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Actually practical and not necessarily a problem. The Security Council of the Russian Federation, headed by Vladimir Putin, has ordered the "government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions." (RT, the Russian government-funded news service.) RT believes "this system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa."

Expect dramatic claims about Russia's plan for an alternate root for the BRICs and not under Western control. The battle over ICANN and domain names are essentially symbolic. Managing the DNS is a relatively insignificant task, more clerical than governing. ICANN Chair Steve Crocker pointed out they had very little to do with policy.

Columbia University Professor Eli Noam and then ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé have both said such a system is perfectly practical as long as there is robust interconnection.

Noam has pointed out that "multiple Internets" might actually be a good thing. Fadi agreed that this could work but worried about who would protect that "robust interconnection."

Some already discussed this as "splitting the Internet," with the implication that would destroy the net and be a major human rights issue. The U.S. walked out of the ITU, the U.N. organization for the Internet, over issues like this. (I've asked some of the likely people for comments and will pass them on verbatim.)

Some will claim this is about blocking free speech, but that's rhetoric. Russia doesn't need to fiddle with the DNS for censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated.

The biggest obstacle to the Russian proposal is that China may not be interested. After the WCIT, they realized that ICANN and the DNS are side issues not worth bothering about. They de-emphasized the ITU because the Americans made it obvious they would block anything they didn't like. Instead, they have been building alternate institutions including the World Internet Summit in Wuzhan and the BRICs conferences. Tim Cook of Apple and Sundar Pichai of Google paid homage to the Chinese in Wuzhan.

The Chinese have put their main work where decisions that matter are made. Wireless standards are set by 3GPP, where nothing can be approved without China's consent. In 5G, "the Chinese hold more than 30 key positions in standards organizations, with 23% of the voting power, 30% of the manuscripts, and 40% of the lead projects." They are leaders at IEEE, where Wi-Fi standards are set. Anywhere the future is being designed, I see many Chinese, from SDN to Autonomous cars.

The American battle at ITU is proving to be a historic mistake. Making a few compromises at ITU would have kept the institution central. The U.S. and allies would continue in a strong role even if they shared some power with others. The result: new centers of focus where the U.S. government has very little impact.

Why does Russia want an independent Internet?

Russia's communications minister, Nikolay Nikiforov, worries about, "a scenario where our esteemed partners would suddenly decide to disconnect us from the internet." I think that's highly unlikely but Nikiforov points out, "recently, Russia is being addressed in a language of unilateral sanctions: first, our credit cards are being cut off; then the European Parliament says that they'll disconnect us from SWIFT."

U.S. Senators have called for much stronger sanctions. U.S. FCC Commissioner Mike Reilly suggested defunding the ITU unless the U.S. gets more power. (He doesn't realize the U.S. already has an effective veto over any ITU action, but that's another story.)

It makes sense for the Russians to be prepared for such a contingency as the Cold War has been warming up on both sides. "Britain's top military chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach just made headlines warning Russian subs "could CRIPPLE Britain by cutting undefended undersea internet cables."

Why the "splitting the Internet" mime was invented

ICANN's American contract became a symbol of the "control of the Internet." Actually, ICANN has less real power than France Telecom/Orange, Google, Alibaba, or Facebook. But as the center of the Internet moved South, those countries believed they should have a share of control. The Americans and friends resisted change, although the most important opposition was the U.S. security organizations.

Many folks in good faith saw this as a conflict over freedom of speech, including Vint Cerf and Kathy Brown of ISOC. They were the public face of the dispute, but the real power came from the U.S. government. The main battle was at the ITU WCIT in Dubai, which I attended. So did 14 representatives of U.S. three letter agencies. (NSA, CIA, HSA, DOD.) They weren't there to protect freedom of speech; their mission was to protect the ability of the NSA to do what the NSA does so well.

U.S. delegation lead at WCIT Larry Strickling explained to me the battle was necessary "unless you want Russia or China to take over the Internet." (Anyone objective would realize Larry, generally a good guy, was offbase. They would have been happy with minor concessions but we gave them nothing.)

A multi-million dollar campaign resembled U.S. political campaigns. It found emotional issues that would win them support and hammered them home worldwide. Political pros led by U.S. State dominated the media. The folks at the ITU tried to answer back with facts but were totally out-classed as campaigners.

One theory they invented and propagated was that collecting any taxes from companies like Google would result in them boycotting Africa, which would cripple education. Google was not going to abandon a billion potential viewers because of modest taxation.

They also circulated everywhere a picture of Secretary-General Tourè shaking hands with the President of one of his largest members and spread the rumor he was a Russian stooge. While Hamadoun did his graduate work in Russia, he was an ardent capitalist. He saw Russia during the era of stagnation and was not impressed. In fact, he wanted to do his Ph.D. in Canada but couldn't get a scholarship. Russia was the only country that offered a scholarship. He said the polite things diplomats say about a powerful country, but in private was very clear.

There are hundreds of "Internet governance" professionals concentrating on ICANN and things like IGF. Some are well paid; most are of good faith. Many are more interested in access and getting everyone connected and don't realize they should be working elsewhere.

The picture is the ICANN board in 2016. The Internet doesn't look like this anymore.

Sources:

I went to google.ru, searched Internet, and found this story. Few have picked it up in English except the Russian RT service.

https://www.rt.com/politics/411156-russia-to-launch-independent-internet/

https://www.rt.com/news/188960-internet-blackout-russia-counter/

The story began at,
https://www.rbc.ru/technology_and_media/28/11/2017/5a1c1db99a794783ba546aca

I found more at,
https://daily.afisha.ru/technology/7543-alternativnyy-internet-iz-rossii-chto-eto-takoe-i-chem-on-nam-grozit/

The ITU, ICANN, and WCIT reporting are mine or from the organization's websites.

Written by Dave Burstein, Editor, DSL Prime

www.circleid.com | 12/15/17
A flaw in Europe’s clean energy plan allows fuel from felled trees to qualify as renewable energy when in fact this would accelerate climate change and devastate forests, warn a group of scientists from the world’s leading universities.
www.euractiv.com | 12/14/17
Since releasing the University of San Francisco research paper on “How to Determine the Economic Value of Your Data” (EvD), I have had numerous conversations with senior executives about the business and technology ramifications of EvD. Now with the release of Doug Laney’s “Infonomics” book that builds upon Doug’s EvD work at Gartner, I expect these conversations to intensify. In fact, I just traveled to Switzerland to discuss the potential business and technology ramifications of EvD with the management team of a leading European Telecommunications company.

read more

In line with Emmanuel Macron's speech and discussions at the recent Social Summit in Gothenburg, let's puts education at the heart of a more social and prosperous Europe, argue Michael Gaebel and Thomas Jorgensen.
www.euractiv.com | 12/8/17
[This Day] Incensed by the high rate of unemployment occasioned by few opportunities in civil and public services, which can hardly take care of millions of people who leave schools annually, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu recently unveiled the first ever Work and Learn European Vocational Institute in Enugu to cater for the South-east Zone. Christopher Isiguzo reports
allafrica.com | 12/6/17

The largest and most important global information infrastructure today by any measure is clearly the global mobile network and all of its gateways, services, and connected devices. That network is standardized, managed, and energized by a combination of the 3GPP and GSMA. The level of 3GPP industry involvement and collaboration today probably exceeds all other telecom, internet, and assorted other bodies put together… and then some. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than the stunning 3GPP standards mega-meeting this past week in Reno — and the message was clear: innovation today is *in* the network.

There were 14 groups covering every segment of the global infrastructure meeting in parallel. Nearly 10,000 input contributions from 268 different companies and their subsidiaries (plus significant contributions from government agencies in China, Europe, and a few in the U.S.) were submitted. In a number of cases, companies have created a dozen different subsidiaries and sent people from all of them. There were a total of 2,756 people in Reno from basically every provider and vendor worldwide. As new network-based services and technologies like NFV and 5G scale globally, these groups now meet every 60-90 days at different locations around the world. Some groups are even holding "bis" and "ter" meetings in-between.

What is even more significant, however, are the new innovative platforms being instantiated in infrastructure, services, devices, and radio access networks. 3GPP is subdivided into three major divisions: SA (infrastructure and services), CT (edge/end-user devices), and RAN (radio access networks and gateways). SA had 2,096 inputs, CT — 990, and RAN, an amazing 6,827 inputs. The security group SA3, alone, had 411 input contributions. A virtual cornucopia (no pun intended) of new capabilities are being baked into the network infrastructures and gateways that provide enhanced performance and security for end users, and greater resiliency overall to meet national and regional policy objectives.

An increasingly apparent observation from multiple technical, standards, industry, and legal/regulatory developments unfolding today is that a paradigm shift is underway towards "innovation in the network." Those 10,000 input documents into the 3GPP meetings last week and the FCC's removal of 19th-century NetNeutrality regulation are prominent bellwethers.

Even at the prominent university engineering schools, a new generation of professors are devising curricula and turning out a new generation of professionals and lots of published papers exclaiming that the innovation is *in* the network. In addition to all those contributions and new work items in the principal industry venue, 3GPP, vendors are also pushing new products into the provider marketplace as can be seen in the dramatic rise of network middlebox patents. Even a cursory search of Google, Google Patents, and Google Scholar produces stunning results of the trends.

Of course, NFV-SDN rollouts are all about the same thing. Part of that paradigm shift arguably involves a hard reality that it will be increasingly providers in the networks or at data centers orchestrating network capabilities. The NFV industry standards organization is today the second most active body, and it works closely with 3GPP. The nonsensical myth promulgated by self-serving internet religious that innovation only occurs at the "edges" is finally disappearing down the "alt-truth" rabbit-hole. The strange internet-centric world that came into fashion 20 years ago — especially prominent in Washington — is ending.

It is worth noting that a pendulum swing in network architectures has long been evident. Forty years ago, one of the real networking legends, Larry Roberts, would appear at closed government meetings hosted by MITRE with lots of charts and graphs portraying "Robert's Law." He argued that with a combination of network bandwidth metrics and computational metrics, you could predict cycles of network-centric supremacy and peripheral supremacy. The idea was aimed at U.S. government strategic technology analysts to adjust policies and investments accordingly. Larry at the time had just left DARPA and was ramping up Telenet Corporation in a Reston farm field to make it happen. His efforts were successful beyond anyone's wildest dreams — even if entire forests have disappeared in the region. Of course, with NFV-SDN and everything becoming virtualized, it is more complex if not impossible to do this. Nonetheless, the ebb and flow of these network technological architectures were described long ago.

Perhaps the most important takeaway is that innovation in the network is part of an evolutionary pattern where everyone gains, and government regulators should not be constraining that innovation by exercising authority to pick "architecture winners" based on self-serving myths. Net Neutrality is an oxymoron.

Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC

www.circleid.com | 12/5/17

There was one message which overshadowed all discussions at the 5th Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS) in New Delhi in November 2017: Instability in cyberspace is as dangerous as climate change. With four billion Internet users and five trillion dollars annually in digital transactions, instability in cyberspace has the potential to ruin the world.

GCCS is a high-level ministerial meeting with broad multistakeholder participation. The conference was initiated by the former British Foreign Secretary William Hague during the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in February 2011 and became known as the "London Process." The London meeting was followed by conferences in Budapest (2012), Seoul (2013) and The Hague (2015). An outcome of the process is, inter alia, the establishment of the Global Forum on Cyber-expertise (GFCE) which presented its first report in New Delhi.

Disagreement among Governments

The GFCE collects best practices how cybersecurity can be promoted. The reality is that numerous governments preach cybersecurity, but practice policies, which undermine it. There is broad agreement that security and stability in cyberspace is an issue of first priority on the world's policy agenda. However, there is an even broader disagreement on what to do. In the absence of an intergovernmental agreement, states have entered into a cyber arms race without any clue about the unintended side-effects of their activities. This is dangerous. Is there any hope to stop the swinging pendulum?

Cybersecurity has been on the agenda of UN negotiations for more than a decade. One effort, which was seen by many groups as a right step into the right direction to reduce the risks of cyber-confrontation, was the formation of a so-called "UN Group of Governmental Experts" (UNGGE). The small group, operating under the 1st Committee of the UN General Assembly, produced in 2013 and 2015 two consensus reports, which introduced a number of confidence-building measures in cyberspace (CBMCs) and recognized that international law and the UN Charter are relevant both offline and online.

But in 2017, when the 5th UNGGE tried to go one step further by digging deeper, the time of consensus was over. The group was unable to agree on how international law has to be applied in cyberspace, what a cyberwar is, whether a cyberattack constitutes an act of aggression (which would trigger Article 51 of the UN Charta, that is the right to self-defense) and how the question of attribution could be answered.

The issues are complicated, no doubt. But the intergovernmental disagreement emerged not as a result of the complexity of the issues. It was the absence of the political will to agree.

In New Delhi, five members of the 5th UNGGE were sitting on one panel, but they spoke different languages. Nobody said that the failure of the 5th GGE is the end of the story. Cybersecurity remains on the table of global diplomacy, and the issue will not go away in the years ahead of us. However, there is no plan how to revitalize the broken process. Mutual mistrust and hidden agendas are blocking sofar any effort to find the way towards the reset button.

Should there be a 6th UNGGE or a body with all 193 UN member states? Should there be a new process independent from the UN (like the one on climate change)? Would it be helpful to include — on a consultative or collaborative basis — non-governmental stakeholders? Would it be more successful to re-start "small" with regional arrangements in Europe (via the OSCE), Asia (via ASEAN) and the Americas (via OAS)?

Thinking out of the Box

The gap between the inability to do anything and the need to do something is growing. To rescue the situation, one has to bring new steam to the process and to think out of the box.

When the Dutch government, after the GCCS in The Hague in April 2015, started to investigate the usefulness of the creation of an independent commission to look into the broader options to strengthen cyber-stability, it got a broad positive response. After a short preparatory phase, the Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders used the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in February 2017 to announce the establishment of a new "Gobal Commission on Stability in Cyberspace" (GCSC), chaired by the former foreign minister of Estonia, Marina Kaljarund, with a mandate to support policy and norms coherence related to the security and stability in and of cyberspace.

The formation of independent commissions to investigate options how to deal with burning policy issues is not new in the recent history of global diplomacy. In the 1970s the Palme Commission and the Brandt Commission, chaired by former prime ministers from Sweden and Germany, paved the way for disarmament agreements in the 1980s and the formulation the Millenium Development Goals in the 1990s. In the 1980s, UNESCO's McBride Commission and ITUs Maitland Commission, chaired by two former ministers from Ireland and the United Kingdom, helped to open our eyes to understand better the role of media and communication technology in the information age. In 2002 the Cardozo Commission, chaired by the former Brazilian president, recommended to include civil society in global policymaking, opening the door for what we call today "the multistakeholder approach."

Even in the Internet world, full of experts of every color, the formation of "Independent Commissions" was useful. The Ilves Commission, chaired by the former President of Estonia, recommended in 2014 the completion of the IANA transition to strengthen ICANN as a truly independent global steward of the critical Internet resources as domain names, IP addresses, Internet protocols and root servers. And it was the Bildt Commission, chaired by the former Swedish prime minister, who told the world in 2016, that the only way, to avoid a worst-case scenario for the future of the Internet is an engagement into multistakeholder governance processes and mechanisms.

With this background, the expectations for the Kaljarund-Commission are high. Will it be able to contribute to global arrangements, which keep the Internet free, open and secure?

First Step: Protecting the Core of the Internet

The commission has 27 individual commissioners, most of them former ministers, CEOs, board members, retired professors and technical experts representing all stakeholder groups from all parts of the world (see a full list of Commissioners here.

It is a unique pool of knowledge, experience, and wisdom. With such an expertise, the outcome of the deliberations of the commission, which acts in an open environment, closely linked to the community by having meetings back to back to big Internet community meetings around the globe, supported by a research team and a governmental advisory network, the GCSC has the potential, to become a trusted source of inspiration for global Internet policy making in the 2020s.

In its mission statement, the GCSC has stated: "We have reached the end of a 25 year period of strategic stability and relative peace among major powers. Conflict between states will take new forms, and cyber-activities are likely to play a leading role in this newly volatile environment, thereby increasing the risk of undermining the peaceful use of cyberspace to facilitate the economic growth and the expansion of individual freedoms. In order to counter these developments, the GCSC will develop proposals for norms and policies to enhance international security and stability and guide responsible state and non-state behavior in cyberspace. The GCSC will engage the full range of stakeholders to develop shared understandings, and its work will advance cyber stability by supporting information exchange and capacity building, basic research, and advocacy.

The commission is supported by a secretariat formed by the Hague Center for Strategic Studies and the East-West Institute, directed by Alexander Klimburg with Bruce McConnell as co-chair.

So far the Commission had meetings in Tallin (June 2017 back to back to CyCon), Las Vegas (July 2017 back to back to Black Hat) and New Delhi (November 2017 back to back to GCCS). It has started an independent research program based on open calls for proposals. First research papers were discussed during the recent New Delhi meeting.

In New Delhi, the GCSC Commissioners issued a "Call to Protect the Public Core of the Internet." The declaration urges state and non-state actors to avoid activity that would intentionally and substantially damage the general availability or integrity of the "public core" of the Internet. The Commission believes that the stability of cyberspace is essential for the good of humanity now and into the future.

"In an ideal state, every citizen in the world should be free to enjoy, with confidence and peace of mind, the positive impacts of cyberspace," commented Marina Kaljurand, GCSC Chair. "Unfortunately, we are not there, yet. Significant cyber incidents are on the increase, and mitigation will require diligent action from all stakeholders, including especially governments and the private sector. This document underscores collaboration, restraint, and protection of the public core, all of which will pave the way for greater security and stability in cyberspace." Incidents such as those affecting the Internet domain name system, forging a widely used software validation certificate, and corrupting certificate authorities provide examples of the potential disruptions that could generate widespread consequences for Internet users around the world.

During the forthcoming 12th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Geneva, December 17, 2017, the GCSC will have a Public Hearing where the proposed norm will be discussed with the broader Internet community.

At its next meeting, scheduled for January 2018 in Lille (France), the commission will also discuss, how cybersecurity issues are interlinked with the issue of digital trade and human rights and whether a more holistic approach is needed to find specific solutions for the myriad of complex issues in the borderless Internet Governance ecosystem.

Do not boil the Water, build Bridges

One should not forget, that the Internet is just a neutral enabling technology. It can enable the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) until 2030. But it can also enable a cyberwar with lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) which could pull humankind into a doomsday scenario. It is dangerous to boil the troubled water. There is a need to build bridges.

It is never too late to move from the banks of confrontation to the banks of collaboration. The Commission has a mandate for three years. Its final report with recommendations is expected for spring 2020. A lot of today's controversies will be probably "water under the bridge." But the key question is what happens in those three years on the bridge. How the global intergovernmental and multistakeholder wrestling on the "bridge over troubled water" will be played out? Will we move forward towards a world with one free, open and secure Internet in stable cyber-spaces, or will we walk back into a fragmented Internet with unstable cyber-places?

Three years is not such a long time. A new decade, the 2020s, always offers an opportunity for a new beginning. To avoid to be blamed to have missed opportunities, one has to start thinking out of the box now.

Written by Wolfgang Kleinwächter, Professor Emeritus at the University of Aarhus

www.circleid.com | 12/2/17
[RFI] Emmanuel Macron recognised the "indisputable crimes" of European colonialism and vowed to fight people smuggling from sub-Saharan Africa in a keynote speech at Ougadougou University on Tueday. The French president was speaking to 800 students in the Burkina Faso capital at the start of a three-nation tour of west Africa.
allafrica.com | 11/29/17

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — French President Emmanuel Macron called the trafficking of African migrants a "crime against humanity" on Tuesday as he made his first major address on the continent before a crowd of university students in Burkina Faso.

In a wide-ranging speech that lasted nearly two hours, Macron proposed a crackdown on human smuggling networks between Africa and Europe.

Blog

The A Soul for Europe Conference 2017 in Berlin presented a multi-facetted programme that aimed at bringing civil society and politicians in a dialogue on how to take responsibility for the European project.

Starting the conference with a public debate, representatives from the political and the cultural field debated the fact that above all the citizens as well as the cities and regions should take an active part in Europe.

As Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the Committee of the Regions, put it “Europe is not Brussels. Europe is where you live!” The Mayor of Cluj, Emil Boc, who succeeded in gathering all kind of communities in his city for the candidacy of a European Capital of Culture disclosed his professional secret: "All politics is local. Let people participate in their municipalities and trust will increase for the political system at large."

To activate the cities in an European sense is what Volker Hassemer, Chairman of Stiftung Zukunft, is aiming at: “The national level does not give the support we expect. Therefore, we in the cities and regions must assume our own responsibility – especially in Germany."

Arts and Culture could be a good way to do so; especially when it comes to the populist and anti-European influence that can be observed in the public sphere. Author Juan Gabriel Vasquez claims that we have to rediscover the European Narrative and that we need more humanities in universities to counter fake news, propaganda and alternative facts.

The second day of the conference with around 250 participants kicked off with two key note speeches of Karl-Heinz Lambertz and Juan Gabriel Vasquez confronting the cultural perspective with the view of a politician.

After Lambertz‘ emotionally pointed out that Europe only has a future if it becomes more than a single market, since "you can’t fall in love with a single market”. Vasquez called out to the journalists, artists and people from the cultural sector in the audience: “We must take control of the story again. We must put the literary word back in the centre of our lives.”

