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      Dell fined $6.5M after admitting it made overpriced monitors look discounted / ArsTechnica · Monday, 14 August, 2023 - 21:09

    An employee uses a handheld scanner to register the barcode of an outgoing Dell Inc. computer monitor inside the warehouse of an order fulfillment centre,

    Enlarge (credit: Dell )

    Dell's Australia arm has been slapped with a $10 million AUD (about $6.49 million) fine for "making false and misleading representations on its website about discount prices for add-on computer monitors," the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced today. The Australian regulator said the company sold 5,300 monitors this way.

    As Ars Technica previously reported, the ACCC launched litigation against Dell Australia in November. In June, the Australian Federal Court declared that Dell Australia made shoppers believe monitors would be cheaper if bought as an add-on item.

    Here's how the "misleading representations" worked. Shoppers of Dell Australia's website who were buying a computer would see an offer for a Dell display with a lower price next to a higher price with a strikethrough line. That suggested to shoppers that the price they'd pay for the monitor if they added it to their cart now would be lower than the monitor's usual cost. But it turns out the strikethrough prices weren't the typical costs. Sometimes, the lower price was actually higher than what Dell Australia typically charged.

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      Wildfire smoke from Australia fueled three-year “super La Niña” / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 11 May, 2023 - 14:28

    satellite view of Australia wildfire smoke

    Enlarge / Wildfire smoke hovers over the Pacific coast of northern New South Wales, Australia in September 2019. (credit: Orbital Horizon/Copernicus Sentinel Data/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

    The aerosol fallout from wildfires that burned across more than 70,000 square miles of Australia in 2019 and 2020 was so persistent and widespread that it brightened a vast area of clouds above the subtropical Pacific Ocean.

    Beneath those clouds, the ocean surface and the atmosphere cooled, shifting a key tropical rainfall belt northward and nudging the Equatorial Pacific toward an unexpected and long-lasting cool phase of the La Niña-El Niño cycle, according to research published today in Science Advances.

    Aerosols from wildfires are basically fire dust—microscopic bits of charred mineral or organic matter that can ride super-heated wildfire clouds up to the stratosphere and spread across hemispheres with varied climatic effects, depending on where they’re produced and where they end up.

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      Meta threatens to restrict news in Canada if it’s forced to pay publishers / ArsTechnica · Monday, 13 March, 2023 - 16:32

    Meta threatens to restrict news in Canada if it’s forced to pay publishers

    Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto / Contributor | NurPhoto )

    After losing a similar battle in Australia , Meta continues to resist efforts by a growing number of countries to require the social media company to pay for news linked on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. On Saturday, Meta announced that it would end news access for Canadian Facebook and Instagram users if the country’s Online News Act is passed, Reuters reported .

    A Meta spokesperson told Ars that the online advertising giant contends that laws like Canada’s proposed legislation “misrepresents” the relationship between its platforms and news publishers. According to Meta spokesperson Lisa Laventure, the company’s stance in Canada is the same as its stance protesting the United States’ Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA).

    “A legislative framework that compels us to pay for links or content that we do not post, and which are not the reason the vast majority of people use our platforms, is neither sustainable nor workable,” Laventure said.

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      Facebook’s Australia news ban backfires, hits government and charity pages

      Kate Cox · / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 18 February, 2021 - 16:49 · 1 minute

    News is still very much happening both around the world and in Australia... but you wouldn

    Enlarge / News is still very much happening both around the world and in Australia... but you wouldn't know it if you're one of the tens of millions of Australian Facebook users. (credit: Brent Lewin | Bloomberg | Getty Images )

    A long-simmering battle between tech firms and the government of Australia became explosive yesterday when Facebook announced that it would block all linking of news publications inside the country. Not only has this change affected Australian and international news publishers, but Facebook's wide net has also caught up governments, nonprofits, and basically anyone else in Australia who posts non-news content to the platform.

    Australian lawmakers have been considering a bill that would require Internet platforms such as Google and Facebook ("digital platform corporations") to negotiate in good faith with news outlets ("registered news business corporations") to link to their content. If the outlets and the platforms can't reach a deal on their own, they would have to go to baseball-style arbitration , where a neutral third-party arbitrator would decide whose offer is the better one.

    The bill would at first apply to only two companies: Google and Facebook. Both, as you might expect, have expressed consistent opposition to the bill. (Microsoft, operator of remote second-place search engine Bing—which captures between 2 and 3 percent of the market—does not oppose the rules that would apply to its largest competitor.)

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      Facebook bans all Australian news content over pay-to-link proposal

      Timothy B. Lee · / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 17 February, 2021 - 21:43

    Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Munich Security Conference in 2020.

    Enlarge / Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Munich Security Conference in 2020. (credit: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

    Facebook has gone nuclear in its long-running battle with the Australian government over news content. Australia is considering legislation that would require Facebook to pay to link to Australian news stories. In response, Facebook has announced a wide-ranging ban on users linking Australian news content.

