Survey on Chip implants in Germany

According to a survey carried out by German IT industry lobby group BITKOM, 23% out of 1000 German respondents would accept to have a microchip implanted in their body if that would bring concrete benefits from it.The survey was meant to show the increase of the division between real life and the virtual world, as one of the themes of the CeBIT technology fair having taken place in Hanover between 2 and 6 March 2010.However, the study findings are debatable as the respondent sample was not only small but also taken from a special pool (CeBIT visitors who are probably IT inclined anyway). And one must not overlook the fact that 77% of the study respondents were, in fact, against the respective technology. In fact 72% stated they wouldn’t “under any circumstances” allow electronics in their body.About 16% of the respondents said they would wear an implanted chip in order to be saved faster by emergency services in case of a fire or accident and 5% would be willing to have an implant to make their shopping easier.”This is of course an extreme example of how far people can imagine networks going,” said BITKOM chief Professor August-Wilhelm Scheer during CeBIT who added that implanting chips into humans was going to become commonplace. “Some developments can already be seen. CDs and DVDs are going to disappear as material sources of information. Wallpaper will be

EU Data protection regulation stalled again

On 6 December 2013, the EU justice ministers took again a step back in adopting the EU Data Protection Regulation.The day was considered by EU commissioner for justice, Viviane Reding as a disappointing one for data privacy. What was this time? “The ministers did not want to make hasty decisions,” Lithuanian Justice Minister Juozas Bernatonis told reporters. The issue having caused the delay seems to be the so-called one-stop shop principle which harmonizes decision-making across the EU.Hubert Legal, head of the legal service for the European Council said the one-stop shop rule undermined citizens’ human rights. “The problem is the results you get in terms of respecting the functioning of justice and people’s rights is actually a very bad outcome a very bad result and as your legal adviser I have to tell you it’s a bad outcome.” Mr Legal believes that under the one-stop-shop system, EU citizens whose data had been mishandled by a company based in another member state would face linguistic and financial barriers discouraging them from going to court.Ms Reding reacted by claiming that talks should now be at a “political” rather than “legal” stage, drawing attention on the fact that that current data protection legislation was fragmented, inconsistent and needed to be fixed. She insisted that the commission’s own legal review provided assurance that the one-stop-shop was legal.Yet, the issue seems more complicated for some member states. It

‘Open’ one of keywords in Hungary’s ICT strategy

Open standards and free and open source are central to Hungary’s approach to ICT, says Gábor Fekete, deputy secretary of state, in his opening address to the conference organised by the government’s resource centre on open source, on 27 November in Budapest. The government wants to strengthen the domestic IT sector, become less locked-in by IT vendors, lower the cost of its ICT solutions and make sure its electronic government services are interoperable.Achieving interoperability is a central principle for the government’s 2014 – 2020 plans for local and state public administrations, Fekete says. Design of the government’s ICT systems still has to overcome a “fifteen year-old debt”, Fekete. “ICT modernisation is essential for improving and simplifying the government services.”The deputy secretary of state told the conference attendees that the government wants to make educational materials and free software solutions freely available. He said that free and open source software will be part of the central solutions, answering to the expectations of public institutions and enterprises. Source: „’Open’ one of keywords in Hungary’s ICT strategy“ December 17, 2013  

European Commission launches pilot to open up publicly funded research data

Valuable information produced by researchers in many EU-funded projects will be shared freely as a result of a Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020. Researchers in projects participating in the pilot are asked to make the underlying data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications and other scientific information available for use by other researchers, innovative industries and citizens. This will lead to better and more efficient science and improved transparency for citizens and society. It will also contribute to economic growth through open innovation. For 2014-2015, topic areas participating in the Open Research Data Pilot will receive funding of around €3 billion.The Commission recognises that research data is as important as publications. It therefore announced in 2012 that it would experiment with open access to research data (see IP/12/790). The Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020 does for scientific information what the Open Data Strategy1 does for public sector information: it aims to improve and maximise access to and re-use of research data generated by projects for the benefit of society and the economy.The Pilot involves key areas of Horizon 2020: Future and Emerging Technologies Research infrastructures – part e-Infrastructures Leadership in industrial technologies – Information and Communication Technologies Societal Challenge: Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy – part Smart cities and communities Societal Challenge: Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw materials – with the exception

Interim ruling by European Court condemns massive storage of communications data

The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice issued a devastating Opinion on the European Directive that requires European telecommunications providers to store details of all electronic communications for between six months to two years. The case was brought before the Court by EDRi-members Digital Rights Ireland and in close cooperation with Austrian EDRi members IfNf and VIBE.The Advocate General’s Opinion states that the Directive “is as a whole incompatible with Article 52(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union”. In particular, the measure is not necessary and does not “genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union. Furthermore, Article 6 of the Directive is in violation of Articles 7 and 52(1) of the Charter.“The failings of the Directive 2006/24/EC have been crystal clear since it was initially proposed by the European Commission. Neither at the time that the proposal was initially made, nor at any time since, has the Commission been able to produce credible evidence that the measure was necessary,” says Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights.Faced with abuses of the data being stored under the Directive – which it detailed in its own evaluation report – the European Commission did nothing.Faced with cases where democratic governments decided against implementing the flawed and unnecessary legislation was not fully implemented, the Commission took legal action against Austria, Greece, Germany, Ireland and Sweden. As

‘Turkey deliberately ignoring open source’

