Associated Press

Trans-Atlantic war over Google

Europe’s moves to rein in Google -- including a court ruling ordering the search giant to give people a say in what pops up when someone searches their name -- may be seen in Brussels as striking a blow for the little guy.

But across the Atlantic, the idea that users should be able to edit Google search results in the name of privacy is being slammed as weird and difficult to enforce at best and a crackdown on free speech at worst.

“Americans will find their searches bowdlerized by prissy European sensibilities,” said Stewart Baker, former assistant secretary for policy at the US Department of Homeland Security. “We’ll be the big losers. The big winners will be French ministers who want the right to have their last mistress forgotten.”

Google says it’s still figuring out how to comply with the European Court of Justice’s May 13 ruling, which says the company must respond to complaints about private information that turns up in searches. Google must then decide whether the public’s right to be able to find the information outweighs an individual’s right to control it -- with preference given to the individual.

The judgment applies to all search engines operating within the European Union. But in practice that means Google, given that 90 percent of all online searches there use Google’s search engine.

Free Speech Or Illegal Threats? Justices Could Say

Messages posted on Facebook and Twitter or sent in e-mails can be tasteless, vulgar and even disturbing. But just when do they cross the line from free speech to threats that can be punished as a crime?

As the Internet and social networks allow people to vent their frustrations with the click of a mouse, the Supreme Court is being asked to clarify the First Amendment rights of people who use violent or threatening language on electronic media where the speaker's intent is not always clear. Most lower courts say determining a true threat depends on how an objective person would understand the message.

Now Application 'Inconsistencies' Vex Health Law

A huge new paperwork headache for the government could also be jeopardizing coverage for some of the millions of people who just got health insurance under President Barack Obama's law.

A government document indicates that at least 2 million people enrolled for taxpayer-subsidized private health insurance have data discrepancies in their applications that, if unresolved, could affect what they pay for coverage, or even their legal right to benefits. The final number affected could well be higher.

According to the administration the 2 million figure reflects only consumers who signed up through the federally administered HealthCare.gov website and call centers. The government signed up about 5.4 million people, while state-run websites signed up another 2.6 million. For consumers, a discrepancy means that the information they supplied, subject to perjury laws, does not match what the government has on record.

France Lifts Restrictions on D-Day Video Coverage

France dropped restrictions on live video coverage of ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, ensuring that millions of viewers across the world will be able to watch the event as it unfolds.

Host broadcasters France Televisions and TF1 this time offered news agencies unfettered access to live coverage of the main international ceremony, where President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and other world leaders will join aging veterans to honor those who fought to liberate Normandy from Nazi occupation.

"Because of the exceptional character of the event and at the request of the president's office, the signal will be available for free," the broadcasters' note read.

Online Pirates Thrive On Legitimate Ad Dollars

Movie and music piracy thrives online in part because crafty website operators receive advertising dollars from major companies like Comcast, Ford and McDonald's.

That's the conclusion of several recent reports that shed light on Internet piracy's funding sources.

Content thieves attract visitors with the promise of free downloads and streams of the latest hit movies, TV shows and songs. Then they profit by pulling in advertising from around the Internet, often concealing their illicit activities so advertising brands remain unaware. Pirate websites run ads that are sometimes covered up by other graphics. They automatically launch legitimate-looking websites as pop-up windows that advertisers don't realize are associated with piracy.

At the end of the day, the pirate website operators still receive a check for serving up a number of views and clicks. The illicit activity is estimated to generate millions of dollars annually. That's only a small portion of the roughly $40 billion of online ad spending every year. Yet it is helping to feed the creation of millions of copyright-infringing websites that provide stolen content to a growing global audience.

5 Reasons Why Media Execs Top CEO Pay Lists

Once again, media company CEOs are among the highest paid executives in the nation, occupying six of the top 10 earning spots according to an Associated Press/Equilar study.

Compensation experts say a variety of factors are at play, including the gain in media stocks, the intangible value of talent in a hit-or-miss business, the control of shareholder power in very few hands, and the decline of the financial sector.

  1. Stock Outperformers: Outsized stock growth boosts the value of stock and option grants. Media companies' shares have rebounded strongly since the 2008 recession, mainly because advertising spending grows in tandem with a growing economy. That means higher-priced ads and higher-priced execs.
  2. Talent Quotient: Making it big in media means generating hits. And while top executives may not be hands-on with every decision, they are where the buck stops.
  3. Voting Power: Control of voting power by a single shareholder can dilute the impact of "say on pay" advisory votes, experts say. A major shareholder can override other shareholders' concerns.
  4. Other Industries' Decline: Lists in previous decades might have had more financial and banking executives. Since the Great Recession punished those companies with government bailouts, bank collapses, accounting revisions and writedowns, they have dropped in the pay rankings.
  5. All Boats Rise: When one company boosts pay, others compensate to remain competitive.

Study: Political TV Ads on Health Law Total $445M

A new analysis finds the nation's health care overhaul deserves a place in advertising history as the focus of extraordinarily high spending on negative political TV ads that have gone largely unanswered by the law's supporters.

The report, released by nonpartisan analysts Kantar Media CMAG, estimates that $445 million was spent on political TV ads mentioning the law since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Spending on negative ads outpaced positive ones by more than 15 to 1.

As the November midterm elections approach, the picture looks much the same, Wilner said, although a few pro-Democratic ads are countering with messages supporting the health law and a few pro-Republican ads have gone from a flat-out call for repeal to a message of replacing the law with "free-market solutions." In the 2014 congressional races, 85 percent of the anti-Obama ads were also anti-"Obamacare" ads, the analysis found.

In some competitive races, 100 percent of the pro-Republican TV ads aimed at Democrats contained anti-health law messages. Since 2010, an estimated $418 million was spent on 880,000 negative TV spots focusing on the law, compared to $27 million on 58,000 positive spots, according to the analysis. Nearly all of the spending was on local TV stations, in races ranging from state offices such as treasurer and governor to Congress and the presidential election.

News Organizations Challenge Ban On Drones

Thirteen leading news organizations are challenging the Federal Aviation Administration's ban on journalists' use of drones, saying it violates First Amendment protection for news gathering.

The organizations, including The Associated Press, filed a brief with the National Transportation Safety Board in support of aerial photographer Raphael Pirker.

Pirker was fined by the FAA for flying a small drone near the University of Virginia to make a commercial video in October 2011. He appealed the fine to the safety board, which hears challenges to FAA decisions.

Russia's Putin Calls the Internet a 'CIA Project'

President Vladimir Putin has mocked the Internet as a CIA project and pledged to protect Russia's interests online.

The Kremlin has been anxious to exert greater control over the Internet, which opposition activists -- barred from national television -- have used to promote their ideas and organize protests. Russia's parliament passed a law requiring social media websites to keep their servers in Russia and save all information about their users for at least half a year.

Also, businessmen close to Putin now control Russia's leading social media network, VKontakte.

US Newspaper Industry Revenue Fell 2.6 PCT In 2013

US newspaper industry revenue fell in 2013, as increases in circulation revenue weren't high enough to make up for shrinking demand for print advertising, an industry trade group said.

The Newspaper Association of America said revenue fell 2.6 percent to $37.6 billion in 2013. Circulation revenue rose 3.7 percent to $10.9 billion, the second straight year of growth. Advertising revenue fell 6.5 percent to $23.6 billion.