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Growing the Internet 18 September 2018

European Regional Bureau Newsletter – 8 – 14 Sep 2018

Internet Access

EU: 5G regulators in Europe criticised for “heavy-handed” approach

  • A new special report on 5G networks by the Financial Times, highlights the criticism of telecom operators and US regulators for what they see as an excessively burdensome approach to regulating next-generation networks.
  • The Commission’s 5G Action Plan was launched to align national initiatives, with proposals to extend licence cycles and harmonise the spectrum that carry wireless signals so that large companies could invest with more certainty across fragmented markets.
  • When the European Parliament amended the Plan with new measures tackling “oligopolies” and stronger rules regulating international calls, telecom companies like Deutsche Telekom, Orange and BT reacted by calling on government ministers to “save the 5G project”, reminding EU leaders that other regions are out-investing Europe 2 to 1 in digital networks.
  • The report concludes that a balanced regulatory environment is key. And that Europe’s approach may turn out well, with its constraints on larger telecom operators clearing the way for smaller players to invest and compete on 5G networks.

EU: European Parliament adopts copyright reform, dealing a blow to digital giants

  • The European Parliament voted on 12 September in favour of a sweeping overhaul of copyright rules for the Internet era.
  • Advocates for the vote included singer-songwriters Paul McCartney and Wyclef Jean while opponents, included coders, entrepreneurs and the founders of Wikipedia, called upon MEPs to defend the principles of a free Internet.
  • In the eye of the storm are articles 11 and 13, which create a new right for media publishers to monetize their content on sites like Google News, and a right to help track copyright infringements more easily on sites like YouTube. Following the vote, German Rapporteur Axel Voss said “I am very glad that despite the very strong lobbying campaign by the Internet giants, there is now a majority in the full house backing the need to protect the principle of fair pay for European creatives”.
  • The approved text will now head into “trilogue” discussions between the Parliament, Commission and Council of the EU.

EU: Stakeholders react to the Copyright Vote

  • Reactions to the copyright vote were divided between representatives of the ICT industry, defending principles of an open Internet, and on the other side, creative and publishing industries defending the importance of protecting the rights of users online.
  • For EDiMA’s director Siada El-Ramly, which represents platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter in Brussels, the vote enables the “filtering of the Internet to the benefit of big businesses in the music and publishing industries despite huge public outcry”.
  • The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), regretted the EP’s decision to adopt upload filters for a broad range of online platforms and hopes that a more balanced outcome will be made possible during final negotiations between the institutions.
  • The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) argued the vote put into question the benefits for consumers using the Internet, making it more difficult for them to easily upload videos, music and pictures that might contain copyrighted material as they could be scanned and blocked by platforms.
  • The European Commission’s Vice President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, welcomed the vote, saying the reform would bring “tangible benefits to EU citizens and educators, opening up the potential for more creativity by clarifying the rules and making them fit for the digital world.”

UK: Theresa May’s government will cap roaming changes in the event of a “no-deal” after Brexit

  • According to technical papers published by the UK Government on measures it would take in the event of a no-deal, officials will limit excessive charges that telephone operators could reintroduce after Brexit.
  • The “no-deal” papers cover a range of practical issues including passports, vehicle approvals, driving licences and competition, and are designed to prepare businesses and citizens for the potential impact of leaving the Single Market without an agreement.
  • The government has also issued recommendations to broadcasters, telling large companies like London-based Disney and Discovery, who transmit over 1,400 channels across Europe, that they must confirm whether they have the appropriate licences for markets within the EU.


EU: Commission proposes new rules tackling terrorist content online

  • In his State of the Union Address, President Jean-Claude Juncker announced a new Regulation to get terrorist content off the web within one hour.
  • Key features of the proposal include setting a clear definition of terrorist content, creating a duty of care obligation for all platforms to ensure they are not misused for the dissemination of online content, increased police cooperation and forcing service providers to ensure stronger safeguards and complaint mechanisms for their content providers.
  • Describing the proposals, Security Union Commissioner Julian King said: “You wouldn’t get away with handing out fliers inciting terrorism on the streets of our cities – and it shouldn’t be possible to do it on the internet, either.”
  • The new rules will be discussed at the EU’s highest political level next week (20 Sep) at the Informal Meeting of EU Leaders in Salzburg where security issues will feature highly on the agenda.

EU: Additional cybersecurity measures unveiled by the Commission

  • The European Commission announced on 12 September its plans to create a Network of Cybersecurity Competence Centres to better target available funding for cybersecurity industrial research & innovation.
  • Highlighted during President Juncker’s State of the Union speech, this network of competence centres builds on the Cybersecurity Act tabled last year, which set out a funding boost to the EU’s Cybersecurity Agency and a framework for the certification of ICT products.
  • The network will be coordinated by a new European Cybersecurity Industrial, Technology and Research Competence Centre tasked with facilitating joint investment by the EU and its Member States into testing and experimenting new cybersecurity infrastructure.
  • Cybersecurity is expected to remain high on the EU’s policy agenda. Especially as €2bn of funding has been earmarked for financing state-ot-the art cybersecurity equipment and expertise-sharing under the new Digital Europe programme of the EU next budget for the years 2021-2027.
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