Posts Tagged ‘E.U.

11
Aug
10

Google Street View throws light on web privacy

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Google Street View throws light on web privacy

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Google’s online map feature has become a flash point for people worried about the erosion of privacy in the Internet Age.

Street View images at Google Maps sparked controversy from the outset of the project three years ago.

Google dispatched cars and tricycles rigged with cameras and satellite positioning gear to take pictures of what one might see on streets around the world and synched the images to its free online mapping service.

Some people complained that faces could be recognised in pictures, raising the potential that people caught in compromising situations, perhaps stepping out of an adult video store, would have such moments memorialised online.

Others expressed fears that numbers from licence plates could be used to figure out who parks or lives on certain streets.

People were soon accusing Street View vehicles of straying onto private roads or yards to snap pictures in violation of the California-based internet giant’s policies.

Google adapted to ameliorate concerns. It began blurring faces and car licence plate numbers in images.

This year the Street View controversy rocketed to a new level with the revelation by Google that electronics in its picture-taking vehicles captured data from wireless internet systems not secured by passwords.

Google basically had access to unencrypted email, video downloads, web browsing or other digital information passing through wireless routers in homes or businesses as its Street View vans went by, said John Verdi, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

Google has apologised repeatedly for what it called an accidental data grab, but authorities in more than a dozen countries are investigating whether the company broke privacy laws.

South Korean police on Tuesday searched the offices of Google Korea as part of its probe, an officer said.

Police seized computer hard discs and other material. After analysing the material they plan to summon the company’s staff for questioning.

Efforts by governments to get the Street View data threaten to multiply damage to people’s privacy even if Google is true to its word that it has done nothing with the information.

‘Simply handing over the data to governments can be a very bad idea,’ said Electronic Frontier Foundation international rights director Katitza Rodriguez.

‘In some cases, the remedy can be worse than the disease.’

Countries could use the pretext of investigating Street View to mine Google data in ways that ‘might create risky situations for human rights activists, dissidents, or bloggers fighting for their rights,’ she added.

Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle theorised that Google might have intended to map locations of open wireless ‘hot spots’ as a potential service to users.

‘Telling people where they can get on the internet for free while they are out and about sounds to me like a typical Google thing to do,’ Enderle said. ‘It wouldn’t surprise me.’

Identity thieves might view a roster of open wireless zones the way burglars might look at a list of homes left unlocked, according to the analyst.

Google said it would allow Germans to block out their homes on Street View ahead of its launch in the country this year but privacy watchdogs were still not happy.

‘Google Street View is a great tool, for instance, for tourists to scope out the location that he or she wants to visit,’ Rodriguez said.

‘However, Google’s technology is too invasive, and goes too far. We expect some degree of anonymity while we are walking on the streets.’
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12
Jul
10

Facebook Installs Panic Button For Children

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Facebook Installs Panic Button For Children

Monday, July 12, 2010

••• Young Facebook users will be able to report suspicious online behavior with the launch of a new ‘panic button’ targeting sex offenders.

Children can use the button to report abuse to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and Facebook.

The application will automatically appear on the homepage of every user aged between 13 and 18.

The launch follows months of negotiation between Facebook and CEOP, the government law enforcement agency tasked with tracking down online sex offenders.

CEOP called for the panic button to be installed in November but Facebook has resisted the idea.

Bebo became the first network to add the button, followed by MySpace while Facebook maintained that its own reporting systems were adequate.

However pressure mounted on Facebook following the rape and murder of Ashleigh Hall, 17.

Ashleigh was killed by a 33-year-old convicted sex offender, posing as a teenage boy, whom she met on Facebook.

Forty-four police chiefs in England, Wales and Scotland, signed a letter backing CEOP’s call for a panic button on every Facebook page.

Users will be able to bookmark the Click CEOP service or add it as an application to find information about online safety.

Jim Gamble, chief executive of the CEOP Centre said: ‘Our dialogue with Facebook about adopting the Click CEOP button is well documented – today however is a good day for child protection.

‘We know from speaking to offenders that a visible deterrent could protect young people online.’

Facebook’s Joanna Shields added: ‘There is no single silver bullet to making the internet safer but by joining forces with CEOP we have developed a comprehensive solution which marries our expertise in technology with CEOP’s expertise in online safety.’

