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Apple warranty case sparks EU on consumer protection

Europe's justice chief has warned that European authorities "cannot sit on the sidelines" of enforcement issues, following a case that saw little action taken against Apple's unlawful warranty practices in the region.

In 2011, Apple was fined 900,000 euros ($1.2 million) by Italian authorities for misleading advertising relating to its AppleCare Protection service. In short, EU consumer law dictates that consumers are entitled to two years of warranty. Apple, however, only provided one, with an additional premium warranty "bolt-on" for an additional year.

Apple lost its appeal to the case the following … Read more

Microsoft, the EU fine, and a browser ballot no one missed

Editors' note: This is a guest column by Geoffrey Manne and Berin Szoka. See below for their bios.

If a tree fell in the forest, and no one noticed... the European Commission would impose a staggering fine -- and then congratulate itself for protecting consumers from falling trees. That's essentially what just happened: the Commission fined Microsoft $732 million for failing to show its "browser ballot" when users installed one of its Windows 7 updates.

In 2009, the Commission settled charges that Microsoft had monopolized the EU browser market -- even as Internet Explorer's market share … Read more

EU feeling pressure to tweak data, privacy legislation

Just over a year after the European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding lifted the lid on plans to reform the data protection and privacy laws in the region, Brussels is facing its greatest challenge yet by no other than its own member states.

The Commission may "water down" proposals after a group of EU member states said they were heavily opposed to a number of proposed measures, according to the Financial Times of London. These include measures that could see EU-based firms fined up to 2 percent of a company's global revenue for data breaches.

Due to an … Read more

EU to vote on porn ban, calls for Internet enforcement

The European Parliament will vote Tuesday on a proposal that could lead to a blanket ban on pornography in any forms of media with potentially wide-ranging implications for freedom and expression in the 27-member state bloc.

Passage of the proposal, "Eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU," would allow the EU to help secure the rights for those across the gender spectrum, particularly women. While the report states that there is an "increasingly noticeable tendency...to show provocatively dressed women, in sexual poses," it also notes that pornography is becoming mainstream and is "slipping into our … Read more

EU fines Microsoft $731M over Windows 7 browser foul

Microsoft is to learn the hard way that "a deal is a deal," at least in the eyes of the European Union, by being forced to swallow a massive fine for breaching earlier promises made with the 27-nation bloc.

The software giant has been fined 561 million euros ($731 million) by European authorities for falling foul of previous antitrust settlement conditions.

The software giant breached a settlement that it signed with the European Commission in 2009, which mandated that it display a "browser choice" screen on all existing and new PCs in the region.

Europe's … Read more

Google's European conundrum: When does privacy mean censorship?

How Google and other American Internet companies operate in Europe could come down to a link that, depending on what side of the Atlantic Ocean you're on, should or should not be deleted.

A case heard Tuesday before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) hinges on a complaint submitted by a Spanish citizen who searched Google for his name and found a news article from several years earlier, saying his property would be auctioned because of failed payments to his social security contributions.

Spanish authorities argued that Google, other search engines, and other Web companies operating in Spain should … Read more

EU close to fining Microsoft, says report

The clock is ticking on Microsoft. Reuters is reporting today that regulators in Europe intend to levy a potentially hefty fine on the software company in connection with a long-running antitrust case.

Quoting a couple of people described as being "familiar with the matter," Reuters says the fine might be "significant."

Microsoft has been in hot water with the European Commission for some time. Last fall, regulators said the company reneged on a 2009 promise to give Windows consumers more choice among rival Internet browsers. The latest bit of upset has to do with Microsoft's … Read more

EU regulators threaten privacy crackdown against Google

Google may face a coordinated crackdown by privacy regulators in Europe before this summer unless the Web giant makes dramatic changes to how it manages user data.

France's privacy watchdog said today that Google had yet to respond with "precise and effective" answers to a dozen recommendations unanimously adopted by 27 national regulators last October and as a result could face a coordinated "repressive action." The Article 29 Working Party, a group of data protection officials from each member states, is expected to vote on the proposal at the end of the month.

"European … Read more

Privacy groups tell U.S. to stop lobbying EU on data law changes

A coalition of privacy groups has written to leading U.S. politicians to seek assurances that policymakers "advance the aim of privacy" in Europe, rather than hinder the development of new European data protection and privacy laws.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and more than a dozen other groups are seeking to meet with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and U.S. Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, to ensure that new European data law proposals are bolstered … Read more

Google hands settlement proposal to EU on antitrust -- report

Google was expected to submit a settlement proposal for the European Commission's antitrust inquiry by the end of January. And, it looks like the Web giant just made the deadline.

According to AllThingsD, sources familiar with the matter said Google turned in a detailed proposal earlier today. However neither Google nor the EC are confirming whether a settlement proposal was definitively submitted.

When asked about the settlement offer, a Google representative told CNET, "We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission." The EC's press office has not yet responded to CNET's request for comment.… Read more