In September 2013 Italy became the world’s first country to introduce a tax on high-frequency trading. Italy’s government now collects 0.02% on all trades that take place in less time than half a second.
(Nool comma nool tsvy prote CENT.)
Dutch for “Data Protection Authority,” a government office in Holland.
Google has been invited to testify at a data protection hearing in Holland. Süddeutsche.de ‘s 29 Nov 2013 article said the head of Holland’s data protection office said, “Google is spinning an invisible network out of our personal data without our permission, and there’s laws against that.”
Update on 15 Dec 2013: Google said U.K. privacy complaint plaintiffs should sue the company in California courts. The U.K. plaintiffs wanted to sue the company for secretly tracking their internet browsing “by circumventing privacy settings” in Apple’s Safari web browser on different devices. The Guardian.co.uk said the company’s lawyers were expected to argue in court on Monday, 16 Dec 2013, that a similar privacy complaint had recently been dismissed from a U.S. court “and that no European regulators are currently investigating this issue.”
Spiegel.de said Google has already had to pay two fines for this privacy practice in the U.S.: $22.5 million to the F.T.C. in August 2012 for tricking Safari into accepting cookies on various devices even when the consumer had set tracking to “off” and again $17 million in a Nov 2013 settlement to the attorneys general of ~37 U.S. states for the same issue.
Update on 08 Jan 2014: France’s data protection authority fined Google 150,000 euros, the largest fine C.N.I.L. ever issued, for violating France’s data protection laws. Since 2012, Süddeutsche.de explained, Google has been able to create search-based profiles for users of its search engine, YouTube, Gmail, Google+ and other enterprises and that enable sending targeted ads to consumers. France told Google to inform French users about how the company was handling their data and to obtain their consent before putting cookies on their computers that would track their online behavior. Google did not comply.
Update on 14 Dec 2013: Canada’s antitrust Competition Bureau is investigating Google’s business practices, to see “whether Google is abusing its dominance of the Internet search market to stifle competition and drive up digital advertising prices.”
Apparently authorities in Spain, Italy and France were also examining Google’s business practices, according to the Süddeutsche.de article.
The 007 license plate of the car that dropped off Chancellor Merkel at the E.U. summit on 24 Oct 2013 in Brussels, where the hot unofficial topic was outrage at revelations about U.S. spying on the German chancellor’s cell phone and in previously-unknown but huge volumes in France. Possibly also Italy, including the Vatican. And now Spain.
“That would represent an entirely new quality, and cast a new light on all statements made by the N.S.A. in the past few months.” —Ronald Pofalla (C.D.U.), who as Kanzleramtschef, the chancellor’s chief of staff, is responsible for coordinating and monitoring Germany’s intelligence agencies. He had declared the scandal over last summer in response to assurances from the U.S.A.
“We will not allow ourselves to be treated like that by the Americans. The trust has been harmed. I think a few things have to happen now before this trust can be restored.” —Hans-Peter Friedrich (C.S.U.), interior minister
“The Americans are not fully aware of the situation. And then you’re told things like, ‘but everyone spies on everybody.’ And that’s where you have to say loudly and clearly: that is not okay. Friends are not allowed to eavesdrop on friends. And how would people react in America—this is what we’re saying on our visit here, how we’re describing it—if the Bundesnachrichtendienst were to spy on the U.S. president.” —Elmar Brok (C.D.U.), chair of the European Parliament committee for Foreign Affairs, currently visiting Washington D.C. to complain
“The chancellor’s cell phone is important, but the private and business communications of normal burghers is just as important. We will stand up for the protection of the basic rights of German citizens[…]” —Thomas Oppermann (S.P.D.), chair of the Bundestag’s Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium intelligence committee that is tasked with but not always successful at monitoring and controlling Germany’s intelligence agencies. Mr. Oppermann may be hoping to become the new Justice Minister, replacing Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (F.D.P.).
“What sort of terrorists are they trying to find in the chancellor’s cell phone? This is a really absurd indication that the reasons they’ve told us so far absolutely cannot be true.” —Christian Ströbele (Green Party), member of the Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium intelligence committee
“It’s good that the clarification of the facts appears to be starting, now, and that at least a healthy distrust vis-à-vis the American intelligence services also appears to be arising, now.” —Steffen Bockhahn (Leftists), member of the Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium
“The German government now mistrusts all claims and assurances made by the U.S. government in the entire N.S.A. affair. Now that we know they bugged the chancellor’s cell phone, the U.S. government can no longer sustain its claim from last summer that it did not injure Germany’s interests. It did, and representatives of all parties agree on this, utterly deceive Germany.” —Ulrich Deppendorf, ARD studio head and news editor-in-chief
“I think we should be honest that we have the capacity to obtain information that we didn’t have before. What we need now is the appropriate legislation that ensures we are not seeking or not using the capacity that we have.” —Fredrik Reinfeldt (centrist Moderate Party), Prime Minister of Sweden. (Approximate quote; his original English was drowned out by the German translation.)