James Brokenshire, U.K. Minister for Crime Prevention said: ‘It’s a sad fact that we are now seeing more cases where sex offenders are using social networking sites to conceal their identities in order to contact children.’
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22
Jun
10

U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

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U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

U.K. Police Investigating Alleged Google Privacy Breach Through Public Wi-Fi Networks

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Britain has become the latest country to open an investigation into whether Google violated communication and privacy laws by mistakenly gathering data over public Wi-Fi networks.

London’s Metropolitan Police says it is looking into complaints that the search engine’s ‘Street View’ project picked up people’s online activities through unprotected networks.

It says it is determining what offences, if any, were committed.

Privacy International, a London-based privacy watchdog that filed the case with police, says it had received complaints from members of the public who feared their personal data could be at risk.

The French independent privacy watchdog CNIL said last week that Google, following a complaint, had handed over personal data sucked up by its technicians.

The attorney general of the U.S. state of Connecticut is also looking into whether Google broke the law.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multi-state probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy.”

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.
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22
Jun
10

U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

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U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• The attorney general of a U.S. state is looking into whether Google broke the law by capturing people’s personal data from wireless networks.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multistate probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy,” which has drawn ire and scrutiny in an array of countries.

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in U.K., Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.

Blumenthal said people had a right to know what information Google gleaned, how it was done and why.

He also wanted the internet giant to detail what safeguards are in place to fix the situation.

“While we hope Google will continue to cooperate, its response so far raises as many questions as it answers,” Blumenthal said.

“Our investigation will consider whether laws may have been broken and whether changes to state and federal statutes may be necessary.”

Blumenthal has asked Google to explain how and when it learned its Street View bicycles and cars were capturing data from unencrypted wireless networks and why they recorded the quality of wireless networks they passed.
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21
Jun
10

Obama discusses economic recovery with German, Spanish leaders

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Obama discusses economic recovery with German, Spanish leaders

Monday, June 21, 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday called German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on economy, said the White House.

Obama discussed separately with the two European leaders on “the importance of continuing to take resolute steps to foster a durable recovery and to strengthen financial regulation,” White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters.

The three leaders are scheduled to meet in the G20 summit next week in Canada.

In his call with Zapatero, Obama thanked Zapatero for “excellent cooperation during the Spanish E.U. presidency, particularly progress on counterterrorism and addressing the threat posted by Iran,” said Burton.
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• Source(s): The White House
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08
Jun
10

Lady Gaga ‘Alejandro’ Music Video Premiere

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Lady Gaga ‘Alejandro’ Music Video Premiere

Tuesday, June 8, 2010



Lady Gaga – “Alejandro”
Album: The Fame Mons†er
Label: Interscope, Streamline, Cherrytree, KonLive
Director: Steven Klein

Music Video ‘Alejandro’ is the 3rd single from Lady GaGa’s 2nd studio album: ‘The Fame Mons†er’. It was written by Lady GaGa and RedOne (Nadir Khayat). Every song in the album represents a ‘fear’ of some ‘mons†er’. This song, in the words of GaGa represents ‘The fear of men mons†er’.

Lady Gaga’s latest video, for her single ‘Alejandro,’ is posted on the singer’s website.

The ‘Alejandro’ video is directed by American fashion photographer Steven Klein (Stephan Lee Klein), known especially for his work with Madonna.

‘Alejandro,’ the Latin love affair-themed third single from Lady Gaga’s The Fame Mons†er, went to U.S. radio on April 20 and was released internationally as a digital download in May. It has since made the top ten on charts in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and several European countries.
LadyGaga.com, VEVO & YouTube
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07
Jun
10

Pop singer Pink’s tour bus catches fire during Germany tour

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Pop singer Pink’s tour bus catches fire during Germany tour
Funhouse Summer Carnival Tour

Monday, June 7, 2010

••• A tour bus being used by P!nk caught fire on its way from Munich to Berlin, but police said there were no injuries.

The pop star was not on the bus at the time.

Bavarian police said a particle filter in the exhaust system caught fire at about 05:00 am on Monday due to a technical defect. They said the driver reacted quickly and got the bus to the side of the highway and put the fire out with an extinguisher before authorities arrived at the scene.

Eight musicians were on board the bus.

