EU Wants Privacy Standards in Data Sharing with US

The European Union wants to agree broad privacy rules with the United States to safeguard personal data shared in pursuit of criminals and terrorism suspects, the EU's rights chief said.

The executive European Commission presented plans on Wednesday to negotiate a deal with Washington that would set standards for giving crime investigators access to information about EU citizens such as tax and health records or phone bills.

Such an agreement could make it easier for the 27-country EU to negotiate specific data transfers to the United States, and prevent messy battles such as an ongoing debate in Brussels over access to EU citizens' bank data.

Cooperation on information is vital for anti-terror investigators because Europe lacks the technology to use some data, particularly bank records, in cross-border probes.

But access to information has become increasingly controversial in Europe because of concerns over privacy, notably in Germany.

"The two continents are putting down values on which they can build all technical agreements in the future," Viviane Reding, the EU's Commissioner for justice and fundamental rights said in an interview with Reuters.

"All bilateral agreements would be based on this basic agreement."

Underscoring controversy in Europe, the European Parliament in February vetoed a temporary deal to allow terror investigators from the United States access to Europeans' bank details, raising concerns in Washington over security.

Europe outlines plan to boost broadband by 2020

All European households will have broadband speeds of 30Mbps (megabits per second) by 2020, the European Union has pledged.

It also promised universal broadband coverage by 2013 while getting half of Europeans using public services and shopping online by 2015.It is part of the European Union's five year plan for the digital economy.

The raft of measure were announced by newly-appointed digital affairs commissioner Neelie Kroes.

The EU's digital agenda will see over 30 laws introduced over the next three years.

Laying out her plans, Ms Kroes said that the EU invested 40% less in technology than the US.

It meant that nearly a third of Europeans had never used the internet and only 1% had access to fibre-based high-speed networks.

In order to catch up, EU governments must double their annual spending on research and development to 11bn euros (£9.4bn) by 2020, she said.

She also plans to improve technology standards, eliminate regulatory barriers, encourage electronic payments and simplify digital copyright management and licensing.

In November the European Parliament voted in favour of a major overhaul of telecoms law.

It aimed to harmonise the way mobile broadband is rolled out across Europe as well as establishing internet access as a fundamental right.

TPI says UK no longer biggest outsourcing market outside US

For the first time, France, Germany and Sweden all spent more on outsourcing than the UK in the first quarter of this year as contract renegotiations surged, according to TPI.

The UK spent less than €800m, 50% less than last year, compared with more than €1bn in Germany and €2bn in France as a result of a massive SNCF deal.

TPI said one mega-deal in Sweden meant the country doubled its total value of outsourcing contracts. It would not name the customer, but Swedish engineering company ABB recently signed a big deal with IBM.

This was on the back of a 7% increase in the total Emea market to €7bn.

TPI's Index measures commercial outsourcing contracts valued at €20m or more.

Contract restructuring accounted for a massive 40% of the total value of deals in the Emea region, which was significantly more than the previous record of 24% set in 2006.

New scope in deals in Europe was down by 22% and the number of contracts awarded in the region also declined by 24%.

"Even though this is only one quarter's results, it does appear that the key countries contributing to Europe's outsourcing performance are shifting to the less mature continental markets," said Duncan Aitchison, president at TPI Emea

IT Outsourcing is set to growth in the second half of 2010

According to the industry experts IT outsourcing looks set to grow in popularity throughout the rest of the year.

This is the suggestion of a new report by IDC European Software and Services, which has predicted European IT services expenditure will grow in second half of 2010 and further in 2011, with IT outsourcing being the main driver behind this dynamic.

With stabilized IT budgets and easing of economic conditions businesses will begin to invest in IT project again. The study revealed the industry could record a growth rate of 2.2 per cent next year.

Laura Converso, research manager at IDC European Software and Services, said: "Demand for projects and outsourcing will pick up towards the second half of 2010."

She added that the need for IT services will be most prominent this year in the UK, Germany and the Nordic countries.

Patrick O’Brien, senior analyst at IT industry analyst Ovum, recently predicted a strong year for outsourcing IT as the economy emerges from recession.