Saturday, May 31, 2014

Google privacy law ‘means total rethink of basic freedoms’

Exclusive: Old rules of the internet no longer apply, warns Oxford philosopher charged with advising search engine giant on European Court’s landmark right-to-be-forgotten ruling
Hundreds of millions of people across Europe will be forced to change completely the way they use the internet, according to one of Google’s key advisers.
The era of freely available information is now over in Europe, warns Professor Luciano Floridi, who has been appointed by the £225bn search engine firm to find out how it should comply with a landmark ruling that allows people to ask for personal information to be taken down.
His warning comes as The Independent reveals that 12,000 requests were made on Friday, around 20 a minute, from people across Europe demanding to have their personal details removed from Google. More than 1,500 of these are believed to have come from people in the UK who were looking to take advantage of a service launched by Google to make it easier for people to apply for personal data to be removed.
The move follows a European court’s ruling earlier this month that gave people the “right to be forgotten”; convicted criminals are among those trying to hide links to stories from online search engines. An ex-MP who is seeking re-election is another of the thousands who have approached Google.
In an exclusive interview, Dr Floridi, who is professor of philosophy and the ethics of information at Oxford University, said that the ruling has “raised the bar so high that the old rules of the internet no longer apply”.
The court’s judgment found that 500 million internet users across Europe had the right to request that Google remove from its search results information that they believed to be damaging or a breach of privacy. However, he warned it would have a perverse effect as it could place even more power into the hands of Google.
“People would be screaming if a powerful company suddenly decided what information could be seen by what people, when and where,” he said. “That is the consequence of this decision. A private company now has to decide what is in the public interest.”
He also said the main beneficiaries of the judgment were “reputation management companies”. He said: “They now have the power to ask for embarrassing information about their clients to be removed. If I was the chief executive of a reputation management agency, I would be laughing.”He concluded: “Everything is up for debate.”
Speaking from his office at the Oxford Internet Institute, Professor Floridi said the judgment by the European Court of Justice was so revolutionary it would have the same effect on the digital world as Dick Fosbury had on the sport of athletics.
In 1968, the American high-jumper won a gold medal at the 1968 Olympic Games with the “Fosbury flop” – where he stunned the world by catapulting himself head-first over the bar. The new technique was adopted by all high jumpers.
Professor Floridi said: “That was completely counter-intuitive but was also a moment of genius. We need something like that for the internet.”
The Italian philosopher recognised the internet caused unacceptable intrusions into people’s privacy and that the status quo could not continue. However, he said: “I have spent too much time in the UK not to come down on the side of freedom of expression, the right to know.”
As Google announced its new service on Friday, its chief executive Larry Page warned the ruling risked strengthening corrupt and repressive regimes in their attempts to restrict “public interest” information from their citizens. Since the ruling was handed down earlier this month, Google has received “a few thousand” requests from people seeking to remove personal information, but this surged yesterday with the introduction of the new form that makes the process simpler.
More than half of the UK requests to have information removed have come from convicted criminals. Google is expecting the number of inquiries to soar following the announcement of its “right to be forgotten” service.
Dominic Raab, the Conservative MP who campaigns on civil liberties issues, is very concerned about the ruling. He said: “This is the worst kind of arbitrary judicial legislation from the European court. It threatens the censorship of legal and legitimate publicly available information on utterly opaque grounds. But, worse still, it forces internet search engines to police what should and shouldn’t be wiped from public view without any clear criteria – let alone ones determined by democratically elected lawmakers.”
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, is known to have strong views on the ruling, calling it “astonishing”. He  said it was “one of the most wide-sweeping internet censorship rulings that I’ve ever seen”. He later tweeted: “When will a European court demand that Wikipedia censor an article with truthful information because an individual doesn’t like it?”
However, David Smith, deputy Information Commissioner and director of data protection, said: “This is a judgment that we welcome. It sets out a framework to hold data controllers operating online search engines to account for the personal data they process. It also backs our view that search engines are subject to data protection law, clarifying an area that was previously uncertain.
“We recognise that there will be difficult judgements to make on whether links should be removed. We’ll be focusing on concerns linked to clear evidence of damage and distress to individuals.”
Netflix by Tom Harper , Jonathan Owen Friday 30 May 2014

Google Takes Steps to Comply With ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Ruling

