The European Parliament voted to postpone scheduled debates on a resolution related to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Cihan reports.
On Tuesday, the President of the EP, Martin Schulz postponed the previously scheduled vote for Members of European Parliament (MEPs) to debate complaints or amendments regarding the free trade agreement that has been in behind-closed-doors negotiations with the United States for two years.
French rights group La Quadrature du Net is claiming that it has obtained a leaked copy of a "non-paper" on net neutrality written by the presidency of the Council of the EU that basically guts net neutrality protections in the European Union. It also delays or waters down previous proposals that would have abolished mobile roaming charges in the European Union. La Quadrature du Net further claims that the "heavily edited" document removes any reference to "net neutrality," removes language about protecting against throttling, and other protective language.
According to this TorrentFreak report, the European Commission announced its new Digital Single Market Strategy today, which hopes to improve consumer access to digital services and goods by changing some copyright laws and addressing issues related to geo-blocking. Content providers such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, and others are not available in every European Union countries thanks to restrictive geo-blocking rules.
Rights groups Amnesty International, Liberty and Privacy International, and others have announced that it will take its fight against security agencies such as GCHQ in the United Kingdom conducting mass surveillance and data collection on British citizens to Europe's highest court.
Beginning today, Steam users in countries under the banner of the European Union can get a refund for digital purchases. For up to 14 days from the date of the original purchase of an item, Steam users are entitled to a refund under European law and Valve officially announced via its Steam Subscriber Agreement that it is following that law:
The man who once served as Valve's economist-in-residence (he wrote a regular blog about the company's virtual economies for a time) has taken a job with the government of Greece. Yanis Varoufakis, who worked for Valve from 2012 - 2013, analyzed some fascinating data about Valve's virtual economies including how gifting played a part in TF2's overall economy, how a bartering and arbitration formed around trades, and how Valve fires people.
Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras unveiled the new cabinet earlier in the week.
Consumers in Europe can now get a "no questions asked" refund on purchases they don't like through Apple's App Store. The company quietly changed its policy on refunds in Europe, making it a lot easier for those who want their money back on purchases of apps and music less than 14 days old.
Apple could have taken a stricter stance on this new policy because the law would allow the company to deny refunds on products that have been used; listening to a song, for example would mean that you enjoyed and used the product.
Apple has updated its iTunes' terms and conditions governing the sale of digital goods in the European Union. The updated terms and conditions allow consumers to cancel their purchases and ask for a refund, according to Gamasutra, but there's a few problems with these changes.
UK video games industry trade body Tiga says that games should officially be recognized as art. Speaking to BBC's Newsbeat program, Tiga CEO Dr. Richard Wilson said that video games should officially be classified as cultural products on the same level as Television, film, animation, etc.
The European Union announced today that it is working with member states to create guidelines that ensure that games and apps with in-app purchases are marketed to consumers in an "appropriate manner." These rules come after an investigation into App store marketing practices aimed at children.
The EU said that, going forward, the following guidelines will be applied to Apple, Google, and other app store owners:
- Games advertised as "free" should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved
New guidelines from Ofcom (the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries) will make switching from one superfast broadband supplier to another less expensive. Prior to changes in the rules, when a consumer switched from BT's Openreach (the company that controls BT's phone and broadband infrastructure) the new ISP would be hit with a £50 connection fee. This fee was typically passed on to the consumer.
The European Parliament has voted to implement net neutrality rules that would - if fully approved - restrict internet service providers' from charging data-intensive services such as Netflix for faster network access. The new law still needs to be approved by Europe's Council of Ministers.
The new rules would also prohibit mobile networks and broadband providers from blocking services such as WhatApp messages or Google Drive storage, which critics argue could be exploited to allow child pornography to be shared via these types of services.
UK-based 'Cut the Rope' developer ZeptoLab has filed an official challenge to King's "Candy" trademark in Europe. The company filed its official challenge to the broad trademark on March 20. In the European Union, King still has an active trademark registration for Candy that covers video games, video game services, and clothing. ZeptoLab is strongly objecting to this in that region, noting that no company should holds the rights to such a broad and commonly used term such as "Candy."