In some of the overall ten workshops participants discussed ways to create a Europe from the bottom-up. Among the hosts of the workshops were political and cultural representatives from Georgia (Minister for European integration Victor Dolidze), from Serbia (Activists from “Let’s not drown Belgrade”), from the Netherlands (City Council of Amsterdam) and Germany (Das Progressive Zentrum).

In the track "Arts & Politics – A good match" workshops focused on the potential of arts and culture, such as the power of the written word (authors from the international literaturfestival, the community building work that Theater an der Parkaue is doing as a local theatre for children, or the role of journalists and media in a world where "alternative facts" influence public opinion, carried out by cafébabel.com and n-ost, two trans-European online media organisations.

33 examples of how individual citizens and civil society initiatives can have an impact on cities and regions were shown on the European Marketplace – the project representatives had the opportunity to exchange best-practice methods and examples for their initiatives and projects.

The core element of all the discussions and workshops was clear – it’s all about cooperation between civil-society, politics and culture. Only together, we can face the challenges for the European project ahead of us, Nele Hertling, spokesperson of the A Soul for Europe initiative, pointed out at the end of the conference.

In his inspirational speech, Guillaume Klossa, the chairman of CIVICO Europa summed it up: “Our goal: Each citizen thinks as a leader and each leader as a citizen.”

Image: Jule Halsinger/seesaw-foto.com

www.voxeurop.eu | 11/28/17
The European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) is pleased to announce the forthcoming public hearing on “The role of teachers and school heads in improving the status of Vocational Education and Training".
www.euractiv.com | 11/22/17
[CAJ News] Kinshasa -ARMED groups are controlling around 80 percent of the Central African Republic, rendering the country unconducive for schooling. Unsafe or damaged schools, absent teachers and dangerous journeys to class are among the destructive ways that conflict is impacting the learning prospects of youngsters in the troubled country. The findings by the United Nations Children's Fund come ahead of the African Union - European Union Summit scheduled for the Ivory Coast at the end of the month. "What this survey shows i
allafrica.com | 11/15/17
Forget the gaudy Union Jack t-shirts and American university hoodies. Soon you might be able to flaunt your European-ness with a line of new EU clothing.
www.euractiv.com | 11/14/17

The year 2017 may become a historic milestone where the visceral effects of global heating - extreme storms and wildfires - finally reach public consciousness.

 Homeowners Access Hurricane Irma Damage - 12 Sep, 2017

Humans have known about the effects of carbon in the atmosphere for two centuries, since the work of Joseph Fourier at the French Academy of Science. A century ago, Swedish chemist, Svante Arrhenius, calculated that doubling atmospheric CO2 would increase Earth's average temperature by 5-6°C, which now appears accurate. In 1981, Dr. James Hansen wrote the first NASA global temperature analysis, and in 1991, the UN convened the first climate conference in Berlin. As of today, none of this has significantly altered the actions of human society enough to actually reduce carbon emissions.

In the last few years, we have witnessed more wildfires and violent storms that are directly linked to global heating. This year, communities around the world have experienced a dramatic increase in climate-related natural disasters, costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars, and leaving behind devastation. 

Year of the fire

I've lived on the west coast of Canada for 45 years, and during that time, I've witnessed a few days of smoke from wildfires in the interior fir and cedar forests. For the past two summers, however, the entire coast has been blanketed in thick smoke through July and August, the summer sun barely piercing the haze. Citizens experience respiratory problems, tourism is disrupted, and firefighting teams from the northern and southern hemispheres now routinely trade support teams in alternate seasons.

In February, the North Pole experienced a staggering +30°C temperature anomaly, unprecedented in modern record-keeping. The melting permafrost releases methane gas, a greenhouse-gas far more powerful than CO2. The Arctic contains about 1.8 trillion tons of carbon, stored as methane, and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has not yet accounted for this significant positive feedback of global heating. The 2017 data so far shows that over the last decade, Earth is heating about twice as fast as IPCC scientists had predicted.

Grass Fire in the Astrakhan Nature Reserve, Russia - 13 Mar, 2015

This extra heat means drier grasslands and forests, resulting in more frequent, more intense fires. Warmer temperatures add moisture to the atmosphere, which we might assume would dampen fires, but it has the opposite effect. Increased precipitation during the winter means that grasslands grow more. Then, during the drier summers, this extra growth becomes added fuel to the fires. Even a fraction of a degree increase to winter temperatures allows insects like pine beetles to move toward the poles, into boreal forests, killing more trees that also add fuel to fires.

During the summer of 2017, fires raged across Europe, killing hundreds, devastating communities, and leading the European Union to declare a state of emergency. Portugal suffered the worst fire season ever recorded, scorching almost 520,000 hectares of forest. It was six times the annual average for recent years, and killed over 100 people. The Interior Minister, Constanca Urbano de Sousa, remarked that she had wanted to quit after 64 people were killed in June wildfires and after investigators had chastised the official response. When October fires killed 42 more citizens, de Sousa resigned.

Meanwhile, four people died from fires in the Galicia region of northwest Spain. Fires in Croatia destroyed homes and other buildings in the village of Podstrana, and the historic town of Split. Along the Dalmatian coastline of the Adriatic Sea, grasslands and woods burned, along with homes, cars, and public buildings. On the southern Adriatic coast, in Montenegro, fires burned through the historic Lustica Peninsula town of Tivat, which had to be evacuated. Montenegro, unprepared for the scale of fires, asked NATO for firefighters, aircraft, and assistance with evacuations.

In Italy this year, some 900 wildfires burned over 130,000 hectares. Residents and tourists were forced to evacuate parts of Rome and Naples, including Mount Vesuvius national park and the Castelfusano coastal pine forest, south of Rome. A beach resort on the island of Sicily had to be evacuated. This is a typical impact of global heating. Italy experienced 30% less rain and 30% more wildfires. In July, fires burned near Castagniers and Nice, in southeast France and on the French island of Corsica. In southwest Turkey, fires destroyed 40 homes as communities evacuated. 

July was the hottest month in 130 years of Moscow's recorded climate history, and smoke from fires blanketed the region. Within a few days in July, fires burned some 150,000 hectares during an historic heat wave and drought.

In May, under record high temperatures and dry conditions, China and Mongolia grew even hotter and drier, leading to some of the largest fires on Earth in recent history. Fires burned through the Greater Hinggan Mountains, threatening the Hanma Nature Reserve and the city of Hulun Buir. In early July, Mongolia's National Emergency Management Agency fought 11 major forest fires across northern Mongolia, exhausting their supply of fire extinguishing equipment. President Khaltmaa Battulga and Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat prohibited people from entering the forest areas, called an emergency meeting, and instructed their engineers to attempt creating artificial rainfall. Legions of Mongolian citizens, communicating through social media, joined the fire brigades, but by the end of July, they faced more than 20 major fires, some threatening the capital at Ulan Bator.

Fires in western North America, broke records in Alaska, Canada, Washington, Oregon, and California. The Seattle region experienced a +10°C temperature anomaly in August as fires burned through Washington state forests. Wildfires ravaged Oregon and killed 30 people in northern California, destroying some 3,500 homes and businesses in California's wine region, obliterating neighborhoods. Throughout the western United States, over a million hectares burned this summer.

Santa Rosa, California, fire devastation - 13 Oct, 2017

"Climate change is turning up the dial on everything," said LeRoy Westerling at the University of California. "Dry periods become more extreme, wet periods become more extreme, and fires are increasing. The ecosystem is changing."

Extreme Storms 

Global heating has increased ocean temperatures, adding energy to storms. By October, the year 2017 already approached the all-time record for both total measured storm energy and accumulated damage. This summer, hurricanes Nate, Harvey, Irma, and Maria pounded the Caribbean and Southeastern US. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US has experienced 15 weather disasters this year that cost more than $1 billion, an all-time record. A study from 13 US federal agencies concluded that "extreme weather events have cost the United States $1.1 trillion since 1980." 

Hurricane Harvey Flooding Rescue in Texas - 27 Aug, 2017

Storms have been getting stronger since the mid-1980s. An analysis of 167 years of data by the Associated Press found that no 30-year period in history had seen this many major storms. Typically, North Atlantic ocean temperatures remain too cool to support hurricane-level storms. This year, warmer than normal North Atlantic temperatures fueled tropical storm Ophelia to hurricane status on October 14, as it moved toward Ireland. Hurricane-force gusts of 192 km/hour hit Ireland, flooding coastal towns, and causing structural damage, vast power outages, and two deaths.

The Atlantic coasts of Ireland, England, France, Spain, and Portugal now face, for the first time, the sustained threat of hurricanes. Four years ago, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute predicted that by 2100, global warming would increase the frequency of hurricane winds in western Europe.

The extreme fires and storms of 2017 signify more than just a 'new normal'. With each fraction of a degree that Earth's average temperature increases, these fires and storms will increase in intensity. The effects of climate change are not linear. A one-degree increase in temperature will yield about four-times the intensity of fires and storms. Some evidence suggests that by mid-century, fires and storms could double in their destructive power. 

A study published in Nature suggests that limiting global heating to the Paris goal of 2°C is now "unlikely". The UN now estimates that the median projected global temperature increase is 3.2°C with a likely range up to 4.9°C and a high end of 8°C. The "new normal" will be constant change; a growing intensity of storms, fires, and other extreme weather, for as long as human carbon emissions continue.

Even if it sounds hopeless, it’s not. We have the chance to act decisively to change our present. All we need to fix this massive challenge is at our disposal.  We just need the courage to come together and make it happen.

Sources and Links:

 How climate change is "turning up the dial" on wildfires: CBS News

"The Uninhabitable Earth,' David Wallace Wells: New York Magazine, June 2017

"Spain, Portugal Wildfires Kill at Least 39": weather.com  

"Wildfires Roar Across Southern Europe": New York Times  

Fires in Russia: the Telegraph

Forest fires in N. Mongolia: Xinhua news

Huge forest fire in northern China: South China Morning Post

Video, Fires in Mongolia / China: China People's Daily

Maps of 2017 global fires: Popular Science

Wildfires, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, October 2017: Countercurrents  

Storms: weather and global warming: MPR News  

Historic Storm: Ophelia Strikes Ireland with Hurricane Force: Robert Scribbler

Hurricane Ophelia Batters Ireland: Weather Underground

"Less than 2°C warming by 2100 unlikely": Nature, July 2017 

"C02 Levels 50 Million Years Ago Tell Us About Climate Change Today": Clean Technica

Tropical forests no longer carbon sinks: Washington Post

Sometimes it’s difficult to review a play when you’re all too familiar with its subject. In recent years, I was an adjunct instructor who taught writing courses at a university. That’s basically the main character and subject of Julia Cho’s new play, “Office Hour,” which opened Wednesday at Off Broadway’s Public Theater.

In her very first scene, Cho blurs the rigid hierarchy of instructors at universities: The full-timers, with or without tenure, travel on a luxury cruise, while the adjuncts paddle around in canoes below, passing each other in the night. It’s the difference between no benefits and full benefits, between making four figures per class and making high-five, low-six figures for teaching only one or two classes more each semester.

