Archive for EU

The EU Passes Draft Legislation To Govern AI

Posted in Commentary with tags , on June 14, 2023 by itnerd

The news is out today that the EU Parliament has moved one step closer to putting legislation into force to govern AI:

The European parliament approved rules aimed at setting a global standard for the technology, which encompasses everything from automated medical diagnoses to some types of drone, AI-generated videos known as deepfakes, and bots such as ChatGPT.

MEPs will now thrash out details with EU countries before the draft rules – known as the AI act – become legislation.

“AI raises a lot of questions socially, ethically, economically. But now is not the time to hit any ‘pause button’. On the contrary, it is about acting fast and taking responsibility,” said Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for the internal market.

A rebellion by centre-right MEPs in the EPP political grouping over an outright ban on real-time facial recognition on the streets of Europe failed to materialise, with a number of politicians attending Silvio Berlusconi’s funeral in Italy.

The final vote was 499 in favour and 28 against with 93 abstentions.

Craig Burland, CISO, Inversion6 had this comment in relation to this news:

Let the debate begin! Similar to data privacy years ago, the EU has just taken a position at the far end of the spectrum to frame the parameters of the discussion. Putting aside the many challenges of enforcement as well as the ubiquitous use of AI in modern technology projects, the EU has documented intriguing concepts centered on ensuring the validity of the content and proper use cases. Contrast this with Google’s pronouncement last week that focused primarily on protecting the technology itself.  What was announced today will shift and transition as the debate plays out in the media and behind closed doors. But, in planting this flag, the EU has started what will be a fascinating dialog that affects businesses and individuals alike.

I’m honestly not sure how this will shake out. But based on the fact that the EU has come out with regulations like GDPR, this draft legislation is likely to shape the discussion about AI and how it should be used. Thus everyone need to pay attention to this.

UPDATE: Eduardo Azanza, CEO, Veridas adds this:

     “The passing of the Artificial Intelligence Act is a significant moment and should not be underestimated at all. For technologies such as AI and biometrics to ever be successful, it is essential that there is trust from businesses and the wider public.

It’s critical that we have established agreed standards and deliverables to ensure that AI and collected biometric data are used responsibly and ethically. There must be clearly defined responsibilities and chains of accountability for all parties, as well as a high degree of transparency for the processes involved. 

As the UK and US look to introduce their own Artificial Intelligence Act, it is essential they work with the EU to define minimum global standards – only then can we guarantee the ethical use of AI and biometrics.

Ultimately, it’s businesses’ duty to responsibly and ethically use AI technology, as its capability to replicate human abilities raises huge concerns. Organizations need to be conducting periodic diagnoses on the ethical principles of AI. Confidence in AI security technology must be based on transparency and compliance with legal, technical, and ethical standards.”

UPDATE #2: Ani Chaudhuri, CEO, Dasera had this comment:

European Union lawmakers have taken a decisive step in shaping the future of artificial intelligence by adopting the E.U. AI Act. This landmark legislation challenges the power of American tech giants and sets unprecedented restrictions on AI usage. This move is long overdue as it prioritizes data security and protects individuals from potential harm caused by unchecked AI systems.

The E.U. AI Act introduces essential guardrails to prevent deploying AI systems that pose an “unacceptable level of risk.” By banning tools like predictive policing and social scoring systems, the legislation safeguards against intrusive and discriminatory practices. Furthermore, it limits high-risk AI applications, such as those that could influence elections or jeopardize people’s health.

One significant aspect of the legislation is its focus on generative AI, including systems like ChatGPT. Requiring content generated by such systems to be labeled and mandating the publication of summaries of copyrighted data used for training promotes transparency and protects intellectual property rights. These measures address growing concerns and ensure responsible AI development.

While some voices express concern over the potential impact on AI development and adoption, the European Parliament’s determination to lead the global dialogue on responsible AI should be applauded.  European lawmakers have proactively developed comprehensive AI legislation that accounts for evolving technologies and potential risks.

The E.U.’s commitment to data privacy, tech competition, and social media regulation aligns with its ambitious AI regulations. This cohesive framework ensures that European companies adhere to high standards, promoting consumer trust and privacy. It also strengthens Europe’s position as the global tech regulator, setting precedents that will shape international tech policies.