The band played a concert in Munich on Saturday and was on its way to Berlin for a show Tuesday night. The musicians were able to continue on their journey on a replacement bus.
P!nksPage.com, & YouTube
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05
Jun
10

British Airways cabin crew begin third walkout

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British Airways cabin crew begin third walkout

Saturday, June 5, 2010

NEWS

••• Strike pay has been increased for British Airways cabin crew as they launch their latest wave of five-day walkouts in their bitter row with the airline.

Unite said on Saturday it will pay its members $65 a day, up from $43.36 in previous strikes, and is considering offering interest-free loans of $1.445 for hardship cases.

BA said more crew than expected turned up for work on Saturday at Heathrow airport, meaning it could operate additional flights.

The cabin crew on Saturday staged their 18th day of action since March and will stay out until next Wednesday, raising the cost of the industrial action to BA to well over $216.77 million.

The union is threatening to ballot its members again if the deadlocked row is not resolved, which could disrupt flights throughout the busy summer months.

The impact of the dispute was revealed this week when the airline announced a 14.2 percent dip in passenger numbers last month.

A BA spokesman said on Saturday: ‘Our global operations went very well last week and we have got off to another good start today at the beginning of this strike period.

‘The numbers of crew reporting for work at Heathrow on Saturday has been higher than we expected and as a result we have been able to operate additional flights to Los Angeles, Washington, Mexico City and Phoenix.

‘These flights are in addition to the larger schedule previously announced at Heathrow for this period of strike action.
‘We will continue to operate 100 percent of our schedule at Gatwick and London City airports and our cabin crew at Gatwick continue to ignore Unite’s strike calls and work as normal.’

BA is aiming to operate around 80 percent of long-haul flights from Heathrow over the next five days, up from 70 percent and 60 percent in the past two strike periods, and 60 percent of short-haul flights, up from 55 percent and 50 percent.

Talks between Unite’s joint leader Tony Woodley and BA’s chief executive Willie Walsh under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas ended without agreement last week, with little sign of any progress.

An agreement in principle has been struck over cost-cutting, the original cause of the dispute, but the removal of travel concessions from strikers is now blocking a deal.

Unite has urged BA to fully restore the travel concessions, arguing it would not cost the airline any money.

The union said it believes the next series of strikes will be strongly supported by cabin crew and will have a ‘huge impact’ on flights.

Singer Billy Bragg performed an impromptu gig for the strikers at a football ground near Heathrow on Saturday.

An Acas spokesman said: ‘Acas and the TUC have continued to maintain contact with both BA and Unite since talks were adjourned.

‘It is expected that a date will be agreed shortly for talks to resume.’
» Check your flight information here: British Airways
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• Source(s): British Airways PLC
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05
Jun
10

Eminem’s ‘Not Afraid’ Video Debuts

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Eminem’s ‘Not Afraid’ Video Debuts

Saturday, June 5, 2010



Eminem – Not Afraid
Album: Recovery
Label: Interscope, Aftermath, Shady
Director: Rich Lee

Rapper Eminem is back. To overseas his new album “Recovery” Eminem and Marshall Bruce Mathers III has been working hard. This album will be debuts on June 22. First video from Eminem’s Recovery, ‘Not Afraid’ is debuts on VEVO.

On VEVO.com music video of “Not Afraid” can be viewed. “Not Afraid” entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart and placed number 1. In this music video Lil Wayne, Pink and Rihanna features guest appearances.

Rich Lee directed “Not Afraid.”
Eminem.com, & YouTube
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29
May
10

Shell Buys U.S. Gas Assets From East Resources for $4.7 Billion

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Shell Buys U.S. Gas Assets From East Resources for $4.7 Billion
Saturday, May 29, 2010

••• Royal Dutch Shell, the energy major, has almost doubled its reserves of shale gas with the $4.7 Billion in cash acquisition of East Resources.

East Resources owns and operates more than 2,500 producing oil and gas wells in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Colorado and is actively exploring drilling programs in Wyoming, according to its website. It has been operating in the Marcellus Shale Area for 25 years.

Companies from India’s Reliance Industries Ltd to Japan’s Mitsui & Co are spending billions of dollars on drilling to dislodge natural gas from shale – sedimentary rock composed of mud, quartz and calcite. Shell expects its share of gas in total output to rise to 52 percent in 2012.
“They’ve seen others take material positions in U.S. gas, and this is one way they can also play a part in that business,” said Jason Kenney, head of oil and gas research at ING Commercial Banking in Edinburgh.