Cho disregards this professional chasm in the first scene of “Office Hour.” The responsibility of helping a deeply disturbed student, Dennis (Ki Hong Lee), falls to a lowly adjunct, Gina (Sue Jean Kim), because she and Dennis both happen to be Asian American.

Also Read: 'Junk' Broadway Review: Boesky and Milken, the Vampires of Wall Street, Are Back

“Maybe you can talk to him,” Gina is told, even though this student needs much more than talk. Indeed, other instructors like David (Greg Keller) and Genevieve (Adeola Role) fear that Dennis is a would-be campus assassin.

I overlooked Cho’s confusion about an adjunct’s status on campus for a couple of reasons. Maybe it’s dramatic license. And more importantly, Cho brings up a subject of real interest when Genevieve complains, “But I couldn’t even flunk [Dennis]. The assignments were complete, on time. Awful, but on time.”

If Genevieve were teaching trigonometry and a student didn’t know his multiplication tables but the assignments were complete and on time, would she not flunk him? And yet, Genevieve has a point when it comes to students in writing classes. If a student can’t put two sentences together but turns in gibberish, an instructor wouldn’t funk him. Arts education at a college level is all too often a scam, with untalented writers, actors and graphic illustrators getting good grades to keep classes full and instructors employed.

Also Read: 'M. Butterfly' Broadway Review: Clive Owen Falls for Peking's Victor/Victoria

This, unfortunately, is not the subject of “Office Hour,” as we soon learn. Unlike the other instructors, Gina makes the effort to empathize with the clearly tortured Dennis, even though she agrees with her colleagues that he is without talent and his prose is so violent and pornographic that students flee her class when his work is read aloud.

Since Dennis is also described as being a mute who wears a hoodie and sunglasses in class, I had to wonder when these offended students ever got the opportunity to hear his short stories and poetry be read aloud. And did Dennis play charades when it came to enacting his own screenplays? More dramatic license, perhaps.

So how violent and pornographic is Dennis’s writing? David and Genevieve each remember a sentence well enough to repeat it verbatim to Gina. Both examples have to do with anal rape. Frankly, anyone attending almost any R-rated movie has heard worse. But the greater point is what anal rape says about Dennis, who wrote the offending passages, or David and Genevieve, who recall the passages word for word, or Cho, who offers in detail only this one act of sexual violence from her character’s supposedly demented prose.

Also Read: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto and Matt Bomer to Star in Broadway Revival of 'The Boys in the Band'

The other thing that “Office Hour” is not about is Gina’s completely inappropriate office behavior. Kim practically sweats maternal concern, making David Mamet’s professor in “Oleanna” look like a model of propriety. Switch the sexes of Gina and Dennis in “Office Hour” and Cho would have a real debate on her hands.

There is a design behind Gina’s inappropriate behavior (physical affection, destruction of property), because she uses it to break through Dennis’s silent, hardened façade to tell him a story about her own Asian immigrant father, who wore a happy-face mask in public but treated his family at home with that same cold silence that she now sees in Dennis (who, as played by Lee, goes from threatening to adorable with uncommon speed).

Gina’s empathy for an initially repellent person forces her to unmask Dennis’s demons and confront her own. Tellingly, both Gina and Dennis are burdened with Western European names, her surname (not revealed in the play) changed through that institution of sexism and patriarchy known as marriage.

Also Read: 'Bruce Springsteen on Broadway' Review: The Boss Delivers an Intimate Musical Autobiography

In a game of telephone improvisation, Gina manages to unearth a family dynamic at the heart of Dennis’ problem. Frankly, it’s pure dime-store Freud, leaving us with Dennis’ ethnicity in a white world as his real problem.

If there’s any doubt here, David reappears to represent the Great Male Caucasian Villain. It’s odd, and not just because Cho is recycling a scene from “Oleanna.” Until we witness David’s verbal assault, I’d seen this instructor as a hero for having the guts to give Dennis an F in the screenwriting class. Cho conveniently leaves her African-American female character, Genevieve, out of this final confrontation.

In Cho’s Playbill bio, we learn that she went to New York University (my grad school) and Juilliard (where I’ve taken evening classes for years). I’m not sure when Cho attended these schools, but if her Dennis walked through the halls of NYU or Juilliard today he would be advised to take off his dark sunglasses and see that he is part of a sizable minority, if not, in fact, a majority.

Also Read: ‘Time and the Conways’ Broadway Review: Elizabeth McGovern Slams the Door on “Downton Abbey”

Way back in 1980, Alan Parker’s movie “Fame” was laughed at in the gay community for presenting its one and only homosexual character as lonely and disenfranchised at, of all places, New York’s High School for the Performing Arts. In 2017, Cho does something similar with her Dennis character, and it can best be described as victim trolling.

Neel Keller directs some extraordinary scenes of imaginary violence that build to one extended fantasy sequence, which falls flat.

Until recently, playwrights took two and a half hours or more to develop stories about tragic, deeply troubled, violent characters. Shakespeare needed four or five. “Office Hour” is a portrait of a would-be campus assassin in 85 minutes.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Junk' Broadway Review: Boesky and Milken, the Vampires of Wall Street, Are Back

Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto and Matt Bomer to Star in Broadway Revival of 'The Boys in the Band'

'M. Butterfly' Broadway Review: Clive Owen Falls for Peking's Victor/Victoria

www.thewrap.com | 11/9/17
Imagine a social- networking site that not only predates not only the internet but even a European presence in the Americas. That's how researchers from the University of Leicester describedare theirdescribing the discoveries they've made after three year
A Soul for Europe, Berlin – Why and how cultural institutions could include the citizenship education component in all their activities is a matter of creating more awareness of the education capacity among initiators of cultural initiatives all over Europe, especially on local level, in the cities where they are based. See more .
www.voxeurop.eu | 11/3/17
[SNA] Khartoum -Sudan has affirmed its keenness to strengthen its relations with the European Union in all domains, especially in the field of higher education and scientific research.
allafrica.com | 10/30/17
Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa, Rovereto – Every year, thousands of students from South-East Europe enroll in universities abroad. Most of them, however, tend to stay within the region, because of the bureaucratic and financial obstacles on the way to Western European faculties. See more .
www.voxeurop.eu | 10/30/17
A letter to universities asking how classrooms address the country’s withdrawal from the European Union has led to cries of “McCarthyism” and censorship.
www.nytimes.com | 10/26/17

Our favorite Jedi master is a single man! Or is he?

Ewan McGregor, 46, was recently spotted kissing his Fargo costar Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 32. Following the sighting, a family source confirmed to PEOPLE that McGregor and Eve Mavrakis, his wife of 22 years, have been separated since May.

With McGregor having seemingly moved on, here’s a look at some of the highlights from his life with the French production designer.

RELATED: Ewan Mcgregor Splits From Wife Of 22 Years — As He’s Spotted Kissing Costar Mary Elizabeth Winstead

 

Their Careers Brought Them Together

McGregor and Mavrakis, 51, reportedly met on set of the British TV show Kavanagh QC while filming the episode Nothing But The Truth. McGregor guest starred in the episode, while Mavrakis worked as the assistant art director. The two wed in the summer of 1995, only six months after the episode aired.

They Were Parents Right Away

Only seven months after their wedding, the couple had their first daughter, Clara McGregor.

The now 21-year-old recently entered the media spotlight when she attended the premiere of Miles Ahead with her father in March. Apparently not interested in acting, Clara is an aspiring photographer and student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

McGregor and Mavrakis went on to have two more biological children (15-year-old Esther McGregor and 6-year-old Anouk McGregor), and one adopted child (16-year-old Jamyan McGregor).

McGregor Is a Protective Father

 

McGregor and Mavrakis were not happy when paparazzi photographers joined in on their family vacation in Europe in 2002. When photos of his children, Clara and Esther McGregor, were published in the media without his consent McGregor filed a privacy lawsuit in England. Parties that had to settle with the actor included Britain’s Daily Record and The Sun, plus the photographer who took the photos.

McGregor won nearly $75,000 in damages over the legal dispute.

Adopting a Child

Since having their daughter Clara shortly after their wedding, Mavrakis and McGregor became parents to three more children, including their adopted daughter Jamyan McGregor.

In 2004, McGregor and best friend Charley Boorman spent three months on a globe-spanning 20,000-mile motorcycle odyssey for the Bravo TV series Long Way Round. Mongolia was one of the stops on their journey.

Two years later, in 2006, the actor adopted Jamyan McGregor from Mongolia. She was 4-years-old at the time.

The Split

After photos of McGregor kissing Winstead were published on Sunday, a family source confirmed to PEOPLE that McGregor had been separated from Mavrakis since May. Winstead also split from her husband, writer Riley Stearns, in May.


people.com | 10/23/17
Europe's future schools need to be more skills-oriented. Faced with falling education expenditure, member states need to keep focused on their education policy goals to ensure returns on investment, according to EU Education Commissioner Tibor Navracsics.
www.euractiv.com | 10/18/17

LONDON — Children are being given "short shrift" in the Brexit process, with some left feeling worried and unsafe, Hillary Clinton said Saturday.

The 2016 U.S. presidential candidate spoke at Swansea University in Wales, which presented her with an honorary doctorate.

Clinton said uncertainty about the future rights of some 3 million European Union citizens living in Britain means "the residency rights of half a million children, including many who were born in the U.K., are hanging in the balance."

Hungary's foreign minister says his country will continue to withhold its support for Ukraine's further integration with the European Union as long as Ukraine's new education law remains unchanged.
www.foxnews.com | 10/12/17
Hungary's foreign minister says he will ask the European Union to revise its association agreement with Ukraine, claiming its new language law limits the rights of minorities.
www.foxnews.com | 10/10/17

Editorial

The suicidal drift of the Catalan independence movement has its roots in an intense process of appropriating Catalonia’s social and political space – to the point of stifling any option contrary to its plans. A story of how we have ended up in this situation.

What has happened in Catalonia over the last few years can be described as a ‘great fraud’. It is a fraud that finds its roots an intense process of appropriation of Catalonia’s social and political arena until the point where anyone else’s opinion is stifled. Because it is a fraud to say, as Catalan nationalists claim, that the rights of Catalans have been crushed, that they have not been allowed to vote freely, that they have “been robbed”, or that their language or culture have been “suppressed” by Spain. What has happened in Catalonia is that the traditional “catalanismo” protected by the generosity of the Spanish constitution of 1978, which gave very ample autonomy to Catalonia, has turned into nationalism and, from this, into calls for independence, for reasons of greed, opportunism and internal politics. And nationalism is unstoppable, because it seeks a dichotomous relationship, of good versus evil, of exclusivity, of the obligation to take sides.

