Italian Cliffside Cemetery, and Its Coffins, Carried Away by a Landslide

Scuba divers are working to retrieve coffins from the sea, but many more are buried under the debris of the landslide.

#cemeteries, #italy, #landslides-and-mudslides


Giving Hope, and a Place to Mourn: Memorials to the Pandemic

How should we memorialize those who’ve died from Covid-19? In Italy and Britain, artists and architects are beginning to come up with answers.

#codogno-italy, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deller-jeremy, #funerals-and-memorials, #great-britain, #italy, #monuments-and-memorials-structures, #quarantine-life-and-culture


Italian Ambassador Among Three Killed in Attack on U.N. Convoy in Congo

The attack, on a World Food Program convoy headed to a school in North Kivu Province, left the ambassador, Luca Attanasio, an Italian embassy official and a driver dead.

#attanasio-luca, #congo-democratic-republic-of-congo-kinshasa, #deaths-fatalities, #diplomatic-service-embassies-and-consulates, #goma-congo-democratic-republic-of, #italy, #tshisekedi-felix, #united-nations


Mario Draghi Wins Support to Form Government in Italy

The former European Central Bank chief, picked as a consensus prime minister, will look to lead the country out of the coronavirus crisis and repair the economic damage left by the pandemic.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #democratic-party-italy, #draghi-mario, #five-star-movement-italy, #forza-italia, #italy, #league-italian-political-party, #legislatures-and-parliaments, #politics-and-government


A Jewelry Line Inspired by a Design Family’s Heirlooms

Ilaria Icardi’s debut collection of gold pendants and signet rings draws on her father’s most treasured creations.

#content-type-personal-profile, #design, #fashion-and-apparel, #gold, #icardi-ilaria, #italy, #jewels-and-jewelry


Meet the Proseccos You’ll Be Drinking This Summer

Italy has given Prosecco rosé the stamp of approval, and producers are starting to send these pink bubblies to America.

#italy, #labeling-and-labels-product, #prosecco-wine


Micromobility startup Helbiz to go public via a SPAC, and will expand into ghost kitchens

Micromobility startup Helbiz, which now operates across Europe and the USA, is merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) to become a publicly listed company, giving it a war chest to potentially roll-up smaller competitors in the space, as well as the resources to expand into “cloud” or “ghost” kitchens as part of a move into food delivery.

Helbiz intends to merge with GreenVision Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: GRNV) in the second quarter of 2021. The combined entity will be named Helbiz Inc. and will be listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the new ticker symbol, “HLBZ.”

The transaction includes $30 million PIPE anchored by institutional investors and approximately $80 million in net proceeds will be fed into Helbiz’s micromobility and advertising businesses, which have 2.7 million users.

Helbiz says the merged entity will have a valuation of $408 million, and by run Helbiz’s existing management under CEO Salvatore Palella.

Palella said: “Through this transaction, we’re committed to fulfilling our vision in revolutionizing transport by using micromobility to become a seamless last-mile solution.”

He further revealed to me that the company plans to establish “ghost kitchens” in Milan and Washington, DC later this year, with the aim of introducing a five-minute delivery time.

Helbiz has tried to differentiate itself from other players like Lime and Bird by offering e-scooters, e-bicycles and e-mopeds all on one platform.

Key to Helbiz’s offering is an integrated geofencing platform that tends to appeal to city authorities who don’t want scooters left in random places, as well as a swappable battery that enables easier charging of the devices. Its subscription service allows users to take unlimited 30-minute trips on its e-bikes and e-scooters every month.

In Europe the company currently operates a fleet of e-scooters and e-bicycles in Milan, Turin, Verona, Rome, Madrid and Belgrade, and in the U.S. it operates in Washington, DC, Alexandria, Arlington and Miami.

David Fu, chairman, and CEO of GreenVision, commented: “Helbiz has distinguished itself as the only company to offer e-scooters, e-bicycles, and e-mopeds all on one user-friendly platform… Helbiz has a proven and capital-light business model that combines hardware, software, and services with extensive customer relationships.”

#arlington, #bird, #dc, #e-bikes, #e-mopeds, #e-scooters, #electric-bicycle, #europe, #exit, #food-delivery, #greenvision-acquisition-corp, #helbiz, #italy, #lime, #madrid, #miami, #milan, #moped, #rome, #scooter, #spac, #special-purpose-acquisition-company, #startups, #tc, #transport, #transportation, #united-states, #washington-dc


Turned Back by Italy, Migrants Face Perilous Winter in Balkans

Advocacy groups and legislators say a practice of informal deportations violates Italian, European Union and international laws. At least one court in Rome agreed.

