Communications

Ask Slashdot: Someone Else Is Using My Email Address 79

periklisv writes: I daily receive emails from adult dating sites, loan services, government agencies, online retailers etc, all of them either asking me to verify my account, or, even worse, having signed me up to their service (especially dating sites), which makes me really uncomfortable, my being a married man with children... I was one of the early lucky people that registered a gmail address using my lastname@gmail.com. This has proven pretty convenient over the years, as it's simple and short, which makes it easy to communicate over the phone, write down on applications etc. However, over the past six months, some dude in Australia (I live in the EU) who happens to have the same last name as myself is using it to sign up to all sorts of services...

I tried to locate the person on Facebook, Twitter etc and contacted a few that seemed to match, but I never got a response. So the question is, how do you cope with such a case, especially nowadays that sites seem to ignore the email verification for signups?

Leave your best answers in the comments. What would you do if someone else started giving out your email address?
The Almighty Buck

Norway, the Country Where No Salaries Are Secret (bbc.com) 154

In Norway, there are no such secrets. Anyone can find out how much anyone else is paid -- and it rarely causes problems. From a report: In the past, your salary was published in a book. A list of everyone's income, assets and the tax they had paid, could be found on a shelf in the public library. These days, the information is online, just a few keystrokes away. The change happened in 2001, and it had an instant impact. "It became pure entertainment for many," says Tom Staavi, a former economics editor at the national daily, VG. "At one stage you would automatically be told what your Facebook friends had earned, simply by logging on to Facebook. It was getting ridiculous." Transparency is important, Staavi says, partly because Norwegians pay high levels of income tax -- an average of 40.2 percent compared to 33.3 percent in the UK, according to Eurostat, while the EU average is just 30.1 percent. "When you pay that much you have to know that everyone else is doing it, and you have to know that the money goes to something reasonable," he says. "We [need to] have trust and confidence in both the tax system and in the social security system."
EU

EU Court to Rule On 'Right to Be Forgotten' Outside Europe (wsj.com) 181

The European Union's top court is set to decide whether the bloc's "right to be forgotten" policy stretches beyond Europe's borders, a test of how far national laws can -- or should -- stretch when regulating cyberspace. From a report: The case stems from France, where the highest administrative court on Wednesday asked the EU's Court of Justice to weigh in on a dispute between Alphabet's Google and France's privacy regulator over how broadly to apply the right (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source), which allows EU residents to ask search engines to remove some links from searches for their own names. At issue: Can France force Google to apply it not just to searches in Europe, but anywhere in the world? The case will set a precedent for how far EU regulators can go in enforcing the bloc's strict new privacy law. It will also help define Europe's position on clashes between governments over how to regulate everything that happens on the internet -- from political debate to online commerce. France's regulator says enforcement of some fundamental rights -- like personal privacy -- is too easily circumvented on the borderless internet, and so must be implemented everywhere. Google argues that allowing any one country to apply its rules globally risks upsetting international law and, when it comes to content, creates a global censorship race among autocrats.
Music

EU Sides With RIAA, Says YouTube Underpays For Music Streaming (mercurynews.com) 82

Profits from both CD sales and digital downloads are declining, while online streaming now accounts for the majority of the $7.7 billion U.S. music market, according to a new article. And the music industry's newest complaint is that 25% of music streaming is happening on YouTube, which they believe is paying them too little. An anonymous reader quotes the San Jose Mercury News: Now, the battle is heating up as the European Union is expected to release new rules later this year for how services such as YouTube handle music, potentially upending some of the copyright protections that undergird the Internet... The E.U. has formally recognized that there is a "value gap" between song royalties and what user-upload services such as YouTube earn from selling ads while playing music... How such a law would address the gap is still being decided, but the E.U. has indicated it plans to focus on ensuring copyright holders are "properly remunerated." Even the value gap's existence is disputed.

