ISOC European 
Regional Bureau 

18 – 24 April 2015

Digital Single Market

EU: Commission services put finishing touches to the Digital Single Market strategy

  • Two weeks ahead of the official publication of the Digital Single Market strategy (6 May), leaked versions of the document started circulating in Brussels.
  • According to the draft, the Commission plans to launch several legislative actions in 2015-2016. Proposals to reform copyright rules (by the end of 2015) and to eliminate geo-blocking of digital sales of goods and content within the EU (by mid-2016) are among the first concrete steps.
  • The Commission intends to address the rising power of online platforms, for example search engines, e-commerce platforms, social networks or app-stores. These plans include an assessment of the role of online platforms in EU’s Internet economy and whether they should be held responsible for hosting content which is offensive or in breach of copyright rules. This overall assessment of the role of online intermediaries is due in 2016.
  • Speaking at a recent event, Commission Vice-President for Digital Single Market Ansip reiterated that the Commission does not want to create yet another strategy, indicating that he wants the proposal to be as focused as possible.
  • It was argued that the role of Frans Timmermans, Commission First Vice-President in charge of better regulation, is to make sure that the Commission will not propose a legislation which could not get a tacit agreement from Member States.

EU: Commission considers creating a regulator overseeing Internet firms

  • According to media reports, the EU considers creating a new regulator that will be charged with overseeing Internet companies. An internal document prepared for the EU Digital Economy and Society Commissioner Oettinger seen by the Wall Street Journal is said to provide a blueprint for a future regulation, addressing the concerns present in EU policy circles with regards to the power of certain companies. The new regulator would be in charge of governing the relations between Internet firms and other businesses.
  • Reportedly, the paper argued that a lack of transparency with regards to how the platforms operate allows them to exploit their market power to the detriment of other businesses and consumers. The paper is quoted as saying that such a situation could eventually put the whole EU economy at risk.
  • While a tighter regulation of Internet platforms would be welcomed by France and Germany, other Member States such as the UK, are likely to oppose those plans.
  • The list of firms contained in the document is made of a majority of US platforms. Out of 32 examples, only one is based in Europe – Spotify. Some US tech firms argued that the push, sometimes dubbed as cyber-protectionism, is part of a broader agenda that aims to restrain foreign competitors in order to help local businesses. Speaking at the launch of the European edition of Politico, EU Competition Commissioner Vestager stated that when she took office she was concerned about accusations that her department was unfairly persecuting American companies. However, an internal overview showed that there is no evidence of partiality, the Commissioner said.

EU: Parliament’s political groups prepare for Digital Single Market battle

  • European Parliament’s political groups have started publishing their position papers on the EC Digital Single Market strategy. Several contentious issues started to appear: consumer protection, transparency and copyright reform.
  • The position paper of the European People’s Party (EPP) puts a lot of emphasis on competitiveness. The paper calls for a decisive allocation of spectrum and substantial investment in broadband. As for copyright, the party says that the current framework could benefit from more flexibility and simplicity, whilst guarantying appropriate remuneration for creators.
  • The S&D group still develops its official stance. It is likely that its paper will stress the importance of job creation, access to digital services and promotion of consumer rights.
  • The ALDE group advocates for more transparency (e.g. cross-border delivery pricing) and more efficient consumer protection. It also calls for a revision of the 2020 targets to ensure that all EU households have access to broadband Internet at a speed of at least 100 megabits per second. With regards to copyright, the party calls for a harmonised and integrated cross-border system which balances the value of content with consumer rights.
  • The Greens put emphasis on copyright reform, as the current framework is considered as standing in the way of the Digital Single Market. The abolishment of geo-blocking is at top of the group’s agenda.
  • Issues with cross-border e-commerce are among the ECR group’s priorities. The GUE-NGL group is still discussing its position. A group’s spokesman stated that new laws are needed in areas affecting consumer rights. However, the group fears that a strict harmonisation may lead to lower consumer rights standards in some Member States.

