Stupid never learns

From the terms of use of the London 2012 Olympic website (handily archived for posterity by Index on Censorship):

Links to the Site. You may create your own link to the Site, provided that your link is in a text-only format. You may not use any link to the Site as a method of creating an unauthorised association between an organisation, business, goods or services and London 2012, and agree that no such link shall portray us or any other official London 2012 organisations (or our or their activities, products or services) in a false, misleading, derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner. The use of our logo or any other Olympic or London 2012 Mark(s) as a link to the Site is not permitted. View our guidelines on Use of the Games’ Marks.

In other words, they didn’t want anyone linking to them unless they were going to say something nice.

This time around, ESPN (via Gizmodo) reports that it’s the turn of the United States Olympic Committee to fire up the stupid with a letter to companies that sponsor athlete but don’t have a commercial relationship with the USOC or International Olympic Committee.

“Commercial entities may not post about the Trials or Games on their corporate social media accounts,” reads the letter written by USOC chief marketing officer Lisa Baird. “This restriction includes the use of USOC’s trademarks in hashtags such as #Rio2016 or #TeamUSA.”

The USOC owns the trademarks to “Olympic,” “Olympian” and “Go For The Gold,” among many other words and phrases.

No-one has claimed a trademark for the hashtag #Facepalm2016 or the phrase “Grab for Cash”.

The letter further stipulates that a company whose primary mission is not media-related cannot reference any Olympic results, cannot share or repost anything from the official Olympic account and cannot use any pictures taken at the Olympics.

At this rate, the 2020 Olympics are going to be remarkably quiet when someone tries to prevent any coverage of the event by anyone.

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The Treasury takes over

Writing in Politico, Tim King looks at the turf wars behind Boris Johnson’s appointment as Foreign Secretary. He concludes:

May has set in train a curious institutional competition: On the one hand, a venerable government department, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, headed by an inexperienced minister, Boris Johnson. On the other hand, a neophyte government department for Brexit, headed by a battle-hardened veteran, David Davis.

From the outset, the competition looks fixed: The winner will be the Treasury.

This chimes with my own view that Johnson’s appointment only makes sense when considered in the context of the now three foreign facing departments: Brexit, headed by a serious politician; Foreign Trade, headed by a serious politician; and Everything Else, headed by Boris Johnson.

Theresa May is concerned about trade and Britain’s future relationship with the EU, but Britain is no longer a world power and May sees the country’s relationship with the rest of the world solely in terms of trade.

Whether you see this attitude as realistic or lacking in ambitions will probably depend on how you already view the country, but one conclusion is unavoidable. The Treasury – and, by extension, the markets – are now very firmly in charge.

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On Brexit: It’s personal

Stephen Tall something that resonates very strongly with my own situation:

It’s not pretty, I know. But I can’t apologise, I’m afraid: if you voted Leave you’re diminished in my eyes.

Because for me it’s personal. My partner is Spanish. She first came to England on an Erasmus scholarship. She later returned to work as a teaching assistant in Oxford, where we met. In a parallel Brexit universe we would never have got together. In the Brexit universe to come, we will have to queue separately in the airport, she with our son who (thankfully) also has a Spanish passport.

In my case, I’m English. I live in Belgium with a Frenchwoman (who also benefited from the Erasmus programme) and our three sons, who are more Belgian than either of us. For over a decade, nationality has not been something that we have need to give much though to, and now it’s a problem.

I realise that there are plenty of people facing a far more difficult position than I am, but I cannot bring myself to sympathise with or even respect the people who lined up with the likes of Farage and Galloway to throw everything in the air in pursuit of wishful thinking, political fantasies and outright nastiness.

And for what?

My kids have dual nationality and will be able to study, work and live wherever they choose. For most citizens of the UK, though, your kids have had these opportunities taken away from them.

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Facebook: Spying with impunity again

Back in November, a Belgian court ruled that Facebook should stop tracking Belgians who are not signed up to the site or pay a daily penalty of €250,000. This ruling, unfortunately, was overruled on appeal at the start of this month. Not, it should be noted, because Facebook is justified in tracking people who are not logged in or have never sighed up to their site, but because:

Belgian courts don’t have international jurisdiction over Facebook Ireland, where the data concerning Europe is processed.

The issue here is one of jurisdiction, not principle. The data protection and privacy laws invoked in this case exist at the EU level, they have not been challenged and the only question is who gets to enforce them. Since Facebook’s European operations are based in Dublin, that would be the Irish.

A little poking around online led me to europe-v-facebook.org:

Are EU Data Protection Laws enforceable in Practice? This may be the main question that europe-v-facebook.org is now about. The right to data protection is a fundamental right in the European Union, but at the same time very little companies respect it. Facebook is just one of many that have a bad reputation when it comes to the handling of users’ data.

So the question arises if users are just too lazy to do something about it, or if the laws are in practice unenforceable?

We unintentionally landed in the middle of a big experiment after filing 22 complaints against Facebook in Ireland, because of breaches of the most basic privacy rules. We happened to look at Facebook for a number of reasons, but the results are very likely exemplary for a whole industry.

You can follow our journey and the under “Legal Procedure“.

While it is clear by now, that no normal citizen is able to follow through with such a proceeding, we are still working to get our final decision today. We want to know if our fundamental rights are respected and enforced against tech giants like Facebook, or if our rights are only existing on the paper.

You can support them at crowd4privacy.org.

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Putting newsletters in the newsfeed

This is handy:

Introducing email newsletters in your RSS reader.

You can now forward your email newsletters over to NewsBlur and then read your email newsletters right in your browser/phone/TV/tablet.

For me, newsletters fall into two categories. The first is marketing bumpf none of which has any value. These are the mails that I try to avoid signing up to in the first place (always uncheck that “Please send me offers” checkbox). Sometimes I forget, though, which has me either looking for the unsubscribe button or – if all else fails – automatically filtering them out of my inbox and into the trash.

The second set is where Newsblur will (hopefully) come in handy. These are the newsletters associated with accounts I have or campaigns in which I am interested. These are the mails that are not urgent enough for me to want them cluttering up my inbox, but which I do want to read at some point.

I have a Newsblur account and have set up an initial filter. It will be interesting to see the effect of moving a little more clutter out of my inbox and into my RSS reader.

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