Tag Archives | European Union

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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UK Gov. Plans to Win Hearts & Minds for GMO Farming

Get ready, UK residents: Your government wants you to take a fresh look at GMO farming:

via New Scientist GM-Tomato, GMO, Farming

Shifting opinions on genetically modified crops in Europe will require more than government-led conversation, says policy communication researcher Matthew Nisbet

In a carefully crafted speech, UK environment minister Owen Paterson announced that the government would be leading “a more informed discussion” on genetically modified (GM) crops and that he was “conscious of the views of those who have concerns and who need reassurance on this matter”.

His remarks signal that the UK wants to build support for GM crops despite there being an effective moratorium on their use in Europe. But no matter how well framed the messages might be from political leaders, other engagement strategies and voices are needed if it is to succeed.

A recent British Science Association survey suggests that when prompted to consider the benefits to human health and the environment, a strong majority of the British public are supportive of GM crops.

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European Union To Ban Pesticides Linked To Mass Bee Deaths

bee deaths

Via the BBC:

The European Commission will restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee deaths by researchers, despite a split among EU states on the issue. Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and other pollinators.

There is great concern across Europe about the collapse of bee populations. A report published by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in January concluded that the pesticides posed a “high acute risk” to pollinators, including honeybees.

There was ferocious lobbying both for and against in the run-up to Monday’s vote. Nearly three million signatures were collected in support of a ban. Chemical companies and pesticide manufacturers have been lobbying hard – they argue that the science is inconclusive, and that a ban would harm food production.

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Thatcher’s Legacy: Austerity and the Attack on the Poor and Vulnerable

Mob

Via orwellwasright:

If there’s one thing the British government and its media mouthpieces can rely on it’s a general public who are quite happy to spread their propaganda for them – not since the riots of 2011 have I witnessed such a degree of slavish, unthinking  repetition of falsehoods and lies as can be seen on forums and social media networks in response to the recent wave of cuts to the welfare system. This feeling of despair at the gullibility of the general public was compounded by the response by many to the death of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher; the gushing eulogies and beautification of a woman who supported brutal dictators such as Pol Pot and Idonesia’s General Suharto, while decimating British industry. It’s as if people have lost the ability to think for themselves, finding comfort in a patently false narrative which blames the victims of savage austerity while simultaneously ignoring or excusing the crimes of the rich and powerful.… Read the rest

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The 147 People Destroying the World

Richard (R.J.) Eskow writes at Alternet:

Can 147 people perpetuate economic injustice – and make it even worse? Can they subvert the workings of democracy, both abroad and here in the United States? Can 147 people hijack the global economy, plunder the environment, build a world for themselves that serves the few and deprives the many?

There must be some explanation for last week’s economic madness. Take a look:

Cyprus: The European Union acted destructively – and self-destructively – when it tried to seize a portion of the insured savings accounts of the citizens of Cyprus. They were telling anyone with a savings account in the financially troubled nations of the Eurozone: Forget your guaranteed deposits. If we need your money in order to bail out the big banks – banks which have already gambled recklessly with it – we’ll take it.

That didn’t just create a political firestorm in Cyprus. It threatened the European Union’s banking system, and perhaps the Union itself.

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Romania Strikes Back

In response to recent anti-immigration comments by the eurosceptic UK Independence Party, Romanian newspaper Gandul has launched a tongue-in-cheek ad campaign to promote British tourism to the eastern European country. Featuring the tag line “We may not like Britain, but you’ll love Romania!” the ads eviscerate stereotypes of British life from bland cuisine to bad weather.

   

 

The UK Independence Party – which has 12 of Britain’s 73 seats in the European Parliament – has been outspoken in opposition to immigration from eastern Europe.

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