The acquisition is the second-biggest oil and gas deal this year, after BP Plc’s acquisition of deepwater assets from Devon Energy Corp for $7 billion in March, according to Bloomberg data.

“We are enhancing our world-wide upstream portfolio for profitable growth, through exploration and focused acquisitions, and through divestment of non-core positions,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser said in a statement today.

Exxon Mobil Corp, the biggest U.S. oil company, agreed in December to buy XTO Energy Inc, the country’s largest natural gas producer, for $31 billion to gain control of shale-gas assets.
• Source(s): Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Bloomberg L.P.
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27
May
10

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces new privacy tools

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces new privacy tools
Your privacy is important to us!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Facebook on Wednesday overhauled its privacy controls to fend off mounting criticism that it is betraying the trust that has made it the world’s biggest online social-networking service.

‘It’s been a pretty intense few weeks for us, listening to all the feedback coming in from all the changes we’ve made,’ Facebook’s 26-year-old founder Mark Zuckerberg said as he unveiled simplified privacy controls.

‘Our teams internally have been cranking for the last couple of weeks.’

Facebook unveiled a redesigned privacy settings page to provide a single control for content and ‘significantly reduce’ the amount of information that is always visible to everyone.

Facebook also said it is giving users more control over how outside applications or websites access information at the service.

‘This is a pretty big overhaul to the system we already have,’ Zuckerberg said while outlining the changes during a press briefing at the social network’s headquarters in the California city of Palo Alto.

‘Now we are making it so there is less information that has to be public. People want a simple way to control the way information is shared with third parties, so that is what we are doing.’

The revamped privacy controls will roll out in the coming days, according to Zuckerberg.

Facebook last month sparked criticism from U.S. privacy and consumer groups, U.S. lawmakers and the European Union by adding the ability for partner websites to incorporate data regarding members of the social-networking service.

Zuckerberg was adamant that Facebook does not give advertisers access to members’ personal information.
• Source(s): Facebook Inc.
Facebook Blog
Privacy Settings
Mark Zuckerberg on ‘Making Control Simple’

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27
May
10

Second Iceland volcano could erupt in near future

NEWS
Second Iceland volcano could erupt in near future
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Earth••• An Icelandic volcano neighbouring Eyjafjoell, whose eruptions paralysed Europe’s skies last month, could come to life in the near future, experts have warned.

‘An eruption in the short term is a strong possibility,’ experts said, referring to Katla, which is larger and fiercer than Eyjafjoell, in a report from the University College London (UCL) institute for risk and disaster reduction.

The researchers also cautioned that Europe’s skies were likely to be hit by further ash cloud shutdowns, following April’s widespread closures and several smaller scale shutdowns since.

The report warned that ‘future moderately to highly explosive Icelandic eruptions combined with appropriate weather conditions are highly likely to cause a repeat of the recent air transport disruption.’

The Eyjafjoell volcano began erupting on April 14, and spewed out an ash cloud that drifted over Europe and led to massive flight disruption throughout the continent for several days.

It caused the biggest airspace shutdown in Europe since World War II, affecting more than 100,000 flights and eight million passengers.
The UCL experts – encompassing scientists, engineers and statisticians also criticised the response to the eruption.

‘The severe disruption to European airspace in April from (the volcano’s) ash clouds reflect a lack of integration between the monitoring, warning and risk management systems,’ said Carina Fearnley, of UCL’s hazard research centre.

In a second report released on Thursday, a team of British researchers said they had discovered a significant electrical charge in the ash plume.

The scientists, from the Institute of Physics, said they found that ‘the ash plume which hovered over Scotland carried a significant and self-renewing electric charge.’

They warned that the charge could pose a risk to both planes and passengers.

‘Charged particles can cause aircraft radio interference and, if introduced into aircraft cabins, charged ash may present an electrostatic hazard to occupants or aircraft systems,’ said the report.

The scientists used a specialist weather balloon to conduct research on a section of the ash cloud floating over Scotland.
• Source(s): University College London

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23
May
10

No activity at Iceland volcano, eruption could be over

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No activity at Iceland volcano, eruption could be over

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Earth••• A geophysicist says Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano is no longer in activity raising hopes the eruption which has heavily disrupted European flights for more than a month could be over.

