Protesters in Brussels call for an end to ACTA. Photo licensed CC by Josef Weidenholzer.
Welcome to our weekly series, highlighting the most newsworthy events under the Open Technology Initiative’s three key areas: Freedom of Expression, Spectrum Policy, and Privacy and Security. Contact us with story ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org
Freedom of Expression: European Parliament Trade Committee Rejects ACTA Treaty
The battle over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) took another turn this week. On Thursday, the European Parliament Trade Committee voted to recommend rejecting the agreement, which has sparked fierce resistance from civil society because of the nature of its intellectual property enforcement provisions. Opponents say that the final wording of the treaty could threaten access to legitimate content and force ISPs to police their own users.
By a vote of 19 to 12, the Trade Committee voted to adopt David Martin’s draft opinion proposing to reject ACTA. The trade committee is the fourth committee to recommend that the European Parliament vote down the treaty, which has been effectively been placed on life support due EU resistance, despite the fact that a number of countries, including the United States, have already signed it. In February, thousands of people took to the streets in Europeto protest the agreement, sparking a wave of change in public opinion about certain provisions of the treaty. Since then, the fight against ACTA has continued, with more and more members of the European Parliament expressing their reservations. The full parliamentary plenary vote is scheduled for July 3.
Read more about how the European Parliament trade committee gives ACTA thumbs down.
More articles related to freedom of expression:
Privacy and Security: Facebook acquires facial recognition startup
On Monday, Facebook announced that it would acquire Face.com, an Israeli startup that develops a mobile face recognition platform. The move will likely make it even easier for mobile users to tag photos automatically, raising concerns about privacy and what Facebook plans to do with the data.
The federal government has already begun the practice of asking Facebook for copies of all photographs in which a user is tagged when it issues a warrant to Facebook, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote to Ars Technica. The FBI is also interested in acquiring as many face images as possible as it builds out the facial recognition capabilities of its Next Generation Identification biometrics database. These concerns, among others, have raised red flags about what both Facebook and Face.com plan to do with the data they acquire and how it will be protected.
Read more about Facebook’s latest acquisition.
More articles related to privacy and security:
Spectrum Policy: House Dems Call For Verizon-SpectrumCo Hearings Again
Top Democrats from the Energy and Commerce Committee in the US House of Representatives have renewed their call for a hearing to look into the Verizon-SpectrumCo wireless spectrum sale. Representatives Henry Waxman and Anna Eshoo reminded their respective subcommittee chairs that it has been almost two months since they first asked for a hearing on the deal and joint marketing plan.
The Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice are currently vetting Verizon's proposed $3.9 billion purchase of spectrum from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox and Bright House. Verizon has claimed the deal will free up unused spectrum for the benefit of consumers, while critics argue that it will increase concentration and ultimately decrease competition among cable and wireless companies. The AWS spectrum in question was purchased at auction in 2006.
Read more about the call for Verizon-SpectrumCo hearings.
More articles related to spectrum policy:
Other relevant tech news: