July 27, 2020

Horse helped determine law in the age of the Internet

Filed under: Animals,Dutch first,Technology by Branko Collin @ 2:48 pm

It was 1914, there was a world war being fought, and a clever man thought he had found a way to smuggle a horse.

In that year, exporting horses from Azewijn, in the neutral Netherlands, to warring Germany was illegal. As local newspaper De Graafschap-bode told the story at the time:

L. Lueb, 32 years of age and farmer in Klein Netterden (Germany) is being tried for exporting a horse on 7 September 1914 from the municipality of Bergh across the border at Klein Netterden, by pulling said animal through the water of said canal towards the place from which he was pulling whilst standing on the German side of the border canal while the horse was on the other side of said canal, with clear intent and by means of a rope tied around the neck of said horse.

People used so many words in those days…

The courts could just smell that Mr Lueb was guilty, but legally, a whiff is not enough. A law needs to be found by which to convict a person. But more than that, they had to agree they had jurisdiction. The law rarely determines that somebody can be tried for something they did in another country.

The result was that the case ended up before the Dutch supreme court.

The original court held that not the location of the perpetrator, but rather the ‘exportable object’ determined the location of the crime, Haal Je Recht writes.

The appeals court disagreed and came up with a post-human solution: the rope is an extension of the arm, and the arm was on Dutch soil at the time of the crime. The Dutch supreme court reworded the verdict, but came pretty much to the same conclusion: one can use an instrument to act in a different place from where one currently is.

In our current day and age, it has become much easier to use an instrument to act in a different place. The supreme court referenced the Case of the Horse of Azewijn as recent as last year when it convicted skimmers who had tried to plunder Dutch bank accounts from an ATM in Milan, Italy.

In 1915, Mr Lueb was convicted to a prison sentence of three months. What happened to the horse, I don’t know.

Photo of he German – Dutch border canal near Netterden by Pieter Delicaat, some rights reserved.

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January 11, 2019

KPN axes Dutch Internet provider XS4ALL

Filed under: History,IT by Orangemaster @ 3:09 pm

It’s the end of an era: Owned by KPN, Dutch Internet pioneer XS4LL (a play on words of the pronunciation of ‘access for all’ by Dutch folks (the ‘x’ sounds like ‘ex’ and not ‘ax’ in Dutch, so ‘excess’ for all the non-Dutch) was founded back in 1993 and has very loyal clients. I write this knowing a lot of their clients, including my co-blogger Branko, and a lot of friends who either work or have worked there.

By loyal clients, I also mean they will not stay on with KPN after XS4ALL ceases to exist, but have also launched a petition to keep XS4ALL, which is not something you see everyday for a profit-making company. Chances are, it won’t change anything, but it will give you an idea of how much people care about the company.

And why is that? Well, XS4ALL was Internet-savvy before having Internet was a thing in the Netherlands. Apparently, it’s the third oldest Internet service provider (ISP) in the country, after NLnet and SURFnet. According to Wikipedia, XS4ALL was the second company to offer Internet access to private individuals, which was not a given when the Internet started to be a telecommunications staple. One of its founder is Rop Gonggrijp, a well-known hacktivist in international circles.

In the mid 2000s, XS4ALL was big, and one of the main reasons was because they gave really good service. You were talking to people who were all Internet fans, not just working stiffs with stupid answers. They helped win the battle against spam back when you would get 100 to 200 spam mails a day and fought a lot of other battles as well, winning quite a few.

XS4ALL was bought by KPN (the big Dutch provider) in December 1998, but stayed in its bubble to a certain extent until this year. KPN is now trying to convince its XS4ALL clients that ‘only the name will change’ and there’s nobody buying that, to the point were many loyal clients will change providers out of principle.

If you feel strongly enough about it, you can also sign the petition (in Dutch).

(Link: tweakers.net, Photo of XS4ALL head office by Pachango, some rights reserved)

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January 1, 2014

Dutch railways leans on net neutrality law to block sites

Filed under: IT,Online by Orangemaster @ 8:00 am

The Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets has approved Dutch railways’ move to block YouTube and Spotify which use a lot of bandwidth in order to provide better quality Wi-Fi in some of their trains. Even though the Wi-Fi is free, the net neutrality law force ISPs and telecom operators to ensure access to all types of content, services or applications available on the network.

Much in the same way as Christian Internet access providers let clients filter the Internet to respect religious beliefs, the Dutch railways has blocked certain ‘data-heavy sites’ to avoid Wi-Fi congestion in trains. As long as the blocking is not selective, it is allowed, although one could easily argue that it is selective, as blocking YouTube and Spotify but leaving out Daily Motion and Deezer is indeed making a selection.

A lot of people in the Netherlands already use Internet mobile on their phones and computers and don’t really need the free service, the service is quite slow and probably won’t improve dramatically, and when something is free, many people don’t expect much of it anyways. However, watchdogs are worried about telecoms like T-Mobile who run the Wi-Fi in trains trying getting around the law to suit its purposes. After all, it’s companies like them who tried to up their prices when they started losing major ground to Skype and WhatsApp, and led to pushing through net neutrality laws in the first place.

The Netherlands made international headlines after being the second country in the world and the first European country to embrace net neutrality. The idea of companies chipping away at it will surely be watched very closely.

(Links: www.nieuws.nl, webwereld.nl, www.acm.nl)

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November 16, 2013

Dutch social network Hyves quits, offers users chance to download data

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 2:20 pm

Popular Dutch social network Hyves will stop operations on 2 December, Parool reported last month.

Although the paper doesn’t mention why the site is shutting down, it’s likely because Hyves was haemorrhaging visitors to Facebook, which offers a similar experience but to an international audience. The international ambitions of Hyves can presumably best be summed up by its name, which is the English word (spelled slightly different) for a skin rash. Marketing Facts reported in March 2012 that Hyves led Facebook by almost 3 million unique Dutch visitors in December 2010. Twelve months later that number was reversed. (The Netherlands has approximately 16 million inhabitants, 10 million of whom were Hyves members at the site’s peak .)

Starting today Hyves allows users to download the photos, videos, messages and so on that they left on the site. The download window is only two weeks. Parool further reports that the Hyves servers currently hold over 1 petabyte in data. Although Hyves will stop as a general social network, it will try and continue as a gaming website.

Update 17 November 2013: Volkskrant reports that Dutch people in their late teens are abandoning Facebook in droves. Of those aged 16 – 19 who had a Facebook account last year, 52% had abandoned their account by this year. On the whole Facebook is still growing though. Volkskrant suspects young people simply do not want to share a network with older relatives.

(Photo of a bus stop ad by Patrick Nielsen Hayden showing how in 2009 Hyves was considered the prime application of a smart phone, some rights reserved)

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September 9, 2012

Cable Internet equal to fibre optic, says consumer watchdog

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 9:49 am

Consumer watchdog Consumentenbond has compared two types of broadband Internet in the latest issue of its magazine Digitaalgids, and concluded that cable and fibre optic are equals.

Fibre-optic providers have apparently been claiming that their product is better than that of cable Internet providers.

Webwereld quotes Digitaalgids:

  • Fibre-optic and cable providers claim to offer speeds that they do not deliver.
  • Prices are comparable.
  • Cable can still get faster and will therefore remain competitive for the foreseeable future.

Consumentenbond is quick to point out a couple of advantages of fibre optic compared to cable. Theoretically, fibre can reach 1 gigabit per second, and it offers upload speeds that are as fast as download speeds. The average Internet user currently has no use for those speeds, which may be why fibre adoption is going fairly slow at the moment. Consumers may also have real choice of providers in the future, whereas cable networks are typically controlled by a single provider.

(Photo by Jacek Szymański, some rights reserved)

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July 21, 2012

Real life tracking cookies

Filed under: Art,Food & Drink,Technology by Branko Collin @ 12:54 pm

Hacker collective Hack42 from Arnhem also experimented with laser Café Noirs.

With the new cookie law on everybody’s mind, it is not surprising that somebody decided to come up with real life tracking cookies.

That somebody was Utrecht-based events platform SETUP, who laser etched traditional Verkade Café Noir cookies with QR codes and handed them out during the Beschaving Festival at the end of June. SETUP doesn’t say how they kept tracking the cookies once eaten.

See also:

(Via Trendbeheer. Photo by Dennis van Zuijlekom, some rights reserved. Video: Youtube/SETUP.)