Magnus Gudmundsson (Professor of Geophysics) of Iceland University says he can confirm the activity of the crater has stopped and no magma is coming up.

However he’s cautioned it’s too early to tell whether this is the end of the eruption or just a temporary stop in activity.

The volcano began erupting on April 14 and during its highest activity peak in the week after it began erupting it released enough ash to cause the biggest aerial shutdown in Europe since World War II affecting more than 100-thousand flights and eight million passengers.
• Source(s): University of Iceland
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23
May
10

British Airways strike to go ahead despite last-gasp peace offer

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British Airways strike to go ahead despite last-gasp peace offer

Sunday, May 23, 2010

NEWS

••• British Airways cabin crew will go ahead with a wave of strikes from tomorrow after hopes of a last-minute deal collapsed.

The British Airways cabin crew strike set to start at midnight will be suspended if Willie Walsh reinstates staff travel perks, Unite joint leader Tony Woodley has said.

In a last-minute appeal to the BA chief executive outside the union’s HQ in London, Mr. Woodley said he was ‘making a goodwill gesture to the public’.

He added: ‘As a sign of good faith, I’m making this offer now to Willie Walsh.

‘Turn round and reinstate our people’s travel without the unnecessary, vindictive removal of their service and this union will call off tonight’s strike and suspend the action.’

Earlier, it was announced the first of three five-day walkouts will go ahead after a ‘catastrophic’ breakdown in negotiations.

It was thought Mr. Woodley had told union officials there was no chance of resuming talks after the previous meeting was dramatically halted by a Socialist Workers Party protest.

Union sources claimed Mr. Walsh withdrew from further talks this morning – but the airline has said it is ‘willing, available and able’ to return to the negotiating table.

However, now Mr. Woodley has said a deal is ‘very close’ and ‘an agreement in principle on the business issues’ had been reached.

In a sideswipe at the protesters, Mr. Woodley said ‘fantastic progress’ had been made before the meeting was ‘rudely interrupted by our friends from the SWP’.

Only this morning, the BA boss had said there was still ‘an opportunity’ to avoid a strike – but warned contingency plans are in place.
‘British Airways will be flying tomorrow. We will not be grounded by the actions of a tiny minority who are clearly out of touch with reality,’ he told BBC 1’s Andrew Marr Show.

‘If the strike goes ahead at midnight we are ready.’

Speaking outside Heathrow Airport, Sky News’ Simon Newton said: ‘BA says it plans to operate 60% of long-haul and 50% of short-haul flights out of Heathrow.

‘The advice for passengers is to check with the British Airways website.’

There was a further twist when BA accused Unite’s other joint leader, Derek Simpson, of giving a ‘running commentary’ of the discussions via Twitter.

Mr. Walsh told Marr he had been ‘shocked and angry’ to learn of the tweets, adding: ‘That really does undermine the discussions that took place.
‘If it wasn’t for Derek’s actions and clearly then the mob storming the building, we may have been able to make significant progress.’

The messages which appeared on Twitter were posted under the name derekamicus next to a picture of Mr. Simpson.

One read: ‘Willie and Tony locking horns over accusations of unequal treatment of allegations of bullying.’

It was followed by another which read: ‘Arguments over the 8 sacked workers,’ and then: ‘Fear of more sackings to come.’

But Mr. Woodley said: ‘Never mind travelling the airwaves on Twitter, let’s deal with the issues that matter to the British travelling public.’
» Check your flight information here: British Airways
• Source(s): Sky News / British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. (BSkyB) / News Corp. and British Airways PLC

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22
May
10

Facebook preparing to make changes to privacy settings in response to criticism

NEWS
Facebook preparing to make changes to privacy settings in response to criticism

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Facebook on Saturday said it plans to simplify privacy controls at the popular social-networking service to appease critics.

‘We’ve spent the last couple of weeks listening to users and consulting with experts in California; Washington, DC, and around the world,’ Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in response to an AFP inquiry.

‘The messages we’ve received are pretty clear. Users appreciate having precise and comprehensive controls, but want them to be simpler and easier to use.’

Facebook contended that members like new programs rolled out at the California-based internet hotspot but want easy ways to opt out of sharing personal information with third-party applications or websites.