#bosnia-and-herzegovina, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #croatia, #europe, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #immigration-and-emigration, #italy, #middle-east-and-africa-migrant-crisis, #refugees-and-displaced-persons, #slovenia


Mario Draghi Saved the Euro. Can He Now Save Italy?

Mario Draghi has broad support as he tries to form a new government and restore Italy’s credibility and clout in Brussels. But Italian politics is a dangerous place for an enigmatic technocrat.

#bank-of-italy, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #conte-giuseppe, #credit-and-debt, #draghi-mario, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #economics-theory-and-philosophy, #euro-currency, #european-central-bank, #european-union, #eurozone, #italy, #legislatures-and-parliaments, #politics-and-government


June Rose Bellamy, Adventurous Burmese Princess, Dies at 88

She traveled the world, hosted a TV show in the Philippines, married a dictator (out of patriotism, she said) and, among other things, opened a cooking school in Italy.

#bellamy-june-rose-1932-2021, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #deaths-obituaries, #italy, #myanmar, #politics-and-government, #royal-families


TikTok will recheck the age of every user in Italy after DPA order

TikTok has agreed to re-verify the age of every user in Italy and block access to users who state they are under 13, the country’s data protection agency said today.

The video sharing social network confirmed that from February 9 every user in Italy will be required to go through its age gate process again — and only those users aged 13 and above will be allowed to continue using the app.

Accounts of those who say they are under 13 will be deleted.

The move to required all users in Italy to go through TikTok’s age-verification process again follows an emergency order by Italy’s GPDP on January 22 after the death of a 10-year-old girl from Palermo who died of asphyxiation after participating in a “blackout challenge” on the social network, according to reports in local media.

TikTok was given a deadline of January 29 to respond to the GPDP’s order, as we reported earlier. Today the agency confirmed the measures TikTok has agreed to take.

As well as asking all users in the country to re-enter their date of birth to continue using the app, the GPDP said TikTok will “consider deploying AI-based systems for age verification purposes”.

The Italian watchdog added that it will be monitoring the effectiveness of TikTok’s age verification process.

The basic age-check TikTok conducts when users sign-up — which it will be pushing out again to all users in Italian in a few days — simply requires users to enter a date of birth so is very easy to circumvent. But it’s also clear that age verification online remains a hard problem.

Robust identity checks to determine age beyond doubt threaten a ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’ scenario — potentially limiting service access in a way that’s unfair and risking harm to online anonymity and privacy, with potential knock on impacts on other considerations like freedom of expression and data security.

On the flip side are growing public concerns that underage users are being exposed to inappropriate and even harmful content online.

While TikTok’s lead data supervisor in the European Union is Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) includes a provision that allows national DPAs to take emergency interventions to protect users — which is the route the GPDP has used here.

“In order to identify users below 13 years with reasonable certainty following this initial check, the company undertook to further consider the deployment of AI-based systems,” the agency said today.

“Since the implementation of such systems requires balancing the need for accurate verification against the children’s right to data protection, the company committed to starting a dialogue with the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) on the use of AI for age verification purposes. Ireland is where TikTok set its main establishment in the EU,” it added.

Reached for comment, the Irish Data Protection Commission told TechCrunch: “The DPC is engaging with TikTok to review, in the context of the processing of personal data, the measures implemented by the company to ensure it has effective means of identifying child users on the platform and, more generally, the measures and protections to protect the most vulnerable of users in terms of risks arising from the processing of their personal data.” So it remains to be seen whether the regulator will push for more robust age checks.

In another change triggered by the GPDP’s intervention TikTok has implemented an in-app button to enable users to “quickly and easily” report other users that may seem to be below 13 years of age.

Per TikTok, these reports are reviewed by moderators and “removed as necessary”.

“All the above measures supplement those already in place,” the GPDP said, adding: “TikTok undertook to also double the number of Italian moderators of platform contents.”

Commenting in a statement, Alexandra Evans, TikTok’s head of child safety, added: “Keeping people on TikTok safe is our top priority. We’ve reached an agreement with the Garante and today, we’re taking additional steps to support our community in Italy. From February 9, we’ll be sending every user in Italy through our age gate process again and only users aged 13 and over will be able to continue using the app after going through this process. We’re also rolling out a new, dedicated in-app reporting button to allow users to flag an account they believe may be under the age of 13, which will then be reviewed by our team and removed as necessary.

“There is no finish line when it comes to protecting our users, especially our younger ones, and our work in this important area doesn’t stop. That’s why we’re continuing to invest in the people, processes and technologies that help to keep our community a safe space for positive, creative expression.”

