Tag Archives | European Union

Why ‘National Security’ Is a Fallacy

National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_Maryland

Ian Sanjay Patel writes at Middle East Eye:

Despite the expiration of a Section of the US Patriot Act on 1 June, the ongoing influence and legacy of the Act continues to be felt around the world. Following 2001, dozens of countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe drafted counterterrorism laws in its image. As I write this, controversial new counterterrorism legislation – criticised for its arbitrary fault line between terrorism and political dissent – has been passed or is now being considered in Saudi Arabia, Kenya and the UK.

Deliberate vagueness

UK government guidance on its Counterterrorism and Security Act, which came into force in February this year, refers to “extremist organisations” and “extremist ideology” with a deliberate vagueness that is characteristic of the “war on terror”. The Act – without sufficiently defining terrorism and insinuating itself into a vast number of public spheres in the process – imposes a “prevent duty” on professionals working in schools, universities and the health care system to “prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

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Politicians or central bankers: who runs the world?

401(K) 2012 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

401(K) 2012 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Mark Beeson, University of Western Australia

Global governance sounds like a good idea. Solving the sorts of “collective action problems” that are an inescapable part of geographically dispersed activities – especially economic ones – is something only some sort of supranational authority can do.

Until relatively recently we looked primarily to states to provide the institutional and legal infrastructure that allowed people to conduct commercial relationships with strangers. Now, when economic activities and relationships are increasingly transnational, states cannot provide such a regulatory framework – or they can’t on their own, at least.

Not all states are alike, of course, and some have a much greater capacity to influence the way economic activities are conducted, especially within national borders, than others. But even the most powerful states are now subjected to pressures and constraints that they’ve never faced before.

True, the US still exerts more influence over the structure and practices of the international economic system than anyone else, but even the world’s current hegemon finds its power constrained.… Read the rest

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A Pirate Is Transforming EU Copyright Law

Sarah Kaufman reports on Julia Reda, “the German Pirate changing Europe’s copyright law so that it makes sense in the year 2015,” for Vocativ:

The European Union’s law on copyright is ashamedly pre-Internet. It takes into account the Internet as it existed in 2001, the year the law was created. That’s why some countries in the EU allow people to view Netflix and some don’t. It’s why it’s technically illegal in Italy to take a picture of an architectural masterpiece and post it to Facebook. And it’s why posting GIFs that use snippets of TV footage can be a crime in some parts of Europe.

Julia Reda (at right). Photo: Photo: Greens/EFA (CC)

Julia Reda (at right). Photo: Photo: Greens/EFA (CC)

Hundreds of thousands of Europeans are fed up with the outdated copyright laws. In recent years, activists for civil liberties on the Internet have begun trying to bring European copyright law up to date. Just to give you an idea, the law details the boundaries of using materials on CD-ROMS—which, yeah, you get the picture.

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Billions of Dollars + Zero Wisdom = Google Hires Resident Philosopher

Picture of italian philosopher Luciano Floridi (Stefano Oreschi via Wikimedia Commons).

Picture of italian philosopher Luciano Floridi (Stefano Oreschi via Wikimedia Commons).

via Pacific Standard:

How an Oxford don is helping the tech giant understand the nature of modern identity—and stay out of court.

One day this past September, Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, sat down with a group of experts in Madrid to begin publicly discussing how Google should respond to a recent, perplexing ruling by the European Union’s Court of Justice. In May, the court had declared that, in accordance with the European “right to be forgotten,” individuals within the E.U. should be able to prohibit Google and other search firms from linking to personal information that is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive.”

In an age of revenge porn, social media gaffes, and all the infinite varieties of embarrassment that can attend one’s name in a Google search, the ruling was, in spirit, an attempt to keep ordinary Europeans from being unduly tyrannized by an Internet that, famously, never forgets.

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EU Rules Obesity Can Count As Disability

Just when you thought that the obese were the last large class of people left unprotected by discrimination laws, the European Union Court of Justice has ruled that if the obesity of a worker “hinders the full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers”, then obesity can fall within the concept of “disability.” From BBC News:

Obesity can constitute a disability in certain circumstances, the EU’s highest court has ruled.

The European Court of Justice was asked to consider the case of a male childminder in Denmark who says he was sacked for being too fat.