‘We’re listening to this input and incorporating it into innovations we hope to announce shortly,’ Noyes said.

Facebook has been under fire from U.S. privacy and consumer groups, U.S. lawmakers and the European Union over new features that critics claim compromise the privacy of its more than 400 million members.

The features introduced last month include the ability for partner websites to incorporate Facebook data, a move that would further expand the social network’s presence on the internet.
Four U.S. senators, in a letter to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, said they were worried that personal information about Facebook users is being made available to third party websites.

The senators also expressed concerns that ‘Facebook now obligates users to make publicly available certain parts of their profile that were previously private’.

Sharing personal information should be an ‘opt-in’ procedure in which a user specifically gives permission for data to be shared, privacy advocates argue.

Coming Facebook refinements are not expected to include a shift to an opt-in model.

Facebook vice president of global communications Elliot Schrage has been adamant that online privacy is taken very seriously at the company.

‘These new products and features are designed to enhance personalisation and promote social activity across the internet while continuing to give users unprecedented control over what information they share, when they want to share it, and with whom,’ Schrage said.

MySpace on May 17 announced plans to simplify its privacy settings as it seeks to differentiate itself from social network rival Facebook, which has eclipsed the News Corp-owned social networking service.

‘The last few weeks have been fraught with discussion around user privacy on social networks,’ MySpace co-president Mike Jones said in a blog post without directly mentioning Facebook by name.

‘While MySpace at its core is about discovery, self expression and sharing, we understand people might want the option of limiting the sharing of their information to a select group of friends,’ Jones said.
Jones said MySpace, which was bought by News Corp. in 2005 for $580 million, is ‘planning the launch of a simplified privacy setting for our user profiles.

‘While we’ve had these plans in the works for some time, given the recent outcry over privacy concerns in the media, we felt it was important to unveil those plans to our users now,’ he said.
• Source(s): Facebook Inc. and MySpace / Digital Media Group / News Corporation
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21
May
10

British Airways posts another record annual loss

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British Airways posts another record annual loss

Friday, May 21, 2010

British Airways has posted a record annual net loss of $754 million, due to the recession, a tough winter and strikes by cabin crews in March.

Friday’s earnings update from the carrier – which is currently facing 15 more days of walkouts in a bitter dispute with cabin crews over changes to pay and working conditions – is slightly better than had been feared.

The loss for the year ending March 31 compares with a loss of $517.883 million in the previous year. Revenue dropped 11 percent to $11.558 billion.

British Airways (BA) says it is making progress on a cost savings program that has included cutting jobs. It has warned the Unite union that the disputed changes are necessary for the airline to survive in a post-financial crisis world.

The airline said revenues had plunged by $1.447 billion, although this was offset by falling fuel costs as well as savings elsewhere in the business.

Chief executive Willie Walsh also fired a broadside at unions after Unite on Thursday won its appeal against the latest strikes being ruled out on a technicality.

‘Returning the business to profitability requires permanent change across the company and it’s disappointing that our cabin crew union fails to recognise that,’ he warned.

He added that the current financial year ‘could hardly have had a worse start’ due to the disruption caused by Iceland’s volcanic eruption, which closed most of European airspace for almost a week in April.

Following the court decision, 15 days of strikes are due to kick off on Monday.

But the group said market conditions were showing improvement and BA is expecting to break even this year following its heavy losses.
• Source(s): British Airways PLC and Sky News / British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. (BSkyB) / News Corp.
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20
May
10

British Airways Strike Injunction Overturned

NEWS
British Airways Strike Injunction Overturned

Thursday, May 20, 2010

NEWS

••• British Airways cabin crew will go on strike for five days from Tuesday after the Unite union won an appeal against a High Court injunction blocking the action.

A series of five-day walkouts had been due to start this week but last Tuesday the High Court ruled in favour of British Airways as the airline made a last-ditch bid to stop the walkouts, Sky News reported today.

Overnight, two out of three judges sitting at the Court of Appeal in London accepted the union’s challenge to the High Court ruling.

After the decision, Unite announced a five-day strike from Tuesday next week.

British Airways said it was “disappointed for its customers” that Unite’s appeal had been upheld and described the strikes as “unjustified and pointless.”

