Just a few days ago the Google–Facebook data sharing spat looked liked a bit of sabre rattling between two of the web’s biggest operators. Then rumours that tomorrow would see a Facebook email launch started gaining momentum.
Widely referred to as a ‘Gmail Killer’, it’s not hard to see why Google would be concerned by Facebook email.
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Are broadband providers the new saviours of UK online liberty? Sure, you don’t have to look too far to find an ulterior motive in their opposition to the Digital Economy Act and its internet disconnection provisions, but the judicial review won by BT and TalkTalk could also clean up the much criticised legisltation.
The Act was controversially forced onto the statute book by the previous Labour government just before this year’s general election, and the two broadband providers may now succeed where an online outcry failed.
One of those critical voices belonged to BT’s chief scientist JP Rangaswami, and before the Act was passed he blogged that it would “protect and enhance distributor rights while actually damaging the rights of consumers and creators in many walks of life”.
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Well informed European consumers and their spending power are the greatest safeguard to ‘net neutrality’ in the region, according to the European Commission’s vice president for the Digital Agenda.
Neelie Kroes was commenting on the issue for the first time since a three-month consultation found a near consensus on the importance of preserving the openness of the internet, but also an expectation more guidance would be needed in the future.
Kroes said everyone should have access to “a robust, best effort Internet”, but she was less clear about how this would be squared with her desire to leave room for companies to run ‘special managed services’ – of the sort that could create a two-tiered internet. A Commission report on net neutrality is in the pipeline so maybe that will clear things up.
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