European Data Retention Directive Deemed Invalid

The European Union’s infamous Data Retention Directive has been deemed invalid after a long time of severe criticism from a number of member states and non-governmental organizations. The directive, which was passed by the European Union in 2006 and implemented by the member states shortly thereafter, has been under severe scrutiny since first suggested in 2005. It is now clear after a lengthy investigation that the directive is incompatible with Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and that it is therefore deemed invalid. It is still unclear what exactly this means for all the member states who have implemented their own versions of the directive.

What Was the Data Retention Directive?

European Data Retention Directive Deemed InvalidThe Data Retention Directive had the purpose of unifying different member state laws when it comes to retaining data from telephone carriers and Internet providers. The directive demanded that these providers in all European member states must keep all information about their customers for a minimum of six months, allowing police and security agencies to retrieve the information after a court order. The directive was heavily criticized for its opposition to the right to free communication, and has often been referred to as a “Big Brother” law.

The case of the directive was brought to the attention of the European Court of Justice after Digital Rights Ireland, a non-governmental organization, sued the state of Ireland and others for their implementation of the directive. On the 8th of April, 2014, the Court of Justice finally decided to deem the directive invalid.

Meaning for State Implementations of the Directive

Big Brother Law European Data Retention Directive Deemed InvalidThe situation is as of yet unclear when it comes to the many member states and their unique implementations. No two implementations are exactly the same, and so they are not automatically revoked, but must instead be revoked by their individual national parliaments, which will surely take quite some time. Sweden has gone before this decision, and the national Post och Telestyrelsen has informed affected parties that they are free to stop retaining data without risking any governmental cases towards them. Several Internet providers and phone carriers have already reported doing this. It is also unclear whether the EU will force these states into changing their new laws as they too go against the Charter of Fundamental Rights – and even if such is the case, it might be possible for these states to simply adapt their laws slightly to go along with fundamental rights, at least on paper.

Some countries, including Sweden, have had to pay fines to the European Union for being late in implementing the directive after it was passed in 2006. These countries have been informed that they will have their money returned. There are more money issues, however – there have already been cases of carriers considering suing states for the costs it took for them to implement the directive into their daily activities, which has now been revealed was all for nought. The case of the Data Retention Directive is obviously not over yet.


Review – Anki, the Best Way to Learn with Intelligent Flashcards

It’s been around for quite a while, making an impressive boom in especially the language learning community, but how great is it really? Today we’re looking into Anki, the intelligent flashcard software.

The Digital Flashcard

Flashcards are a very traditional and somewhat old school way of learning – you keep a card with a question on the front and the answer on the back, and use it to test yourself. Especially language students frequently use these to learn glossary or grammar, but it’s also used to some degrees in basically all fields of learning.

Anki, the Best Way to Learn with Intelligent FlashcardsAnki, which was first launched in 2006, is marketed as the ultimate flashcard software, offering digital versions of these classic cards alongside a number of features which come with this digital world. You can either pick one of the crowd generated decks of cards or make one yourself, add it into the free software (available both for desktop and mobile on all major operative systems), and start learning. If you choose a deck for learning French you’re presented with fronts such as “bonjour”, and you can then enter the English equivalent (“hello”) to succeed on that card.

What differentiates digital software like Anki from the physical counterpart is mainly the ability for the software to judge when you need to go back to an old card. If you do well on “bonjour” several times in a row, it only shows up again after several weeks. If you keep failing one card, it keeps showing up until you get it.

The Pros

The thing I love the most about Anki has to be its smart calculation of when a card is needed to keep it fresh in your mind, as well as their excellent settings and statistics which makes it easy to control what you learn and see how you’re doing. Anki is seemingly most used for language, but brands themselves as “content-agnostic” – as they allow for use of both pictures, sounds, and scientific markup, it’s possible to use Anki to study math, science, literature, art, or whatever you want.

Intelligent Flashcards Software Anki, the Best Way to Learn with Intelligent FlashcardsAnki is excellent at being very available. At first I downloaded it on my Linux computer, and then I got it on my Windows machine, and they synchronize perfectly with each other regardless of which computer I use. I’ve also installed the software on both my phone on my tablet, and it’s great to be able to study on the go. The mobile layout makes it extremely easy to navigate with a single finger, which makes it an excellent distraction on the subway or for that matter while walking.

The Cons

No system is perfect, even though Anki is pretty close. I’ve unfortunately suffered from a crash on my computer deck which made me lose a week of work, but that’s something you can elude simply by making backups once in a while. The settings can also be rather confusing at first, especially when you try to create your first deck and want to use sounds, pictures, or markup. Fortunately, Anki offers thousands of crowd generated decks available for free download, so it’s always possible to start out with those before trying your own deck.

All in all, Anki is without a doubt the best flashcard software I’ve tried, and it’s one of my absolute favorite learning tools out there – definitely worth a try if you’re into learning lots of stuff on the go. However, if you prefer something you can actually hold in your hands, then check out our piece on 3D printing ;)

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