As Europe leads in establishing AI standards, the United States must step up its efforts to keep pace. Congress must pass comprehensive legislation addressing AI and online privacy. Falling behind Europe risks hindering innovation and surrendering the opportunity to lead the global debate on AI governance.

We believe that responsible AI development should be a global endeavor. As Europe sets the bar, it is incumbent upon the United States to catch up and play an active role in shaping AI policies. We can strike the right balance and ensure AI benefits society by fostering innovation while safeguarding individual rights.

While concerns and challenges exist, the E.U. AI Act represents a significant step toward building a responsible and secure AI ecosystem. Europe’s commitment to protecting individuals and upholding data security sets an example for the world. As the AI landscape continues to evolve, we must embrace robust regulations that foster trust, innovation, and global cooperation.

EU Finalizes Law That Will Force Apple To Finally Put USB-C Into The iPhone

Posted in Commentary with tags , on October 24, 2022 by itnerd

You might recall that the European Union recently passed a law requiring devices sold within the union to have USB-C. Since most phones and tablets already have USB-C, one could plausibly argue that this law is squarely aimed at Apple as they have stuck with Lightning on iPhones even though Lightning is really USB 2.0 with a fancy connector. Which in 2022 is quite sad.

Today, the final steps to bring this law into effect are done and this law is now good to go according to this press release:

The new rules will make a USB-C charging port mandatory for a whole range of electronic devices. This will mean that most devices can be charged using the same charger. For consumers to know exactly what they are buying, the directive introduces a pictogramthat specifies whether a new device comes with a charger and a label indicating the charging performance.

The directive also allows consumers to choose whether to purchase a new device with or without a charger. This will not only save consumers money, but will also reduce the electronic waste associated with the production, transportation and disposal of chargers. Four years after the directive enters into force, the Commission will assess whether this unbundling of sales should be made mandatory.

Although becoming more popular, wireless charging has not yet been harmonised across devices. To enable this technology to become available for more devices, the Commission will work on harmonising wireless charging for electronic devices and on interoperability based on technological developments.

Categories of devices concerned

The new rules will apply to a wide range of portable devices:

  • mobile phones
  • tablets and e-readers
  • digital cameras and video game consoles
  • headphones, earbuds and portable loudspeakers
  • wireless mice and keyboards
  • portable navigation systems

In addition, all laptops will also be covered by the new rules 40 months following the entry into force of the directive.

So from the sounds of it, Apple will need to convert AirPods over to USB-C along with the Magic Mouse, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Trackpad given that all their laptops and tablets already have USB-C. While it’s been rumoured that Apple has been testing USB-C iPhones, they have a lot of work ahead of them. But I for one cannot wait for a USB-C iPhone as Lightning is dead and has been for years. The other thing that I note is this re-ignites the charger in the box debate. Apple led the way on not including chargers in the box of a new phone. But based on this, it sounds like they will have to rethink that.

It’s Official…. USB-C On Phones And Other Devices Will Now Be Mandatory In The EU

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 4, 2022 by itnerd

The EU has been teasing this for some time. But now it’s official. A press release issued by the European Parliament earlier today states the following:

By the end of 2024, all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port. From spring 2026, the obligation will extend to laptops. The new law, adopted by plenary on Tuesday with 602 votes in favour, 13 against and 8 abstentions, is part of a broader EU effort to reduce e-waste and to empower consumers to make more sustainable choices.

Under the new rules, consumers will no longer need a different charger every time they purchase a new device, as they will be able to use one single charger for a whole range of small and medium-sized portable electronic devices.

Regardless of their manufacturer, all new mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, earbuds and laptops that are rechargeable via a wired cable, operating with a power delivery of up to 100 Watts, will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port.

All devices that support fast charging will now have the same charging speed, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger.

I think it’s a safe bet that Tim Cook and company are not happy about this as they’ve resisted calls from their users to switch from Lightning to USB-C for years. Even though it’s pretty clear that Lightning is dead as well as dead slow. But I for one am very happy about this as it will finally force Apple to join everybody else in 2022 with a USB-C port on their phone. Though I can see a scenario where Apple may either try to fight this, or get rid of all ports on iPhones just to make a point. But I suspect that we’ll see soon enough. Starting with Apple trotting out one of their press minions to comment about how this stops innovation.