TikTok’s reissued age check in Italy will also be accompanied by a local information campaign in which TikTok will aim to raise parents’ and children’s awareness of the age checks and other child-safety-related features — both via its app and in the media.

“An information campaign will be launched by TikTok starting on February 4 both via the app and through other channels. The company will send push alerts to users on the app before blocking their access and will inform them on the need to enter their age. Banners will also be published containing links to information on security tools and on how to change profile settings from ‘public’ to ‘private’. The information campaign both via the web and through the press will be addressed to parents and the age threshold for registration will be specifically highlighted, among other things,” the GPDP said.

The agency also noted that TikTok has agreed to improve the wording of the short privacy notice intended for users aged under 18 years — “to explain what data are collected and how those data are processed in an easily understandable and user-oriented manner”.

In addition to TikTok’s impending information campaign, the GPDP is launching a child safety awareness-raising campaign of its own on national TV channels, in cooperation with a child protection charity called Telefono Azzurro. It said this will be targeted at parents to encourage them to supervise their kids’ use of the app.

“The campaign is aimed at calling upon parents to actively supervise and pay special attention to the situations where their children are requested to enter their age in order to access TikTok,” it said.

#apps, #child-safety, #data-protection, #europe, #gdpr, #italy, #privacy, #social, #tiktok


Mario Draghi Is Asked to Form Government in Italy

The sudden ascent of the man credited with helping save the euro was a pipe dream for Italians frustrated with a coalition paralyzed by ideological schisms and incompetence.

#berlusconi-silvio, #brothers-of-italy-italian-political-party, #conte-giuseppe, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #democratic-party-italy, #draghi-mario, #elections, #european-union, #five-star-movement-italy, #italy, #legislatures-and-parliaments, #mattarella-sergio, #meloni-giorgia-1977, #politics-and-government, #renzi-matteo, #salvini-matteo


Italy Looks to Mario Draghi to Solve Crisis, to Delight of Pro-E.U. Politicians

After a last-ditch attempt to revive Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s majority failed, Italy’s president summoned Mr. Draghi, the ex-head of the European Central Bank, to discuss leading Italy through the coronavirus emergency.

#conte-giuseppe, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #draghi-mario, #european-central-bank, #five-star-movement-italy, #italia-viva-italian-political-party, #italy, #legislatures-and-parliaments, #mattarella-sergio, #renzi-matteo


Amazon says government demands for user data spiked by 800% in 2020

New transparency figures released by Amazon show the company responded to a record number of government data demands in the last six months of 2020.

The new figures land in the company’s bi-annual transparency report published to Amazon’s website over the weekend.

Amazon said it processed 27,664 government demands for user data in the last six months of 2020, up from 3,222 data demands in the first six months of the year, an increase of close to 800%. That user data includes shopping searches and data from its Echo, Fire, and Ring devices.

The new report presents the data differently from previous transparency disclosures. Amazon now breaks down the top requesting countries. U.S. authorities historically made up the bulk of the overall data demands Amazon receives, but this latest report shows Germany with 42% of all requests, followed by Spain with 18%, and Italy and the U.S. with 11% share each.

But the report also removes the breakdown by legal process, and now only differentiates between the requests it gets for user’s content and for non-content. Amazon said it handed over user content data in 52 cases.

For its Amazon Web Services cloud business, which it reports separately, Amazon said it processed 523 data demands, with 75% of all requests made by U.S. authorities, and Amazon turned over user’s content in 15 cases.

An Amazon spokesperson would not say what led to the sharp rise in data demands. (Amazon seldom comments on its transparency reports.)

Amazon’s transparency report is one of the lightest reads of all the tech giants at just three pages in length, and spends most of the report explaining how it responds to each legal demand than on the data itself. The company, known for its notorious secrecy, became the last of the major tech giants to push out a transparency report in 2015. Where most tech companies added data to their transparency reports, like takedown notices and account removals, Amazon bucked the trend by removing data from its reports, despite the company’s growing reach into millions of homes.

The Financial Times reported this weekend that Ring, the video doorbell and home security startup acquired by Amazon for $1 billion, now has 2,000 law enforcement partners across the United States, allowing police departments to access homeowners’ doorbell camera footage.

#amazon, #amazon-echo, #amazon-web-services, #articles, #computing, #germany, #italy, #ring, #security, #spain, #spokesperson, #technology, #the-financial-times, #transparency, #transparency-report, #united-states


20 Wines Under $20: Postcards From Around the World

In a pandemic era, when traveling is largely out of the question, these wines, good values all, can take you on a trip around the globe.

