The Law Actually Hot Picks of the Week
This week has been a pretty busy one for me; even 'hot picks' are late this time around. I’ve not been online that much and have not got through much of my habitual reading and listening of the week as my podcast consumption has gone through the floor. That said, I've not let my finger slip entirely off the pulse of the tech law world and have kept my eye out for some of the week's quirkier news stories. Here they are:
Not News: Virgin Media deny clamp-down on hackers. This one is kind of news because it’s not. Allegations broke on the net this last week about the ISP branch of the Virgin Empire being close to reaching agreement with the BPI over the '3 strikes and you're banned' policy that the latter want implemented. Virgin Media have vehemently denied these allegations saying that they have merely held discussions, as have all ISPs but are far from reaching agreement.
This concept is so fundamentally flawed, it's almost laughable. Turning ISPs into the 'download police' is just crazy - something I've argued on Law Actually many times before. That said, if the ISPs fail to satisfy bodies such as the BPI before the April 2009 deadline, the government will step-in and impose their own, possibly more stringent controls. When this story first broke, I outlined some of the more serious issues that plague the proposal - and believe me, there are lots of them. The ISPs also acknowledge that many problems remain - such as who will bear the administrative costs of the new policy and who would be liable should an innocent user be disconnected. This saga has got a long way still to go.
13 year old suffers severe facial burns and blisters after a tanning overdose. Kieron Saunders, 13 frequented his local tanning salon as a means of combating his acne, an alternative, I suppose, to Clearasil. Still, he surely wasn’t counting on the blisters he was left with being much worse than his pesky spots. Unsurprisingly, there have been since been many calls for a change in the law regarding tanning salons; as it stands, such salons need not be permanently staffed. With concerns over skin cancer increasing year on year, I have to agree with the idea of scrapping these unmanned, coin-operated contraptions and tighter controls in place for salons who use conventional sunbeds. But seriously, should a 13 year old be using a tanning bed – acne or no acne? I know Mrs Saunders described her son as a ‘vain boy’ but isn’t this a touch too far?
Industry experts say jail data-loss bosses.
A survey of computer experts this week revealed that 1 in 4 thought that the bosses of companies which lose consumer data should be prosecuted. This is very much in line with what I have been arguing for a long time, now. The whole culture and attitude towards handling consumer data needs to undergo a massive shift for any substantial progress to be made with the data protection issues which have plagued the UK in the last couple of years. Three quarters of those surveyed thought offending companies should be fined while almost 60% thought affected consumers should be compensated. Hear, Hear!
I saw the BBC report his week that Symantec have announced that there are well over 1 million computer viruses lurking out there. You kind of have to feel sorry for the poor souls working for the AV vendors writing virus definitions – still, it keeps them in a job I guess. Indeed, you could argue that the insecurity of previous windows versions to have kept an entire industry in business for years.
'Dell breaks your laptop and sends out replacement full of pubes'.
Charming. I know Dell was once notorious for pre-loading their computers with all kinds of crapware and bloated craplets but this is a step too far. Surely the first question you should ask, though, is how the keyboard got chocked up with them in the first place.
But it’s a difficult dilemma to be faced with. After all, what do you do with a laptop that has hair apparently growing out of the keyboard? I like the 3 options listed on The Consumerist:
“1. Vacuum it, douse it in alcohol, and just try to use it and forget about "the hedgehog"
2. Sell it and buy a new laptop
3. Go to the gym, run 3 miles, trim body hair directly over the keyboard, send laptop back to dell.”
No week would be complete on Law Actually without a reference to Facebook. The Metro reported this week that a user, Laura Michaels, set up a group entitled ‘I Need Sex’. A self-proclaimed sex-addict, Michaels admitted to sleeping with 50 men she met via the site. Pretty good going by anyone's standards. Ms Michaels was choosey though; I mean, it’s not like she’d just have sex with any Facebook user out there. Oh no, she’d have to, you know, like the look of his Facebook photo first. The group (since removed) quickly garnered interest: “Within 10 minutes the group had 35 members and soon attracted 100 men, 50 of whom she slept with.”
I guess someone didn’t explain to her that the ‘poke’ function wasn’t to be taken so literally.
The 'Save Windows XP' campaign has drawn more than 111,000 supporters
When will those XP-philes out there just accept the fact that Windows XP is over the hill and should be consigned to history? Given that it launched in October 2001 it's already had an extraordinarily long life cycle. Granted, Service Pack 2 was tantamount to a ‘XP Second Edition’ but the OS is still getting rather long in the tooth. I’ve been following this story for a long time now and was interested to see Paul Thurrott over at the Supersite for Windows write up a review about whether XP is ‘good enough’ in everyday use. He concluded, yes – at a push – it is. But, then again, why would you want to, when you could have a far superior experience in Vista ? I second that. With more information about the next version of Windows - currently dubbed Windows 7 – beginning to trickle out, those stubbornly trying to hang on to the XP experience are just keeping themselves deliberately behind the times. Just get over it, move on and do us all a favour.