SEARCH ENGINES TO DEMOTE PIRATE SITES

Google and Microsoft’s Bing have signed up to a voluntary code of practice and will ensure offending websites are demoted in their search results. The code, which will be the first of its type in the world, is expected to be in operation by the summer. The mission is to make it hard for UK internet users to find pirated films and music and illegally streamed sport. The initiative will run in parallel with existing anti-piracy measures. Current anti-piracy measures in the UK include court ordered site blocking, efforts to reduce advertising appearing on illegal websites and the Get it Right From A Genuine Site education campaign, which encourages fans to support the creative process. Google has indicated that the effort would provide a way to check that its existing anti-piracy efforts were effective, rather than committing it to adding new measures. Eddy Leviten, director general at trade body the Alliance for Intellectual Property, said: “Sometimes people will search for something and they will end up unwittingly being taken to a pirated piece of content. What we want to ensure is that the results at the top of the search engines are the genuine ones. It is about protecting people who use the internet, but also protecting the creators of that material too.”

UBER INVESTIGATES CONTROVERSIAL SEXISM CLAIMS

Ride-sharing company Uber has said it will conduct an “urgent investigation” into claims of sexual harassment at the company due to a blog post written by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler where she described a couple of instances during her time at the firm. Ms Fowler wrote that shortly after joining the company, her new manager made sexual advances towards her. The controversy is just the latest to surround the company, particularly on issues around the treatment of women at the firm. One of the more bizarre instances Ms Fowler described involved leather jackets. She wrote how the team she was on had been promised leather jackets as a thank you for their work. Ms Fowler wrote: “One day, all of the women (there were, I believe, six of us left in the org) received an email saying that no leather jackets were being ordered for the women because there were not enough women in the organisation to justify placing an order. I replied and said that I was sure Uber could find room in their budget to buy leather jackets for the, what, six women if it could afford to buy them for over a hundred and twenty men. The director replied back, saying that if we women really wanted equality, then we should realise we were getting equality by not getting the leather jackets.” Uber boss Travis Kalanick said: “What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. Anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.” Ms Fowler wrote: “When I joined Uber, the organisation I was part of was over 25% women. By the time I was trying to transfer to another [engineering] organisation, this number had dropped down to less than 6%. Women were transferring out of the organisation, and those who couldn’t transfer were quitting or preparing to quit.”

 

GREECE DUE TO REPAY DEBTS IN JULY

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said that the institutions in charge of Greece’s bailout have reached a “common position” on how to proceed. His comments appear to indicate that slowdown between the EU and the International Monetary Fund over the next steps may have been resolved. Arriving for a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels, Mr Schaeuble said: “I believe the institutions have a common position and that we will get to a point today where the technical mission can go to Athens so we can get a result.” The IMF has said Greece needs more freedom to pay its huge debts before further rescue funds can be released. However, the eurozone has been unwilling to go much further. The IMF said it was indeed sending a mission to Greece, but it was “too early to speculate” about whether some sort of agreement would be reached as a result. It added: “More progress will be needed to bridge differences on other important issues.” In its most recent assessment of the Greek economy, the IMF said: “Greece cannot grow out of its debt problem. Greece requires substantial debt relief from its European partners to restore debt sustainability.” Eurozone governments have provided some debt relief already, in the form of lower interest rates and extended repayment periods. IMF staff think Greece needs more concessions. Klaus Regling told Germany’s Bild that Greece would probably need far less than the agreed maximum loan of 86bn euros by August 2018 as a result. Athens has made a 2bn-euro repayment to the bailout fund as expected, which Mr Regling said showed “Greece is a reliable contract partner. It is a sign that the restructuring of the Greek banking sector is progressing well.”

 

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