Written by: Mark Chapman

Written by: David Elston

Written by: David Elston

Written by: David Elston

Written by: David Elston

Written by: Danfox Davies

Written by: Danfox Davies

Written by: Danfox Davies

Written by: Mark Chapman

Written by: Loz Kaye

Written by: Andy Halsall

Written by: Adrian Short

Written by: Loz Kaye

Written by: Loz Kaye

Written by: Andy Halsall

Written by: Andy Halsall

Maria Aretoulaki : European Court of Justice Google ruling gives the Dog a Bone

Yesterday the European Court of Justice, based in Luxembourg, passed a landmark ruling that has caused a lot of jubilation among data privacy advocates: the Google US and Spain versus the Spanish Agency for Data Protection and a brave Spaniard who sued Google for listing information on his repossessed home in its search results.

It has been hailed as the precedent that will secure individuals the "right to be forgotten" from the internet, if they so wish. Drunken pics of you and your mates on Facebook? Looking for a job? Ask for those photos to be taken down before the HR guy discovers them 30mins before your interview! Sorted! Or is it?

Sifting through the legalese, let's concentrate just on the actual ruling, i.e. Points 1-4 at the very end of the document / webpage. If you don't get distracted by the article numbers and opening and closing paragraphs, the ECJ has actually ruled the following:

1.       Article 2(b) and (d) of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data are to be interpreted as meaning that, first, the activity of a search engine consisting in finding information published or placed on the internet by third parties, indexing it automatically, storing it temporarily and, finally, making it available to internet users according to a particular order of preference must be classified as ‘processing of personal data’ within the meaning of Article 2(b) when that information contains personal data and, second, the operator of the search engine must be regarded as the ‘controller’ in respect of that processing, within the meaning of Article 2(d).

Maria Aretoulaki : "Bloody EU regulations, coming here and giving us rights!"

Unfortunately, the current political rhetoric on the subject of EU membership focuses on "immigration" and "foreigners coming here and stealing our jobs". Nobody is talking about all the "foreigners" who come here and pay taxes which fund UK schools and UK hospitals, nor of the "foreigners" who set up businesses here and give Brits jobs (as well as contribute to the growth of the UK Economy). And of course nobody is talking about all the Brits who emigrate and thrive in other EU countries. Even less do we speak of all the "Bloody EU Regulations, coming to this country and giving us rights!" to adapt the Tweet shown here. We all need to rethink our relationship with the EU, as well as demand its democratic reform. What we need is Family therapy. It would be wrong to go straight for Divorce. The first step is of course to go out and vote in the European Parliamentary Elections! And vote for candidates who stand for democracy and civil and human rights. The fewer people go out and vote, the less representative of our will, beliefs, and needs the appointed MEPs are going to be. This is what brings fascists into power: apathy and scapegoats.

George Walkden : Clinical trials and tribulations: a role for Europe

It’s hard to imagine a better fairy-tale villain than a big pharma company. There’s something undeniably sinister about these vast, faceless titans with their unfathomable methods and international reach; so much so that it’s sometimes an effort to remember that, actually, they’re the ones who develop and mass-produce the drugs we use to stay alive. For that we owe them thanks – but let’s not get sentimental about it. These companies are still companies, and they have their own agendas and priorities, which often end up in conflict with those of the average mortal.

One instance of this conflict is the pharma companies’ vice-like grip, via patents, on the production of newly-developed drugs. This can put heavy financial pressure on health services, particularly in developing countries. Another conflict, which is the focus of this article, involves the publication of clinical trial data. Clinical trials are carried out on a massive scale as part of the process of bringing a new drug onto the market: the trials are meant to determine whether the drug is effective and safe, and whether patients would benefit from being prescribed it.

The problem, as Ben Goldacre clearly demonstrates in his excellent book Bad Pharma, is that the decision whether or not to publish the results of a given trial is determined by factors that are anything but scientific. Most worryingly, there is a strong bias towards publishing only positive results: if a trial’s results are negative, or inconclusive, there is a much higher likelihood that they will be stuffed into someone’s desk drawer and never see the light of day. This isn’t a problem that’s unique to industry-sponsored studies, but it certainly seems to be much worse there: a 2006 review found that 78% of industry-sponsored studies showed positive results for the drug in question, while only 48% of independently-funded studies came up with a favourable outcome. Hardly surprising given that pharma companies stand to gain from presenting their drug in the best possible light, but deeply worrying.

Liam Dolman : Day two of the Pirate Parties International Conference

So after a long day of bureaucracy, voting the PPI conference is finally over.  

For the formal GA, it seemed that 22 parties were present in the room, or as remote delegates (growing to 23 later - but we'll come to that).  That list included the Pirate Parties of Australia, Belarus, Belgium,  Brazil, Catalonia, Croatia, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Khazakstan, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey and United Kingdom. So whilst its a diverse group PPI continues to be overrepresented from the Parties in and around Europe.

The morning was occupied by discussions and votes intended to establish if the current General Assembly was legitimate and decide whether  it was announced within the correct time frame. Ultimately those present accepted Gregory Engles' explanations and his apology, not everyone was happy with the result, but it it allowed the conference to move on.

A bright point was two new parties, Norway and Costa Rica applying to become Ordinary Members, with an additional party applying for membership after the deadline. The room voted to admit the Pirate Party of Norway into PPI and deferred the applications of the Second Pirate Party of Greece and the Pirate Party of Costa Rica to the next Assembly because there was a feeling that the information provided was insufficient. So, halfway through the conference, the PPI family was a little larger than it had been at the beginning.

The meeting then proceeded to the Board reports to the membership. Gregory Engles, PPI Board Co-Chair, failed to produce a written report once again but gave a verbal report detailing a failed application to WIPO, the abandonment of an international press platform due to communication difficulties and the pinning of blame of PPIs financial situation onto the previous treasurer, but more on that later. Fortunately, It was not all doom and gloom as there has been some successes such as the think twice conference and Gregory committing himself to produce an official report in the coming weeks. A little preparation and planning would have been appreciated, it usually prevents... problems.

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