Europe Gives Us Two Wrongs and a Right

Our global economy means we need to pay attention to the actions of other nations, especially when it comes to the borderless world of the Internet and technology. So this morning I decided to take a quick look at what Europeans — from the EU to the British government — are attempting in terms of technology regulation that might affect our readers.

We’ll start with the wrongs. First up is the EU approving the use of cell phones on flights. It’s bad enough that the moment I hit the gate, everyone around me with something to prove whips out their cell phone to call their spouse, their friend or their dog. I can’t imagine sitting a foot away from someone on a flight and having to listen to them talk. Like OMG, that would be sooooo annoying.

The second wrong involves British ISPs playing traffic cop for the recording industry. Amazingly, it looks like British politicians are going along with this plan; they’re aiming to have legislation in place by April 2009.

But enough complaining. When it comes to consumer privacy, the EU is looking far better than the U.S. A recommendations body is pushing search engines to stop storing search data beyond a time frame of six months. (Currently, of the major search engines, Yahoo stores data for 13 months, while Google and MSN each hang onto it for 18 months.) Could that mean that at some point, less search data is retained in the U.S.? I certainly hope so. The FTC seems to be waffling on user privacy so far — acknowledging a problem but hoping self-regulation will work.

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