EU order against Google opens new doors for mobile industry

A European Union antitrust judgment against Google on Wednesday invites more competition from software developers including Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Samsung Electronics Co (005930.KS), but still leaves them at an disadvantage, industry executives and analysts told Reuters. The EU found that the Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) unit illegally bolstered its dominance in the mobile business since 2011 by forcing Android device makers to pre-install Google Search and its Chrome browser together with its Google Play app store, paying them to pre-install only Google Search, and blocking them from using modified versions of Android. The ruling aims to open the door for Samsung, Lenovo Corp and other phone makers that have been tied to selling devices full of Google applications to start using some alternative software from the likes of Microsoft and Amazon without the device losing too much of its consumer appeal, according to EU press statements and EU sources on condition of anonymity. Smartphone vendors could even charge the other software makers to have their browsers or search engines set as the default on Android smartphones, said Ian Fogg, vice president of analysis at OpenSignal, which helps wireless carriers map their networks. Phones that feature Amazon’s Alexa search or Microsoft’s Bing search throughout should still be able to pre-install popular Google apps such as Google Maps or YouTube as the EU envisions it, EU sources said.…
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EU fines Google $5 billion over Android antitrust abuse

European Union regulators have slapped Alphabet-owned Google with a 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) antitrust fine for abusing the dominance of its Android mobile operating system, which is by far the most popular smartphone OS in the world. The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, ordered the company to put an end to illegal conduct within 90 days, or else face additional charges of up to 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily worldwide revenue. The EU fine is the largest ever issued to Google, which was slapped with a $2.7 billion penalty for favoring its shopping service over competitors last year. Google said in a statement that it would appeal the ruling, arguing against the EU’s view that its software is restrictive of fair competition. “Android has created more choice for everyone, not less,” a spokesperson for the company said in the statement. “A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition.” The EU on Wednesday pointed to Apple in its decision, Google’s fiercest competitor in the smartphone market, saying that the smartphone maker did “not sufficiently constrain” Google. Apple also pre-installs a number of apps on its iPhone models. Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in a blog post that the commission ignored “the fact that Android phones compete with iOS phones,” adding that the decision did not consider the choice Android offers to phone makers, mobile network operators, app developers and consumers.…
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Conservative lawmakers pile Brexit pressure on May

More than 30 Conservative lawmakers have signed a letter demanding Theresa May “get tough” in negotiations to leave the European Union, increasing the pressure on the British prime minister before a crunch government meeting. May has pledged to overcome deep divisions in her cabinet of ministers at a meeting at her country residence this week and come up with a blueprint for the future relationship with the EU, a step needed to move forward all-but-stalled Brexit talks. The letter from Conservative lawmakers adds to the pressure on the prime minister, who has so far been reluctant to spell out detailed Brexit plans because of the rifts inside her own cabinet over the terms of Britain’s biggest foreign policy shift for decades. Dated June 29, the letter calls on May to “demonstrate courage and leadership in the face of those who seek to undermine the express wish of the British people in the 2016 referendum” . “Our departure must be absolute. We must not remain entangled with the EU’s institutions if this restricts our ability to exercise our sovereignty as an independent nation. Anything less will be a weakening of our democracy. Britain must stand firm.” It also lists what the lawmakers will not accept, including any extension of a transition period beyond Dec.…
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New Swedish law recognizes sex without consent as rape

A tough new law that will recognize sex without explicit consent as rape comes into effect in Sweden on Sunday, after the country was rocked by the #MeToo movement denouncing sexual harassment and assault. The law stipulates that a person has committed rape if they have been part of a sexual act in which the other person has not participated “freely.” Rape had previously been defined as a sexual act carried out with the use of violence or threat. Now for someone to face rape charges, “it is no longer necessary that violence or threats were applied, or that the aggressor took advantage of the victim’s particularly vulnerable situation,” according to the government. Courts will need to pay particular attention to whether consent was expressed with words, gestures or in another manner, and judges will have to rule on the issue, according to the law passed in May. Judge Anna Hannell, who helped create the law, said there was “absolutely no requirement to formally say ‘yes’, to hit a button in an app or anything else of the same type.” “Simply participating physically isn’t a sign of consent,” she told Swedish news agency TT. Rape is punishable by up to six years in prison, with a maximum penalty of 10 years if the victim is a minor.…
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Macedonia signs ‘historic agreement’ with Greece to change its name