A recent economic study commissioned by YouTube found no value gap -- in fact, the report said YouTube promotes the music industry, and if YouTube stopped playing music, 85 percent of users would flock to services that offered lower or no royalties. A different study by an independent consulting group pegged the YouTube value gap at more than $650 million in the United States alone. "YouTube is viewed as a giant obstacle in the path to success for the streaming marketplace," said Mitch Glazier, president of the Recording Industry Association of America... YouTube pays an estimated $1 per 1,000 plays on average, while Spotify and Apple music pay a rate closer to $7... The music industry claims YouTube has avoided paying a fair-market rate by hiding behind broad legal protections. In the United States, that's the "safe harbor" provision, which essentially says YouTube is not to blame if someone uploads a copy-protected song -- unless the copyright holder complains.

YouTube argues that its automatic Content ID system recognizes 98% of all copyright-infringing uploads -- and that each year they're already paying the music industry $1 billion in royalties.
Businesses

Europe Says Employers Must Warn Job Applicants Before Checking Them Out on Social Media (cnn.com) 221

Europe has a message for employers: Think twice before you check the social media profiles of job applicants. From a report: European officials have issued new guidelines that warn bosses about the legal hazards of scrolling through the social media profiles of potential hires. The rules require employers to issue a disclaimer before they check applicants' online accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn. If applicants don't see the warning, the company could be in breach of European Union data protection rules. Employers are also barred from compiling social media data as part of the hiring process unless it is "necessary and relevant" for a particular job. The guidelines are part of a lengthy document clarifying data protection laws that apply to employers across 28 EU countries.
Google

Google Spared $1.3 Billion Tax Bill With Victory In French Court (bloomberg.com) 56

New submitter Zorro shares a report from Bloomberg: Google won its fight against a 1.12 billion-euro ($1.3 billion) French tax bill after a court rejected claims the search-engine giant abused loopholes to avoid paying its fair share. Google didn't illegally dodge French taxes by routing sales in the country out of Ireland, the Paris administrative court decided Wednesday. Judges ruled that Google's European headquarters in Ireland can't be taxed as if it also has a permanent base in France, as requested by the nation's administration. "Google Ireland isn't taxable in France over the period 2005-2010," the court said in a statement. Google said in a statement: "The French Administrative Court of Paris has confirmed Google abides by French tax law and international standards. We remain committed to France and the growth of its digital economy."
Google

Google Has Been Paying Academic Researchers Who Write Favorable Papers: Report (cnbc.com) 53

Google has paid researchers and academics who have worked on projects that support the company's positions in battles with regulators, a report in The Wall Street Journal (paywalled) said on Tuesday. From a report: Google's practice might not sound all that different from lobbying, but The Wall Street Journal revealed that some of the professors, including a Paul Heald from the University of Illinois, didn't disclose Google's payments. Heald is one of "more than a dozen" such professors who accepted money from Google, according to The Wall Street Journal. Google has reason to try to get as many folks on its side as it can. The company has faced almost constant scrutiny for its business practices, most recently a record antitrust fine of $2.7 billion in the European Union. Tens of thousands of dollars to professors here and there could have helped it avoid that fine, and others.
Businesses

Newspapers To Bid For Antitrust Exemption To Tackle Google and Facebook (cnbc.com) 116

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The news industry is to band together to seek a limited antitrust exemption from Congress in an effort to fend off growing competition from Facebook and Google. Traditional competitors including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as a host of smaller print and online publications, will temporarily set aside their differences this week and appeal to federal lawmakers to let them negotiate collectively with the technology giants to safeguard the industry. Antitrust laws traditionally prevent companies from forming such an alliance which could see them becoming over-dominant in a particular sector. However, the media companies will be hoping that Congress will look favorably on a temporary exemption, particularly giving the recent clampdown on the technology industry which saw Google slapped with a $2.7 billion antitrust fine. The campaign is led by newspaper industry trade group News Media Alliance and it is intended to help the industry collaborate in order to regain market share from Facebook and Google, which have been swooping in on newspapers' distribution and advertising revenues. The two companies currently command 70 percent of the $73 billion digital advertising industry in the U.S., according to new research from the Pew Research Centre. Meanwhile, U.S. newspaper ad revenue in 2016 was $18 billion from $50 billion a decade ago.
EU

EU Prepares 'Right To Repair' Legislation To Fight Short Product Lifespans (bleepingcomputer.com) 190

An anonymous reader writes: The EU is preparing legislation that would legalize a customer's "right to repair," and would force vendors to design products for longer life and easier maintenance, in an effort to combat electronic waste and abusive practices like manufacturers legally preventing users from repairing their devices. The legislation is in its earlier stages of public discussion, but it already has the backing of several EU Members of Parliament, along with support from organizations like Greenpeace.