Grasa-abdominal-cintura.jpg

Photo Fj.toloza992 (CC)

The court said that if obesity could hinder “full and effective participation” at work then it could count as a disability.

The ruling is binding across the EU…

Clive Coleman, the BBC’s legal correspondent, comments:

Today’s ruling was of great interest to employers across Europe.

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A New Privacy Deal is in the Works Between US & EU

Flags_of_European_UnionRelations are somewhat tense between the European Union and the United States after the US was caught spying on EU countries. The Obama administration is now trying to quell any mistrust with a new privacy deal.

European Union citizens who have experienced breaches in their online privacy at the hands of state authorities while in the U.S. could be protected by American laws, under plans announced on Wednesday.

In a move that paves the way for a key data protection deal between the two governments, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration is looking to extend the guarantees made under the country’s Privacy Act to EU citizens. Currently, Europeans are not protected under this law, which allows U.S. citizens to see and correct records about themselves and challenge the misuse of the information.

‘Legislative action by the U.S. Congress establishing enforceable judicial redress rights for Europeans in the U.S.

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EU Countries To Include Drugs, Sex & Other Illegal Activities In GDP

Red Light District, Amsterdam (2168145535)Well that’s one way to boost your country’s reported economic output. One wonders whether or not each European Union nation will break down the vice trade by component so that we can see growth trends in, say, prostitution. From Bloomberg News:

Europe has a new source of economic growth. In the next few months all European Union countries that do not already include drugs, prostitution, and other illegal and gray-market businesses in their gross domestic product calculations will have to do so.

The 2010 version of the European System of Accounts becomes obligatory for GDP reporting by EU member states in September. It states unequivocally that “illegal economic actions shall be considered as transactions when all units involved enter the actions by mutual agreement. Thus, purchases, sales or barters of illegal drugs or stolen property are transactions, while theft is not.”

The ostensible goal is to make countries’ economic data comparable.

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The Right to be Forgotten

Body painting - Search boxMuch has been written this week about the so-called “Right to be Forgotten” in the wake of the Court of Justice of the European Union decision requiring Google to “listen and sometimes comply when individuals request the removal of links to newspaper articles or websites containing their personal information.

But what exactly is this “right”? Jeffrey Rosen, Professor of Law, The George Washington University and Legal Affairs Editor, The New Republic, wrote an article addressing exactly that question in the Stanford Law Review in 2012 (remember to think about who the author and publisher are!):

At the end of January, the European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights, and Citizenship, Viviane Reding, announced the European Commission’s proposal to create a sweeping new privacy right—the “right to be forgotten.” The right, which has been hotly debated in Europe for the past few years, has finally been codified as part of a broad new proposed data protection regulation.

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Banks brace for €1.7bn EU fines over Libor

a_drop_in_the_bucket

I don’t know about you, but this seems like a public ceremonial slap on the wrist for some people who should be thrown in prison.

via The Telegraph

Some of the world’s biggest banks are to be “fined a record €1.7bn” (£1.4bn) by European authorities to settle allegations of rigging benchmark borrowing rates used to set the price of trillions of dollars of financial products, according to reports.

The European Union competition authorities could announce the penalties as early as Wednesday, with up to 10 banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale, expected to settle cases, according to the Financial Times.

EU officials have been investigating claims that several large banks attempted to manipulate yen and euro-denominated Libor rates as part of an international probe.

Deutsche Bank and RBS are said to be facing fines for manipulating both rates, while other banks will settle claims related to just one of the rates.

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NSA Spies On 500 Million German Calls, Emails, Or Messages Each Month

nsa spiesIt’s not just Americans having their every move captured by the NSA, but vast numbers of people in countries such as Germany, France, China, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are being specifically targeted as well. This, plus the American government’s alleged tapping and bugging of foreign embassies and EU offices, are now threatening to unravel U.S.-European trade agreements. DER SPIEGEL reports:

Secret documents viewed by SPIEGEL reveal that the American NSA intelligence service monitors around half a billion telephone calls, emails and text messages in the country every month.

The data stored by the NSA includes telephone calls, emails, mobile-phone text messages and chat transcripts. The metadata — or information about which call or data connections were made and when — is then stored at the NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, near Washington, DC.

The documents also show that the NSA is primarily interested in important Internet hubs in southern and western Germany.

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