Add to that a de facto control of the language, education, culture and media outlets, and we have dismantled the elements of a ‘raw’ nationalism, totalitarianism – that which has historically destroyed Europe – and reconstructed them as a post-modern style of nationalism, social-media friendly, a nationalism of selfies with flags, of the audiovisual imagination, with an impeccable marketing strategy. It has been largely developed since the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the Statute of Catalan Autonomy in 2010 – that cut part of the Statute – after a disastrous negotiation process and, more concretely, with the massive staging of the Diadas (Catalonia’s national festival).

An absurd ethnic chimera in a democratic and open Spain. And this is what has manipulated and convinced many Catalans – though not 50 percent of the population, according to the results of the last regional elections. It is a process that has come to a head before the backdrop of the economic crisis, which welcomed people into the ranks of the independence movement who had been hardest hit, but who until that point had had no nationalist leanings. It is a phenomenon that can be explained by the global uprising against the inequalities ushered in by neoliberalism, which is now strangely allied with the most nationalist of Catalonia’s nationalists, on a clear basis of supremacy over ‘poor’ Spaniards. The story is completed with the search for a scapegoat: “Spain”, or the slogan “Spain is robbing us”, in the role of the villain.

The latest chapter in this ruse concluded on 1st October, with the suicidal call for a referendum on self-determination made by a politician who has already admitted to being predisposed towards suicide, Carles Puigdemont, the President of the Generalitat, despite it being declared illegal by the Constitutional Court. To examine on whom the burden of proof falls, it is enough to say that on 6-7 September there was a coup d’état in Catalonia, against the State’s institutions from within, and ignoring the non-nationalist half of its parliamentary representation.

The government, formed by a coalition of right-wing independence supporters and the left-wing radicals of the Popular Unity Candidacy – which now leads the insurrection in the streets and is relentlessly hounding any opposition in a purely revolutionary strategy – ignored the Statute of Catalonia, with all its legal provisions, and the Spanish constitution to approve two laws: one aiming to hold a referendum on self-determination and the other to declare independence unilaterally. Despite repeated judicial orders, the Catalan government decided to continue along its suicidal path, searching until it had found a fitting image – that of victimisation, of “police officers from the repressive State against defenceless democratic civilians”, in the absence of the regional police, converted into a political police – to find an iron-cast excuse to declare Catalonia’s independence, which is the choice that had already been made ahead of time. The cynicism and irresponsibility are immense.

In Europe we already know about the manipulation of primal feelings and the half truths or complete falsehoods that are stirred up in referendums, as we saw perfectly with Brexit. Mariano Rajoy’s government must take the blame for its lack of initiative and its abdication of responsibility, trapped between the institutional compromise of carrying out the law and of avoiding the photo finish – in the form of violence – that nationalist victimisation was seeking in its quest for front page coverage in the international press, and that it finally obtained. Rajoy’s style of governing has not exactly been characterised as reactive and here was a case in which it had to be, accelerating the course of events.

The events are unprecedented in modern European history and have stunned all Europe’s governments and the EU – for whom it is an unwelcome question, since it adds one more problem to the identity crisis in which Europe has been submerged for many years. Not to mention the fact the problem could ricochet back home, via member states’ own nationalist movements. What we are seeing now is a key moment, but with misguided interlocutors who are not suited to restoring order and dialogue, a word on everyone’s lips these days but which seems impossible at this point. We need a different starting point if we are to reach a valid agreement (through an official referendum, hardly a likely option for Rajoy since it lies outside the constitutional framework, or a new statute with or without constitutional reform, an option that supporters of independence would not accept given their hyperbolic politics).

If Puigdemont declares independence in the coming days, as he has already indicated, Rajoy will activate article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, thus taking away Catalonia’s autonomy. Doing so will introduce new conflicts that no one would have thought possible. But, faced with the suicide that Puigdemont is pulling Catalonia towards, what is the correct way to defend the rule of law and democracy – the true kind, the one that represents all citizens – that are Europe’s fundamental values?

Cartoon: Carles Puigdemont, president of the Catalonian government

www.voxeurop.eu | 10/9/17
[Foroyaa] The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to The Gambia has released its Final Report, in which it states that Extensive Legal Reforms and Continued Civic Education will be critical for the Gambia's Democratic Development.
allafrica.com | 10/6/17
The European Commission has concluded that Luxembourg granted undue tax benefits to Amazon of around â?¬250 million. This is illegal under EU State aid rules because it allowed Amazon to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. Luxembourg must now recover the illegal aid. Remember when Tim Cook lied about the EU only going after Apple because Apple is big? Apple's illegal deal with Ireland is just one on a long, long list of illegal deals the EU is cracking down on. Anyway, speaking of the 13 billion euro Apple stole from EU citizens: The European Commission has decided to refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice for failing to recover from Apple illegal State aid worth up to â?¬13 billion, as required by a Commission decision. [...] Today, more than one year after the Commission's decision, Ireland has still not recovered any of the illegal aid. Furthermore, although Ireland has made progress on the calculation of the exact amount of the illegal aid granted to Apple, it is only planning to conclude this work by March 2018 at the earliest. The crackdown on these illegal tax deals hopefully only represents the first step in cracking down on the grotesquely questionable conduct of large technology (and other sectors) companies. Backroom deals between governments and powerful corporations so they can effectively avoid paying any taxes while the rest of us do our civic duty by paying our taxes to pay for our schools, roads, hospitals, police, firefighters, and so on are a travesty. If Apple, Amazon, Google, and others want to make use of the juicy fruits of European welfare states, they better start paying their fair share.
osnews.com | 10/4/17

BOLONGA, Italy — Pope Francis is urging Europeans not to fear unity and to put aside nationalistic and other self-interests.

Francis didn't mention the police violence during Catalonia's independence referendum Sunday on his visit to Bologna. But in a speech to university students, Francis recalled that the European Union was borne out of the ashes of war to guarantee peace.

He warned that conflicts and other interests were now threatening those founding ideals.

Co-authored by Peter Davis and Brendan Nixon.

As a consumer credit reporting agency, Equifax collects the personal data of millions of individuals, mainly Americans, often without the knowledge or explicit consent of those "data subjects". The Equifax hack is understood to have compromised the personal data of over 140 million individuals. Although recent hacks of other businesses have affected more individuals, the personal data held by Equifax is significantly more sensitive than the data compromised in other hacks and includes Social Security numbers, birth dates, current and previous addresses and driver licence details.

The chief executive officer, chief information officer and chief security officer that held office during the hack have all "retired", but it is unclear if any financial penalties (such as salary or bonus reductions) will be imposed by Equifax or if criminal proceedings will be commenced against these former officeholders. Of more interest is how companies with vast amounts of personal data can be encouraged to secure that data and prevent similar large scale breaches.

Hackers will continue to search for security vulnerabilities in systems that contain large amounts of personal data and it is not possible to completely mitigate the risk of a significant data breach such as the one experienced by Equifax. However, the Equifax hack raises many questions as to whether the US' data protection regime gives data controllers sufficient incentive to protect personal data and what it will take persuade US lawmakers to update US data protection laws. Security is a 'cost' on any company's balance sheet, and profit-seeking companies naturally aim to reduce this side of the balance sheet as much as possible. Comprehensive legislation may be the only means to compel companies to establish a baseline acceptable level of security, especially when handling personal data.

Comprehensive and Unified Data Protection Law

The US lacks a single comprehensive data protection regime, meaning that nation-wide breaches are cumbersome for affected people and regulatory agencies to respond to legally. Though the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wields the power to impose substantial penalties for privacy violations in certain contexts, the FTC has conceded that current rules lack sufficient deterrents or clear standards for data controllers to heed.

The EU's data protection system is comparatively robust and relatively unified across Member States. This will be further consolidated when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes enforceable on 25 May 2018. Though the EU regime is not perfect, when compared to the current piecemeal federal approach and considerable state-level divergence in the US, a more unified regime that imposes clear and comprehensive data protection standards may have placed a greater imperative on Equifax to have better technical safeguards in place.

One advantage of the US system is the "powerful” tool of class action lawsuits that can be brought at state and federal level. There were "at least 23 proposed class-action lawsuits” on foot just four days after the breach was announced. Collective redress in Europe, on the other hand, is less ingrained both socially and legally. The GDPR takes some positive steps by allowing data subjects to seek collective redress for an infringement of GDPR rights (Art 80), but compensation can only be sought if Member State rules allow it (Art 80 & Rec 142). Whereas class action lawsuits are (or should be) a primary concern of data controllers in the US, they are peripheral compared to formal regulation in the EU.

Individual Control Over Personal Data

The ability of Equifax to collect large amounts of data on individuals without the knowledge or consent of those individuals further highlights issues with the control of personal data in the US. Equifax is understood to have collected details such as Social Security numbers, driver license numbers, current and former addresses and bank account details for millions of Americans (approximately 143 million). This is exactly the kind of information that could be utilised to fraudulently access bank accounts and insurance policies.

In comparison, European legislation empowers individuals with respect to their personal data collected by others. Unlike the US, the 'default position' is that personal data should not be processed, unless there is a lawful basis for doing so (commonly through consent or a 'legitimate interests' test). Where the collection of personal data requires the data subject's consent, EU law mandates that consent can be revoked. Data controllers must notify individuals of certain data collected about them and people have a right to access that data. There are also temporal limits and limits as to the purpose that the data can be used for. Data subjects have a (non-absolute) 'right to be forgotten' if the information is "inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive."

Conversely, according to a former Equifax employee and consumer credit expert, "[t]here's nothing in any statute or anything else that allows you to ask Equifax to remove your data or have all your data disappear if you say you no longer trust it."

If any positives are to come out of this large scale security breach, they may include increased public awareness of the value of personal data and pressure for further regulation. Within several weeks of the hack being announced, two US Senators introduced legislation seeking to give control of credit information back to consumers. However, even if legislation can bypass aggressive lobbying by tech companies, restrictions on data processing can be at odds with First Amendment rights.

Legal Requirement to Secure Personal Data

As details of the hack continue to emerge, it appears Equifax had a relaxed approach to data security, utilised old technology and lacked any appreciable incentive (legal or commercial), despite recent data leaks and lawsuits related to data leaks, to adopt a serious approach to securing personal data. A patch that is likely to have addressed the vulnerability that was exploited by the hackers was available in March 2017, well before the hack occurred in May 2017. The relaxed approach was further demonstrated by the fact that the website established by Equifax in response to the hack was vulnerable to further hacking. The website requested further personal data for identification purposes, even though Equifax had demonstrated an inability to protect personal data in the first place.

Under current EU data protection laws (Art 17 of the Data Protection Directive) and the incoming GDPR (Art 32), controllers of personal data are required to "implement appropriate technical and organisational measures" to "ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk" associated with the processing of the data and the nature of the data held. The GDPR imposes "a qualified duty… to put in place [those] technical and organisational measures… effectively and to integrate necessary safeguards into the processing of personal data” through Art 25, a provision headed 'Data protection by design and by default'. Art 32(1) of the GDPR provides details of what these technical and organisational measures could include and refers to pseudonymisation and encryption of personal data together with a process for regular testing, assessment and evaluation of the effectiveness of the technical and organisational measures put in place. The data accessed in the Equifax hack was not encrypted, which would have provided a basic level of protection and at least delayed the hackers in accessing the personal data.