#argentina, #australia, #austria, #california, #chile, #france, #grapes, #greece, #italy, #portugal, #wines


After Government Falls, Italy Must Navigate Pandemic on ‘Cruise Control’

The country is no stranger to political chaos. But it now faces the unsettling prospect of going rudderless during the coronavirus crisis.

#conte-giuseppe, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #curfews, #italy, #politics-and-government, #renzi-matteo, #rome-italy, #salvini-matteo, #vaccination-and-immunization


Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, Resigns After Weeks of Infighting

Intrigue chipped away at Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s parliamentary majority even as the country’s coronavirus death toll passed 85,000.

#conte-giuseppe, #italy, #politics-and-government, #renzi-matteo


Italy Prime Minister Resigns After Weeks of Infighting

Intrigue chipped away at Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s parliamentary majority even as the country’s coronavirus death toll passed 85,000.

#conte-giuseppe, #italy, #politics-and-government, #renzi-matteo


Giuseppe Conte to Resign as Italian Prime Minister

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government is likely to collapse, leaving Italy in an uncertain political situation with Covid-19 infections still very high.

#appointments-and-executive-changes, #conte-giuseppe, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #elections, #italy, #legislatures-and-parliaments, #politics-and-government, #renzi-matteo


As Political Crisis Meets Pandemic, Italians Wonder, Why?

The government survived a near-collapse, but it remained unclear just what Matteo Renzi, the ambitious former prime minister, hoped to gain by provoking it.

#berlusconi-silvio, #conte-giuseppe, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #democratic-party-italy, #five-star-movement-italy, #italia-viva-italian-political-party, #italy, #league-italian-political-party, #legislatures-and-parliaments, #politics-and-government, #renzi-matteo, #salvini-matteo


The Olympics Were No Fluke. American Women Are Excelling in Cross-Country Skiing.

Jessie Diggins won the notoriously grueling Tour de Ski, after she and Rosie Brennan notched 1-2 finishes in two consecutive stages.

#brennan-rosie-1988, #cross-country-skiing, #diggins-jessica-1991, #italy, #olympic-games-2018, #randall-kikkan, #tour-de-ski-cross-country-skiing, #united-states, #world-cup-skiing


Confusion over WhatsApp’s new T&Cs triggers privacy warning from Italy

Confusion over an update to Facebook-owned chat platform WhatsApp’s terms and conditions has triggered an intervention by Italy’s data protection agency.

The Italian GPDP said today it has contacted the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) to raise concerns about a lack of clear information over what’s changing under the incoming T&Cs.

In recent weeks WhatsApp has been alerting users they must accept new T&Cs in order to keep using the service after February 8.

A similar alert over updated terms has also triggered concerns in India — where a petition was filed today in the Delhi High Court alleging the new terms are a violation of users’ fundamental rights to privacy and pose a threat to national security.

In a notification on its website the Italian agency writes that it believes it is not possible for WhatsApp users to understand the changes that are being introduced under the new terms, nor to “clearly understand which data processing will actually be carried out by the messaging service after February 8”.

Screengrab of the T&Cs alert being shown to WhatsApp users in Europe (Image credit: TechCrunch)

For consent to be a valid legal basis for processing personal data under EU law the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires that users are properly informed of each specific use and given a free choice over whether their data is processed for each purpose.

The Italian agency adds that it reserves the right to intervene “as a matter of urgency” in order to protect users and enforce EU laws on the protection of personal data.

We’ve reached out to the EDPB with questions about the GPDP’s intervention. The steering body’s role is typically to act as a liaison between EU DPAs. But it also issues guidance on the interpretation of EU law and can step in to cast the deciding vote in cases where there is disagreement on cross-border EU investigations.

Earlier this week Turkish antitrust authorities also announced they are investigating WhatsApp’s updated T&Cs — objecting to what they claimed are differences in how much data will be shared with Facebook under the new terms in Europe and outside.

While, on Monday, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission — which is WhatsApp’s lead data regulator in the EU — told us the messaging app has given it a commitment EU users are not affected by any broader change to data-sharing practices. So Facebook’s lead regulator in the EU has not raised any objections to the new WhatsApp T&Cs.

WhatsApp itself has also claimed there are no changes at all to its data sharing practices anywhere in the world under this update.

Clearly there’s been a communications failure somewhere along the chain — which makes the Italian objection to a lack of clarity in the wording of the new T&Cs seem reasonable.

Reached for comment on the GDPD’s intervention, a WhatsApp spokesperson told us:

We are reviewing the Garante’s announcement regarding WhatsApp’s Privacy Policy update. We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way or require Italian users to agree to new data-sharing practices with Facebook. Instead, this update provides further transparency about how we collect and use data, as well as clarifying changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional. We remain committed to providing everyone in Italy with private end-to-end encrypted messaging.