Olivier Hoslet/European Pressphoto AgencyEuropeans now need to see how the plan “will work in practice,” said Viviane Reding, the European justice commissioner.
Updated, 7:50 p.m. | Google’s privacy battle in Europe, between the “right to be forgotten” and the “right to know,” has only just begun.
On Friday, the company announced a basic framework to comply with a landmark ruling by Europe’s top court that requires Google and other search providers to consider individuals’ requests to remove links that they say violate their privacy.
The framework included a new online form for making such requests, which prompted strong interest in its first day. More than 12,000 people asked Google to remove links, according to a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
But it remains to be seen how Google will determine which links violate a person’s privacy and which links should remain available to the public. The decisions are likely to be complex, and the requests are expected to cover a wide range. In the past, some Europeans looking to erase their online histories had criminal records, while some wanted to remove outdated or erroneous information.
“It creates an unworkable situation,” said Fred H. Cate, a professor at Indiana University who specializes in privacy. Companies “now have to have some process for determining when and under what conditions to remove links to material that any European finds objectionable,” he said.
Google is trying to walk a fine line. While it is aiming to comply with the high court ruling, it is also looking to limit the impact on its global operations. Company executives have argued that the ruling will curtail the free flow of information online and could inhibit innovation.
To foster discussion on the issue, Google is creating an advisory panel of privacy experts, regulators, academics and company executives, including the Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who has been a vocal opponent of Europe’s legal decision. The committee will offer recommendations by the end of the year about how the “right to be forgotten” ruling could affect the company’s presentation of search results to its users worldwide.
“After this ruling, it’s clear that we need to think deeply about the realities of the Internet age and we must find new, innovative ways to improve privacy protections for society as a whole,” José-Luis Piñar, a former Spanish regulator who will be on the committee, said in a statement.
Two weeks ago, the European Court of Justice enshrined the “right to be forgotten” on the Continent, where privacy has long been a paramount issue. Since then, Google, which holds a roughly 90 percent market share across the region, has been trying to respond.
So far, Google has only outlined the basics. Its new privacy committee has not met to discuss the ruling, and more experts will be added to the group, according to the company.
Still, European lawmakers welcomed Google’s announcement, saying it showed that large technology companies could comply with the region’s rules. Google had argued since the case was filed in Spain in 2010 that it would be difficult to administer the wave of potential requests for removing links.
“We will now need to look into how the announced tool will work in practice,” said Viviane Reding, the European justice commissioner. “The move demonstrates that fears of practical impossibility raised before were unfounded.”
Through Google’s new online form, Europeans will be able to list web links that they want removed. Along with photo identification, individuals must also explain why those search results are irrelevant, outdated or otherwise inappropriate.
If Google approves the request, the company will remove the web link within the 28-nation European Union plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. So it would affect the German domain,, for example, but the link would still be available in the United States at
“Google is now more responsible than it thought it was,” said Peter Hustinx, the European data protection supervisor. “If you are a regular citizen, this ruling gives you a way to voice your concerns.”
While Google has limited the requests to Europeans, legal experts said that non-Europeans could still ask for links to be removed, if they could prove that their online data fell under the region’s strict privacy laws. A person in Brazil, for example, could request that a link to an Internet posting be removed if the source was hosted on a server in Ireland. If such a request was successful, the suspect link would not appear on Google’s European sites but would be available everywhere else.
Analysts said it might be unwieldy to remove links from only some web portals and might lead to different levels of quality for search results, depending on where users were. “Limiting the jurisdiction to European citizens could prove difficult,” said Richard Cumbley, a data protection partner at the law firm Linklaters in London. “We could see a Balkanization of search results.”
The company will manually review submissions to decide if each link has broken any individual’s right to privacy. Google said its decisions would be based on whether the information was perceived to be out of date or if links to people’s past activities were of public interest because they were related to financial fraud, malpractice or criminal convictions.
If the privacy request led to further questions — or a user disagreed with Google’s initial judgment — the case would be transferred to the requester’s local European data regulator for a final decision.
“The court’s ruling requires Google to make difficult judgments about an individual’s right to be forgotten and the public’s right to know,” the company said in a statement.
The New York Times By MARK SCOTT  May 30, 2014 6:30 am

Malcolm Gladwell ‘Surprised’ to Become an Amazon Bargaining Chip

Lloyd Bishop/NBCMalcolm Gladwell’s books are published by both Hachette and Bonnier.

