Sunday, 29 April 2012

International piracy agreement faces opposition

The proposed anti-piracy legislation named ACTA (anti-counterfeiting trade agreement), faces strong opposition before it goes before the European parliament in June 2012. It has already been signed by 22 members of the European Union including the UK.   It is being vehemently opposed and a strong campaign built to stop it from being approved.  The stop ACTA website claims that the agreement ACTA has not been negotiated transparently over the past three years and is a threat to fundamental rights and access to knowledge, especially as initially the papers were not made public.  There are claims that developing countries have been pushed out of the negotiations.

Protesters hold up laptops spelling out "Stop Acta" 

David Martin, a UK MEP who is the European Parliament's rapporteur on ACTA, said last week that politicians would not be able to "guarantee adequate protection for citizens' rights" if the treaty was ratified.  It is argued that the legislation could have a fundamental impact on individual human rights.  Protests against ACTA have been held across Europe to put pressure on the forthcoming debate in parliament.

So if the ACTA legislation was enacted what would it mean for you?  ACTA is an international treaty with the aim of having uniform copyright protection measures across the world.  It would seek to reduce the trade of counterfeited physical goods, including copyrighted material online as with fines to help prevent people do this.  The European Commission claims that the European economy risks losing its competitiveness without this legislation as money is lost through an estimated 103 million counterfeit goods being sold.  The Commission claims that ACTA would not infringe on civil liberties and that EU citizens have nothing to worry about.

It’s Sarko v Hollande, part deux

Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande will face off for the French Presidency on May 6th after neither passed the 50 per cent winning mark in yesterday’s first round.
Hollande looks the favourite, winning the first round 28.6% to Sarkozy’s 27.1%, giving him the momentum going into the two-week run-off. Fascist Marine Le Pen came third on 18.1% – the Front National’s largest ever presidential vote share – with far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon fourth on 12% and centrist François Bayrou fifth on 9%.
Where the voters of the bottom eight candidates vote now will be crucial. Melenchon has urged all his supporters to unconditionally back Hollande, while Le Pen is remaining silent on who her backers should now support.
Although yesterday’s vote reflected recent polls, in the past they have been inaccurate, particularly in predicting support for the Front National as voters do not like to publicly declare the agree with the far right party. This is what partly led to the surprise of Jean-Marie Le Pen edging out the Socialist candidate to enter the second round in 2002.
It is an unexpected achievement that Hollande is set to become the next Socialist president of France. The unlikely candidate replaced Dominique Strauss-Kahn after his sex scandal. He’d been dubbed the ‘ordinary’ candidate in contrast to the ‘bling’ candidate whose popularity has faded over recent months.

Hollande comes from a small town called Tulle and is seen as a lovely, down to earth guy. His policies if successful include taxing those who earn more than a million euros at 75%. If he makes it to the Élysée Palace he will be the first Socialist president since 1995; if Sarkozy loses, he will be the firstincumbent to lose a second term since 1981.

This article was published on left foot forward

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Your personal details will be shared with the USA

This week the European parliament voted through a renegotiated deal by a majority of 409 to 226, that will mean your personal details will be shared with the USA whilst travelling between Europe and the USA, in order to fight against terrorism.  The USA clams that this data has been used to prevent acts of terrorism in the past.  The new deal provides stricter control on data use from the former deal that was agreed in 2007.  It seems as if parliament did not agree on this, that the USA may have imposed a visa regime in Europeans travelling there.

So what personal details will be released about you?  This will include names, addresses, credit card and phone numbers, but in some circumstances may also include sensitive data on your ethnic origin, meal choices, health, political views or sex life (although I’m not quite sure how airlines get details of our sex life currently!). The data can be used for a maximum of 10 years and after six months should be de-personalised so that those accessing it cannot link it to you.  More sensitive data about you such as race, religion or health status should be deleted 30 days after use.  If you feel your data has been used inappropriately you will be able to take this up further.
There is fear that this deal may prompt other countries such as China or Russia to ask to access similar information as a deal has already been negotiated with Australia and is currently in progress with Canada.

Sarkozy chases youth vote

After Marine Le Pen’s attempt at gaining the youth vote, for the upcoming French Presidential election, Nicolas Sarkozy is now turning his attention to the potentially powerful voting force, having been focused on security and policing in recent weeks.
Nicolas-Sarkozy-Carla-BruniThe UK and France have both struggled to handle the ever growing numbers of young unemployed and Sarkozy has outlined some measures to deal with this issue, including the creation of a “youth bank” which would provide loans to young entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.
In France, youth unemployment currently stands at 23%.
Sarkozy exclaimed during his speech in Paris as he was cheered on by students wearing T- shirts labelled “Sarkozy Students”:
“Helping young people to be free, responsible and helping them to realise their dreams, that for me is a policy for young people.”
During the Presidential election campaign, nothing much before now had been said by Sarkozy about youth, compared with Socialist rival François Hollande, who launched his campaign with youth issues at the fore by pledging to create 60,000 new jobs in education for youth as well asslashing charges for companies that take on more young people.
Traditionally young people have voted for Socialist candidates, with 63% voting for the Socialist Party in the last Presidential election.
Other youth initiatives planned include doubling the number of participants in France’s national service programme, as well as making it mandatory for businesses with more than 250 employees to create apprenticeships. Sarkozy, who has steadily gaining ground over the past few weeks, now has a 27% approval rating, while Hollande is on 28%.

Le Pen has maintained her 15% share, although her campaign may gain momentum by her being in the running for the 2012 TIME 100 Poll, where members of the public vote for the leaders, artists, innovators, icons and heroes they think are the most influential people in the world. The results will be revealed on Tuesday, April 17, just before the Presidential elections on April 22nd.
Le Pen was selected as it was claimed her campaign “has changed French politics”, and suggests Sarkozy has copied many of her policies, which just demonstrates how much more acceptable Front National is becoming. The voting on the TIME Poll currently shows 66% feel she should not be on the list; Hollande and Sarkozy are also in the running to be selected with 60% and 64%, respectively, for them not to be entered on the list either.

This article was published on Left Foot Forward