“So we have to think about what we need. What data protection agreements do we need, what transparency do we need. We stand between the United States of America and Europe, before shared challenges […]” —Angela Merkel (C.D.U.)
“When I walk into a negotiation and must fear that the other side, a friendly democracy, already knows from espionage what I want to say in that negotiation, that’s no longer eye-to-eye.” —Martin Schulz (S.P.D.), president of the European Parliament
“007, might be funny if the matter weren’t so serious. […] But this isn’t just about the chancellor’s cell phone. The much bigger concern is industrial espionage, which could cost European companies billions.” –ARD correspondent Rolf-Dieter Krause
In a wonderful interview given in German on the evening of Oct. 24, E.U. commissioner Viviane Reding said she’d heard that England’s government did not want European data protection but Poland, Italy and France had joined together to fight for it. Also: “Both of us, both the Americans and the Europeans, need this Transatlantic Trade Agreement. But to be able to negotiate an agreement, you need trust. I think this trust is no longer quite as present. That’s why the first thing that must be done is to restore that trust. And then, so that Europe can speak with a single voice, for that you need strong data protection that is Europe-wide. And that has to be the basis from which we can then move into negotiations with the Americans.”
“The whole time, Frau Merkel acted as if the affair was unimportant, as if it wouldn’t impact anyone in a big way. But then when it affects her, she gets upset? When all German burghers were affected, when it was about protecting burghers’ basic rights, she didn’t do anything then.” —Anton Hofreiter (new Green party co-chair)
“It is strange: umpteen million communications from Germans alone are recorded every month by British and U.S. intelligence agencies. With these extraordinary claims from the documents supplied by the ex-N.S.A. man Edward Snowden the snooping story exploded into public view last summer, but left the German government, and one must say most Germans as well, rather strangely unmoved. Then last night a single cell phone was added to the mix—OK, it was the chancellor’s—and suddenly all hell broke loose.” —Claus Kleber, moderator at ZDF heute journal
The new Bundestag scheduled an extraordinary meeting or special session [Sondersitzung] to discuss the N.S.A. spying affair in mid-November. All political parties also agree a parliamentary inquiry [Untersuchungsausschuss] is “unavoidable.” Many parties would like to invite Edward Snowden to testify before the committee, after which he can apply for asylum in Germany.
Update on 28 Oct 2013: On Thursday, Brazil and Germany will introduce a draft United Nations resolution against N.S.A. spying. FAZ.net reported that a large majority was predicted to approve it, and that though United Nations General Assembly resolutions tend to be nonbinding, unlike Security Council resolutions, the fact that Brazil and Germany are behind this and that so many of the 193 member states support it give it extra significance. Brazilian reporter Sonia Bridi from TV Globo said Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s government wants the world to make international regulations for internet access and international telecommunications such that no individual state can ever again have access to the world’s key communications hubs or nodes.
Update on 26 Nov 2013: The United Nations Human Rights Committee approved Germany and Brazil’s U.N. resolution against data spying. It will be sent on to the U.N. General Assembly, where the nonbinding resolution is considered certain to pass in December 2013.
“Today, for the first time, a resolution in the United Nations expressly specified that human rights have to be protected online just as much as they must be protected offline.” –Peter Wittig, permanent representative to the U.N. for Germany since 2009
(Newel newel ZEEB en.)
“In democracies, you accept court verdicts!” thundered Italian prime minister and lawyer Enrico Letta before the vote of confidence with which media billionaire Silvio Berlusconi’s political party tried to take down the Italian government after the cavaliere was found guilty of a criminal charge, eliminating his senatorial immunity from future prosecutions. Unexpectedly, several Berlusconi ministers broke with their party, including Mr. Berlusconi’s “Ziehson” or adopted son or protégé, Angelino Alfano.
The statement may have come from this section of Mr. Letta’s speech:
“Uno stato di diritto si basa sul principio di legalità, e in uno Stato democratico le sentenze si rispettano si applicano, fermo restando il diritto alla difesa, senza trattamenti ad personam o contra personam, che va riconosciuto a ogni cittadino italiano.”
Update on 19 Oct 2013: An appeals court in Milan decided that Silvio Berlusconi cannot hold public office for the next two years.
(Inn eye nah dame aw crah TEA oct sept eared mon OOR tie là.)
Winding up, closing down, resolution, clearing, of Austrian bank Hypo Alpe Adria. The E.U. Commission appeared to give its permission to break up the struggling bank on 02 Sep 2013. The European competition authority still had to give its approval.
In 2009 the country of Austria took back HGAA from the BayernLB, Bavarian Landesbank, and nationalized it. Hypo continued losing money. By 2012 Austrian taxpayers had given the bank 3 billion euros bailout, but still it needed ~800 million euros in the first half of 2013 and a projected 700 million in the second half, with expectations of ~5 billion euros more required by 2017. The plan is now to sell the Austrian branch to a British investor in Q4 2013, close the Italian branch and sell off the other southern European banks (250 branch offices employing 4300 workers) by 2015.