Updated, 9:07 p.m. | In the dispute between Amazon and Hachette, neither side is blinking.
Amazon has been discouraging sales of books published by Hachette in an effort to make the publisher come to terms on a new contract for e-books. The confrontation has dominated publishing and bookselling circles. Amazon has been heavily criticized for using writers as pawns, although it also has its defenders.
Last week, Amazon increased the pressure on Hachette by refusing to let customers order future books. Since advance orders are used to determine print runs, even the biggest books will be affected. Amazon is about a third of most publishers’ physical sales, presumably including Hachette.
Amazon’s competitors are trying to seize the advantage., for instance, is promoting Hachette titles at 40 percent off, and said Friday that its online book sales had jumped as a result.
Many Hachette authors have weighed in. James Patterson was vehement in his criticism of Amazon, which he repeated at the booksellers’ convention in New York this week.
But there was one voice that was notably absent: that of Malcolm Gladwell, author of “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants,” “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” and other extremely popular social science books. Amazon has trimmed or eliminated the discount on most of his books or added weeks to the shipping time, or both. In Germany, Mr. Gladwell is published by Bonnier, whose books Amazon is also discouraging shoppers from buying.
In his first interview on the clash, Mr. Gladwell did not quite say he felt betrayed by Amazon, but said he was “surprised and puzzled” by its actions.

Here’s a lightly edited account of the conversation:


You’ve been silent since this story broke.


I was initially asked by Hachette to give them some time to negotiate. It’s easier when things are not being hashed out in the press. But several weeks have passed, so maybe it is appropriate for me to say something.


Let’s hear it.


It’s sort of heartbreaking when your partner turns on you. Over the past 15 years, I have sold millions of dollars’ worth of books on Amazon, which means I have made millions of dollars for Amazon. I would have thought I was one of their best assets. I thought we were partners in a business that has done well. This seems an odd way to treat someone who has made you millions of dollars.


What is happening to your sales?


They have been profoundly affected. Where Amazon used to sell two copies, now it sells one. It’s a pretty big decline.

Why is Amazon doing this?


I’m not privy to the negotiations. But it’s puzzling. Authors like James Patterson and J. K. Rowling drive millions and millions of people to the Amazon site, where presumably they buy everything else Amazon is selling. Why would Amazon turn around and bite the hand that feeds them?


Some people think Amazon is hoping to drive a wedge between you and Hachette, so you sign your next book with someone else — or even with Amazon itself. Then, the theory goes, Hachette will be weak and Amazon can get the contract it wants.


That strategy is too counterintuitive even for me. I don’t think human beings reward those who hurt them. If Amazon wanted me to do something in their interest, I imagine they would do something in my interest. This isn’t.


Most people think Amazon is the Goliath here, although some argue that this is Goliath vs. Goliath.


There’s no question who is more powerful here: Amazon.


So is there a way for the underdog to triumph here, like the cases you recount in “David and Goliath”?


I don’t think the appropriate framework here is a battle between two people. It’s a partnership. My publishers, Amazon and I have been in business together, an extremely successful business. We should all be celebrating together instead of fighting.


Amazon’s critics would say you were naïve about this being a true partnership.


I don’t think it was destined to blow up. And I don’t think it’s entirely impossible to fix. We need Amazon and Amazon needs us. That’s a classic partnership.


Are you personally taking any action?


I’ve had the position I need to respect the rights of these two parties to negotiate. I didn’t think to insert myself. But if this keeps going, the authors are going to have to get together. It’s Hachette now, but I don’t think anyone is under any illusions it stops with Hachette.

An Amazon spokesman declined to comment on Mr. Gladwell or his remarks.
The New York Times By DAVID STREITFELD May 30 5:44 pm

Charlize Theron Compares Media Coverage to Being Raped

Gwyneth Paltrow held the title of "Worst Metaphor" for just one day ... because during a recent interview ... Charlize Theron compared media coverage of her personal life to rape.

Theron was sitting down with Sky News, voluntarily, when the reporter mentioned the results of a Google search on her name.

Charlize said she tries to avoid Googling herself because "when you start living in that world, and doing that, you start feeling raped."

TMZ BY STAFF 5/30/2014 6:52 AM PDT

Cold in July

Director: Jim Mickle
Writers: Nick Damici (screenplay), Joe R. Lansdale (novel)
When a protective father meets a murderous ex-con, both need to deviate from the path they are on as they soon find themselves entangled in a downwards spiral of lies and violence while having to confront their own inner psyche.