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July 16, 2012

Netherlands leave gap in net neutrality law for principled providers

Filed under: IT,Religion,Technology by Branko Collin @ 10:06 am

Maxime Verhagen, Minister of Economic Affairs, has written a letter to evangelical Internet access provider Solcon that their filtering system does not run afoul of the Dutch net neutrality law that was recently passed by the Senate.

Solcon provides filtered access to the Internet for clients who do not want to be exposed to values other than Dutch Reformed ones (the Dutch Reformed Church is part of the Protestant Church).

When the law was passed, Solcon threatened to sue the state, although it first wanted to talk to the minister. According to Computable, Maxime Verhagen has now sent a letter (PDF) to Solcon telling the provider that the way it has set up its filters, with clients being in full control of switching the filters on and off, and clients not getting to pay less for filtered access, does not violate the law.

Back in May I outlined three conditions that I felt could guarantee net neutrality while at the same time allowing providers to filter. They were 1) the provider should offer an unfiltered service no more expensive than the unfiltered one, 2) the service should get equal prominence in advertising, and 3) users should be allowed to switch between these services at no cost. Given the nature of Solcon, a provider with evangelical rather than profit seeking goals, my second condition is obviously of less concern, so this seems like a good decision.

The tricky bit for lawyers of more profit-motivated providers to decipher is whether the minister’s answer now leaves ways to sell filtered Internet access to clients without giving them a straight discount. The minister does not single out Solcon in his letter, but speaks of ‘Internet providers’ in general, and though his second condition seems to suggest that he will not allow the use of rate differentiation to lean on clients, the fact that he explicitly mentions lower rates seems to leave room for other forms of enticement or coercion.

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April 11, 2012

Stolen Greek icons found on Dutch website

Filed under: Art,Religion,Technology by Orangemaster @ 1:33 pm

The Greek authorities discovered icons stolen from a church in Greece in 2009 on the website of a Dutch art dealer who claims he didn’t know they were stolen.

The seven Greek icons, with values ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 euro, were seized by the police in April last year, placed in the Rijksmuseum for safe keeping, and handed over to the Greek Ministry of Culture on December 5, 2011. They date from the 18th and 19th centuries and play an important part in the country’s cultural and historical heritage.

The police explain that works of art are usually sold many years after they have been stolen, and so this discrepancy probably makes it sound like the dealer could be telling the truth. I’ve been told there are international sites to check and see if works or art have been stolen and then I would imagine that the dealer was not very knowledgeable in icons or is not telling the truth.

Even Wikipedia has a page of stolen works of art, with a few Dutch ones as well.

(Link: Trouw.nl, photo: politie.nl)

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March 10, 2012

Wifi roll-out on Dutch Rail trains progressing as scheduled

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 4:06 pm

Each month ten Dutch Rail trains are equipped with free wifi, so that all 365 trains should have wifi by the end of 2013, Webwereld reports. This is according to schedule.

Currently wifi is free. Dutch Rail still has to decide if it will start charging money for usage after 2012. The national government gave Dutch Rail a 15 million euro subsidy for putting wifi on its trains.

In 2011 the number of trains featuring free wifi doubled, but usage quadrupled. Data rate and session length have stayed the same, 9MB and 40 minutes respectively.

Webwereld, a computer news site, asked some of its users about their experiences with the service. The consensus seems to be that it is as good as one can expect from ‘free’, but not better. Complaints centre on bad connections and slow speeds. One odd complaint is that the operator, T-Mobile, seems to be using German IP numbers. Users get to see the German Google when they want to search, and Facebook warns them that somebody is trying to log into their account from Germany.

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March 1, 2012

‘My fast Internet connection is more accessible than yours’

Filed under: General,IT,Online by Orangemaster @ 10:30 am

As of today, the Dutch University of Twente in Enschede has the fastest Internet connection in the world, clocking in at 1 Gigabit upload and download speed. The only thing that comes close is the Google campus in Stanford, California. However, the big difference is Twente is the first university to be able to offer super fast Internet to its students and campus residents, while the Google connection lets people connect to and from home, but isn’t campus wide.

IT department and students set up the network at Twente, not some corporation. “There are strict rules regarding the use and content of the university network. The upload limit of 50 GB per week will be maintained and any complaints about illegal uploads will be treated seriously.”

Stanford, it’s your move.

(Link: www.utwente.nl, www.npr.org)

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