harder.

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