Breach Notification

A timeline of the hack suggests that Equifax became aware of the hack on 29 July 2017 and did not alert affected data subjects or authorities until 7 September 2017. Due to the absence of a comprehensive federal data protection law in the US, there is no common rule regarding the timeframe in which an entity must inform its customers, or affected persons, in circumstances where the security of personal data held by an entity is compromised. Some states have disclosure requirements for data breaches and only a limited number of states stipulate a timeframe for disclosing a data breach, understood to range from 15-90 days after discovering the breach. Contrast this with the GDPR, which will generally require a controller of personal data to notify authorities of a personal data breach within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach (see Art 33 GDPR), and to notify affected persons of "high risk" breaches "without undue delay" (Art 34 GDPR).

The long delay between Equifax becoming aware of the hack and informing interested authorities and affected data subjects is not surprising in the absence of legislation mandating a fixed timeframe for breach notification. One can envisage circumstances where it may be best practice for an entity to advise the authorities of a security breach prior to informing the general public. Most important though, is that the the breach of security of personal data is notified to authorities as soon as possible in order to allow a cohesive and organised response by both the public and private sectors.

Without a comprehensive response from law enforcement agencies and legislators, Equifax and the two other major credit reporting agencies in the US will slowly slip off the radar, free to make the same mistakes and jeopardise the security of the personal data of millions of people. If a hack of this scale is not a catalyst for significant change regarding data protection in the US, it is unclear exactly how catastrophic a data breach needs be in order to force a comprehensive change of US data protection laws.

Peter and Brendan work as Research Assistants for the SIGNAL Project funded by the Norwegian Research Council and UNINETT Norid AS, with support from the University of Oslo.

Written by Peter Davis, Lawyer, LLM student (ICT Law), Research Assistant

www.circleid.com | 9/29/17
[Egypt Online] President Abdel Fattah El Sisi issued a decree on Thursday 28/9/2017 approving an agreement signed between Egypt and Germany in 2016 on the European state's contribution to implementing the second stage of a program for improving the quality of education.
allafrica.com | 9/28/17
As the Syria conflict continues to grind on, the European Commission Tuesday emphasized the need to prioritize access to higher education for refugees in Lebanon and across the region.
Treaty change, agricultural policy and debt: French President Emmanuel Macron attacked a number of previously untouchable EU taboos during a speech focused on reform, sharing ambitious proposals for Europe's future with university students. EURACTIV France reports.
www.euractiv.com | 9/27/17

I'm an engineer, and I firmly believe that Internet matters and, in general, Information Society, should be kept separate from politics, so usually, I'm very skeptical to talk about those and mix things.

Let's start by saying that I'm Catalonian. Despite the dictatorial regime when I was born, forbidden teaching Catalonian, I learned it, even despite, initially for family reasons and now for work reasons, I live in Madrid. However, I keep saying everywhere I go, that I was born in Barcelona, where I consider myself from, and how wonderful is that region. I'm proud of my name, Jordi, and I don't allow anyone to call me Jorge, with is the Spanish translation.

Having traveled over 120 countries in the last 15 years, training people on IPv6 and doing IPv6 consultancy/deployment services, I consider myself "citizen of the world, " and I don't think, in the actual global world, there is any reason for being a nationalist or patriotic in the heart.

That being said, I have good friends and colleagues at every remote place in the world, and that's what really matters.

I think this clearly shows that I'm objective enough to write down this and not being biased by my origins, or my actual living town, on the other way around, being very open-minded as a world traveler.

I've been astonished the last few days because about the endless exchange of letters addressed to ICANN, the European Commission, ISOC chapters, and other Internet-related institutions, even blogs, articles, etc., which make no sense if you know the real history behind all this, instead of those letters with false information.

Let's set the stage. There is a region, within a democratic country, that has some percentage of the population that want to declare their independence. This group of people didn't ask the rest of the citizens in the country, even other people like myself, that was born there. In fact, because I don't live there right now, I will not be allowed to participate in the so-called "process". Even further, I don't know if I will get a passport from there, or if some of the friends I have there who don't want to split, will be expelled from the country, or if they will be allowed to sell their properties there, or if they will be confiscated, etc.

So, we are talking about a departure, asking the people to vote for it, not knowing at all what actually that means, including every small detail, and what will be the exit door for each of the possible cases.

I guess each region or town in our country has the same rights. I want to do it for my own house. I have the right of doing that… it is my property… my land!

Can you imagine this in your own country?

As we are a democratic country, there is a power separation (legislative versus juridical), and by the way, we have a Constitution, that all the Spanish citizens approved after the end of the dictatorial regime, and the corresponding Constitutional Court.

The Constitution is clearly not perfect, and now that we got more experience, since 1978, it could be amended for improving it, by consensus. This could even mean that we change our state model into a federal one, such as the German model, or many other options.

This is nothing different than what we do in IETF, making Internet standards, or in the RIRs, making public policies, or even in ICANN. Right?

Guess what, now some of the participants of a given Regional Internet Registry (RIR), decide to unilaterally change some of those rules, or even split in a different group — let's say a new RIR. Yeah, we could do that, but we need to agree on the process. Hey, coincidently we've had a similar situation recently — IANA/PTI — so we are familiar with that already.

Do you think we will agree in that group in my example, changing the policies before we complete the process? Do you think somebody will agree in finding consensus in a policy proposal not knowing all the details of it? Do you think we will keep allocating IP resources to that group according to new policies that they develop by themselves against the community consensus on the existing policies?

So, this is what the Catalonian Government has done. They have approved, against the law, special laws to make that process, to play games and act like in a theatre, and they try to convince citizens as puppets by means of lies and misinformation, which they are investing public money to propagate in a global world.

Law and order: In a democratic system, we all obey the law. If we don't like it, we have the system to change it. What we can never do is to disobey or call for disobeying before going for a change. Otherwise, this will be a crazy world. Everybody will be able to change his/her mind every other day and create risks for the rest of the citizens. Definitively not the way!

So of course, our Constitutional Court has called for obedience to our Constitution, which means no public money can be invested in the process, and the Catalonian Government, their maximum representatives, has forced people that disagree with the process to resign or pushed them against the law, or involved volunteers, asking for illegal actions, and invested in having embassies of a non-country, which cost a lot of money despite having difficulties to pay the public servants, to cover the cost of the education and health system, and so on, and asked for more money to the Spanish Central Government, from the taxes of all the citizens, which in part is being invested, in an illegal process.

Obviously, and despite, the wish to make this soft, and not being provocative, the Constitutional Court, during the last few days, was finally forced by the Catalonian Government provocation, to order the Spanish Police to execute the necessary steps to block ONLY the websites which make the propaganda of the process. However, the Catalonian Government and also volunteers used .CAT, among many other institutions, to duplicate those websites, once and again.

There is nothing against freedom of speech, there is nothing against .CAT, just making sure that the court orders are fulfilled by all the citizens, including public servants, regardless of the organization where they work. Public servants, individuals working for the Information Society, TLDs or other kind of registries, Service Providers, etc., all have the same obligation to follow the law as the rest of the citizens.

Where is the limit of the freedom of speech in Internet? Do you agree that if I publish a website with information about how to do a robbery at your home, call for volunteers to organize a terrorist attack, or to help me in any unlawful or criminal activity, and there is a court order against that website, this can't be considered as measures to restrict free and open access to Internet?

Censorship can be enforced in many ways. One of those ways is to publish false information and confuse people about the real facts, hiding the reality with lots of extra background noise.

When organizations and persons that have been elected by the Internet community take advantage of their positions to, instead of have objective positions, and not correlate those institutions and enact false accusations and misinformation, we can't anymore trust on those persons and they must resign.

The most open organizations, using their influence in the global information society, can actually execute a censorship action which is even much worse than any restriction to freedom of speech.

There are other relevant facts in this history. Many politicians that have been governing Catalonia for many years are being prosecuted for illegal activities, such as 3-5% commissions in public tenders, using public money for promoting the independence process, and such.

Guess what? Their only way-out is the independence, otherwise, they are going to need to pay for all what they have robbed to the public treasury, and it means money and prison. Is not that curious?

Is not curious that the Catalonian Autonomy is the one that in the last years got more credit from the Central Government? Do you expect they will be able to reimburse it?

Do you think if any of us, disobeys the law the same way, as this process is doing, will be ignored by the authorities, or we will be detained and requested to explain every detail of all the illegal actions in front of a judge?

Or do you expect authorities to ignore every illegal action from all the citizens and then we all get crazy, and we go into an anarchic world?

The Spanish Government has been very prudent, too much probably, as they could have used article 155 of our Constitution to suspend the Catalonian Autonomy, but they decided not to go that way, at least for the time being. This is not a clear demonstration of democracy and freedom of speech?

In Europe, since a long time ago, we are trying to integrate and be stronger. Splitting countries is against that spirit, don't make any sense.

Our community must be smart enough and ignore messages with false or incomplete information. Those messages are even considered apology of sedition, same as if we start creating websites doing apology of terrorism or any other illegal activities.

Let's avoid going on with all this misinformation and I plea to those having only the real facts and complete information to spread the message to avoid others getting confused.

Internet-related institutions must not trust anymore those individuals or organizations who are misinforming the rest of the world. Internet-related institutions must respect the law of democratic countries. Only when it is clearly proven that democracy is not real, we must act, otherwise, we are damaging our own credibility.

Those that have already published false information, must apologize. It is clear that they have got confused because the Catalonian Government and many of their actors in this theatre, have been far noisier than the rest of the community, but it's time to review. I will not point to them right now, but clearly, I will not mind doing so in a couple of days if they decide to keep their false accusations which are an insult for the rest of the Spanish citizens, including the majority of the Catalonians which aren't part of this and by extension an insult to the rest of the Internet community.

Written by Jordi Palet Martinez, Telecom

www.circleid.com | 9/26/17

MOSCOW — Ukraine's president has signed a controversial law on education, causing fury in Hungary which is threatening to block Ukraine's efforts to integrate with the European Union.

The law that President Petro Poroshenko signed late Monday restructures Ukraine's education system and specifies that Ukrainian will be the main language used in schools, rolling back the option for lessons to be taught in other languages. Russia, Moldova, Hungary and Romania expressed concern over the bill when it was drafted, saying that it would infringe of the rights of ethnic minorities.

I’m dedicating a series of articles to women who contributed so much during their lives for the benefit of ours and have received very little reward or recognition for it. I call it BEHIND HIM.

