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ACTA Runs Out of Gas in Europe

ACTA Runs Out of Gas in Europe

Today in international tech news: ACTA is essentially declared dead in Europe. Meanwhile, a journalist from The Guardian live-tweets his arrest in Moscow while covering -- or at least trying to cover -- the inauguration of Vladimir Putin. Elsewhere, Australia contemplates data collection on all Web-connected devices, and Lenovo unveils plans for a massive plant in China.

Even though it has been signed by 22 of the European Union's 27 members, ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is unlikely to be ratified by the EU, according to The Guardian.

ACTA had gained favor among lawmakers looking to harmonize copyright enforcement around the globe, but a series of protests -- as well as what critics have called vague language about scale and damages -- have prevented it from being ratified.

And at this point, that likely won't happen.

From The Guardian:

Ryan Heath, a spokesman for [European Commissioner for Telecoms and Technology Neelie] Kroes's office, said the European Commission has not changed its position on the usefulness of ACTA and was continuing to work toward its ultimate ratification, but added that Kroes was "observing political reality."

Kroes' comments come weeks before the commission, the EU executive, is due to make public new rules to ensure that musicians and film-makers get paid, and while it is trying to overhaul the bloc's copyright regime to cater for the Internet era.

The article goes on to report that with ACTA seemingly destined to fail, governments have focused on multilateral agreements to ban websites such as MegaUpload and The Pirate Bay.

Journalist Tweets His Arrest in Moscow

Kevin O'Flynn, a journalist covering the inauguration of Vladimir Putin in Moscow, live-tweeted his own arrest Monday, according to Mashable.

Before being arrested, O'Flynn, working for The Guardian, tweeted that there was increased police presence around Moscow's Presidential Administration Building.

And how.

O'Flynn's press credentials were approved by authorities, but he was nonetheless arrested about a minute later, according to his Twitter feed.

After being captured, O'Flynn snapped a photo from inside a Russian police van. He was released from custody after less than 10 minutes.

Hundreds of Russians have been arrested during protests against Putin, according to The Daily Telegraph. Putin was sworn in for his third term as Russia's president Monday.

Australia Mulls Data Collection

Anything in Australia with an Internet connection -- be it a tablet, smartphone or computer -- might have its Web history stored for up to two years, according to The Age.

The country's attorney general, Nicola Roxon, announced last Friday that the county would be reviewing "national security legislation to ensure our national security capability can evolve to meet emerging threats."

This, according to Tuesday's article in The Age, could entail extensive data collection and retention:

A terms of reference for the committee is yet to be released, but a draft copy circulating around parliament which Fairfax, publisher of IT Pro, has seen indicates that the committee will be asked to look at a controversial data retention proposal for telcos [telecommunications companies] ...

The spokesman added that it was important to note that the government had "made no decisions" about data retention and said many of IT Pro's questions regarding what exactly telcos would need to potentially log were up "for consideration" of the committee in the first instance, not the government.

The draft terms of reference states the committee will be tasked with looking at a tailored data retention period "for up to 2 years for parts of a data set." It doesn't define what the data set will consist of but some fear it will include any data telcos can log and store on customers, including their Web browsing history.

The Age compares the potential data collection plan to the scheme that already exists in the EU.

Lenovo Rolls the Dice

Lenovo, China's No. 1 PC manufacturer, will invest 5 billion yuan, or about US$790 million, to establish a facility that will be primarily devoted to research and development.

The facility will go up in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province and home to some 10 million people.

The site will include integrated facilities for mobile device R&D, production and sales, Lenovo said. It will be operational in October of 2013.

News of the new facility comes at a precarious moment for the PC industry, according to ZD Net Asia:

Lenovo's latest investment comes amid a slowing global PC market. Gartner [a technology research firm] had earlier revealed that worldwide PC shipments totaled 89 million units in the first quarter of 2012, a 1.9 percent increase year-on-year. The research firm said growth outlook remained cautious as the market awaits the arrival of Ivy Bridge processors and Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system.

Samsung earlier this year announced construction on a $7 billion memory chip plant in Xian, China.


Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist currently living in the Netherlands. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here.



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