EU Decides To Standardize Connectors….. Why This Is Bad For You

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 31, 2020 by itnerd

Yesterday, EU lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor for new rules to establish a common charger for all mobile device makers across Europe. Reuters has the details on that:

Members of the European Parliament voted by 582-40 for a resolution urging the European Commission, which drafts EU laws, to ensure that EU consumers are no longer obliged to buy new chargers with each new device.

The resolution said voluntary agreements in the industry had significantly reduced the number of charger types, but had not resulted in one common standard.

Here’s why this is bad. Politicians have a horrible track record of coming up with standards when it comes to technology. While European politicians are better than most, they still get it wrong more often than they get it right. Why is this the case? They don’t understand the technology that they are regulating for starters. And if you don’t understand something, you’ll screw up trying to regulate the something in question. And technology is constantly evolving. So while the standard of the moment seems to be USB-C, that will only last so long before something better evolves and we’ll be back to having multiple chargers again. And in a few years we’ll be having this discussion again. Thus this is going to be never ending. Finally, there are things that are simply not going to fit into whatever bucket that these politicians are creating. For example, the Apple Watch uses a magnetic charging puck. Are EU politicians going to now say that it has to change to USB-C? If they do, then they’re really short sighted.

For those reasons, politicians in the EU should really not get involved in this. Now I like a lot of people would like to have less cables for the various devices that I own, but this is not how you accomplish that.

Good News: Roaming Charges For EU Citizens Are Dead. Bad News: Bills Set To Skyrocket

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 15, 2017 by itnerd

As of tomorrow, EU roaming charges are a thing of the past. So EU citizens in theory can go on vacation without getting a massive phone bill. It took ten years of hard work to get to this point. But consumers in the end are going to win. That’s a good thing. Right?

Not so fast.

A consumer watchdog has warned that bills will skyrocket as telcos will want to make up the lost revenues from charging for roaming. And it may already be happening according to the Telegraph:

Data is where it gets a little bit complicated. Data is ostensibly the same as back home – mobile phone owners can browse the web, use WhatsApp and stream YouTube within their allowances or at the same pay as you go price, although their signal quality will depend on the local network and some operators have been accused of throttling networks abroad. 
However, mobile phone companies are allowed to impose “fair use” policies which means that monthly data allowances are not quite the same as when using mobile internet in the UK. Each of the four UK operators have different allowances. 

So if you were thinking of Instagramming all your food or posting selfies to Facebook while you travel, you may want to think twice. You may not be able to do as much of that as you think and avoid bill shock.

You gotta love those telcos. They’re always thinking of new and creative ways to take money out of your pockets.


Microsoft Slapped With $732 Million Fine Over Lack Of Browser Choice

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on March 6, 2013 by itnerd

Microsoft CEO is going to have to get out the chequebook today as the European Union has decided to hit the software giant with a massive fine this morning:

The fine, equivalent to $732 million, is first time that E.U. regulators have punished a company for neglecting to comply with the terms of an antitrust settlement, and it could signal their determination to enforce deals in other cases, including one involving Google, where such an agreement is under discussion.

“Legally binding commitments reached in antitrust decisions play a very important role in our enforcement policy, because they allow for rapid solutions to competition problems,” said Joaquín Almunia, the Union’s competition commissioner. “Of course such decisions require strict compliance” and the “failure to comply is a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly.”

Why have they gone this route? Microsoft failed to live up to an agreement regarding giving EU customers a choice in browsers:

The penalty Wednesday stemmed from an antitrust settlement in 2009 that called on Microsoft to give Windows users in Europe a choice of Web browsers, instead of pushing them to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Microsoft failed to offer users such a choice for more than a year — apparently without the failure’s being noticed by anyone at the company or the commission.

The company admitted the problem and apologized last year. It said the failure had been a result of a technical issue that had escaped its notice, and it updated its Windows 7 and Windows 8 software to give European users the browser choice.

Now, it is possible that Microsoft might appeal this. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. I believe that they are likely to cut a cheque and move on. But one has to  wonder if this is the start of a trend in the EU and will other companies face the same punishment? We shall see.

