The IIA would like to congratulate the eight member companies who made this prestigious list and wish them all the best in the EMEA Fast 500. The Fast 500 pools all Fast 50 winning companies from Europe, Middle East and Africa and ranks them accordingly.
Congratulations to Software Asset Management Ireland, winners of the Technology Fast 50 Awards 2010. View all the winners here.
The programme ranks the 50 fastest-growing technology companies in Ireland based on percentage revenue growth over a five-year period. This year the following eight IIA Member Companies were honoured. (Position in brackets):
- Roomex (3)
- Daft.ie (4)
- Avvio (7)
- Cartrawler (15)
- Espion (36)
- Newsweaver (41)
- Texthelp (44)
- Arekibo (49)
This 1st event will focus on the most pertinent issues for the E-Commerce sector including privacy, security, advertising, competition policy and intellectual property. Key speakers are already confirmed including representatives from the European Commission, EU Parliament, the European consumer association BEUC, Amazon, eBay, Google, Microsoft, Visa, Phorm, MAQS, Symantec and many others (see list below). They will discuss what the new e-commerce pathway will look like, particularly given the changing Commission and Parliament, how far European policy making has come in respect of the regulation (or not) of the digital domain and what steps can be made to improve and support e-commerce as a potential driver for economic and social improvement.
Save €200 by registering before 6th October.
The conference which is supported by EMOTA will provide a consistent Brussels based platform and meeting point for all stakeholders involved in e-commerce.
Given the horizontal nature of e-commerce and its emergence as a key part of the European and global economy, the range of issues discussed will be of relevance to those operating in many sectors including financial services, telecoms operators, transportation and logistics, internet service providers, security and privacy operators, goods manufacturers and many, many more.
Confirmed speakers include:
- Malcolm Harbour, Member, European Parliament (Chairman of the EP’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee)
- Jacqueline Minor, Director, Consumer Affairs, DG SANCO, European Commission
- Monique Goyens, Director General, BEUC (consumer organization)
- Patrick van Eecke, Partner, DLA Piper
- Andrew Cecil, Director Public Policy Europe, Amazon
- Sebastian Mueller, European Policy Manager, Google
- Stuart Cooke, Senior Director, Industry Associations & Standards, Qualcomm
- Brooks Dobbs, Chief Privacy Officer, Phorm
- Thomas Myrup Kristensen, EU Internet Policy Director Corporate Affairs, LCA, Microsoft Europe
- Andrea Servida, Deputy Head of the Unit, Internet, Network and Information Security, DG INFSO, European Commission
- Rosa Barcelo, Adviser, European Data Protection Supervisor
- Peter Møller-Jensen, EU Government Affairs Director, VISA Europe
- Alastair Mitchell, CEO and co-founder, Huddle.net
- Brendan Reilly, Head of Northern European country product management, Deutsche Bank
- Luke Hendrickx, Director, Competitiveness of Enterprises & External Relations, UEAPME
- Monique Wadsted, Partner, MAQS Law Firm
- Alvydas Stancikas, Head of Unit, Enforcement of Industrial and Intellectual Property Rights, DG MARKT, European Commission
- Paul Excell, Chief Innovation Officer, BT
- Claude Rakovsky, Head of Unit, Antitrust and Mergers Policy and Scrutiny, DG COMP, European Commission
- James Waterworth, EU Affairs Director, Nokia & President, EDiMA
The clampdown covered 369 websites selling six of the most popular electronic goods to consumers in the EU – digital cameras, mobile phones, personal music players, DVD players, computer equipment and game consoles. It covered 200 of the biggest websites selling electronic equipment in the EU as well as more than 100 websites which were targeted on the basis of consumer complaints. The results of the checks carried out in May this year show that 55% of the websites investigated showed irregularities in particular relating to: misleading information about consumer rights; misleading information about the total cost of the product; or incomplete contact details for the trader. The initial checks by national authorities will now be followed by an enforcement phase when companies are contacted by national authorities and required to correct their websites or clarify their position. At this first stage, three countries – Iceland, Latvia and Norway – have published names of the websites covered by the investigation (see MEMO/09/379 ).
EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said: "We targeted websites selling electronic goods because I know from my own mail bag, and we know from the level of complaints coming into European Consumer Centres that these are a real problem area for consumers. We discovered that more than half of the retailers selling on-line electronic goods are letting consumers down. This is a Europe-wide problem which needs a European solution. There is a lot of work to be done in the months ahead to clean up this sector, Europe’s consumers deserve better."
The electronics goods market
The value of online retail sales of consumer electronic goods in Europe is ca. € 6.8 billion (2007), and about one in four EU consumers who ever bought anything online bought an electronic product (including cameras). More than a third of complaints regarding online sales handled by the European Consumer Centre Network in 2007, concerned the purchase of electronic equipment.
The sweep investigation
In May 2009, national enforcers (co-ordinated by the European Commission) checked websites selling electronic goods for compliance with three crucial EU consumer laws: the Distance Selling Directive, the e-Commerce Directive, and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (see MEMO/09/379 for more details).
The sweep investigation focused on 3 key areas:
1. Contact information for the trader: Under EU law, there must be complete information about the name, geographical address and email address of the trader.
2. Clear information about the offer (total price and clear product description): Under EU consumer law the online traders must provide clear information about the characteristics of the product, as well as the total cost (including taxes), all extra delivery costs and payment arrangements. The final price to pay must be the same as stated in the information provided before the purchase.
3. Clear information about consumer rights: Under EU law, consumers must be provided with information about their EU "right to return" i. e. a good bought at a distance can be returned within a minimum of 7 days without giving a reason. The investigation also checked the accuracy of additional information provided about consumer rights e.g. warrantees, refunds.
The results of the sweep investigation were as follows:
55% of the 369 checked websites showed irregularities which are being investigated further. 13 % of the problematic sites will require cross border co-operation between national authorities. The most common problems found were:
Misleading information about consumer rights (66% of problem websites) Buyers were either not informed at all or misinformed about their "right to return" – the right to cancel an order bought a distance within a minimum of 7 days and return the product without giving a reason. For example, they were told that the trader would not accept the product back, or that they could only have credit rather than cash refund. In other cases, consumers were misled about their right to have a faulty product repaired or replaced for at least 2 years after the purchase (e.g. they were told that they only had this right for one year).
Misleading information about the total price (45% of problem websites). For example, information on the extra delivery charges was either missing or difficult to find. The extras were then added only at the final payment stage. Some other websites went as far as promising "free delivery" or an "all inclusive" deal, even though delivery charges were in fact applied.
Missing or incomplete contact details of the trader (33 % of the problem websites). Details of the trader’s name, geographical address or e-mail address were missing or incomplete, so that they could not be contacted in case of problems.
What happens next?
Traders will be contacted by the national authorities and asked to clarify their position or correct the problems identified. Failure to bring a website in line with the law can result in legal action leading to fines or websites being closed. The EU wide enforcement results will be presented by mid-2010.
Samples of good and bad websites selling electronic goods:
The IIA International Strategy Working Group will be holding a seminar in the Autumn to help organisations better tap into international revenues using the Internet. In advance of this seminar, called “Growing international revenues using the Internet”, we are looking to identify how we can best meet your areas of interest. It would be great if you could complete our short survey.
Your responses are private and anonymised and will only be used by the IIA and the working group for this purpose.
Check back later in the summer for more details of this event.
