Archive pour la catégorie ‘Telecommunications’

EU funding: EU clampdown on ring-tone scams

Jeudi 17 juillet 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants in the framework of the programme of Community action in the field of consumer protection policy

EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva today announced the results of an EU-wide investigation into websites offering mobile phone services such as ring-tones and wallpapers

The enquiry, which was carried out on more than 500 websites across the 27 Member States, Norway and Iceland, found that 80% of the sites checked need to be further investigated for suspected breaches of EU consumer rules. Many of the websites target children and young people. Problems found included: unclear price information where prices are incomplete did not include taxes or customers are unaware that they are signing up to a subscription. Large numbers of websites do not provide some of the required contact information about the trader. Other problems relate to misleading information where key information is hidden in very small print or hard to find on a website or the word “free” is used to mislead consumers into a long-term contracts. The breaches vary in the degree of seriousness. More than 495 million mobile phones are owned by Europeans. Ring-tones alone were estimated to make up 29% of the overall “mobile content” market in Europe in 2007 (about 10% higher than 2006). The value of European ring-tone sales in 2007 was estimated at €691 million. Seven countries Norway, Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Iceland, Romania, Greece) are publishing the names of the websites which they found to have irregularities.

The Sweep

The “Sweep” is a new kind of EU investigation and enforcement action. Member States carry out simultaneous, coordinated checks of webpages for breaches in consumer law in a particular sector. They contact operators with alleged irregularities and ask them to clarify their position and/or taken corrective action.

The mobile services Sweep took place between 2-6 June. Enforcement authorities across Europe checked mobile service websites for suspected violations of EU consumer law - Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (2005/29/EC); Distance Selling Directive (1997/7/EC), E-commerce Directive (2000/31/EC).

The results

The Sweep focused on 3 types of practices in the mobile services sector which compromise consumer rights (unclear information about the offer’s price, trader information, misleading advertising).

* 80% of websites checked are being further investigated. The total number of websites checked was 558, the total number of websites that need further investigation is 466. The number of cases potentially requiring cross border co-operation between different national authorities, CPC cases (Consumer Protection Co-operation Network) is 76.
* 50% of websites checked targeted children (279 websites out of 558). These websites used children’s cartoon characters, well known TV characters or required parental consent. The same high level of irregularities (80%) also applied to these sites.
* Many websites indicated multiple irregularities. The figures are as follows
* Almost 50% of all the sites checked had some irregularity related to the information about the offer’s price (268 websites out of 558). On many websites prices and related charges and fees are not clearly indicated or not referred to at all - until the consumer is invoiced via their phone bill. Prices did not include all taxes, in the case of a subscription, the word subscription is not clearly mentioned or the period of a subscription is not clear.
* Over 70% of all the websites checked lacked some of the information required to contact the trader - the trader name, geographic address or the contact details were incomplete (399 websites out of 558). This is against EU law -the eCommerce Directive 2000/31/EC requires details of the service provider, including an email address, to be displayed.
* Over 60% of websites checked presented the information in a misleading way (344 out of 558). Information on the contract is available on the site but hidden in small print or hard to find. Goods and services advertised as “free”, but the customer is misled and later finds that there are charges or that they are tied into a contract.

What happens next?

Companies will be contacted by the national authorities and asked to clarify or correct problems identified. Failure to do so can result in legal action leading to fines or closure of their websites. For cross border cases, national authorities will work with colleagues from other EU authorities. Authorities are asked to report back on their progress in the first half of 2009.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission

EU Funding: EU project takes ACTION with bio, grid and nano technology development

Jeudi 10 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 New framework programme for research and technology aiming at better exploiting research capacities in Europe and transforming scientific results into new products, processes and services.

European researchers have forged a partnership with counterparts in the Western Balkans, North Africa and Latin America to strengthen cooperation in the fields of biomedical informatics (BMI), grid technologies and nanoinformatics

Their work is being carried out through ACTION-Grid, a project supported by the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) with funding totalling some €1 million. ACTION-Grid kicked off in June and will run for a period of 18 months.

