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The Internet and Legislation

Coming from a heavily regulated industry, I’ve always felt that the Internet will find itself mired in regulation sooner or later. Piracy, long lobbied on by the entertainment industry has given way to regulations on Privacy for the consumer and a robust discussion of the use of twitter and the right to privacy.

Taking the consumer angle first; the great EU Cookie Law which needs websites to gain explicit consent before placing a cookie came into force today. The ICO website has implemented its view on how to meet the legislation, which isn’t particularly pretty and boils down to “accept it or the website won’t work” – well duh. The ICO advice on the rest of the subject is limited, in particular the advice on  ICO advice on 3rd party cookies boils down to “your users need to know what you’re doing – but we don’t have an answer on how that works yet.”

The right to privacy and celebrity injunctions has had wall to wall coverage in the UK this week. Of course, 13 years is a long time in the internet and Jack Straw (then home secretary) was the first notable person to find the Internet breaking an injunction, after users named his son in connection with cannabis dealing. As a savvy internet user, I was aware of CBT’s identity over a month ago but as the twitterati worked together – there was a suggestion that Twitter was liable since it had “published” the tweets. Still in a time warp, I couldn’t help but recall the Demon Internet Defamation case.

I’ve long felt as the Internet matured, government will create legislation, that will be good intentioned but be poorly implemented. If it happens, I can  guarantee it will infuriate the tech community.


Windows 7 N and Multi-media

You’ve probably seen all the ‘broo haa haa’ about Microsoft offering European customers a choice of web browser. All of this came about because of an agreement between the EU and Microsoft reached in December 2009.

While ‘browser choice’ is the highest profile, it isn’t the first time EU have forced Microsoft to change Windows. Way back in 1993, Novell complained to the EU about Microsoft’s licensing and anti-competitive practices. In 2004, the EU ruled against Microsoft:

  • forcing Microsoft to pay a £381 million fine (and eventually more fines for arguing with the EU)
  • forcing Microsoft to reduce licensing fees and divulge technical information about their server technologies to allow interop with other vendors
  • forcing Microsoft to produce a version of Windows that doesn’t have Windows Media Player installed

The third requirement is met by Microsoft producing an “N” version of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. I installed Windows 7 N on my new rig over the weekend – Windows 7 N is a painful experience, so much so I wonder what the freaking point is? By stripping out media player, it is impossible to calculate the “Windows Experience Index” – your left with a cryptic message about the computer not having any “multi-media” capability and Windows is unable to decide if you should be able to use aero or not.

After I stopped blaming my motherboard and drivers, you’re left with two choices to get Aero switched on:

  1. Run winstat -dwm from the command prompt (as administrator)
  2. Install the Windows Media Feature pack (KB968211)

If you want a Windows Experience score you have to install the Windows Media feature pack mentioned in step 2. And yes, the Windows Media Feature pack contains Windows Media Player…

No Piracy Legislation for the UK?

I wrote about this subject nearly a year ago, so I thought it was worth of note that the UK Intelectual Property Minister David Lammy has stated that the government have no plans to introduce legislation against piracy. The original interview was with The Times.

This change of tone suggests that the Digital Britain report due at the end of the month, might have less bite than originally expected.