Roaming: Vote in European Parliament paves way for swift agreement on lower SMS and data roaming charges
The Commission proposed in September 2008 (see IP/08/1386) to make sure that consumers in the EU do not have to pay more than €0.11 per roamed SMS in the EU (excluding VAT) – a proposal endorsed yesterday by the Parliament’s lead Committee on the new roaming legislation. At present, SMS roaming charges in the EU are on average €0.28 per roamed SMS and can go up to over €0.80 in some countries. The Parliament’s Committee also voted in favour of ambitious measures to reduce the cost of data roaming charges (the cost for surfing the web or downloading data via a mobile connection abroad). To pave the way for lower consumer charges, the Industry Committee voted in favour of a cap on inter-operator charges of €0.50 per megabyte of roamed data. The Commission had proposed such a cap, but at €1 per megabyte. The Parliament’s lead Committee on the new roaming legislation also endorsed measures to enhance the transparency of roaming charges to eliminate the risk of "bill shocks" for data roaming. Finally the Industry Committee voted for an obligation of operators to charge roamed calls by the second from the first second of a mobile call abroad (Commission proposal: from the 31st second). The Commission had identified that consumers currently pay around 20% too much for roamed calls abroad because of imprecise billing methods.
"Yesterday’s vote in the European Parliament is very good news for consumers all over Europe. In view of the current economic downturn, the Parliament is right in wanting to strengthen the purchasing power of European consumers as of this summer, which will encourage them to make even more use of their mobile phones", said Viviane Reding, the EU’s Telecoms Commissioner, who had initiated the new roaming legislation and attended the Committee vote in Strasbourg yesterday evening. "I welcome the fact that the Parliament’s lead Committee on the new roaming rules yesterday evening voted in favour of all the main points of the Commission proposal. I congratulate Adina-Ioana Valean, the Parliament’s Rapporteur on roaming in the Industry Committee, for the impressive negotiation skills she has shown over the past months. I would also like to thank Syed Kamall, the Parliament’s Rapporteur on roaming in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee for his constructive work ensuring that both consumers and businesses can benefit from a practically borderless and transparent single telecoms market for roaming. I would also like to extend my thanks to the Rapporteur of the Culture and Education Committee, Manolis Mavromatis, for his strong support for the Commission proposal."
Yesterday’s vote by the Parliament’s Industry Committee endorsed, by majority vote, all the main features of the Commission’s proposal for new roaming rules, from the €0.11 retail cap for roamed text messages to new transparency obligations. The Industry Committee also supported the principle, proposed by the Commission, that voice roaming calls must be billed by the second. Following the proposal of the Internal Market Committee last week, the Industry Committee voted for an amendment to ensure that this principle applies from the very first second of a roamed call.
The Industry Committee has proposed two further changes to the Commission’s proposal:
- A data roaming wholesale (inter-operator) cap of €0.50 per megabyte. The Commission had proposed a wholesale cap at €1 per megabyte, while the Parliament’s Internal Market Committee had suggested a wholesale cap at €0.25 per megabyte.
- Ending the whole roaming legislation in June 2012, while the Commission had proposed a review in 2013. The Industry Committee proposal would allow the next Commission to review the new rules in the middle of its 5-year mandate.
"I now call on Parliamentarians and Member States to work together very closely over the coming weeks to ensure that the final deal on SMS and data roaming can be concluded well before the European Parliament elections in June", said Commissioner Reding.
The 785 members of the European Parliament will vote in their plenary session scheduled 21-24 April, on the roaming proposal. If the Council agrees with the content of the vote, the new roaming rules will come into effect on 1 July 2009.
On 23 September 2008, the Commission proposed a new Roaming Regulation that would cut by 60% the cost of sending text messages while roaming in the EU (IP/08/1386, MEMO/08/578). It would also reduce the price for using mobile data services abroad and introduce transparency measures against bill shocks. Moreover, the Commission proposed to extend the duration of the current voice roaming Regulation from 2010 to 2013 reducing roaming caps for mobile calls further by €0.03 each year (now at €0.46 for calls made abroad and €0.22 for calls received abroad which would be further reduced to €0.34 for calls made abroad and to €0.10 for calls received abroad by 1 July 2012 [excluding VAT]).
The Council of the EU’s 27 Telecoms Ministers had already endorsed all elements of the Commission proposal on 27 November 2008 (MEMO/08/745).