The ACTION-Grid consortium aims to maximise the potential of biomedical data and computing resources. The project partners’ work effectively reinforces the European Commission’s position that research groups improve their understanding of activities carried out in target countries such as those from the Western Balkans and Latin America. The partners will focus on finding and fuelling cooperation, as well as identifying viable activities for the future. Besides establishing a collaborative environment between the regions, the seven-member consortium will exchange research results and contribute to improving the EU’s Research Programme in a specific area.

Their work will develop training and mobility in BMI, grid and nanoinformatics. The consortium says the results will be integrated with data from an automated ‘resourceome’, an inventory of BMI/grid/nano methods and services developed by the ACTION-Grid team. This inventory can be accessed by researchers and users. Ultimately, the resourceome will enable researchers - from the across the board - to access the new technologies developed in the EU.’

With support from a panel of recognised experts, the consortium will also develop a White Paper, which will be presented to the EC so as to initiate new plans in the regions in question.

The dissemination of the ACTION-Grid results will be made possible via an international symposium on BMI and grid, as well as scientific publications, newsletters, press releases and a website.

The upshot of the ACTION-Grid project is that major achievements in the fields of BMI and grid computing, including tools, expertise and methods, can be reused and transferred to the Western Balkans, North Africa and Latin America. The knowledge gained in ACTION-Grid will also be incurred from key successes achieved by the consortium in the past. Examples include past EU-backed GRID-based projects, including Gripps, MediGrid, GLOP and eDiamond.

The EU has been relentless in its pursuit over the last 10 years to establish and implement initiatives linking clinical data and results from a myriad of projects, methods and tools in the BMI area. It should be noted that EU research in the areas of genomic and personalised medicine has encouraged scientists to participate in the various research projects that have got off the ground in the region.

Specifically, the link between ACTION-Grid and the field of medicine is nanoinformatics; ACTION-Grid is the EU’s maiden project targeting the development of this discipline. The consortium says nanomedicine has the capacity to meliorate existing diagnostic methods and treatments.

Coordinated by the Biomedical Informatics Group at the Madrid Polytechnic University in Spain, ACTION-Grid brings together partners from Argentina, Chile, Croatia, France and Greece.

 
  Source:
Cordis

EU Funding: Lower charges, greater consistency, more competition: Commission consults on bringing down mobile phone tariffs in Europe

Jeudi 26 juin 2008

Aiming to spur competition among operators and lower phone charges for European consumers, the Commission today starts a public consultation on the future regulation of “voice call termination rates” in the EU based on a draft Commission Recommendation on termination rates

Voice call termination rates are the wholesale tariffs charged by the operator of a customer receiving a phone call to the operator of the caller’s network. Included in everyone’s phone bill, and therefore eventually paid by the consumer, these tariffs are determined by the intervention of national telecoms regulators. At the moment the decisions of the national telecoms regulators result in very divergent rates across the EU. Mobile termination rates range from €0.02/min (in Cyprus) to over €0.18/min (in Bulgaria) and are 9 times higher than fixed line termination rates (on average €0.0057/min for local call termination). This distorts competition between operators from different countries and between fixed line and mobile phone operators. The public consultation on this proposal will be open until 3 September 2008.

The Commission, after assessing over 770 regulatory proposals by national regulators over the past 5 years, warned today that price regulation of termination markets across Europe lacks consistency. It said that gaps between fixed and mobile termination rates and between mobile termination rates imposed by national regulators cannot be altogether justified by differences in the underlying costs, networks or national characteristics. This could have the following negative effects:

* Legal uncertainty and increased regulatory burden for operators providing cross-border services.
* National regulators bringing down mobile termination rates in their country risk punishing their own mobile industry if a neighbouring regulator still allows higher rates.
* Investment in new networks and services hampered if operators face different regulation in every country.

At present, fixed operators and their customers are indirectly subsidising mobile operators by paying higher termination rates for calls made from fixed lines to mobiles. This cross-subsidisation is estimated at €10 billion in Germany for 1998-2006 (WIK Consult) and €19 billion in the UK, Germany and France for 1998-2002 (CERNA-Warwick-WIK).

The Commission today presented a draft Recommendation for convergence of termination rates in Europe, including clear principles on which cost elements should be taken into account when national telecoms regulators determine termination rates, an efficient costing methodology, and symmetric regulation (where the same price caps apply, within a country, to mobile and fixed operators, respectively). This will help foster an effective regulatory environment and avoid distortions such as cross-subsidies from fixed to mobile consumers. The advice of the European Regulators Group (ERG), which has made several attempts towards more consistent regulation of termination rates since 2006, was taken into account by the Commission in the draft Recommendation.