Currently, in the US only eleven states have similar laws, and they have been adopted after years of public discussions, and only for certain markets, and not for all types of products. It is unclear what leverage the EU will use to force manufacturers to produce longer lasting products, as this would mean lesser profits for big businesses, who often used tactics such as software DRMs, warranty contract lock-ins, and soldering components together, just to avoid users repairing products on their own.

EU

Google May Face Another Record EU Fine, This Time Over Android (itwire.com) 192

troublemaker_23 shares a report from ITWire: The EU is contemplating another record fine against Google over how it pays and limits mobile phone providers who use the search company's Android mobile operating system and app store. Reuters reported that a decision could be expected by the end of the year if the opinion of a team of experts, set up by the EU to obtain a second opinion, agree with the decisions reached by the team that has worked on the case. The report quoted Richard Windsor, an independent financial analyst, as saying that the Android fine was likely to hurt Google more than the search fine or the verdict in a third EU probe over AdSense. "If Google was forced to unbundle Google Play from its other Digital Life services, handset makers and operators would be free to set whatever they like by default potentially triggering a decline in the usage of Google's services," he said.

In the chargesheet, issued on April 20, 2016, the European Commission said Google had breached EU anti-trust rules by:
-Requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google's Chrome browser and requiring them to set Google Search as default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps;
-Preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code;
-Giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices.

EU

EU Parliament Calls For Longer Lifetime For Products (eubusiness.com) 397

An anonymous reader shares a report: Europe's Parliament called on the Commission, Member States and producers Tuesday to take measures to ensure consumers can enjoy durable, high-quality products that can be repaired and upgraded. At their plenary session in Strasbourg, MEPs said tangible goods and software should be easier to repair and update, and made a plea to tackle built-in obsolescence and make spare parts affordable. 77 per cent of EU consumers would rather repair their goods than buy new ones, according to a 2014 Eurobarometer survey, but they ultimately have to replace or discard them because they are discouraged by the cost of repairs and the level of service provided. "We must reinstate the reparability of all products put on the market," said Parliament's rapporteur Pascal Durand MEP: "We have to make sure that batteries are no longer glued into a product, but are screwed in so that we do not have to throw away a phone when the battery breaks down. We need to make sure that consumers are aware of how long the products last and how they can be repaired."
Businesses

US Government Seeks To Intervene in Apple's EU Tax Appeal (reuters.com) 75

The U.S. government has sought to intervene in Apple's appeal against an EU order to pay back up to 13 billion euros ($14.8 billion) in Irish taxes, Reuters is reporting. From a report: iPhone maker Apple took its case to the Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe's second-highest, in December after the European Commission issued the record tax demand saying the U.S. company won sweetheart tax deals from the Irish government which amounted to illegal subsidies. The decision was criticized by the Obama administration which said the European Union was helping itself to cash that should have ended up in the United States. The Trump administration, which has tentatively proposed a tax break on $2.6 trillion in corporate profits being held offshore as part of its tax reform, has not said anything in public about the case.
Facebook

Germany's Federal Cartel Office Claims Facebook 'Extorts' Personal Data From Users (independent.co.uk) 83

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: Germany's Federal Cartel Office is examining whether Facebook essentially takes advantage of its popularity to bully users into agreeing to terms and conditions they might not understand. The details that users provide help generate the targeted ads that make the company so rich. In the eyes of the Cartel Office, Facebook is "extorting" information from its users, said Frederik Wiemer, a lawyer at Heuking Kuhn Lueer Wojtek in Hamburg. "Whoever doesn't agree to the data use, gets locked out of the social network community," he said. "The fear of social isolation is exploited to get access to the complete surfing activities of users." Andreas Mundt, the Cartel Office's president, said last week he's "eager to present first results" of the Facebook investigation this year. Like the EU's Google investigation, he said the Facebook case tackles "central questions ensuring competition in the digital world in the future".
Google

