Two tax agreements between Apple, Irish government said to be illegal aid
[Updated to reflect new statement European Commission, Forbes clarification] A report from the European Union on tax deals between tech companies, including Apple, and Ireland could be coming as soon as tomorrow. The European Commission will allegedly be offering a document explaining its formal investigation -- first launched in June -- that could suggest Apple and other may have benefited from illegal state aid from the Irish government.
Ruling by Court of Justice opens door to users 'right to be forgotten'
Hours after a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, search engine giant Google is already receiving requests to purge "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" personal engine from search results. Google has not as of yet figured our how to handle the requests or generated a workflow to evaluate the legitimacy of the demands.
Allows Amazon to discount e-books for two years
Apple and four of the five major publishing companies have offered to allow retailers such as Amazon to discount e-books for up to two years, part of a deal that could end an EU antitrust investigation that mirrors the case being brought against Apple and two publishing houses in the US. Only one publisher, Pearson's Penguin group, was not part of the sweeping EU arrangement, which could see Amazon regaining its monopoly position in the e-book market.
New regulations limit how much EU providers can charge
The European Parliament has introduced regulations to cap the amount mobile service providers can charge for calls and data when users are operating their devices outside of their home country. According to the BBC, the caps were passed by a sizable majority and are intended to prevent "bill shock" at the charges incurred by users making calls and using data applications abroad.
Europeans to finally get 4G wireless in 2013
European smartphone users can expect to have access to 4G wireless networks sometime in 2013. The European Parliament has approved the commencement of a 4G roll-out utilizing the 800MHz band that is currently used by certain broadcasters still using analogue prior to the finalization of a digital switchover due at the end of 2012. The 800MHz band has been identified as one of the more effective frequencies for 4G networks as it can send data over longer distances and offers better in door reception.
Germany to wait for EU decision on ACTA
Germany is holding off on joining 22 other EU member states in signing the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Spiegel Online reported. It has changed its mind, as it previously said it would join. The failure of Germany, Europe's largest economic contributor, to sign the agreement is a huge stumbling block. The powers-that-be in German are said to be holding off on a decision until the EU Parliament makes its own decision in the matter.
EU may start formal Google dispute in two months
EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia in a discussion late Tuesday raised the possibility that a formal antitrust dispute with Google could start in late March. He informed Reuters that comments from investigators would come in near the end of the quarter, which ends that month, and that he didn't "expect anything sooner" for a full complaint. Leaks had tipped an early 2012 filing, if it went ahead at all, but hadn't been corroborated directly until now.
EC to support activists' expression of ideas
The EU is readying a strategy to support political activists using the Internet and social networking to communicate their views in countries that are inclined to repress freedom of expression. Neelie Kroes, VP of the European Commission, told a Dutch conference on Internet freedom that she will be announcing a plan to assist activists speaking out for democracy in their countries. Kroes' words mirrored comments made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday on Internet restrictions in Russia, Syria and China.
EU could make mobile app operability mandatory
EU commissioner Neelie Kroes in an interview has warned that the iPhone and other phones may be pushed open by new European interoperability rules. Citing Apple as an example, she observed that the App Store and other closed platforms were examples of customer lock-in for proprietary technology. Kroes stopped short of proposing exact measures in a EurActiv talk but made clear Apple wouldn't be immune to an overall push for interoperability by the European Commission, whose Digital Agenda could make licensing and publishing formats a legal requirement.
Intel suit contained mistakes, says ombudsman
The European Ombudsman has reprimanded European Union regulators on Wednesday for mistakes in its antitrust probe of Intel. In his report, ombudsman P. Nikiforos Diamandouros said the Commission failed to make a proper record of its meeting with Dell in relation to the Intel investigation. The note did not conclude whether or not the EU anti-trust body infringed Intel's rights of defense.
EU sees Internet a right in music cases
The European Parliament today agreed on a new set of legal protections for those threatened with losing Internet access under anti-piracy rules. The new measure in the EU's Telecoms Reform Package considers Internet access a "fundamental" right and will require that EU countries implement a "fair and impartial" process if their laws allow for disconnecting alleged pirates. It will also permit those facing a disconnection to legally dispute their case, though this won't necessarily be part of the regular process.
EU 95yr Copyright and Levy
The European Union should almost double the length of music copyrights and to reform media levies, EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy argues. The official contends that many musicians, particularly older artists, are in danger of losing a reliable source of income and proposes the measures as a protective option. The current 50-year limit on copyright in particular needs to be extended to 95 years, McCreevy suggests. Without the safeguard in place, both regular band members and session performers could find themselves without guaranteed royalties, which often serve as retirement income.