Dutch and Slovenian regulators nail carriers over net neutrality

While the European Union dithers over EU-wide net neutrality, some European countries are marching on regardless. On Friday Slovenia’s regulators nailed carriers Telekom Slovenije and Si.mobil for violating net neutrality principles, and on Tuesday Dutch regulators fined KPN and Vodafone for similar violations.

The latest ruling, by the Dutch consumer protection agency ACM, saw [company]KPN[/company] fined €250,000 ($283,000) and [company]Vodafone[/company] €200,000. KPN was caught for blocking some VoIP services on its free Wi-Fi hotspots, and Vodafone was zero-rating the [company]HBO[/company] Go app – that is, it was providing free traffic for that service in particular, a practise technically known as “positive price discrimination”.

ACM’s statement read in part:

In addition to the ban on blocking, internet providers may also not charge differing tariffs for the use of services and applications on the internet. This contributes to an open internet. An open internet is important for freely disseminating information and increasing choice on the internet.

The Slovenian ruling was also about zero-rating: [company]Telekom Slovenije[/company] has been providing free data for the music streamer [company]Deezer[/company], and [company]Si.mobil[/company] for cloud storage service [company]Hanger Mapa[/company]. Those carriers now have two months to stop breaking the rules.

The European Parliament voted for strong net neutrality rules in April 2014, but since then the legislative process has stalled, largely due to some member states demanding vague principles rather than strictly-defined terms. The European Commission is dead set against this development, so it and the Council of the European Union, which represents the states, are currently negotiating a compromise.

However, even if that legislation’s strong definitions survive, it doesn’t ban zero-rating, which some argue is not a net neutrality issue because users can still access services other than those being zero-rated, even if it means using up their data allowance.

Those who argue that it is a net neutrality issue maintain that it violates the principles because it favors particular services and apps over others. That includes regulators in the Netherlands, Slovenia, Norway (not part of the EU but part of the European Economic Area, where EU net neutrality legislation would apply), and Chile (definitely nowhere near the EU.)

Last week the Latvian Presidency of the Council indicated that proposals to include an explicit ban on zero-rating in the EU-wide net neutrality legislation would not gain enough support among the states. Some had also suggested making selective blocking a self-regulatory matter, but those proposals seem to be sunk as they would conflict with existing EU legislation and fundamental rights.

In other words, the current situation – where zero-rating is banned in some European countries but not others – looks set to continue into the foreseeable future, whether or not a broader ban on blocking and throttling comes into force.

Opera users can now easily share collections of bookmarks

The Opera browser now includes a bookmark-sharing feature, the Norwegian firm said on Wednesday. Instead of having to paste multiple URLs into an email or instant message, as of version 26 of the desktop browser, users can save their “findings” into a collection, with each page represented by a thumbnail. They can then share the URL for that collection via email or social media or whatever. Opera for Android has also gained a similar feature, with sharing also made possible via Bluetooth or Android Beam. In related news, Opera 26 marks the full return of Opera to Linux after the browser’s major internal revamp in 2013, with that version rejoining the stable stream. Version 24 snuck into the developer stream in June.

Norway’s Thin Film gets $23M to fund printed electronics roadmap

The Norwegian printed electronics firm Thin Film – which we recently covered for its smart label partnership with Cisco-backed Evrythng – has taken a healthy $23 million in investment from local conglomerate Ferd. Thin Film CEO Davor Sutija said in a statement that the investment, for a 7.3 percent stake, “fully funds” the firm’s current product roadmap. Printed electronics are generally pretty cheap to implement, and Thin Film (an entry on our Mobile 15 list a couple years back) wants to add electronic functionality to items such as perishable food packaging, disposable goods, single-use medical products and so on.

Apple accused of breaking Norwegian law with iCloud terms and conditions

Norway’s Consumer Council has taken issue with Apple(s aapl)’s terms and conditions for iCloud storage. Following a review of various providers’ terms (including those of Google(s goog) and Dropbox), the council has referred the firm to the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman – it says Apple’s “convoluted and unclear” 8,600-word terms for the service give the company the right to change those terms without notifying customers, and this is unacceptable under consumer rights law. “Receiving notice when terms change should be a bare minimum requirement,” said Finn Myrstad, the council’s digital chief.

NSA news roundup: Malware attacks and a Treasure Map

The Dutch publication NRC has published claims, based on Edward Snowden’s leaks, that more than 50,000 computing networks around the world have been infected with NSA or GCHQ malware, Belgacom-style, in order to siphon off information. The New York Times has revealed the NSA’s plans for grabbing more powers in future, in a report that also mentions a fascinating NSA data visualization tool called Treasure Map. And journalist Glenn Greenwald has challenged assertions by the Norwegian intelligence service that it only spied on Norwegians outside the country.

Inside the World’s Largest Carbon-Capture Test Facility

http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/fossil-fuels/inside-the-worlds-largest-carboncapture-test-facility

The largest test site in the world for trialing technologies that capture, recycle and store carbon emissions is the $1 billion, 350-MW Technology Centre Mongstad plant in Norway. The Norwegian government and a group of energy companies launched the site last year (behind schedule and over budget), but its ten times as big as the largest carbon capture pilots around the world.