If you want to know how much you pay while travelling in the EU for a call received/ made, for an SMS sent or megabyte downloaded, visit the EU’s Roaming website which offers an overview of tariffs per country in the EU:
The 2009 ECTA* Regulatory Scorecard, which benchmarks the telecoms regulatory framework in 18 European countries, shows Ireland performing well when it comes to its legislative environment and policy but is generally weaker on the resulting regulatory and market outcomes .
Ireland, together with the UK and Norway, scored highest for the efficiency of its regulatory authority. However, the price Ireland’s dominant player eircom charges for a competitor to access the ‘local loop’ is the highest in Europe at €431 per annum compared to €206 in the Netherlands.
Overall Ireland scored 6th position on the scorecard out of 18 EU member states, jumping from 12th position last year with the UK top of the table. The improvement is attributed to improved regulatory processes and relatively progressive policy proposals concerning next generation networks.
Commenting on the findings Ronan Lupton, Chairman of ALTO, which represents the alternative telecommunications sector in Ireland said: "While ComReg should be commended for scoring so highly it is clear that major obstacles still exist for effective competition in Ireland. Access charges to the incumbent’s network is still the highest in the EU and stifles profitable investment. We would call on the Minister to issue tighter policy directions to ComReg and ensure competitive services are available to Irish consumers."
Additional findings of the report as they relate to Ireland include:
- ComReg achieved strong performance for being able to conduct market analyses decisions in an efficient and transparent manner and have also been able to act effectively as dispute settlement bodies.
- For economic market conditions, Ireland scored the worst alongside Turkey and the Czech Republic. For voice, business services and mobile services Ireland was very weak on competition with competitive weaknesses identified in the broadband environment in particular.
- Time to port a telephone number ranges from 1 day in Ireland and Germany to more than 45 days in Poland.
General findings include:
- Countries with lowest prices tend to have higher penetration rates.
- Overall where LLU and cable providers have a higher penetration rate access speeds are higher. Where the incumbent has a higher level of penetration (and typically a higher share of the market), broadband access speeds do not increase significantly.
- Overall LLU helps to expand the broadband market and where LLU has a significant level of penetration the incumbent does not lose sales. In other words LLU is good for consumers (more people subscribe), good for competitors and is not negative for incumbents.
In launching the report ECTA urged the European Parliament and Council to use the opportunity of the Review of the Telecoms Framework to send a clear signal supporting the need for consistent and effective regulation to address dominance in the telecoms sector and to fully empower national regulators.
Innocenzo Genna, Chairman of ECTA said: "Now more than ever, politicians need to help consumers and businesses through the economic crisis by stimulating investment and innovation by all players, lowering costs and boosting business productivity. The results of the Regulatory Scorecard have repeatedly shown that relaxing rules on dominant telecoms firms is not the way to deliver any of these objectives."
ALTO, the association for Alternative Operators in the Communications Market, was established in 1998 to represent the interests of new operators entering Ireland’s telecoms market.
ALTO represents its members with regulatory authorities and policy makers such as the government, the EU, ComReg and the Competition Authority to ensure a competitive and fair business environment in which members can operate successfully. Members also benefit from effective intelligence gathering on current and future legislative and regulatory developments.
Members include: BT Ireland, Budget Telecom, Cable & Wireless, Chorus, Colt Telecom, Complete Networks, Digitweb, ESB Telecoms, Magnet Networks, NTL, Smart Telecom, TalkTalk, Verizon and 3 Play Plus.
For more information visit www.alto.ie
About the 2008 ECTA Regulatory Scorecard
The Scorecard is a comparative quantitative analysis of 18 EU Member States, and Norway and Turkey, resulting in an overall score for the effectiveness of the regulatory environment in each country.
A questionnaire was compiled following consultation with NRAs and ECTA members, and taking account of the requirements and recommendations contained in the EU Communications Framework, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) reference paper on telecommunications and European Commission and European Regulators Group (ERG) Guidelines. It covers (a) the institutional framework; (b) general market access conditions; and (c) the specific competitive and regulatory conditions relating to the markets for fixed and mobile telephony, high speed business connections and broadband.
