Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 23, 2006

Google defies US over search data

According to BBC NEWS

The internet search engine Google is resisting efforts by the US Department of Justice to force it to hand over data about what people are looking for.
Google was asked for information on the types of query submitted over a week, and the websites included in its index.
The department wants the data to try to show in court it has the right approach in enforcing an online pornography law.
It says the order will not violate personal privacy, but Google says it is too broad and threatens trade secrets.
Privacy groups say any sample could reveal the identities of Google users indirectly. And they say the demand is a worrying precedent, because the government also wants to make more use of internet data for fighting crime and terrorism.
However, the Department of Justice has said that several of Google's main competitors have already complied.
Act blocked
The department first issued a request for the data last August.
It wants:
A list of terms entered into the search engine during an unspecified single week, potentially tens of millions of queries
A million randomly selected web addresses from various Google databases.
The US government is seeking to defend the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, which has been blocked by the Supreme Court because of legal challenges over how it is enforced.
Google's refusal to comply prompted US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to ask a federal judge in the state of California on Wednesday for an order to hand over the records.
But Google's lawyers said it would fight the order.
"Google is not a party to this lawsuit and their demand for information overreaches," associate general counsel Nicole Wong said in a written statement.
"We had lengthy discussions with them to try to resolve this, but were not able to, and we intend to resist their motion vigorously."
Search decisions
Google has also said that providing the data would make its users think it was willing to reveal personal information about them, as well as giving competitors access to trade secrets.
One of its search rivals, Yahoo, said it had already complied with a similar government subpoena "on a limited basis and did not provide any personally identifiable information".
And Microsoft said in a statement that it "works closely with law enforcement officials worldwide to assist them when requested".
"It is our policy to respond to legal requests in a very responsive and timely manner in full compliance with applicable law," it said.

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Japan Halting U.S. Beef Imports

Japan halted all imports of U.S. beef because of mad cow fears Friday, threatening millions of dollars in American trade and sending officials scrambling to repair delicate business relations. Japan's sudden order came just six weeks after the country had lifted a two-year ban on American beef. The problem this time: discovery of bone — a mad cow disease risk, Asian countries say — in a shipment of veal from a plant in New York. Secretary Mike Johanns called the problem "an unacceptable failure" to meet Japan's requirements. He dispatched inspectors to Japan and ordered unannounced inspections at U.S. plants. "We are taking this matter very seriously, recognizing the importance of our beef export markets," Johanns said.
Japan's top government spokesman will protest against the discovery of bone material in a shipment of U.S. beef when he meets soon with a U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, a news report said Saturday.
Japanese inspectors found material from cattle backbone in three of 41 boxes in a 858-pound shipment of beef from Atlantic Veal & Lamb. All the beef in the shipment was destroyed. Company officials called it an "honest mistake" and said they misinterpreted the export rules. Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, said the situation was "a pity given that imports had just resumed." He told reporters, "I received the agriculture minister's report with his recommendation that the imports be halted and I think it is a good idea." He was referring to Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, who had visited Johanns in Washington on Dec. 13
Mad cow disease is the common term for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. It is a degenerative nerve disease in cattle linked to a rare but fatal human disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. People have gotten it by eating meat or cattle products contaminated with mad cow disease. There have been two cases of BSE in the United States and 21 cases in Japan.

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Russia Freezes Over

Russia is experiencing the coldest winter of the last 26 years. During the previous days, temperature in Moscow dropped to -30 degrees Celsius, while in the northern regions of the country, temperatures are even lower. The dead by the cold exceeded 30, while seven persons died just yesterday. In total, 126 deaths due to the frost have been recorded since October. Today, temperature slightly rose in the Russian capital, but as per the country’s meteorological service it will continue a downward spiral for the next five days. In the meantime, fears over a blackout are heightened, since the consumption of electricity has risen, causing the decrease of natural gas and power exports to Europe. Moreover, oil production in Siberia has decreased due to the arctic temperatures in Siberia.

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Bloody Protest in Bangladesh

Roads in the capital of Bangladesh turned into a battlefield on the occasion of today's strike. More than 35 protestors were injured, most of them seriously, when the police clashed with them, using tear gases, wire netting and violence to disperse the crowds. Some 3,000 activists protested against the new electoral lists, which favour the governing party. In fact, Opposition members asked for the resignation of three Electoral Committee officials, who are accused of being controlled by the Government. Sunday is a working day in Bangladesh and the strike paralysed the entire country. Schools and businesses remained closed, while there were no operational means of transport in over 60 cities. Some 7,000 policemen have been deployed around the country for fear of new violent incidents.

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