Public administrations in Turkey are neglecting free and open source ICT solutions, says Hüseyin Tolu, a PHD student at the University of Bristol. Causes include institutional inertia, vendor lock-in and corruption. Part of his thesis appeared as a case-study earlier this week in the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review.Tolu writes that the country lacks ICT policies and the authorities do not attempt to strike a balance between open and closed source alternatives. However, the need for an approach on free software has come up multiple times, Tolu summarises. Between 2004 and 2006, two government action plans argue in favour of free and open source and the government carried out five evaluations. Turkey’s Parliament also weigh in with, between 2005 and 2012, over three hundred written parliamentary questions. Obstacles”All of these efforts have not achieved their initial and subsequent objectives, and resulted in failure. The general discourse is that although the use of free and open source in Turkey is nearly as advanced as in many leading nations, there are some crucial obstacles.”One of these is that the country’s public institutions are not encouraging the use of free software. Next, the vast majority of software applications developed for the government are locked-in to proprietary technology. Third, Tolu writes, it is unclear which government organisation should carry the responsibility for introducing and implementing any ICT policy. Incomplete”These five evaluation reports repeatedly stated

Horizon 2020 launched with €15 billion over first two years

The European Commission has today for the first time presented calls for projects under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s €80 billion research and innovation programme. Worth more than €15 billion over the first two years, the funding is intended to help boost Europe’s knowledge-driven economy, and tackle issues that will make a difference in people’s lives. This includes 12 areas that will be a focus for action in 2014/2015, including topics such as personalised healthcare, digital security and smart cities.European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: “It’s time to get down to business. Horizon 2020 funding is vital for the future of research and innovation in Europe, and will contribute to growth, jobs and a better quality of life. We have designed Horizon 2020 to produce results, and we have slashed red tape to make it easier to participate. So I am calling on researchers, universities, businesses including SMEs, and others to sign up!”For the first time, the Commission has indicated funding priorities over two years, providing researchers and businesses with more certainty than ever before on the direction of EU research policy. Most calls from the 2014 budget are already open for submissions as of today, with more to follow over the course of the year. Calls in the 2014 budget alone are worth around €7.8 billion, with funding focused on the three key pillars of Horizon 2020:Excellent Science: Around

Regional conference POINT 2.1 “Accountability of government, civil society and new technologies”

On Saturday, Nov 23., The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, in cooperation with UG Zašto Ne held a regional conference entitled ‘Accountability of government, civil society and new technologies – POINT 2.1’.The event was held in addition to the annual ‘POINT’ conference has been organizing since 2012 by UG Zašto Ne with the aim of exchanging civil society experiences in the context of the use of new technologies for democratization of public life and for promotion of accountability and transparency in government as well as for civic activism. Panel’s speakers and participants represented civil society organizations from the region, and recruited from the first two editions of POINT. Among others they were representing CRTA from Serbia, UG Zašto Ne, CCI and Revolt from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Metamorphosis and MOST from Macedonia.In addition to highlightening the importance of transparency and the adoption of new laws, the participants pointed out the great opportunities that disclosing data in the internet can bring to the whole population. The organizers and the participants agreed that there was a lot done in order to use new technologies to create more accountable governments in the region, but, in the same time, the exchange of experiences can help in scaling the good practices thorough the region. The representative of Metamorphosis presented the experiences from ‘Truthmeter’ in Macedonia, in terms of demanding accountability from the authorities by encouraging discussions between citizens about the promises

Council of the EU discusses OER, but is vague on details

The Council of the European Union, comprised of Ministers of member states, debated last week on the topic „Open Educational Resources and digital learning.”. The debate was held during the meeting of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council on the 25-26th of November.The meeting was related to the Commission’s “Opening Up Education” initiative, which was launched at the end of September and in which the development of OER policies plays a key role. Yet the scope of debate at the Council meeting was broader, and didn’t seem to be well connected to the “Opening Up Education” project. The Council did not provide a written conclusion on the matter. Based on limited available information (see the minutes of the meeting, p. 10), it seems that the Council focused primarily on broad issues related to digital learning and MOOCs (which are drawing significant attention from the public as well as policy makers).Similarly, the brief position paper prepared by the Lithuanian Presidency, titled “Presidency Discussion Paper: Open Educational resources and digital learning”, does not provide a substantial viewpoint on OER. It lists advantages and challenges, and suggests that „time is ripe for a debate at European level on the opportunities and challenges which Open Educational Resources will undoubtedly bring”.The „Opening Up Education” communication provides a much stronger view of OER as advantageous for education in Europe. It’s good news that representatives of the Ministries of

Regional Microsoft Education Conference – Real Impact for Better Education

Microsoft Macedonia and Public Sector Microsoft CEEIt in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science of Republic of Macedonia is organizing a Regional Microsoft Education Conference that will be held on December 4th, 2013 at the Aleksandar palace Hotel. This is an opportunity to learn how to use technology to help improve education and learning, create opportunity, and raise living standards for people in the country.   Please join us for an event showcasing solutions and best practices that bring learning to life in and out of the classroom allowing education leaders to reimagine how technology can modernize learning and improve outcomes.The event organizers believe that:                                                                                                1) An excellent education is a basic right and social imperative2) Technology can accelerate insight and impact3) Effective, immersive learning experiences inspire improved outcomes4) Communities of committed, collaborative participants are essential to advancing educationRegister now to attend Regional conference “Real impact for Better Education” and learn how you can start making a real impact for better education: Accelerate economic growth Empower Youth Foster local innovation Address societal change This is a rare opportunity to hear great success stories and best practices by prominent Microsoft executives and experts in the Education area, see real projects by teachers, and a great opportunity for networking and sharing experiences with representatives from Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries from the region.Conference Agenda Source: “Regional Microsoft