The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) looks after the regulatory and commercial interests of new entrant telecoms operators, ISPs and suppliers of products and services to the communications industry.
ECTA works for a fair regulatory environment which allows all electronic communications providers to compete on level terms in order to multiply investment and innovation throughout an effective European internal market. The association represents the telecommunications industry to key government and regulatory bodies and maintains a forum for networking and business development.
ECTA member companies include operators, service providers and suppliers as well as National Associations of such who all contribute towards regulatory policy development and participate in our comprehensive range of networking events, conferences, seminars, briefings and executive meetings.
€ 1 billion has been earmarked today to help rural areas get online, bring new jobs and help businesses grow. On average, 93 % of Europeans can enjoy a high speed online connection but in some countries broadband covers less than half of the rural population (see the table in the annex). Broadband internet connection is expected to create 1 million jobs and boost the EU’s economy by €850 billion between 2006 and 2015.
How can investment in broadband infrastructures stimulate Europe’s economic recovery?
Investment in broadband has a positive impact on economic development, innovation and territorial cohesion. A recent study shows that, assuming a constant adoption rate up to 2015, broadband development will help create around 1 million jobs in Europe and a broadband-related growth of economic activity of € 850 bn between 2006 and 2015.
In areas with a lack of infrastructure, such as less populated areas or remote and isolated rural areas, increased spending on new telecom infrastructure boosts the productivity and employment potential of the local economy. Development and adoption of advanced broadband services help make businesses and public administration more efficient by enabling organisational innovation and facilitating access to markets. The impact on European industry is clearly positive: apart from civil work for networks which has a direct impact on local employment, sales of network equipment will also benefit global European suppliers (like Siemens, Ericsson, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent), as well as telecoms or satellite operators. And areas with advanced broadband connections will see an increase in demand for products and services.
What is the current state of broadband coverage and speed in Europe?
Broadband access is increasingly widespread in the EU, following substantial EU efforts and a pro-competitive regulatory framework in place since the liberalization of the telecoms sector. In December 2007, broadband connection was available to around 93% of Europeans, mostly in densely populated areas.
However 30% of the EU rural population still has no access to high speed internet.
At the start of 2008, on average, more than half of European users enjoyed advertised internet speeds above 2 Megabits per second, which is considered the minimum to enable advanced services like television over the internet, and about 10% of users had access to more than 10 Megabits per second. This compares favourably with the USA, where 37% of broadband lines offer at least 2.5 Megabits per second and only 4% have speeds equal or above to 10 Megabits per second. These are however "advertised" speeds which overestimate actual speeds. In fact, internet speed worsens when the distance between the exchanges and the location where the user is based is great and/or when several users access the internet simultaneously.
Internet speeds increase with the share of fiber-based high-capacity access technologies. Fiber accounts for 45% of all broadband subscriptions in South Korea and 39% in Japan. These numbers are similar between the EU and the US (1.4% and 1.5% respectively) but much lower than in Asia.
In terms of penetration rate (broadband take up per population), which was 21.7% in EU27 in July 2008, Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden and Finland lead the rankings in the OECD area penetration rates above 30%. The penetration rate in the US is 25%.
Why is it necessary to spend EU money on broadband investment? Could this not be better done by each Member State?
The EU money will be used in addition to private investments and national funding. It means that rural areas which are not covered by existing plans to roll out or upgrade broadband will be able to participate in the web economy very soon. In particular, this means that areas that are already at an economic disadvantage will be better placed for economic recovery already in 2009.
Which regions in Europe are in a particular need of broadband investment?
European rural areas suffer from much lower coverage rates than urban or suburban areas and this is where the European help should focus. In some countries, even traditional telephone networks are not available in rural areas (in Bulgaria or Romania for example). In others, lack of investment and difficult geographic conditions has limited broadband coverage to less than 50% of the rural population (Greece, Poland, Slovakia). Even countries with a more developed infrastructure still have rural coverage rates below 80%. This is the case of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia and Lithuania. Finally, even in the most developed countries (Germany, France, Italy, Austria), there are still areas that, due to their geographical location or mountainous landscapes, do not enjoy the same conditions as the rest of the country.