It said, “We are confident that thousands of cabin crew will ignore Unite’s strike call and help us fly more than 70 percent of the customers who were booked to fly with us in the period targeted.”

The union originally announced four five-day stoppages from May 18-22 inclusive, then from May 24-28, May 30-June 3 and June 5-9, the last strike ending just two days before the start of the World Cup in South Africa.

Joint Unite leader Tony Woodley repeated his claim the original dispute between British Airways and its cabin crew had been agreed in principle.

He said British Airways now had an “ideal opportunity” to settle the dispute despite the legal wrangle.

Mr. Woodley accused the airline of being “incredibly petty and vindictive” by refusing to fully restore travel concessions to staff who went on strike in March and over disciplinary action taken against more than 50 union members.
» Check your flight information here: British Airways
• Source(s): Sky News / British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. (BSkyB) / News Corp. and British Airways PLC
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17
May
10

British Airways in court attempt to block strike

NEWS
British Airways in court attempt to block strike
Unite spokesman Steve Turner calls a High Court injunction against a planned strike by British Airways cabin crew an ‘affront to democracy’.

Monday, May 17, 2010

NEWS

••• British Airways has blocked a series of four five-day strikes by cabin crew after the High Court in London granted an injunction just hours before they were due to start.

The airline, facing mounting chaos because of the industrial dispute coupled with the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland, succeeded in its legal action after successfully claiming the cabin crew union’s strike ballot failed to follow rules.

Members of the Unite union had been due to walk out from Tuesday to May 22, with further strikes planned on May 24-28, May 30-June 3 and June 5-9.

The airline argued Unite had not properly complied with the requirement to send everyone eligible to vote details of the exact breakdown of the ballot result and therefore the strike action was unlawful.

The judge, Richard McCombe, expressed sympathy for the union and its members, but said: I am unable to say it is sufficiently clear that the union took the steps required by law at the time they were required.

Unite, which is locked in an increasingly bitter battle with BA over staffing and pay, strongly criticised the ruling and vowed to appeal.

This judgment is an absolute disgrace and will rank as a landmark attack on free trade unionism and the right to take industrial action, said the union’s leaders, Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson.
British Airway said: We are delighted for our customers that Unite’s plans for extreme and unjustified strike action cannot go ahead.

The airline said it had already been forced to rearrange much of its schedule to accommodate the planned strike, but promised to restore a full flying program at its London Heathrow base by the weekend.

British Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, who held separate talks with both sides earlier on Monday, said the judgment was good news for passengers.

I want (both sides) to use this breathing space to resolve this dispute, both to avoid disruption to passengers and to safeguard the future of the airline, he said.

British Airway chief executive Willie Walsh spent three hours in talks on Monday with the Unite leaders and adjourned shortly after the court decision.

There will be further talks but events have been overtaken by the court’s decision, said Walsh.

A British Airway spokesman said: “We are delighted for our customers that Unite’s plans for extreme and unjustified strike action cannot go ahead. We are sorry the court judgment cannot undo the disruption already suffered by some customers who were due to travel during the early days of the union’s industrial action.

“As Unite knew, we had to announce last Thursday the rearrangement of our Heathrow schedule to give customers as much notice as possible about changes to their travel plans necessitated by the strike call. Ash disruption permitting, we will aim to restore a full flying programme at Heathrow by the weekend. We will also offer a full programme at Gatwick and London City, as planned.”

Unite’s national officer Steve Turner said: “It’s an affront to democracy and our members and we will be fighting back tomorrow.”

It is the second time in the long-running dispute that BA has succeeded in halting a cabin crew strike through legal action.

The airline won a High Court battle in December to stop a 12-day walkout over the busy Christmas and New Year holidays, when a judge granted an injunction.

British Airway also argued on this occasion that Unite’s ballot of staff was invalid.

The airline’s cabin crew staged walkouts in March, which were marked by sharp disagreements between the union and British Airway over the impact of the industrial action.
» Check your flight information here: British Airways
• Source(s): Independent Television News (ITN) and British Airways PLC
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17
May
10

No-fly zone lifted from North West airports

NEWS
No-fly zone lifted from North West airports

Monday, May 17, 2010

Earth

••• Planes will be allowed to fly through volcanic ash under new measures announced today by the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority.

The announcement of a new Time Limited Zone (TLZ) was made after all UK airspace was reopened yesterday evening.