How exactly the Italian agency could intervene over the WhatsApp T&Cs is an interesting question. (And, indeed, we’ve reached out to the GPDP with questions.)

The GDPR’s one-stop-shop mechanism means cross-border complaints get funnelled through a lead data supervisor where a company has its main regional base (Ireland in WhatsApp’s case). But as noted above, Ireland has — thus far — said it doesn’t have a problem with WhatsApp’s updated T&Cs.

However under the GDPR, other DPAs do have powers to act off their own bat when they believe there is a pressing risk to users’ data.

Such as, in 2019, when the Hamburg DPA ordered Google to stop manual reviews of snippets of Google Assistant users’ audio (which it had been reviewing as part of a grading program).

In that case Hamburg informed Google of its intention to use the GDPR’s Article 66 powers — which allows a national agency to order data processing to stop if it believes there is “an urgent need to act in order to protect the rights and freedoms of data subjects” — which immediately led to Google suspending human reviews across Europe.

The tech giant later amended how the program operates. The Hamburg DPA didn’t even need to use Article 66 — just the mere threat of the order to stop processing was enough.

Some 1.5 years later and there are signs many EU data protection agencies — outside a couple of key jurisdictions which oversee the lion’s share of big tech — are becoming frustrated by perceived regulatory inaction against big tech.

So there may be an increased willingness among these agencies to resort to creative procedures of their own to protect citizens’ data. (And it’s certainly interesting to note that France’s CNIL recently slapped Amazon and Google with big fines over cookie consents — acting under the ePrivacy Directive, which does not include a GDPR-style one-stop-shop mechanism.)

In related news this week, an opinion by an advisor to the EU’s top court also appears to be responding to concern at GDPR enforcement bottlenecks.

In the opinion Advocate General Bobek takes the view that the law allows national DPAs to bring their own proceedings in certain situations — including in order to adopt “urgent measures” or to intervene “following the lead data protection authority having decided not to handle a case”.

The CJEU ruling on that case is still pending but the court tends to align with the position of its advisors so it seems likely we’ll see data protection enforcement activity increasing across the board from EU DPAs in the coming years, rather than being stuck waiting for a few DPAs to issue all the major decisions.

#eu-data-protection-law, #facebook, #gdpr, #italy, #privacy, #tc, #tcs, #whatsapp


Digital road freight forwarder Sennder raises $160M Series, plans European expansion

Sennder, a large digital road freight forwarder based out of Germany, has raised $160m in Series D financing. The round was led by an unnamed party, but round participants included Accel, Lakestar, HV Capital, Project A and Scania. To date, Sennder has raised more than $260m, allowing it to lay claim to a potential $1bn valuation.

Sennder directly connects enterprise shippers with trucking companies, thus disintermediating the traditional freight model. It says it will move over 1 million truckloads this year. So far it’s concentrated on the lucrative European market. In June 2020 it merged with French competitor Everoad and acquired Uber Freight’s European business last September. The European logistics and freight sector has a market size of $427bn.

Sennder competes with large incumbents like Wincanton and CH Robinson as well as other startups such as OnTrac in Spin, and Instafreight.

The whole digital freight forwarding market is booming. Only last November, Germany’s Forto, a digital freight forwarder raised another $50 million in funding taking its total raised to $103 million. And in 2018 FreightHub, another European digital freight forwarder, raised $30 million in Series B financing.

Sennder’s new investment will mean it can expand in European markets. It already partners with Poste Italiane in Italy, as well as Scania and Siemens, and is now supplying transport services to over 10 organizations listed in the German DAX 30, and 11 companies comprising the Euro Stoxx 50.

Since its founding in 2015 by David Nothacker, Julius Köhler and Nicolaus Schefenacker, the company has grown to 800 employees and seven international offices.

David Nothacker, CEO and Co-Founder of Sennder, said: “We are now an established industry player on equal terms with other more traditional sector pioneers, but have maintained our founding spirit. As a data-driven company, we contribute to making the logistics industry fit for a sustainable future; ensuring transparency, flexibility and efficiency in the distribution of goods. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of a digitalized logistics industry.

Sonali De Rycker, Partner at Accel commented: “It is always fantastic to see a portfolio company reach such a significant milestone. 2020 highlighted the value that Sennder’s innovative digital offering brings to the freight industry.”

#accel, #europe, #finance, #germany, #italy, #lakestar, #sennder, #siemens, #sonali-de-rycker, #tc, #uber-freight


Italy’s Government Enters a Crisis in Middle of Pandemic

The wobbly coalition between unpopular populists and the center-left establishment risked implosion amid power struggles and ideological disputes over E.U. funds.