Finally, these figures relate to the coverage of DSL, which is the most widespread access platform in Europe. But they do not take into consideration people who live too far away from telephone exchanges to have access to DSL. This is around 3% of the population in the EU15 and much more in the new Member States. Thus, there is considerable scope for investment to ensure all Europeans have the right to broadband.
The attached table provides detailed figures on the level of coverage according to the type of area.
Table1: Broadband coverageof population by urbanity, December 2007 (EU27, NO, IS)
|MT||99%||Not relevant||Not relevant||99%|
Data source: IDATE Study “Broadband Coverage in Europe 2008”
Data for urban, suburban areas and for the national average in Bulgaria and Romania are not available. Rural coverage in these countries is 0 and this allows the calculation of rural coverage for EU27 + 2.
How will the €1 bn of EU money reach rural areas with a particular need for broadband investments?
The money will be injected into the existing Rural Development Programmes, which have been drafted and approved on the basis of the rules established for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. This means that no new instrument needs to be created and that they will be managed by the national rural development managing authorities. This will necessitate a modification of the Rural Development Programmes and Member States are called upon to do it by 30 June 2009 to allow projects to be identified and expenditure to be made already in 2009.
The European Council in December asked the Commission to specify concrete projects for investing the €5 bn for infrastructure? Is there such a central list for broadband projects?
It is the responsibility of Member States and regions to select the projects that can best serve their areas following the established eligibility and selection rules within their rural development programmes. Projects are not imposed centrally by Brussels, but selected by the Member States and they should reflect the needs identified at national, regional and local level in the context of the National Strategy Plans for rural development.
What is the next step? Can the money now be paid out or do Parliament and Council first have to give their agreement? How long will it take until the first payments are made?
The legal proposals that the Commission has tabled today will make possible the spending of the €1bn under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and will increase its overall budget by the same amount. The proposal requires the approval by Council. The Commission calls on the Council to adopt these proposals as soon as possible so that money can already be committed in 2009.
How will each Member State apply for this extra funding?
By June 2009 Member States and regions will have to propose a modification of their Rural Development Programme, which have to incorporate the option for investments in broadband infrastructure. Member States and regions can authorise projects from the date of submission of the modification request.
What will be the distribution of funding among the Member States?
The amount of €1bn for broadband to be spent under rural development would be distributed among all Member States on the basis of the current distribution key for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The distribution process will cover also another €0.5bn that are to be spent under rural development for "new challenges" as identified under the Health-check of the Common Agricultural Policy.
Which is the co-financing rate of a broadband project within Rural Development?
Projects can benefit from higher co-financing rates in 2009:
- 90% in Convergence regions
- 75% in non-Convergence regions
If agreed by the Council, additional co-financing of 10% would also be temporarily possible in 2009 to promote the economic recovery in Member States and ease investments.
What are the types of measures related to broadband that can be supported through Rural Development?
The types of operations that can be supported are:
- Creation of new broadband infrastructure including backhaul facilities (e.g. fixed, terrestrial wireless, satellite-based or combination of technologies);
- Upgrade of existing broadband infrastructure;
- Laying down passive broadband infrastructure (e.g.: civil engineering works such as ducts, and other network elements such as dark fibre, etc.) also in synergy with other infrastructures (energy, transport, water, sewerage networks etc.).
Where can I find the contact details of Rural Development Authorities for my Member State?
Further information on the European Commission’s broadband initiatives at "Bridinging the Broadband Gap" initiative:
European broadband portal:
Micus study, "The impact of broadband on growth and productivity", available at
 “Broadband Coverage” refers to the coverage of DSL networks, the most widespread form of broadband access in Europe, and in particular to the percentage of population depending on a Local Exchange equipped with a DSLAM. Thus, coverage also includes those people (Households or Businesses Units) that reside too far from these switches to be able to purchase a DSL connection even if they wanted to do so. Hence, coverage figures overestimate actual availability.