On June 17, Macedonia signed a ‘landmark agreement’ in a deal with Greece to change its name to North Macedonia, which if sanctioned, will settle a decades-old dispute and facilitate the enlargement of the European Union and NATO. “This is a brave, historic and necessary step for our peoples,” said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, when signing the accord in the village of Psarades, the border of both nations. “We are here to heal the wounds of time, to open a path for peace, brotherhood and growth for our countries, the Balkans and Europe,” he said. “Our two countries should step out of the past and look to the future,” said Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. “Our peoples want peace… we will be partners and allies,” he added. For decades, Greece has been outraged over the former Yugoslav Republic’s use of the name Macedonia by United Nations, claiming it implies that it’s coveting Greek territory and heritage. Macedonia was already the name of a northern region of Greece before the new Slavic nation adopted it. Under the terms of the deal, the Macedonian constitution must be revised by the end of the year, before Greece’s parliament is called to ratify it.…
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£80,000 fine imposed on Gloucestershire Police over “serious breach” of data protection laws

In a case termed as a “serious breach” of data protection laws, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) imposed a whopping £80,000 fine on Gloucestershire Police after the Police sent a bulk email in error which revealed the identities of child abuse victims to strangers. Two years ago, an officer, involved in an investigation into non-recent allegations, sent an update on an ongoing case of historic child abuse to 56 recipients (including victims, witnesses, journalists, and lawyers), but forgot to BCC them, thereby exposing their names to the other recipients. They inadvertently made all email addresses viewable by all recipients. According to the investigation, the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) function, which can be used to send bulk emails and keep the addresses private, was not automatically selectable on the system used by the officer. Instead they used a function that displays all other recipients’ email addresses. Disappointed by the decision, Gloucestershire Police said it was considering an appeal. According to the ICO, of the 56 emails sent, one was not deliverable and three were successfully recalled, after the police identified the privacy snafu two days later. That means 56 names and email addresses were visible to up to 52 recipients. When the police realized the error, it reported the error to the ICO and sent emails of apology to all recipients.…
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Major blow to rights-holders: ISPs will not bear cost of blocking websites which breach trademarks

In a major victory to British Telecommunications Plc (BT), Three UK, O2, and Vodafone in a four-year landmark legal battle against Cartier International AG in the UK Supreme Court over who should pay the costs of trademark infringement blocking orders, the Court ruled that Internet service providers will no longer have to bear the cost of blocking websites which breach trademarks, such as those that sell counterfeit versions of luxury goods. Cartier had earlier challenged whether it was right for them to suffer the costs of implementing blocks against websites that were found to be selling counterfeit goods (i.e., abuse of Trade Mark). In a landmark decision, on June 13, Supreme Court Judge Lord Sumption, with whom Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Reed, and Lord Hodge agree, ruled that rights-holders, not ISPs, should pay the costs for website-blocking orders. Rights-holders must reimburse ISPs for the costs of blocking rights-infringing material. The Judge further adder that “There is no legal basis for requiring a party to shoulder the burden of remedying an injustice if he has no legal responsibility for the infringement and is not a volunteer but is acting under the compulsion of an order of the court.” The Judge then said, “It follows that in principle, rights-holders should indemnify the ISPs against their compliance costs.” According to Lord Sumption, “In English law, the starting point is the intermediary’s legal innocence.…
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UK Supreme Court rules against Pimlico Plumbers in landmark gig economy case

In a landmark case, running since 2011, for the gig economy, the UK Supreme Court ruled that a plumber, classed as “self-employed”, who brought a case against his former employer was in fact a “worker” and should therefore be entitled to a national minimum wage, holiday pay, and protection from discrimination, among other basic workers’ rights. This decision has the potential to impact the rights of several people classified as independent contractors across the UK, including those at gig economy firms, and was thus described as a landmark ruling. Gary Smith, a plumber from Kent who worked for Pimlico Plumbers — London’s largest independent plumbing company — between August 2005 and April 2011, suffered a heart attack in January 2011 and later sought to work three days per week instead of five, as he had done previously. However, Pimlico Plumbers refused to grant Gary’s request and took away his branded van, which he had hired from the company. Gary had thus claimed that he was unfairly dismissed in May 2011. The Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s previous ruling that Gary could be described by a “worker” despite signing an agreement with the company describing himself as “self-employed” and filing tax returns to this effect.…
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UK SC criticizes Northern Ireland abortion laws, dismisses case

