Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Function creep in action: Mobiles may be checked after crashes

The Telegraph reports that the English government proposes to use data retention to enforce the ban on mobile phones while driving:
Motorists face having their mobile phone records checked after a routine accident, under proposals unveiled by the Government yesterday...

In the review the Department for Transport paper says: "We will look at ways to make it easier for the police to be able to follow the process of investigating whether mobile phone use was a contributory factor in an accident and thus prosecute more offenders."

According to police sources this would entail lowering the seniority of both the officer who can check the records and the threshold of the severity of the accident.

Where the use of a phone is suspected to have been a cause in the accident, it is straightforward to check when calls were received or made, irrespective of whether the call was made on a hands-free or hand-held device.

If the phone were destroyed, police would, under the proposals, be able to use call records.
Remember - data retention was sold on the basis that it was necessary to prevent terrorism and serious crime.

Data Retention in Ireland - stealth, bad faith, and contempt for the democratic process

I've written a brief article for Data Protection Law and Policy on the development of data retention in Ireland. As you'll guess from the following excerpt, I'm not impressed with the way in which it's been passed into law.
"The history of data retention law in Ireland has been marked by stealth, bad faith, and a shocking contempt for the democratic process. The 2002 Direction in particular stands out as an attempt to make law in secret, by the abuse of an unrelated statutory power, and then to stymie any judicial review by directing the recipients of the Direction to remain silent as to its existence. Moreover, when finally forced by the Data Protection Commissioner to proceed by primary legislation, the Department of Justice did so in 2005 without notice, in a way calculated to exclude any public scrutiny, and ignoring earlier assurances that draft legislation would be published and debated."
PDF of the article here.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

.ie Domain Disputes Multiply

The amusingly named I squatted your .EU mentions some recent .ie domain decisions from WIPO, including the adidas.ie, and buy-sell.ie decisions.

There have been 10 complaints lodged with WIPO under the .ie Dispute Resolution Policy to date - resulting in four decisions transferring the domain to the complainant, three complaints which were terminated before decision (presumably because the respondent decided to voluntarily relinquish the domain), and just two complaints denied. Not a bad batting average for complainants.

More filesharing litigation coming to Ireland?

Last time it was the music industry. This time Hollywood? John Collins posts:
my home phone rang this morning with a little surprise for me. it was a representative of bt who asked me to confirm that i have a broadband service with them. when i said he did, he told me they had been contacted by paramount movies (as far as i can see there is no entity of this name, but who am i to split hairs) to say i was sharing a movie of theirs, an inconvenient truth. he asked me to remove it from my pc because if they didn't they could take further action.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Commission to make life easier for online businesses by streamlining consumer law

From The Register:
The European Commission will overhaul European contract law to make internet selling easier, more reliable and more efficient.

The commission has opened consultation on proposed changes that will affect eight EU Directives.

Recognising that e-commerce is hampered by a mass of conflicting national laws, the commission has proposed changes to Directives which it hopes will, when transferred into national laws, bring the law into line with technological developments.

'There is an urgent need for action, the world is moving so fast and Europe risks lagging behind', said Meglena Kuneva, the new EU Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, in her first press conference in Brussels. 'We need a root and branch review of consumer rules. At the moment, consumers are not getting a fair deal online, and complex rules are holding back the next generation of bright business ideas. We must find new solutions to new challenges.'

The commission believes that online businesses would benefit significantly if doubts about the legal implications of cross-border trading were removed.

'Consumer confidence is a key factor determining how and when consumers spend their money in different sectors of the economy,' said a Commission statement. 'All the evidence is that consumers are not yet comfortable enough in the digital and online world to seize its full potential. Only a tiny fraction – six per cent of EU consumers – are currently shopping online cross border.'

The commission will review all consumer contract law, which will involve a review of eight directives. They are: the Unfair Contract Terms Directive and the Directive on Sale of Consumer Goods and Guarantees; the Distance Selling Directive; the Doorstep Selling Directive; the Package Travel Directive; the Timeshare Directive; the Directive on Injunctions; and the Price Indication Directive.
Hopefully this will also review the areas of overlap between these directives and the E-Commerce Directive.