I found inspiration in Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, an important icon of 1970s feminist art and a milestone in 20th Century art. This permanent installation at the Brooklyn Museum comprises a massive ceremonial banquet, arranged on a triangular table with a total of thirty-nine place settings, each commemorating an important woman from history. The names of another 999 women are inscribed in gold on the white tile floor below the table. Sadly, most of them are unknown to most of us. However, I believe the list could be much larger than 999. In fact, even Hedy Lamarr is not among them.

Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in the Austrian-Hungarian empire in 1914, she became a legendary Hollywood actress in the late 1930s when she was discovered in Paris by MGM head Louis B. Mayer, who gave her a new name and a new life in the U.S.

Also Read: Let Wonder Woman Come Out as Bisexual on the Big Screen, Too (Guest Blog)

A woman of incredible beauty and sex appeal, Hedy Lamarr quickly became one the most highly paid female stars of her generation. She appeared in numerous popular films, like “Algiers” (1938), “I Take this Woman” (1940), “Come Live with Me” (1941) and “Samson and Delilah” (1949). She also co-starred with such legendary actors as Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and James Stewart.

But when she was not on set, Hedy was inventing. Yes, inventing! She worked on a tissue-box attachment to hold used tissues and created a sort of bouillon cube that, when dropped in water, made a soft drink. She also developed a new type of traffic light and a device to aid movement-impaired people in and out of bathtubs.

Her greatest invention, however, was created from the pain of watching her own country at war in Europe. Lamarr realized that radio-controlled torpedoes could easily be jammed causing the torpedo to go off course. She came up with the idea of creating a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked. She then teamed up with her friend, composer and pianist George Antheil, to help produce such a device. He succeeded in this by synchronizing a miniaturized player-piano mechanism with radio signals. Together they drafted designs for the frequency-hopping system which they patented.

Also Read: 'Rocket Man': Why Must Trump Ruin Another Classic Song? (Guest Blog)

Despite the fact that their invention was granted a patent in 1942 (filed using her married name: Hedy Kiesler Markey), the U.S. Navy never welcomed it as Hedy had expected. They declined to use the patent for reasons that are still unclear today, though misogyny had always been suspected to be the cause. In the 1950s, the military secretly began using and developing the frequency-hopping technology for other purposes without informing Lamarr. Once the Lamarr-Antheil patent expired, spread-spectrum technology — as it is called today — was used by all with no acknowledgment of its original creators.

Hedy Lamarr, who once said, “Any girl can be glamorous, all you have to do is stand still and look stupid,” no doubt joins the list of the most beautiful movie stars of all time, along with Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren. But she is also on the list of women who made extraordinary scientific discoveries that went unrecognized simply because they were women, many of them having to endure male colleagues taking credit for their work. Even Marie Curie — probably the only woman scientist anyone can ever think of — was dismissed as little more than her husband’s assistant, her Nobel prizes contested by fellow scientists.

In a society governed by bigotry and generic common sense, in which it’s very hard to accept complexities and to find truth in nuances, it can still be shocking to find out that a scientific inventor can exist in the form of a beautiful woman. A recent report by the American Association of University Women, based on decades of research, concluded that bias and stereotypes still impede women’s pursuit of science from grade school through academia.

Also Read: How Facebook Has Swiped Digital Ad Revenue From Publishers (Guest Blog)

Even though I am going through life with an average brain and not a genius one like Hedy’s, all this sometimes reminds me of the disappointment in people’s eyes when they learn that I am really into physical fitness. Disappointment, yes! They are surprised to learn that I’m very fond of going to the gym and I take as much care of my muscles as I do of my books. Somehow, they can’t put the two elements together into the same box. As if caring for your own body would not be healthy for your mind. As if having some aesthetic ambition would annihilate any intellectual faculty. Theoretically, as a white male, I am at the top of the hierarchy in this misogynistic world. Theoretically, I should be spared by that judgment. Theoretically, all of us should. In fact, wouldn’t it be great to see a beautiful woman with a powerful brain, perhaps an immigrant like Hedy Lamarr, taking charge of this country?

And by the way, the principles of Hedy’s spread-spectrum technology are now incorporated into modern WiFi, Bluetooth, cordless phones, 3G cell phones, GPS systems, satellite communication networks, barcode readers, unmanned aerial vehicles, electronic automotive subsystems, and much more. In total, her invention now generates about $180 billion a year. Those are far-reaching achievements not often credited to the silver screen legend.

This is part of a blog series by We Do It Together, a nonprofit film production entity created to produce films, documentaries, TV and other forms of media uniquely dedicated to the empowerment of women. 

Related stories from TheWrap:

Jerry Lewis' Will 'Intentionally Excluded' All 6 Kids From First Marriage

Joss Whedon Fan Site Shuts Down After Ex-Wife's Explosive Essay

Tom Hanks' 'Money Pit' Mansion Gets Renovated, on Sale for $5.9 Million

Hedy Lamarr Is a Google Doodle: 5 Reasons Hollywood Star Is Still Cool (Video)

www.thewrap.com | 9/22/17
[The Point] Collegium Civitas, a Polish University based in Warsaw in partnership with Green World Natural Solution in The Gambia over the weekend convened a free open day for university students and media with the aim to start recruiting Gambian students with a possible European scholarship for the most outstanding students.
allafrica.com | 9/15/17
Chancellor Angela Merkel's Social Democrat (SPD) challenger said on Sunday (10 September) his party would not form any alliances after the 24 September election unless fair wages, free education, secure pensions and a commitment to a democratic Europe were guaranteed.
www.euractiv.com | 9/11/17
Britain's vote to leave the European Union risks causing a steep drop in the number of EU students attending the country's universities.
www.foxnews.com | 9/8/17
European member states have cut their education budgets continuously since 2009, according to Eurostat data.
www.euractiv.com | 9/7/17
Europe’s soft drinks industry has announced it will stop selling sugary beverages in all schools in the European Union from late 2018. Health campaigners have welcomed the move but said more needs to be done to promote healthy eating in schools.
www.euractiv.com | 9/6/17
Britain must seek to protect research funding for its universities when it leaves the European Union or risk losing its leading role in innovation, one of the country's main employer groups said on Wednesday (6 September).
www.euractiv.com | 9/6/17

Excerpt from my Internet Law casebook discussing transborder content removal orders, including the Equustek case.

From the Internet's earliest days, the tension between a global communication network and local geography-based laws has been obvious. One scenario is that every jurisdiction's local laws apply to the Internet globally, meaning that the country (or sub-national regulator) with the most restrictive law for any content category sets the global standard for that content. If this scenario comes to pass, the Internet will only contain content that is legal in every jurisdiction in the world — a small fraction of the content we as Americans might enjoy, because many countries restrict content that is clearly legal in the U.S.

Perhaps surprisingly, we've generally avoided this dystopian scenario — so far. In part, this is because many major Internet services create localized versions of their offerings that conform to local laws, which allows the services to make country-by-country removals of locally impermissible content. Thus, the content on google.de might vary pretty substantially from the content on google.com. This localization undermines the 1990s utopian vision that the Internet would enable a single global content database that everyone in the world could uniformly enjoy. However, service localization has also forestalled more dire regulatory crises. So long as google.de complies with local German laws and google.com complies with local U.S. laws, regulators in the U.S. and Germany should be OK...right?

Increasingly, the answer appears to be "no." Google's response to the European RTBF rule has highlighted the impending crisis. In response to the RTBF requirement that search engines to remove certain search results associated with their names, initially Google only de-indexed results from its European indexes, i.e., Google would scrub the results from Google.de but not Google.com. However, European users of Google can easily seek out international versions of Google's search index. An enterprising European user could go to Google.com and obtain unscrubbed search results — and compare the search results with the localized edition of Google to see which results had been scrubbed.

The French Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) has deemed this outcome unacceptable. As a result, it has demanded that Google honor an RTBF de-indexing request across all of its search indexes globally. In other words, if a French resident successfully makes a de-indexing request under European data privacy laws, Google should not display the removed result to anyone in the world, even searchers outside of Europe who are not subject to European law.

The CNIL's position is not unprecedented; other governmental agencies have made similar demands for the worldwide suppression of content they object to. However, the demand on Google threatens to break the Internet. Either Google must cease all of its French operations to avoid being subject to the CNIL's interpretation of the law, or it must give a single country the power to decide what content is appropriate for the entire world — which, of course, could produce conflicts with the laws of other countries.

Google proposed a compromise of removing RTBF results from its European indexes, and if a European attempts to log into a non-European version of Google's search index, Google will dynamically scrub the results it delivers to the European searcher. As a result, if the European searcher tries to get around the European censored results, he or she will still not see the full search results. (Of course, it would be easy to bypass Google's dynamic scrubbing using VPNs). CNIL has rejected Google's compromise as still unacceptable.

If CNIL gets its way, other governments with censorious impulses will demand equal treatment. But even Google's "compromise" solution — walling off certain information from being available in a country that seeks to censor that information — will be helpful to censors. In effect, the RTBF ruling forces Google to build a censorship infrastructure that regulators can coopt for other censorious purposes. Thus, either way, the resolution to the RTBF's geography conundrum provides a preview of the future of global censorship.

The Equustek Case

The local violation/global removal debate is taking place in other venues as well. In 2017, the Canada Supreme Court ordered Google to globally remove search results based on alleged Canadian legal violations. Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc., 2017 SCC 34.

In that case, Datalink, a competitor of Equustek, sold products that allegedly infringed Equustek's intellectual property rights. After Equustek sued Datalink, Datalink relocated to an unknown location outside of Canada, putting it out of the reach of Canadian courts. Equustek asked Google to deindex Datalink's website. Google partially deindexed the site from google.ca, but Equustek sought more relief. The Canada Supreme Court ordered global deindexing of Datalink's website:

The problem in this case is occurring online and globally. The Internet has no borders — its natural habitat is global. The only way to ensure that the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates — globally. As Fenlon J. found, the majority of Datalink's sales take place outside Canada. If the injunction were restricted to Canada alone or to google.ca, as Google suggests it should have been, the remedy would be deprived of its intended ability to prevent irreparable harm. Purchasers outside Canada could easily continue purchasing from Datalink's websites, and Canadian purchasers could easily find Datalink's websites even if those websites were de-indexed on google.ca. Google would still be facilitating Datalink's breach of the court's order which had prohibited it from carrying on business on the Internet....

The order does not require that Google take any steps around the world, it requires it to take steps only where its search engine is controlled....

This is not an order to remove speech that, on its face, engages freedom of expression values, it is an order to de-index websites that are in violation of several court orders....

This does not make Google liable for this harm. It does, however, make Google the determinative player in allowing the harm to occur.

The court noted that Google admitted it would be easy to deindex Datalink's domain name, and the court noted that Google regularly deindexes content for other reasons, such as the DMCA online safe harbor.