The reporting repeating the numbers cited by the Austrian finance ministry varies, and it’s hard to match up the cited numbers with the years given. Austrian finance minister Maria Fekter (Ö.V.P.) said the numerical uncertainty is partially because they don’t know how much they’ll get in the sale of the southern European branches. They also want to move HGAA’s failed loans, worst paper and unsellable divisions “away” into a “separate Abwicklungseinheit,” a separate clearing unit, also called an “Abbaubank,” literally breakdown or decomposition bank but apparently called in English a “restructuring unit,” “separate from the core bank.” Without the Abbaubank device, Austrian taxpayers might be on the hook for 16 billion euros, another Austrian finance ministry number, to wind down the HGAA.
We know a bit about what happened under Carinthian and Bavarian management of HGAA. What happened in Italy?
Austria will be holding a parliamentary election on 29 Sep 2013.
Update on 14 Mar 2014: It’s been decided that the Hypo Alpe Adria group will be wound down as a “bad bank,” into a “deregulated, private-economy-organized company” said Austrian finance minister Michael Spindelegger. About 18 billion euros in bad paper will be moved into this vehicle. The decision will increase Austria’s national debt >5%, from ~75% to >80% of the country’s gross national product. HGAA’s subsidiary banks in Italy and the Balkans are to be sold as quickly as possible. It should take the bad bank about a decade to finish closing down the organization, only after which the true costs will be known, said a social minister who will no longer be social minister a decade from now.
Update on 17 Jun 2014: The Austrian state of Carinthia owes ~12 billion euros because of guarantees it made for Hypo Alpe Adria. Carinthia’s annual budget is apparently ~1 billion euros.
A week ago Austria’s cabinet passed a special law that said Carinthia will no longer be responsible for all the bank’s debt that it has guaranteed. This should save the state ~800 million euros while stirring up a lot of trouble for Austria.
Austria’s federal government is deliberately avoiding bankruptcy for the troubled bank because they fear it would pull the state of Carinthia into bankruptcy. The cabinet passed this “special law” haircutting non-first-tranche holders of HAA debt, whose riskier tranche under normal circumstances would only come into play after a bankruptcy. The Green party said they should just declare the bank bankrupt and work out fair haircuts for all. Carinthia’s most important services such as day care centers and hospitals are mandated by law, said the Greens, so the bank’s creditors wouldn’t be able to pull much money out of the state government. “These investors have not earned the protection of the taxpayers.”
(OB vick loong fon HIPPO I’ll pay ODD ree ah.)
Parbuckling sans pareil, the clever, steady project to recover the Costa Concordia cruise ship from the rocks before the coast of the Italian island of Giglio.
(By shpeel LOZE eh BERG oongs octs yo n.)
Fundamental rights defined in the current version of the Italian constitution read by a protester into a bullhorn before the Italian supreme court on the day that court upheld Silvio Berlusconi’s criminal conviction.
This might be from Art. 3, “Tutti i cittadini hanno pari dignità sociale e sono eguali davanti alla legge, senza distinzione di sesso, di razza, di lingua, di religione, di opinioni politiche, di condizioni personali e sociali.”
All citizens are in their dignity equal before the law, without differentiation of sex, race, language, religion or political opinion [or personal and social conditions].
(OLL ah burgher zint in ear ah VOORD eh gly chh fore dame geh ZETS.)
“Democracy quality.” Twenty years after “the West” set up ways to monitor, motivate and report on the democratization of former Eastern bloc and other countries around the world, it appears some Western countries could also use some polish. Timm Beichelt of the Europe University in Frankfurt (Oder) wrote inter alia in his essay “Verkannte Parallelen. Transformationsforschung und Europastudien” that many eastern European countries have done quite a good job of organizing new structures while, e.g., France and Italy would have trouble with freedom of the press as measured by now-standard democracy indicators. Italy because of Berlusconi’s media empire, but France…?
(Dame awk rah TEE qvoll ee TATE.)
“Blocking minority.” If, for example, Bersani’s (center-left) coalition gains control of Italy’s House but Berlusconi’s (center-right-f’tang-f’tang-biscuit-barrel) coalition wins enough votes in the Senate, Italy will be ungovernable because Bunga-Bunga will have the ability to block legislation. Hopefully, Bersani and Monti, perhaps even with television comedian Grillo’s help, will gain enough seats to call for another election, which will be blessed with better turnout. Spiegel-Online ventured to note that the new parliament might consider passing some electoral reforms before the new election, to stabilize the Italian government and make Italian politicians seem more reliable to voters.
(SHPERRRM ee nore ee tate.)
“Rat catchery,” how departing Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti referred this week to billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi’s ridiculous campaign promise to pay voters’ real estate taxes out of his own pocket, hot air intended to encourage poorly-informed people to hitch their wagons not to a 21st-century democratic system but to a strong-seeming man no matter what ethics he displays.
(ROTTEN feng err EYE.)