Speaking at the Cebit tech fair in Hanover, Germany recently, European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes said that the future of the internet has to be based on trust. Kroes is responsible for the European Commission's Digital Agenda, and was giving the speech to an audience which included such state leaders as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Kotaku shows off a couple of screenshots from the European version of South Park: The Stick of Truth. The screenshots - both of which contain spoilers (so if you don't want this specific plot element revealed to you, don't view it) - show off what happens in the uncensored version of the game versus the European version.
European Union ministers are acknowledging that free trade talks between the European Union and the United States are being continually opposed by advocacy groups who are fighting against such issues as globalization, multinationals, and more. The rise of these groups' influence on negotiations, along with reports that the U.S. has been spying in Europe and that trade agreements are favored by big companies (who are helping to craft the language of some of these treaties) has proven to be a challenge to EU officials.
The European Commission announced that it is holding meetings with member states and key players in the mobile app space like Apple and Google to enforce even stronger regulation of free-to-play games. The European Union's executive body said that it is concerned that a substantial number of games are marketed as free but contain in-app purchases that can prove to be very costly to consumers and that children are "particularly vulnerable" to messaging and marketing.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during her weekly podcast that she is proposing to other European nations - most notably France - to build their own communications network to help improve data protection. Chancellor Merkel described a network that would not have to automatically pass through the United States.
According to the web site for law firm Osborne Clarke, the results of the German court case against Valve for not allowing Steam accounts to be transferred or the ability to sell pre-owned Steam games are in.
In the early part of 2012 citizens of the world - particularly in Europe - took to the streets to protest, signed petitions, and gave politicians and bureaucrats an earful of disdain over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). All of those efforts paid off, with members of the European Parliament inevitably voting against it.
Canadian Internet rights group La Quadrature du Net warns that a trade treaty between Canada and the European Union will ultimately hurt internet freedoms in both regions if its ratified. CETA recently reached "agreement in principle" status during a meeting between José Barroso, the President of the European Commission, and Stefen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister.
According to an Ars Technica report, Germany’s justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said on Monday that she favored even stronger European Union rules that would enhance data protection and that companies in the United States who don't abide by those standards should be barred from doing business in the European Market.
UKIE, the trade body that represents the video game industry in the UK, says that it feels "pretty confident" that the tax break proposal will be approved by the European Union and that the doubts raised by the EU Commission over taxpayers contributing to the proposed relief will evaporate. Last year, the UK government approved tax breaks for the country's games sector, promising to provide 25 percent tax relief on 80 percent of the budget for qualifying UK-made games.
Back in March La Quadrature du Net (a non-profit association defending the rights and freedoms of citizens on the Internet) joined 47 European and International organizations in asking the European Parliament to exclude provisions related to patents, copyright, trademarks, data protection, geographical indications, or other forms of so-called intellectual property from the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA).
This week the European Commission issued a preliminary antitrust ruling against Google’s Motorola Mobility related to its heavy handed tactics against Apple in German Courts. The finding could ultimately lead to a large fine for Motorola (and by extension Google) and could lead to Motorola being forced to enter an agreement with competitors to license its patents for a reasonable royalty rate.
During the United Kingdom's March 2012 Budget it looked like plans for tax breaks for video games developers were a lock, but a European Commission (EC) investigation that was announced today has put their future in doubt. The European Commission announced today that it plans to investigate the proposals, and questions whether there is an obvious market failure in the UK games industry.
Specifically the EC is seeking answers to four key questions related to the UK games tax relief plan:
Under a new proposal put forward this week as part of the European Union’s Digital Agenda for Europe, all member states would offer a minimum level of 30Mbps broadband to everybody by the year 2020. One of the roadblocks to this lofty goal seems to be a lack of funding; last month over $9 billion earmarked for broadband deployment was cut from the EU budget. Despite this major setback, EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes is still pushing for hitting that 2020 target.
Following yesterday's ruling by U.S District Judge Lucy Koh that rejected Apple's motion for a ban on the sale of three older Samsung devices still being sold in the U.S. that infringed on the company's iPhone-related patents, Samsung has decided to withdraw all of its requests for injunctions against Apple products currently pending in European courts.
According to this Reuters report, Apple is now complying with local warranty laws in Italy after the company was threatened by the Italian government with shut downs of its local businesses and hefty fines if it did not comply. Last week Apple stopped selling its AppleCare warranty plans in its retail stores in Italy. The paid warranty program from Apple offers coverage after the limited warranty on an Apple product expires.