The government of the United Kingdom is facing intense pressure to reform abortion laws in Northern Ireland after Supreme Court Judges described them as incompatible with human rights legislation. The legal proceedings were initiated by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), who argue that the existing law—which lists having an abortion as a criminal offense punishable with up to 14 years in prison—contradicts the European Convention on Human Rights. The appeal argues the law should be changed to allow abortions in cases where pregnancies are a result of rape or incest or in the cases where the foetus has a fatal abnormality. The Justices went on to say, however, that a majority find Northern Ireland’s abortion prohibitions “disproportionate” and that they violate European human rights laws. That part of the ruling gave hope to abortion rights activists seeking to liberalise Northern Ireland’s laws. Rosa Curling, from the law firm Leigh Day that helped bring the legal challenge, called the court’s ruling “a momentous day for women in Northern Ireland” and said it is now up to British Prime Minister Theresa May to take action to ease the laws. She said May has an obligation to make sure the UK government is “no longer acting unlawfully by breaching the human rights of women across Northern Ireland.” That said, because the proceedings were brought in the name of the NIHRC, rather than the name of a particular victim, the UK SC ruled that the case lacked the sufficient grounds and “[a]s such, the court does not have jurisdiction to make a declaration of incompatibility (with human rights law) in this case.”…
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In preliminary ruling, YouTube partly liable for copyright infringement: Austrian court

On June 5, the Vienna Commercial Court in Austria has ruled that YouTube is not a neutral host provider, and can be held partly liable for copyright breaches in videos uploaded by its users. In a judgement issued, Vienna’s commercial court said that YouTube had played an active role in spreading such content and therefore could not claim the status of “neutral intermediary”. It is only a preliminary ruling but it could be a game-changer for the way the massive platform operates, and for its flimsy relationship with the global music industry. YouTube maintains it is a neutral technical platform that is not legally responsible for content uploaded by third parties. In 2014, Austrian commercial TV channel Puls4 filed a lawsuit against YouTube after copyright-protected content from its channels was posted on the video platform. Puls4 and its lawyers said they had established YouTube’s involvement in spreading the content though a “painstaking” analysis of how the site works. YouTube contended that it was a technical service, a “host provider,” hence it fell under the provisions of the European Union’s E-Commerce Act, which states that technical service providers are mediators, and are not liable for the content posted by their users. The court found that because of YouTube’s “links, mechanisms for sorting and filtering, in particular the generation of lists of particular categories, its analysis of users’ browsing habits and its tailor-made suggestions of content… YouTube is no longer playing the role of a neutral intermediary”.…
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Appointment of Deputy President of the Supreme Court approved

The Queen has approved the appointment of The Rt Hon Lord Reed as Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of The Rt Hon Lord Reed as Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Lord Reed will replace The Rt Hon the Lord Mance who retires on June 6, 2018. Lord Reed was appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court in February 2012. From 2008 to 2012 he was a member of the Inner House of the Court of Session, and from 1998 to 2008, a member of the Outer House of the Court of Session, where he was the Principal Commercial Judge.…
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Abortion ban ends in historic vote: Ireland

A new abortion law has been pushed by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said and it will be in place by the end of year. It follows a landslide vote in favour of repealing the Republic of Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion. The proposed legislation will allow abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to the 24th week in exceptional circumstances. The Irish electorate voted by 1,429,981 votes to 723,632 in favour of abolishing the controversial eighth amendment to the constitution that gave equal legal status to the lives of a foetus and the woman carrying it. The result was a two-thirds majority: 66.4% yes to 33.6% no. Abortion will not immediately be available to women within Ireland. Irish Minister for Health Simon Harris will seek the cabinet’s backing to draft the new legislation. Leading Ireland-based campaigners said they will support a move to have the new law named after Savita, whose Karnataka-based father, Andanappa Yalagi, has called for it to be referred to as “Savita’s Law”. Yalagi told an English Daily, “We have one last request, that the new law, that it is called ‘Savita’s Law’. It should be named for her.” On May 27, at a press conference in Dublin, Together for Yes, an umbrella group representing pro-repeal organisations said it would support such a move.…
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