#conte-giuseppe, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #italy, #politics-and-government, #renzi-matteo


Italy Starts Largest Mob Trial in Decades

Prosecutors in the southern region of Calabria opened a trial of 325 defendants linked to the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate accused of murder, corruption, drug trafficking and other crimes.

#ndrangheta, #calabria-italy, #drug-abuse-and-traffic, #italy, #money-laundering, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #organized-crime


Vaccine Skepticism Helped Put Them in Power. Can They Inoculate Italy?

The Five Star Movement’s long history of sowing doubt about vaccines may have made Italy’s mass inoculation program that much harder. The irony is not lost on Italians.

#computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #elder-care, #epidemics, #five-star-movement-italy, #italy, #nursing-homes, #politics-and-government, #social-media, #vaccination-and-immunization


The Pandemic Helped Reverse Italy’s Brain Drain. But Can It Last?

Many young Italians who left for opportunities abroad are now working remotely from Italy. The government has welcomed them, but experts say the economic benefits will be fleeting.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #italy, #labor-and-jobs, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #telecommuting


US says India, Italy, and Turkey digital taxes are discriminatory, but won’t take any actions for now

Digital services taxes adopted by India, Italy, and Turkey in the past years discriminate against U.S. companies, the U.S. Trade Representative said on Wednesday.

USTR, which began investigations into the three nation’s digital services taxes in June last year, said it found them to be inconsistent with international tax principles, unreasonable, and burdening or restricting U.S. commerce.

In its detailed reports, which the office has made public, USTR studied how these digital taxes affected companies including Amazon, Google, Facebook, Airbnb, and Twitter. USTR said it conducted these investigations on the ground of Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974.

India, which has become the largest market for Silicon Valley giants Google and Facebook, introduced digital taxes in 2016 to target foreign firms. Last year, the world’s second largest internet market expanded the scope of its levy to cover a range of additional categories.

USTR investigation found (PDF) that New Delhi was taxing “numerous categories of digital services that are not leviable under other digital services taxes adopted around the world” and that the aggregate tax bill for U.S. companies could exceed $30 million per year.  It also took issue with India not levying similar taxes on local companies.

Despite the strong findings on three nations’ digital services taxes, USTR said it is not taking any specific actions “at this time” but will “continue to evaluate all available options.”

U.S. tech companies have in the past supported terms brokered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. But OECD, which is currently in the middle of working out technical details for agreements for over a 100 nations, doesn’t expect to finish the work until mid-2021. In the absence of OECD agreements, various countries are moving forward with their own versions of the taxes.

Since June last year, USTR has initiated investigations into digital services tax instituted — or proposed to be put in place – by a number of countries including Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, the European Union, Indonesia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and France, which resumed collecting digital services tax from US companies late last year.

In retaliation, USTR had set a January 6 deadline for levying a 25% tariff on a range of French imported goods including cosmetics and handbags.

USTR did not say whether the tariff had been enforced, but in a statement said it expects to announce the progress or completion of additional investigations in the near future.

#airbnb, #amazon, #facebook, #google, #government, #india, #italy, #turkey, #ustr


‘I Will Get Up’: A Hard New Year Greets a World in Waiting

Around the globe, people who held on in hopes that 2021 would banish a year of horror are struggling with the reality that the hardest challenges may lie ahead.

#australia, #china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #france, #great-britain, #italy, #japan, #mexico-city-mexico, #new-year, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #south-africa, #south-korea, #united-states, #vaccination-and-immunization


Covid Vaccine Rollouts in Europe Are Off to a Shaky Start

Programs in many countries have been hampered by slow-moving bureaucracies, a lack of nurses and shortages of vital equipment.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #england, #europe, #germany, #great-britain, #italy, #nursing-and-nurses, #politics-and-government, #spain, #vaccination-and-immunization


Italian court rules against ‘discriminatory’ Deliveroo rider ranking algorithm

A court in Italy has dealt a blow to unalloyed algorithmic management after a legal challenge brought by three unions. The Bologna court ruled that a reputational ranking algorithm used by on-demand food delivery platform Deliveroo discriminated against gigging delivery workers by breaching local labor laws.

The ruling, reported earlier in the Italian press, found Deliveroo’s ranking algorithm discriminated against delivery couriers because it did not distinguish between legally protection reasons for withholding labour — namely not working because a rider was sick; or exercising their protected right to strike — and more trivial reasons for not being as productive as they’d indicated they would be.