Yelp's Six-Year Grudge Against Google (nytimes.com) 42

Yelp has become Google's most tenacious pest, and despite the public outcries the crowd-sourced reviews website has seen little mercy over the years. From an NYTimes article: For six years, Jeremy Stoppelman's (chief executive of Yelp) company has been locked in a campaign on three continents to get antitrust regulators to punish Google, Yelp's larger, richer and more politically connected competitor. He has testified before Congress, written op-ed columns and used Twitter to bash Google's behavior (paywalled). Google wasn't always a rival. At one point, it was a suitor. But out of that union that never happened was born a mighty grudge, perhaps even an obsession. At one point, Yelp held a hackathon to create a sort of alternate-universe Google, the better for it to explain Google's ways to regulators. And then you have Luther Lowe. Mr. Lowe, Yelp's vice president for government relations, once spent $3,000 on a stuffed elephant, because it had been knit by Europe's antitrust chief. Unlike Google, whose office is full of artwork and free food, Yelp's Washington presence is just a rented co-working space. So Mr. Lowe keeps the elephant at Yelp's San Francisco headquarters, where there is more room. "This is a shoestring operation," he said. But after years of trying and failing, that operation has finally landed a good punch. Last Tuesday, the European Union fined Google $2.7 billion -- the largest antitrust fine in its history -- for unfairly favoring its own services over those of its rivals. The fine was related to Google's shopping service, so strictly speaking it had nothing to do with the Yelp-Google dispute, which is part of a separate investigation into local search. Still, Yelp and other American technology companies pushed hard to get regulators to issue a bold condemnation of Google's behavior toward competitors, signing a letter that accused Google of "destroying jobs and stifling innovation." And by affirming that Google is the dominant company in online search -- something most people take for granted -- Tuesday's decision is likely to help Yelp's case.
Earth

Large-Scale Study 'Shows Neonic Pesticides Harm Bees' (bbc.com) 102

Long-time Slashdot reader walterbyrd shared an article from the BBC: The most extensive study to date on neonicotinoid pesticides concludes that they harm both honeybees and wild bees. Researchers said that exposure to the chemicals left honeybee hives less likely to survive over winter, while bumblebees and solitary bees produced fewer queens. The study spanned 2,000 hectares across the UK, Germany and Hungary and was set up to establish the "real-world" impacts of the pesticides... A growing number of studies have found evidence of a link between neonicotinoids and problems for bees... Data from this study has now been submitted to the European Food Standards Agency. EFSA's report on neonicotinoids in 2013 sparked Europe's temporary ban, and it is now preparing another comprehensive assessment to be released in November.
The BBC adds that "Bayer, a major producer of neonicotinoids which part-funded this study, said the findings were inconclusive and that it remained convinced the pesticides were not bad for bees."
Google

Ends, Means, and Antitrust (stratechery.com) 97

Analyst Ben Thompson on the European Commission's $2.7 billion fine levied on Google for anti-competitive behavior: The United States and European Union have, at least since the Reagan Administration, differed on this point: the U.S. is primarily concerned with consumer welfare, and the primary proxy is price. In other words, as long as prices do not increase -- or even better, decrease -- there is, by definition, no illegal behavior.

The European Commission, on the other hand, is explicitly focused on competition: monopolistic behavior is presumed to be illegal if it restricts competitors which, in the theoretical long run, hurts consumers by restricting innovation.