The CAA said the TLZ – introduced from midday today (local time) – would allow flights for a limited time at higher ash densities than are currently allowed.

To operate in the new zone, airlines need to present the CAA with a safety case that includes the agreement of their aircraft and engine manufacturers.

The CAA said this meant that in future some areas of UK airspace that would have previously had to close would be able to remain open.

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said: “I’m pleased that the huge efforts we’re all making across aviation to keep flying safe while minimising the disruption from the volcano have resulted in further progress.”

The measures follow heavy criticism of the no-fly zones from airline industry chiefs.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh said blanket bans on flying were “a gross over-reaction to a very minor risk”.

And Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson described the situation as “beyond a joke”.

The announcement came after the U.K.’s National Air Traffic Service confirmed that British airspace was to reopen from 02:00 pm EDT time on Monday until 08:00 pm EDT.

A no-fly zone would remain over parts of the North Sea, affecting some helicopter flights.

The majority of U.K. airports reopened today with only a few – including some in the Shetland Isles – still closed.

Heathrow and Gatwick were among the airports that had closed late on Sunday (local time) when the volcanic ash cloud moved south.
• Source(s): Sky News / British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. (BSkyB) / News Corp.
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17
May
10

Ash cloud restrictions lifted

NEWS
Ash cloud restrictions lifted

Monday, May 17, 2010

Earth

••• Three of Europe’s busiest airports reopened on Monday afternoon after a dense volcanic ash cloud from Iceland dissipated and a no-fly zone was lifted. Up to 1000 flights in Europe were affected by the closures.

Flights were landing and taking off from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, but all three warned travellers it would take time for airlines to clear the backlog of delayed flights and to contact their airlines before going to the airport.

Eurocontrol, the continent’s air traffic control agency, said 28,000 flights were expected on Monday in Europe, about 1000 less than normal, mainly due to the disruptions in Britain and the Netherlands.

Icelandic civil protection official Agust Gunnar Gylfason said the ash cloud was travelling to the north, forcing airports in Keflavik and Reykjavik to close. He said seismic activity at the volcano was unchanged.

All British, Scottish and Irish airspace was open at least until early on Tuesday, but airspace over the North Sea was still restricted, affecting some helicopter operations.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh – facing a fresh wave of strikes by cabin crews on Tuesday – called the latest airspace closures ‘a gross overreaction to a very minor risk’.

‘I am very concerned that we have decisions on opening and closing of airports based on a theoretical model,’ he said.

‘There was no evidence of ash in the skies over London today yet Heathrow was closed.’

Aviation officials have defended the decision to impose the no-fly zone, saying airline representatives and engine manufacturers last week had agreed to find a way to ensure planes could fly safely in the volcanic ash.

Britain’s transportation minister, Philip Hammond, said aircraft manufacturers were examining evidence to see ‘what inspection regimes they can put in place that would allow safe flying through a somewhat higher threshold of ash.

‘If we can do that, the likelihood of volcanic ash disrupting flights will obviously diminish,’ he said.

Germany sent up two test flights on Sunday to measure the ash cloud, but there was no word yet on the results of those tests. Still, Germany said on Monday the latest ash cloud should not affect its airports.

‘At this time, the concentration of ash above German air space is so low that there are no reductions in air traffic,’ German Air Traffic Controllers said.

Ash can clog jet engines. The April 14 eruption at Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano forced most countries in northern Europe to shut their airspace between April 15-20, grounding more than 100,000 flights and an estimated 10 million travellers worldwide. The shutdown cost airlines more than $2 billion.

Last week, the European air safety agency proposed drastically narrowing the continent’s no-fly zone because of volcanic ash to one similar to that used in the U.S. The proposal still must be approved.

Eurostar added four extra trains on Monday – an additional 3500 seats – between London and Paris to help travellers cope.

Eyjafjallajokul (pronounced ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) erupted in April for the first time in nearly two centuries. During its last eruption, starting in 1821, its emissions rumbled on for two years.
» Millions watch Iceland volcano online – Mila ehf – Lífæð samskipta
» Check your flight information here: American, Delta, United, Continental, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Aer Arann, easyJet, Flybe, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Iberia, TAP, Qantas, JAT
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.), Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), British Department of Transport (DfT), German Aerospace Center (DLR) and ITN
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