In a statement, the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL) called the Bologna court ruling “an epochal turning point in the conquest of trade union rights and freedoms in the digital world”.

Deliveroo has been contacted for comment on the ruling.

The court ordered Deliveroo to pay €50,000 per affected rider and publish the ruling on its website, according to — which has obtained a statement from Matteo Sarzana, general manager of Deliveroo Italy, who told it the company notes the judge’s decision but does not agree with it, as well as confirming that the shift reservation system linked to the algorithmic ranking is no longer in use in the market.  

“The fairness of our old system is confirmed by the fact that not a single case of objective and real discrimination emerged in the course of the trial. The decision is based exclusively on a hypothetical and potential evaluation without concrete evidence,” Sarzana added in the statement [which we’ve translated from Italian].

The on-demand delivery app has faced down a number of legal challenges on home turf — related to its classification of gig workers (as self employed couriers) and its opposition to collective bargaining rights for riders.

Although a 2018 inquiry led by UK MP Frank Field likened its ‘flexible’ labor model to 20th century dockyards — saying the dual labor market that Deliveroo generates works very well for some riders but very poorly for others.

The Bologna court ruling is also notable in light of a number of legal challenges against other gig platforms’ use of algorithms to manage large ‘self-employed’ workforces which have been filed in Europe in recent months.

This includes a group of Uber drivers who filed a challenge to Uber’s automated decision-making in the Netherlands last summer — making reference to pan-EU data protection law.

While ride-hailing company Ola is facing a similar challenge to its use of technological surveillance and data as a management tool to control a self-employed workforce.

Rulings on those cases are still pending.

At the same time, EU lawmakers have proposed new laws that would require large online platforms to provide regulators with information about how their algorithmic ranking systems function — with the aim of enabling wider societal oversight of AI-fuelled giants.

The move to enable oversight and accountability of platforms’ algorithms comes in response to concerns about a lack of transparency and the potential for automated decisions to scale bias, discrimination and exploitation. 

#algorithmic-accountability, #algorithmic-management, #deliveroo, #italy, #tc, #workers-rights


Without Tourism, Life in a Tuscan Village Slides Back in Time

The sharp drop in visitors since the start of the pandemic pressed this small community in the hills of Chianti to cling to the essentials: the pharmacy, the food store and agriculture.

#castellina-in-chianti-italy, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #italy, #la-torre-winery-montalcino-italy, #olives, #wines


Italy Mourns an Immigrant’s Life Cut Short

The killing of Agitu Ideo Gudeta, a successful business owner from Ethiopia who raised goats and made cheese, has resonated across the country. The police say a farmhand was responsible.

#ethiopia, #immigration-and-emigration, #italy, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides


Jackie Saccoccio, Painter of Explosive Abstraction, Dies at 56

She specialized in large canvases on which splashes of luminous color swirled and clashed. Her goal was to make her paintings seem as if they were moving.

#art, #deaths-obituaries, #italy, #saccoccio-jackie, #van-doren-waxter-manhattan-ny-gallery


Italy Turns to Flower Power to Help Spread Vaccine Message

The architect Stefano Boeri has designed primrose-themed pavilions where coronavirus shots will be given, but not everybody is thrilled with the idea.

#architecture, #boeri-stefano, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #italy, #milan-italy, #vaccination-and-immunization


Images of Light: Christmas Services Penetrate Darkness Around the World

Despite the pandemic, Christmas traditions endure, shedding some brightness in a gloomy season.

#christmas, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #francis, #italy, #roman-catholic-church, #south-korea


A Flying Elephant, a Teacher’s Hugs: 12 Tales of Pandemic Resilience

The virus has been crushing spirits around the world, but some people refuse to be bowed. Here are their stories.

#belarus, #bolivia, #brazil, #cambodia, #china, #cochabamba-bolivia, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #france, #great-britain, #india, #iran, #italy, #kenya, #kibera-nairobi-kenya, #mexico-city-mexico, #minsk-belarus, #trieste-italy, #wuhan-china


A New Pinocchio Film Returns to the Tale’s Dark Origins

The Italian director Matteo Garrone hopes to surprise audiences this Christmas with a very literal retelling of the children’s classic.

#garrone-matteo, #italy, #movies, #puppets


Poor Maintenance and Construction Flaws Are Cited in Italy Bridge Collapse

A report identified corroded cables as being to blame in the tragedy that took 43 lives in the northwestern city of Genoa in 2018.