Google

Google Slapped With $2.7 Billion By EU For Skewing Searches (bloomberg.com) 362

Google suffered a major regulatory blow on Tuesday after European antitrust officials fined the search giant 2.4 billion euros, or $2.7 billion, for unfairly favoring some of its own search services over those of rivals. The European Commission concluded that the search giant abused its near-monopoly in online search to "give illegal advantage" to its own Shopping service. Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition commissioner, said Google "denied other companies the chance to compete" and left consumers without "genuine choice." The hefty fine marks the latest chapter in a lengthy standoff between Europe and Google, which also faces two separate charges under the region's competition rules related to Android, its popular mobile software, and to some of its advertising products. From a report: Google has 90 days to "stop its illegal conduct" and give equal treatment to rival price-comparison services, according to a binding order from the European Commission on Tuesday. It's up to Google to choose how it does this and it must tell the EU within 60 days of its plans. Failure to comply brings a risk of fines of up to 5 percent of its daily revenue. [...] "I expect the Commission now to swiftly conclude the other two ongoing investigations against Google," Markus Ferber, a member of the European Parliament from Germany. "Unfortunately, the Google case also illustrates that competition cases tend to drag on for far too long before they are eventually resolved. In a fast-moving digital economy this means often enough that market abuse actually pays off and the abuser succeeds in eliminating the competition." Google has been pushing its own comparison shopping service since 2008, systematically giving it prominent placement when people search for an item, the EU said. Rival comparison sites usually only appear on page four of search results, effectively denying them a massive audience as the first page attracts 95 percent of all clicks. In a blog post, Google said the EU has "underestimated" the value Google's services brings to the table. "We believe the European Commission's online shopping decision underestimates the value of those kinds of fast and easy connections. While some comparison shopping sites naturally want Google to show them more prominently, our data show that people usually prefer links that take them directly to the products they want, not to websites where they have to repeat their searches. We think our current shopping results are useful and are a much-improved version of the text-only ads we showed a decade ago. Showing ads that include pictures, ratings, and prices benefits us, our advertisers, and most of all, our users. And we show them only when your feedback tells us they are relevant. Thousands of European merchants use these ads to compete with larger companies like Amazon and eBay. [...] Given the evidence, we respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission's decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case," wrote Kent Walker, SVP and General Counsel at Google.
The Internet

Social Media Giants Step Up Joint Fight Against Extremist Content (reuters.com) 181

Social media giants Facebook, Google's YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft said on Monday they were forming a global working group to combine their efforts to remove terrorist content from their platforms. From a report: Responding to pressure from governments in Europe and the United States after a spate of militant attacks, the companies said they would share technical solutions for removing terrorist content, commission research to inform their counter-speech efforts and work more with counter-terrorism experts. The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism "will formalize and structure existing and future areas of collaboration between our companies and foster cooperation with smaller tech companies, civil society groups and academics, governments and supra-national bodies such as the EU and the UN," the companies said in a statement.
Transportation

New Maglev Elevator Can Travel Horizontally, Vertically, and Diagonally (wired.co.uk) 213

An elevator that can move in any direction has been successfully tested by a German company named ThyssenKrupp. An anonymous reader quotes Wired UK: The Multi is the first ropeless lift, built using the same magnetic levitation technology used in Japan's bullet train and proposed for the Hyperloop. In the same way the train slides along a track horizontally, the lift travels both vertically, horizontally and diagonally around a building riding an electromagnetic field, a system known as a linear drive. "If you can run a 500-tonne train on magnets at 500km/h you should be able to elevate a cabin of 500 kilograms or 1,000 kilograms at a speed of five metres per second," [ThyssenKrupp CEO Andreas] Schierenbeck said.
The elevator can cost 3 to 5 times more than a regular elevator -- but can handle higher buildings than a conventional elevator.
EU

Germany Cracks Down On Illegal Speech On Social Media. (smh.com.au) 535

ArmoredDragon writes: German police have raided 36 homes of people accused of using illegal speech on Facebook and Twitter. Much of it was aimed at political speech. According to the article, "Most of the raids concerned politically motivated right-wing incitement, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office, whose officers conducted home searches and interrogations. But the raids also targeted two people accused of left-wing extremist content, as well as one person accused of making threats or harassment based on someone's sexual orientation."

This comes just as a new law is being debated that can fine social media platforms $53 million for not removing 70% of illegal speech (including political, defamatory, and hateful speech) within 24 hours of it being posted, which Facebook argues will make it obligatory for them to delete posts and ban users for speech that isn't clearly illegal.

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