    The ban means that Facebook users in Australia can no longer make posts that link to news articles—either in the Australian media or internationally. Meanwhile, users outside of Australia can't post links to Australian news sources. The ban has already gone into effect, as I discovered when I tried to post a link to The Sydney Morning Herald on Facebook:


    Facebook says that Australian news publishers will be blocked from sharing or posting content to their Facebook pages. Posts by news publishers outside of Australia won't be available to Australian users.

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      Microsoft backs Australian law forcing Google to pay for news links

      Timothy B. Lee · / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 3 February, 2021 - 17:02

    Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

    Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. (credit: Microsoft)

    Google has portrayed itself as a defender of the open Internet as it battles an Australian proposal to force Google and Facebook to pay Australian news organizations to link to their articles. Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has argued that the ability to link to content without paying is "fundamental to how the Web operates."

    Google has warned that if the proposal becomes law, the company may exit the Australian search market altogether.

    But Microsoft, one of Google's top search competitors, isn't rallying to defend the principle of free linking. "While Microsoft is not subject to the legislation currently pending, we’d be willing to live by these rules," Microsoft said of the Australian proposal in a statement to Reuters.

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      Google threatens to shut down Australian search over link tax proposal

      Timothy B. Lee · / ArsTechnica · Friday, 22 January, 2021 - 19:53 · 1 minute

    Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, criticized the Australian proposal.

    Enlarge / Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, criticized the Australian proposal. (credit: Oliver Berg/picture alliance via Getty Images)

    Google says it would have "no real choice" but to shut down its search engine in Australia if Australia passes a new law requiring Google to pay news sites to link to their articles. This would "set an untenable precedent for our business and the digital economy," said Google's Mel Silva in Friday testimony before the Australian Senate.

    News organizations around the world have been struggling financially over the last decade or two. Many have blamed Internet companies like Google and Facebook that—in their view—have diverted advertising revenue that once went to news organizations. Some in the news industry argue that Google benefits from including news stories in its search results and should compensate news sites for the privilege of doing so.

    So last year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission proposed a new mandatory arbitration process designed to correct a supposed power imbalance between tech giants and Australian news sites. Under the new framework, news sites can demand that tech platforms (initially Google and Facebook) pay them for linking to their stories. Google and Facebook are required to negotiate "in good faith" toward a payment agreement.

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      Google Promises to De-index ‘Proxies’ and ‘Mirrors’ of Pirate Sites in Australia

      Ernesto Van der Sar · / TorrentFreak · Thursday, 27 August, 2020 - 08:49 · 2 minutes

    Years ago, Australia was often described as a hotbed for piracy. This was a thorn in the side of copyright holders, who repeatedly asked the Government to help out.

    On the top of their list was new legislation that would make it possible to compel ISPs to block pirate sites.

    In 2015 this wish became reality with the passing of Section 115a of Australia’s Copyright Act. Soon after the amendments became law, the first blocking requests were submitted and since then ISPs have been ordered to block hundreds of sites.

    The entertainment industry was happy with this new enforcement tool. However, they also felt that it wasn’t enough. Village Roadshow’s Graham Burke, in particular, took aim at Google and other search engines, which still indexed these pirate sites and many alternatives.

    The Proxy and Mirror Loophole

    To address these and other loopholes, new legislation was passed in 2018 which made it easier for proxies and mirrors to be blocked. In addition, it also opened the door to a new type of measure that required search engines to block pirate sites.

    Initially, Google fiercely opposed the new plans but in a surprise move last year, the search engine voluntarily agreed to remove hundreds of sites from its Australian search results. This agreement was made without a court order. Instead, Google chose to remove sites that the ISPs were already blocking.

    This was a step forward in the eyes of the rightsholders, but it was far from perfect. After being blocked, pirate sites would simply switch to new domains which are easy to find through search engines. While these are eventually covered through updated court orders, the process can take weeks.

    “The pirates are taking advantage of the lag time between their criminal mirror site going up by changing one letter and us taking three or four weeks to go back through the court system,” Burke, who’s also the Chair of Creative Content Australia, told SMH .

    Google Steps Up its Anti-Piracy Game, Again

    To fix this ‘loophole’ Google has now agreed to a new arrangement that goes even further. In an agreement with copyright holders, Google promises to de-index mirrors and proxies as soon as they are reported.

    This will happen before a court order is issued, without any judicial oversight. That said, it only applies to (presumed) alternative locations of domains that have previously been targeted by a blocking injunction.

    This effectively addresses the mirror and proxy problem while the rightsholders are still in the process of getting an updated court order. By doing so, it will be harder for pirates to find alternative domain names.

    “This is shutting down that loophole and it’s massive,” Burke said.

    Did Google Have a Change of Heart?

    Google’s cooperative stance runs counter to comments that were made earlier by the search engine. The company repeatedly argued that removing full domains from its search results is dangerous . In addition, it actively protested Australia’s blocking plans when they were announced.

    TorrentFreak asked Google for a comment on the new voluntary agreement and how it differs from its previous statements, but the company didn’t immediately respond. Speaking with SMH, the search engine said that it hopes this measure will help address the piracy problem.

    “We are hopeful these measures will be a welcome step towards protecting copyright and will provide a faster solution for rightsholders,” Lucinda Longcroft, director of public policy at Google Australia said.

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.