Background

The Commission will issue the final text of the Recommendation on the regulatory treatment of fixed and mobile termination rates in October under article 19 of the Framework Directive of the EU Telecom rules, which allows the Commission to further harmonise the application of EU Telecoms rules in the single market to promote competition and consumer benefits. Member States have to ensure that national regulators take “the utmost account” of Commission Recommendations.

 
  Source:
Press room - European Commission

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EU Funding: Inauguration of Euro-Mediterranean University with seat in Slovenia

Mercredi 4 juin 2008
 
 

After almost two years of efforts and activities on the part of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia to establish a Euro-Mediterranean University based in Slovenia, the formal inauguration of the Euro-Mediterranean University with a seat in Slovenia will be held at Portoroz on 9 June

The following have confirmed that they will participate in the event: José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Janez Jansa, Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, Hans-Gert Pottering, President of the European Parliament, Janez Potocnik, Benita Ferrero Waldner, Joe Borg and Jan Figel, members of the European Commission, and representatives of the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean region.

A press conference will be held at 09.30 on Monday 9 June 2008 in the Bernardin Congress Centre (Daphnia Hall), Portoroz, at which Mojca Kucler Dolinar, Slovenian Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, and Nada Trunk Sirca, Director of the University Centre for Euro-Mediterranean Studies (EMUNI Center), will outline the importance and content of the event and discuss further steps towards establishing the Euro-Mediterranean University.

The International Academic Council (IAC) will convene at 10.30. At 13.30, there will be an international conference of university rectors on intercultural dialogue in higher education. The opening address will be delivered by Mojca Kucler Dolinar, Slovenian Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology.

At 16.30, the ceremony establishing the Euro-Mediterranean University Foundation will be held in the Nautilus Hall of the Bernardin Congress Centre. The speakers at the ceremony will be: Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for Science and Research, Rodi Kratsa Tsagaropoulou, Vice-President of the European Parliament, and Mojca Kucler Dolinar, Slovenian Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology. As part of the event, the Letter of Intent on establishing the Foundation will be formally signed by the representatives of the enterprises that have expressed a willingness to cooperate in developing the university foundation.

Similarly, Letters of Intent on providing the new university with premises will be signed by the Slovenian Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Mojca Kucler Dolinar, the Minister for Public Administration, Gregor Virant, the Minister of Education and Sport, Milan Zver, and the Mayor of the Municipality of Piran, Tomaž Gantar.

The main event will be the formal inauguration of the Euro-Mediterranean University at 18.00 on 9 June 2008 in the Europa Hall in the Bernardin Congress Centre. The speakers will include: Janez Janša, Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League, and Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament.

At 17.50 (the Europa Hall), the four statesmen will, in presence of all the signatories of the Charter and other eminent guests, sign the founding document establishing the Euro-Mediterranean University. This will also be a photo opportunity.

 
  Source:
Slovenian Presidency of the EU

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Commission strongly supports setting up of “EU Coalition of Stakeholders against commercial sexual exploitation of children on the Internet”

Mardi 6 mai 2008

Vice-President Barrot, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, has expressed his strong support for the advanced plans to set up an EU Coalition of Stakeholders against commercial sexual exploitation of children on the Internet, presented by Missing Children Europe and other stakeholders at a press conference today

In 2007, there was a 16.4% increase in child abuse images reports processed by the Internet Watch Foundation hotline compared to the same period in 2006.

The coalition will bring together all stakeholder groups engaged in the fight against the commercial distribution of images of child sexual abuse on the Internet, in particular law enforcement authorities, non-governmental organisations, banks, credit card and on-line payment companies, internet service providers and other internet based private operators.

In this area, the Commission is contributing to setting up a mechanism to stop payments made with a credit card or an electronic payment when purchasing images of sexual abuses of children on the Internet. Several preparatory meetings with the main stakeholders have taken place and a draft document moots the possibility of a platform for all the partners (banks, credit card and on-line payment companies, Internet access providers and national authorities).