The court dismissed the risk of international conflicts-of-laws because everyone apparently accepted that Datalink would violate Equustek's IP rights under other countries' laws. However, the court was surprisingly unspecific about the alleged IP violations, which apparently included trademarks and trade secrets. Due to the ambiguities about the alleged IP violations, the court avoided some subtle IP issues, such as the scope of Equustek's trademark rights (usually trademark rights don't reach beyond a country's borders, so a Canadian court could not order a defendant to stop infringing trademark rights in other countries) and the likelihood that Canadian trade secret laws and remedies differ from the laws and remedies of other countries. See Ariel Katz, Google v. Equustek: Unnecessarily Hard Cases Make Unnecessarily Bad Law, ArielKatz.org, June 29, 2017.

Because the court sidestepped the international conflicts-of-laws issue, the Equustek case's facts do not implicate the more problematic situation where Datalink's content violates Canadian law but is legal in other countries, yet a Canadian court order under Canadian law prevents the content from being available in countries where it was legal. (The CNIL-demanded rule would reach this outcome, because RTBF-scrubbed content illegal in Europe would be almost certainly legal in the U.S.). The court said that Google could challenge the injunction in Canadian courts if the injunction violates other countries' laws — but will Google really spend substantial money and time to defend a third party content by going back to a Canadian court to adjudicate the content's legitimacy?

In response to the opinion, Canadian law professor Michael Geist wrote:

What happens if a Chinese court orders it to remove Taiwanese sites from the index? Or if an Iranian court orders it to remove gay and lesbian sites from the index? Since local content laws differ from country to country, there is a great likelihood of conflicts. That leaves two possible problematic outcomes: local courts deciding what others can access online or companies such as Google selectively deciding which rules they wish to follow. The Supreme Court of Canada did not address the broader implications of the decision, content to limit its reasoning to the need to address the harm being sustained by a Canadian company, the limited harm or burden to Google, and the ease with which potential conflicts could be addressed by adjusting the global takedown order. In doing so, it invites more global takedowns without requiring those seeking takedowns to identify potential conflicts or assess the implications in other countries.

Michael Geist, Global Internet Takedown Orders Come to Canada: Supreme Court Upholds International Removal of Google Search Results, MichaelGeist.ca, June 28, 2017.

Does the Equustek ruling mean that plaintiffs (both Canadian and non-Canadian) will flock to Canadian courts to sue non-Canadian defendants solely to get global deindexing orders?

Note that Equustek ruling (and the CNIL dispute) avoid an underlying jurisdictional issue because Google has substantial physical presence in both Canada and Europe. Would Canada or Europe have jurisdiction over an Internet service that operates exclusively from the United States?

I encourage you to do a thought exercise: project yourself 20 years in the future. What do you think will be the state of the law on global removals based on local violations? Do you think most countries will have embraced the Equustek approach broadly? If so, do you think the Internet (however you define it) will be better or worse as a result?

* * *

After I wrote this, Google sought legal relief in US courts from the Equustek ruling. For useful perspective on Google's move, read Daphne Keller's analysis.

Written by Eric Goldman, Professor, Santa Clara University School of Law

www.circleid.com | 9/5/17

Editorial

On the first of September we commemorate the 78th anniversary of the beginning of World War II. Although much time has passed, the interpretations of historians and commentators vary widely on many aspects. The conflict began with Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland, followed by five years of harsh occupation. As a result of war and German and Soviet repression, more than six million Polish citizens perished (over one fifth of the total population).

VoxEurop presents three different narratives related to this tragedy. In the first article, Italian historian Lorenzo Ferrari describes the controversies surrounding the newly created Museum of World War II in Gda?sk. The Museum presents the suffering of Polish population in connexion with war experiences of Europeans, while the current authorities maintain that these experiences are incomparable. According to the author, this position results from the "nationalist" discourse of the Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Although we disagree with the historical interpretation of the Beata Szyd?o’s government, we do not share the opinion of the Italian journalist who considers PiS as a party with nationalist tendencies. Too often — as rightly pointed out in his polemic Bogdan Zalewski, a well-known journalist of RMF FM, the largest Polish commercial radio station — the adjective "nationalist" is being overused by western reporters describing the situation in Poland.

However, he tends himself to assuage the pre-war reality, when he writes that ‘Roman Dmowski's Endecja (National Democracy)’ cannot be compared to German nationalist socialism, that is Nazism, because it did not have ‘totalitarian and criminal elements.’ Yes, it is hard to make such comparisons, because Endecja never ruled in Poland, but it does not mean that if it did, it would not unveil these ‘elements’. All the more so because many Endecja’s members and followers openly declared anti-Semitism and sympathized with fascism (it is enough to read the writings of J?drzej Giertych, one of Endecja’s ideologists).

The real irony of fate is that the mono-ethnic Polish state, the unreachable dream of that party, finally turned into reality as a result of German aggression, Holocaust, years of suffering of the Polish nation and political betrayals of the allies.

Concerning editor Zalewski’s criticism of the current exhibition in the Gda?sk Museum of the Second World War, it is difficult to regard it as impartial. The author refers exclusively to the authorities (Prof. Jan ?aryn, PiS Senator and Piotr Gli?ski, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education) and media related to the ruling camp. His text is devoid of any references to the opinions and arguments put forward by the opposition or publications critical of the government (suffice to mention Polityka or Newsweek Polska weeklies or the daily Gazeta Wyborcza, as well as the Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny, which is trying to keep its distance fromboth conflicting political camps). Of course, as a columnist, Zalewski has the right to do so. This fact, however, illustrates the deep divisions that have taken place on the Polish political scene and in the minds of millions of Poles. Poland's reality has become black and white, entirely lacking any shades of grey, and the only thing that seems to count is whether one is with or against PiS.

Bartosz Brzezi?ski, the author of the third article, also seems to be falling into the trap of selective outlook when he argues that the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the current government directly relates to interwar anti-Semitism. He greatly exaggerates, formulating a shaky thesis that the far right politicians in pre-war Poland did not encounter resistance when they openly called for the expulsion of all Jews from Poland. It is true that the slogan ‘Jews to Madagascar!’ was chanted at the demonstrations of nationalists, that there were brutal attacks of ONR (National Radical Camp) hit squads on Jewish students and that there were bench [dont know what this means] ghettos at universities. But we must remember that this was met by political opposition from PPS (Polish Socialist Party), from which Józef Pi?sudski, the father of Polish independence, came, not to mention communists and Jewish political groups such as the Bund or Poalej Syjon.

It is also hard to agree with Brzezinski's claim that ‘most Poles looked the other way’, and only ‘a handful’ saved Jews during World War II. If it was just a ‘handful’, as the author suggests, there would not be so many Polish trees in Jad Vashem (most of all nations) to pay tribute to those who helped the Jewish people. Brzezinski also seems to forget about the existence of the Underground Council to Aid Jews and the Home Army’s pursuit of those who have away the location of hiding Jews and their rescuers or those who blackmailed them with denunciation for high ransom [dont know what this lady bit means]. And above all, he does not mention the fact that in Poland, as opposed to the countries of the Western Europe occupied by Germany, helping Jews was punishable by death.

Although we do not agree or fully accept the theses contained in these three articles, we have decided to publish them on our website without any editorial interventions, so that our readers, especially non-Polish readers, could get some knowledge of the extremely varied points of view on issues which for a long time delineated divisions in our country. Some may decide that Mr. Zalewski's text is anti-Semitic, others that Mr. Brzezinski's article is anti-Polish. We think that readers of VoxEurop should judge for themselves. It is much better when the discussion takes place in an open to all democratic space than on the street.

Photo: People fleeing the city on Poniatowski bridge during Warsaw siege, in September 1939 – Julien Bryan

www.voxeurop.eu | 9/1/17
[Observer] The European Union delegation to Liberia has begun the distribution of the book "Legends of Liberia," a compilation of stories based on the cultural practices of earlier Liberians, their gods and goddess, heroes and heroines, and their tribal origins. The distribution, which has been ongoing for about two weeks now, has so far been donated to the libraries of all universities, community colleges, rural teacher training institutes and the teachers' colleges of Liberia, public libraries, reading centers and
allafrica.com | 8/31/17

2,956 satellites orbiting at altitudes of 970, 1,034 and 1,086 km at inclinations of 45°, 55° & 88° (Source).I recently posted updates on the satellite Internet service projects of SpaceX and OneWeb. OneWeb and SpaceX have received a lot of publicity, but there is a third entry in the global satellite Internet race — Boeing.

Boeing has applied for a license to launch a constellation of 2,956 Internet-access satellites orbiting at an altitude of 1,200 km. (In a subsequent amendment, the orbits were lowered to three different levels). They outlined a two phase plan — the first 1,396 satellites would be operating within six years, and another 1,560 would be launched within 12 years as demand justified.

There has also been speculation that Apple may be funding and collaborating with Boeing on satellite Internet-service provision. (If you follow this link, read the comments).

Small cells around Washington DCBoeing will use beam-forming, digital processing and instantaneous handoff between overlapping satellite footprints to generate thousands of narrow spot beams, dividing the Earth's surface into 8-11 km diameter (50-95 km2) cells as illustrated here. Each cell will have 5 GHz bandwidth and, if a cell contains both user terminals and Internet gateways, time-division algorithms will enable frequency re-use to serve both. These are very smart radios!

In reviewing the FCC filings, I was struck by the degree of cooperation between the competitors. When Boeing proposed 1,200 km orbits, OneWeb filed a comment saying that would interfere with their design which also called for 1,200 km orbits. In response, Boeing met with OneWeb and altered their plan, lowering altitudes to 970, 1,082 and 1,030 km.

There were also concerns that waivers Boeing requested might lead to radio interference and SpaceX responded by stating that:

The Commission should encourage systems that facilitate spectrum sharing among licensed users. The waivers Boeing seeks will help to build a sensible regulatory environment for NGSO operations while honoring the goals of the rules at issue.

These companies value engineering as well as business. (Tesla has shared their patents — might SpaceX do the same)?

In researching this post, I came across two other Boeing filings — one for 60 high-altitude satellites (shown here) and another for a low-Earth constellation of 132 satellites and 15 high-altitude satellites. I imagine these smaller constellations will complement the larger constellation somehow but have not been able to learn how they will interact.

Sixty high-altitude satellites launched in three phase: the Amercas, Europe and Africa and Asia and Australia. Click to enlarge. (Source)

Boeing, OneWeb and SpaceX are from different generations. OneWeb and SpaceX are relatively recent startups and Boeing is venerable. The startups may have less legacy overhead and have gotten off to a faster start, but Boeing has been thinking about providing Internet service using a satellite constellation for over twenty years — they were the prime contractor for Teledesic's failed attempt in the late 1990s.

We have three potential global Internet service providers — SpaceX, OneWeb and Apple(?)/Boeing. I hope they all succeed, giving us some competition in the Internet service market. That might one day help current Internet customers who have only one choice for their service provider (like me), but it would surely be a boon for people with no terrestrial Internet access today.

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

www.circleid.com | 8/30/17
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