Data protection

EU/Global: Civil rights groups call on Commission to deliver on the promise of strong data protection

  • In a letter sent to Commission President Juncker, a group of 66 civil rights organisations from around the world urged the Commission to deliver on its promise to provide European citizens and businesses with strong and unified data protection rules.
  • The parties deplored the changes that are being made to the proposed Data Protection Regulation in the Council of the European Union. They underlined that EU’s data protection framework is not only important for the protection of European citizens and for building trust in European businesses, but is also critical as an international standard for data protection and privacy.
  • The letter recalled the promise made by former Justice Commissioner Reding who said that dropping below the 1995 levels of data protection (Directive 95/46/EC) would be a red line for the Commission. The letter’s signatories argued that according to their analysis, the Council has retreated beyond this line, urging the President to take responsibility for ensuring that the Commission’s legal and political promises are kept.

EU: Lawmakers optimistic an agreement on Data Protection Regulation will be reached this year

  • Speaking at a business event in Prague on 24 April, EU Justice Commissioner Jourová stated that she wants to finalise the reform of the EU data protection framework this year.
  • A similar optimism was shared by the Parliament’s Rapporteur on the proposed Data Protection Regulation Jan Philipp Albrecht (Greens, Germany) who stated that there is a good chance to reach an agreement on the proposal.

Cloud computing

EU: Legal restrictions on data transfers hamper cloud computing

  • During a closed-door workshop that took place earlier this year, EU officials and tech companies agreed that cloud computing is inhibited by legal and also implicit restrictions on data transfers (e.g. public perception and corporate misinterpretation of rules). Among examples discussed were Germany’s requirements to store health and financial data in the country.
  • Last month, the Commission earmarked funding for a research on data transfers restrictions and their effect on cloud computing. The study should be called Global Perspective on Economic Aspects of Cloud Computing.

Net neutrality

EU: No progress on net neutrality provisions

  • Negotiations on the Connected Continent package reached a stalemate, despite a compromise proposal put forward by the Latvian Presidency. The second session of the three-way talks that took place on 21 April confirmed the internal division of the Parliament.
  • While Parliament’s Rapporteur Pilar del Castillo (EPP, Spain) and the Chair of the Committee on the Internal Market (IMCO) Vicky Ford (ECR, UK) seemed ready to compromise both on roaming and on net neutrality, Petra Kammeravert (S&D, Germany), Jens Rohde (ALDE, Denmark) and Michel Reimon (Greens, Austria) seemed particularly adverse to the compromise on net neutrality tabled by the Commission on the morning of the talks. The proposal is said to be close to the Council’s pro-operators position. However, it limits what providers are entitled to do in terms of Internet traffic management and emphasises equal treatment of traffic, whereas the Council kept to equal treatment of “equivalent types of traffic”.
  • The compromise proposal reiterates that specialised services (now referred to as individual services) can only be provided if the availability or quality of the Internet access service is not impaired and if they are not sold as a substitute for normal Internet access.
  • The next meeting of negotiators is scheduled on 12 May but the date could not be confirmed. Council sources indicated that relations between the negotiators seem very tense. It was argued that the dossier would probably be passed on to the Luxembourg Presidency which starts on 1 July.

Open Internet/Safety

France: Web giants provide French police with new tools 

  • On 22 April, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, together with Axelle Lemaire, Minister in charge of digital affairs, met with representatives of Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and Google to discuss the best ways to fight against terrorist propaganda online. AFA, French association of ISPs was also present. The meeting followed Cazeneuve’s visit to Silicon Valley in February.
  • After the meeting, Minister Cazeneuve made several announcements. For instance, to facilitate the work of police officers responsible for identifying violent content and its authors, the reporting system will be simplified through the introduction of pre-filled forms that will enable the websites concerned to reply more rapidly and efficiently.
  • Moreover, an informal working group gathering various Internet players and government representatives will be put in place. This group would include only American companies.
28 aprila, 2015 by | Posted in Novice | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Comments are closed.