Two and a half years after its launch, this confirms the success of the .eu top-level internet domain. It is the fourth most popular internet domain among European country domains and the ninth worldwide. By promoting a distinctly European online identity .eu helps citizens and businesses to reap the full benefits of the single market. Multinational companies and SMEs, NGOs and think tanks as well as individual Europeans have all adopted .eu to mark their web presence.
"The three million .eu domains reflect the confidence of European internet users in .eu," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "This achievement, just a few months before its third anniversary, indicates how .eu has clearly won public favour: a growing number of internet users are embracing the opportunity to express their European character online. In particular, I am glad to see that an increasing number of small and medium-sized companies have adopted .eu as an integral part of their corporate identity and I am looking forward to seeing more companies taking advantage of .eu in the future."
By reaching the third million domain, .eu has well consolidated its place among the ten largest top-level domains in the world, such as .com, .net. and .org. Registrations for .eu domains have been steadily growing since its introduction in 2006. In addition, .eu domains enjoy a good reputation: a recent survey carried out for EURid, the registry for .eu, shows that users not only perceive .eu as the genuine European internet identity, but also believe that .eu domains are innovative and modern.
Most .eu domains have been registered in EU countries with the largest populations and highest internet penetration. Germany continues to lead with 30%, followed by the Netherlands (14%), the United Kingdom (12%), France (8%) and Poland (6%).
.eu first opened on 7 December 2005 to holders of prior rights (IP/05/1510). Since early April 2006, registration has been open to all EU residents and organisations with a registered seat in the EU (IP/06/476). Management of the .eu registry (the database holding all .eu registrations) is entrusted to EURid, an independent not-for-profit organisation. By its first anniversary, 2.5 million .eu domain names had been registered (IP/07/483), another 300,000 domain names were added in 2007 (IP/08/530).
Statistics on the second quarter of 2008: http://www.eurid.eu/files/Q2_08.pdf
Live tracking of .eu statistics is available at:
Top ten top-level internet domains in number of registrations as of November 2008
(*) an update on the number of registrations for .eu is maintained daily on EURID website:
Number of .eu domain names compared to national top-level internet domains per 1000 inhabitants (as of January 2009)
|Country||No. of .eu domains per 1000 inhabitants||No. of country domains per 1000 inhabitants|
Friday the 13th June has been a great day for the IIA. I go home happy (keep your eyes peeled around the Digital Hub for a smiley-faced cyclist) on a day when one new member joins the IIA. I’ll be cartwheeling home today because the Institute of International and European Affairs have become our third new member today and it’s not even lunch time! Every new member means that we can improve our services, benefits and discounts for all members so keep on joining.
I first became aware of the IIEA when Fergal O’Byrne, our CEO, passed on an invitation to their recent event Perspectives on Privacy in the Information Age at which Peter Fleisher, Google’s Privacy Counsel and Billy Hawkes, Data Privacy Commissioner spoke. I blogged about it at the time.
The IIEA is in their own words “is a policy research think-tank and forum based in Dublin. It provides members with early warning of EU policy developments and in-depth analysis of their implications for Ireland and Europe and flag key policy issues that shape the business environment.” One of their current research projects which would interest some IIA members is their Digital Future Project. They are seeking contributions in relation to a number of strategic questions for Ireland’s Digital Future.
*Paraskavedekatriaphobic? I had to say that on radio once. Multitalented me.
One of the many things I have been doing since I began working here in the Irish Internet Association has been responding to queries that come in from members and from the general public. In order to do this I have to try very hard to keep abreast of the kind of issues that are concerning our members. One of our newer members originally contacted me with a query about data protection legislation and I felt terribly ignorant when he seemed to know more than I did. Happily he still joined the IIA!