#autostrade-spa, #bridges-and-tunnels, #genoa-italy, #infrastructure-public-works, #italy, #morandi-bridge-genoa-italy


Google expands its cloud with new regions in Chile, Germany and Saudi Arabia

It’s been a busy year of expansion for the large cloud providers, with AWS, Azure and Google aggressively expanding their data center presence around the world. To cap off the year, Google Cloud today announced a new set of cloud regions, which will go live in the coming months and years. These new regions, which will all have three availability zones, will be in Chile, Germany and Saudi Arabia. That’s on top of the regions in Indonesia, South Korea, the U.S. (Last Vegas and Salt Lake City) that went live this year — and the upcoming regions in France, Italy, Qatar and Spain the company also announced over the course of the last twelve months.

Image Credits: Google

In total, Google currently operates 24 regions with 73 availability zones, not counting those it has announced but that aren’t live yet. While Microsoft Azure is well ahead of the competition in terms of the total number of regions (though some still lack availability zones), Google is now starting to pull even with AWS, which currently offers 24 regions with a total of 77 availability zones. Indeed, with its 12 announced regions, Google Cloud may actually soon pull ahead of AWS, which is currently working on six new regions.

The battleground may soon shift away from these large data centers, though, with a new focus on edge zones close to urban centers that are smaller than the full-blown data centers the large clouds currently operate but that allow businesses to host their services even closer to their customers.

All of this is a clear sign of how much Google has invested in its cloud strategy in recent years. For the longest time, after all, Google Cloud Platform lagged well behind its competitors. Only three years ago, Google Cloud offered only 13 regions, for example. And that’s on top of the company’s heavy investment in submarine cables and edge locations.

#amazon-web-services, #aws, #chile, #cloud-computing, #cloud-infrastructure, #france, #germany, #google, #google-cloud-platform, #indonesia, #italy, #microsoft, #nuodb, #qatar, #salt-lake-city, #saudi-arabia, #south-korea, #spain, #tc, #united-states, #web-hosting, #web-services


Protestant Church That Found Refuge in Italy’s Hills Helps Syrians Do the Same

Mindful of a history of persecution, members of the Waldensian Church have been at the forefront of a push to bring refugees from Syria to Italy.

#christians-and-christianity, #italy, #middle-east-and-africa-migrant-crisis


In a Tough Year, a Nativity Scene ‘That Has Had Problems’

The Vatican’s Nativity scene this year has prompted much criticism — and some head-scratching.

#ceramics-and-pottery, #christmas, #francis, #italy, #nativity-scene, #roman-catholic-church, #rome-italy, #vatican-city


House Hunting in Italy: A 19th-Century Villa on Lake Como

The northern region of Lombardy has struggled mightily with the coronavirus, but its lake towns remain among Europe’s most sought-after destinations.

#italy, #lake-como-italy, #milan-italy, #real-estate-and-housing-residential


Tom Cruise Erupts at ‘Mission: Impossible’ Crew Over Covid-19 Breach

On a film set in Britain, the actor tore into the crew with an expletive-laden rant. Production of the blockbuster film had previously been delayed by the pandemic.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #cruise-tom, #italy, #london-england, #movies, #paramount-pictures, #sun-the-british-newspaper


Lidia Menapace, Who Fought Fascists and Sexists, Dies at 96

She was a partisan in northern Italy during World War II and denounced efforts to discount the role of women in the Resistance. She had been hospitalized with Covid-19.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-obituaries, #italy, #lidia-menapace, #womens-rights, #world-war-ii-1939-45


Modern Love: He Seduced Me With Bread

An Italian woman, trapped in lockdown, takes daily calls from strangers until she finds one who really knows how to cook.

#bread, #dating-and-relationships, #italy, #love-emotion, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #your-feed-selfcare


Wines to Remember in a Year to Forget

Travel, restaurants and vineyards were all virtually off limits. But a lot of bottles were opened at home, creating a different sort of history.

#italy, #mahle-pax-wines, #ochota-taras, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #riesling-wine, #sebastopol-calif, #south-africa, #wines


Italy Charges Egyptian Security Agents in Student’s Killing

Prosecutors brought formal indictments against four officials from the North African country over the abduction and murder of Giulio Regeni in 2016.

#egypt, #espionage-and-intelligence-services, #international-relations, #italy, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #regeni-giulio-d-2016


He Broke Out of Quarantine for 8 Seconds, and Got a $3,550 Fine

Around the world, flouting coronavirus regulations can have expensive consequences.

#australia, #belgium, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #fines-penalties, #italy, #quarantines, #spain, #taiwan, #united-states


Among Sparkling Wines, the Other Half Lives Pretty Well

Consumers focus on Champagne, but in the bubbly universe many stars offer distinctive and delicious versions of their own.

#catalonia-spain, #grapes, #italy, #loire-valley-france, #wines