INTERVIEW: Jamie Lynn Spears talks journey from teen mom to country singer

Listen Here, Y'all
When you hear the name Jamie Lynn Spears, you might think of her big sis, Britney. Or perhaps you recall the then-teen starring on saccharine Nickelodeon shows like Zoey 101. But we reckon that'll change when Spears' debut EP, The Journey, drops on May 27. The sweet-as-pie star fills us in (and totally makes fans of us).
Photo credit: Erick Anderson/Crowd Surf
Spears' long-awaited five-song set has all the makings of a hit country effort and should, rightly so, establish the 23-year-old as one of the genre's most promising new stars. One thing's certain: The EP has been streaming on Spotify all week, and we sure can't get enough.
For Spears — who stepped out of the spotlight six years ago to raise her daughter, Maddie — it's been a long time coming.
"It's nerve-wracking to put your story out there and be vulnerable," the humble singer shared with us. "But it's also kind of a relief, because I feel like my fans have really stood behind me. They've waited so long — they've really given me the chance to dig in and work on the project for the past few years, so mainly I'm excited to get this out there to fans to share it with them."
And if you're of the notion that Spears is simply a pop star parading around in cowboy boots, chew on this: The twangy crooner has some serious Southern roots. A native of Kentwood, Louisiana, she grew up under the music tutelage of her dad, Jamie, listening to country icons, such as Alan Jackson.
Speaking of whom, Spears has already opened for the "Chattahoochee" singer, something she describes as "one of those experiences I'll remember forever."
She elaborated, "Growing up, [Jackson] was one of my dad's favorites, so when I was able to open up for him and just even be on the same stage, it was kind of a moment where I just felt like if anything else doesn't happen, the fact that I'm able to do this… it was a really big moment for me and for my dad."
Opening for Jackson — and breaking into country music in general — is a privilege the pretty singer doesn't take lightly. Her opening single, "How Could I Want More," was written by Spears along with acclaimed Nashville songwriter, Rivers Rutherford, who's collaborated with the likes of superstars Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and more.
It also happens to be her favorite song from the EP. "Right now in my life, I think 'How Could I Want More,' is really where I'm at personally and professionally," she mused, adding, "even though I love 'em all."
While the lyrical quality of the EP may surprise some, it likely won't shock anyone in Nashville. In addition to Rutherford, Spears co-wrote songs with Chris Tompkins, Liz Rose, Lisa Carver and Luke Laird. She gives much of the credit for her musical growth to the Nashville songwriting community.
"I think that going into it, I was really nervous," she said. "But it was just really cool to get in there. They helped me be brave, and they helped me tell my story. To have them really support me and give me the confidence and help me really learn who I am as a writer… I feel like I owe most everything to that community."
So far, reception from the country world has been "really good." The first single has been received favorably by both critics and fans, and the EP has been talked up by plenty of entertainment aficionados, including Taste of Country, E!, CMT and Entertainment Tonight.
Still, unlike the version of herself in 2002 who told Oprah, "My advice to Britney is to just scoot over 'cause I'm coming through and I'm going to be the star pretty soon," Spears today struggles with insecurity.
"I wish I had the confidence I have in that Oprah video, but I don't have half of that now. I think when you are young and naive, well, really you just don't know better. But as of now, I think you have to get confidence from the right things and the right place and learn your value outside of anything else," she said.
We can see how Spears can feel overwhelmed at times. With a burgeoning new country music career, she's trying to strike the ideal balance as a mom, newlywed (she married James Watson in March) and artist.
"I think that's been the biggest thing and the hardest thing — trying to figure out how to balance it all," she revealed. "Being a mom is first and foremost the most important thing, so I have to make the schedule to where I can fulfill all my duties as a mother and as an artist. But I guess I think that's the hardest part — you know, finding ways to try to be your best at everything without leaving anything half done," she said, sounding far more poised and mature than you might expect for a woman her age.
"As long as you really believe in what you're doing and you have the right people around you, I think that you just have to have confidence in that. Sometimes when you don't have confidence in yourself, having confidence in the direction you're going and knowing you're doing something to be proud of… I think that's what really gives you confidence."
Part of Spears' group of "right people," of course, includes her super-famous sister, Britney. But don't hold your breath for a duet just yet.
"My biggest thing with collaborations is you don't just look around and go, 'Oh, I want to collaborate.' If there's a song that makes sense for a collaboration, that's possible," she explained. "But right now, I'm just beginning to tell my story."
To pre-order The Journey on iTunes, click here. To keep up with Jamie Lynn, follow her on Twitter @JamieLynnSpears, Facebook and Instagram.
SHEKNOWS Entertainment by Julie Sprankles May 23, 2014 5:00 AM Posted in Entertainment / Music

Jamie Lynn Spears Raps

Kill the Messenger

Director: Michael Cuesta
Writers: Peter Landesman (screenplay), Nick Schou (book)
A reporter becomes the target of a vicious smear campaign that drives him to the point of suicide after he exposes the CIA's role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua and importing cocaine into California. Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb. Written by IMDb editor

The Book of Life

Director: Jorge R. Gutierrez
Writers: Jorge R. Gutierrez (screenplay), Douglas Langdale
From producer Guillermo del Toro and director Jorge Gutierrez comes an animated comedy with a unique visual style. THE BOOK OF LIFE is the journey of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart. Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds where he must face his greatest fears. Rich with a fresh take on pop music favorites, THE BOOK OF LIFE encourages us to celebrate the past while looking forward to the future. Written by 20th Century Fox