So last week I gratefully accepted an invitation from the Institute of International and European Affairs to attend their event “Perspectives on privacy in the Internet Age” with presentations by Peter Fleisher, Chief Privacy Counsel, Google Inc., and Billy Hawkes, Data Protection Commissioner. There was also a brief presentation from the floor by Inspector Pat Burke of An Garda Síochána. Here is a brief synopsis but please if you were present and feel I am misrepresenting anyone, I would welcome corrections and clarifications. Thanks!
Both Peter and Billy opened their presentations quoting Scott McNealy’s now infamous and eight year old comment “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” although it became quickly clear that neither of them are even remotely as blasé as McNealy was way back then when it comes to privacy and data protection.
Both of the speakers talked about how, now that information storage is so cheap, it’s actually more cost effective to keep rather than delete information. Fleisher suggested that corporations who are required to comply with privacy and data protection legislation could deal with this in a number of ways:
- Time based anonymisation: forgetfulness should be programmed in so that once information reaches the time limit required by law, it is forgotten by the database.
- Include privacy controls so that users can choose what level of privacy they wish to set for the information that they are storing or publishing online.
- Education: Corporations like Google have a responsibility to educate users about privacy and data protection in a clear and accessible manner.
However Google’s biggest difficulty in relation to privacy legislation is that they are required to comply to location based regimes as he called them. Even within the EU and based on the EU directive countries could set their own time limits for data retention and Google has to comply to all of these while in reality all of this data exists in the cloud rather than any specific location. He also pointed out that in the US there are 39 Security Breach laws each with their own details because the legislation that governs privacy in the US is not federal.
In relation to education Fleisher told us that Google have developed a selection of videos about privacy which have been viewed by half a million viewers. He suggested that corporations might consider video as a more personable approach to privacy statement than the current privacy statements that can now be found on most websites. Fleisher said that the APEC privacy framework was, so far, Google’s preferred framework with it’s emphasis on preventing harm and focus on accountability.
He finished up by reminding us that the big question should be what do we want technology to do for us rather than what is technology doing to us?
Billy Hawkes, the Data Protection Commissioner, had some very interesting statistics about data protection in Ireland and attitudes to data protection and privacy among Irish citizens. Firstly he pointed out that only 10% of companies in Ireland transfer data outside the EU so there may not be currently a requirement for global laws. Citing the Eurobarometer 2008: Data Protection in the European Union: Citizens’ Perceptions, he pointed out that Irish people were slightly more concerned about privacy than the EU average but were also among those most opposed to monitoring of internet usage. All these details can be accessed via the Eurobarometer website. (PDF) Nora Owen, who chaired the session, in her summing up made particular reference to Hawkes use of the phrase “function creep”. He used this when referring to the reasons why data is being kept. Does less privacy and more monitoring equal enhanced security for citizens? Does it equal less crime.
When talking about the future he suggested that corporations should include privacy by design or commission privacy enhancing technology. Similar to Fleisher he emphasised the need to educate people about revealing information, making the point that privacy rights are technology neutral.
Inspector Pat Burke from An Garda Síochána also added from the floor that through their cooperation with the Data Protection Commissioner and always operating within the law and with the right to do proper, legitmate investigation they have had some success in tackling crime which uses the Internet as a platform such as child pornography, internet fraud and identity theft. They have also been able to tackle transnational crimes such as human and child trafficking.
Questions from the floor were put by TJ McIntyre from Digital Rights Ireland and Mark Kelly of Irish Council for Civil Liberties who asked if Google would use a human rights framework to which Fleisher responded that Google are very focussed on the ethical use of the Internet and while they were forced into “the odious concept of censorship” in China, their search results in China include a statement that the results have been filtered. They also will not offer Gmail in China. Brian Greene also made the point that 90% of people using the internet are consumers rather than content producers and there are issues when corporations get and retain data about consumers. Fleisher clarified that Google comes in two flavours: plain ol’ search or search enhanced via logging into your Google account where Google gets to know you and offers you results based on your search history. It’s the consumers choice which search to use.
An interesting afternoon and do you know what? The lunch was delicious too!
As I mentioned at the top of the post I’m new to a lot of these issues so I would really appreciate any comments or clarifications via the comments below.