EU Gives Google Weeks To Fix Their Antitrust Issues …. Or Else

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on May 21, 2012 by itnerd

Google has gotten the word from EU Competition Czar Joaquin Almunia wants them to deal with some Antitrust issues related to the fact that they may have been unfairly pushing its own web services over others. They have to do this within a few weeks or they will face an investigation and possible fines. Just ask Microsoft about how expensive that can be. Now Google has said that it hasn’t done anything wrong, but I’m guessing that they’ll be a lot of talking between Mountain View and Brussels over the next little while.


EU Throws Spanner Into Oracle’s Attempt To Buy Sun

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on November 10, 2009 by itnerd

You might recall that back in April Oracle wanted to get its hands on Sun in the worst way. But that purchase has run into a bit of a problem because the European Union has decided that it doesn’t like the deal. According to the 8K form that Sun filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the EU is objecting for this reason:

“The Statement of Objections sets out the Commission’s preliminary assessment regarding, and is limited to, the combination of Sun’s open source MySQL database product with Oracle’s enterprise database products and its potential negative effects on competition in the market for database products,”

That sucks if you’re Oracle. Needless to say they are not happy about this and issued a press release to let everybody know why they’re ticked:

The database market is intensely competitive with at least eight strong players, including IBM, Microsoft, Sybase and three distinct open source vendors. Oracle and MySQL are very different database products. There is no basis in European law for objecting to a merger of two among eight firms selling differentiated products. Mergers like this occur regularly and have not been prohibited by United States or European regulators in decades.

So what happens now? As usual, lawyers will get involved, this will drag out for some time. But it will get sorted out in the end and the lawyers will become very rich in the process. In other words, it’s business as usual. But the uncertainty that this delay causes won’t be good for Oracle, Sun, or their customers.


Microsoft Wants To Allow Browser Choice For EU Version Of Windows 7

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on July 24, 2009 by itnerd

Typically I am not a fan of Microsoft, but I have to give them points for this. Microsoft has basically relented to European Union antitrust regulators who accused Ballmer and company of “monopoly abuse” due to the fact that they essentially force users into Internet Explorer as their main browser when a Microsoft OS is installed. According to this story, Microsoft Windows 7 will offer users a choice of IE as well as any other browser a computer company sees fit to install. It will also give the user the option to disable IE entirely. That’s a good way of doing it as it truly gives end users a choice.

Hopefully the EU goes for this as I think it’s a great solution. Then once they’re done with Microsoft, perhaps they should look at Apple. After all, I don’t see them including anything but Safari on their systems.

Intel Gets Bitch Slapped By The EU To The Tune Of $1.44 Billion

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on May 13, 2009 by itnerd

The European Union has decided that chipmaker Intel has been abusing it’s position as king of the hill to keep rival chipmaker AMD down. As a result, the EU has fined Intel $1.44 billion USD. To nobody’s surprise, Intel doesn’t agree with the decision:

Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini said the company would appeal to the EU courts because “the decision is wrong” and “there has been absolutely zero harm to consumers.” The company promised to comply with the EU order but criticized it as extremely ambiguous.

However, AMD is doing cartwheels:

AMD’s Europe president Giuliano Meroni said the EU order “will shift the power from an abusive monopolist to computer makers, retailers and above all PC consumers.”

So what did Intel do to tick off the EU? According to them, they did a bunch of things:

The EU says Intel gave rebates to computer manufacturers Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and NEC for buying all or almost all their x86 computer processing units, or CPUs, from Intel and paid them to stop or delay the launch of computers based on AMD chips.

Regulators said the company also paid Germany’s biggest electronics retailer, Media Saturn Holding — which owns the MediaMarkt superstores — from 2002 to 2007 to only stock Intel-based computers.

This meant workers at AMD’s biggest European plant in Dresden, Germany, could not buy AMD-based personal computers at their city’s main PC store.

“Intel has harmed millions of European consumers by deliberately acting to keep competitors out of the market for computer chips for many years,” said EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes. “Such a serious and sustained violation of the EU’s antitrust rules cannot be tolerated.”

This will be tied up in court for years before it gets resolved, and they’ll likey be in line behind Microsoft.