The European Parliament today adopted a data protection package that is being described as 'historic' and monumental'. The new EU measures update data protection rules for the era of the Internet and social media, including the use of data by police and law enforcement. The hot buttons have been the transfer of data outside the EU – especially to the United States - and how the large digital corporations may exploit data for commercial purposes. For whose benefit is this law and how should we regard it?
The European Commission is consulting on the enforcement of intellectual property rights and copyright. Hold tight for more debate on website blocking, domain seizure, filtering, account termination .... and a new attack on 'mere conduit'.
With the 16 April deadline looming for responses to the European Commission's consultation on enforcement of intellectual property rights, the question of content blocking is rearing its head once again. The online world is clearly the target, even though the scope of the existing law is much wider. Reading between the lines, the influence of the main stakeholder interests such as the music and film industries, and luxury goods manufacturers, can be seen. Given that this is a heavily polarised and toxic issue, is the European Commission going about this in the right way?
“The Home Secretary says it is world leading. Not all people agree with that. Some think it is leading the world over a cliff”. Not my words but those of David Anderson Q.C. speaking yesterday at a symposium on the Investigatory Powers Bill hosted by 25 Bedford Row barristers chambers.
The Investigatory Powers Bill comes up for scrutiny in Parliament tomorrow, as the British government tries to push it through before the end of the year. This is the controversial new law that will govern electronic surveillance. But legal experts, who are not usually given to emotive language, say the Bill is bad law, and nothing more than window dressing. From a public interest perspective, the government is rushing the Bill unnecessarily. How safe will our data be under the proposed regime? Will we fall over a digital cliff as the spooks get to play with our Internet connection records?
This report is my interpretation of the legal arguments presented at the 25 Bedford Row symposium on the Investigatory Powers Bill.
Is fibre to the premises based on a false premise?
The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, is proposing a strategic shift to fibre optic networks to carry our broadband services. A key plank of the strategy is that British Telecom (BT ) should open up its ducts to competitive broadband providers in order to get fibre to the home. This post argues that there is a serious flaw in this reasoning.
As the UK regulator, Ofcom, wags its finger at BT, the UK broadband industry remains in a state of uncertainty. What prospect is there for a strategic leap to super-fast broadband as a national 'right'?
Ofcom's 10-year review of the UK telecoms market last week could have been the opportunity to set this country on the path to a revolution in the delivery of telecommunications services, taking it forward for the next couple of decades. Instead, we get a muddled, jargon-ridden document that tweaks the rules but fails to act decisively, and appears to please no-one. The structural reform of the telecoms industry that will be necessary to achieve the government's vision of super-fast broadband, was only nibbled around the edges. A full-on tackle was avoided amid a great deal of smoke and mirrors.
What should be done with Openreach, the mechanism for competition in UK broadband? The regulator's announcement was a cautious 'leave it as it is'. Here we consider the other options. Divest Openreach from BT? Would public ownership be in the national interest?
Today the UK regulator Ofcom has unveiled its conclusions in a 10 year review of the UK telecommunications industry. At the centre of it all is Openreach, the British Telecom division that controls competitive access to broadband customers around the country. The burning issue is whether Openreach should remain part of British Telecom, or whether Ofcom should force them to separate. It would seem that the regulator will stay more or less, with the status quo. It's also being reported that BT is dangling a £1billion carrot in front of the regulator.
However, the policy question is about the national interest in an internationally competitive broadband infrastructure. The government's policy
My latest book is now available in bookstores. It's published by Polity Press. Here I outline what the book is about.
What is meant by The Closing of the Net? Iptegrity readers will already have their own interpretation. The notion has been helpfully or otherwise referred to by Donald Trump who called for "closing that Internet up in some way". Trump was reflecting calls by various political interests, including the intelligence services, for the technology companies to 'do something'. Do something about what? He was calling for restrictions on content reflecting undesirable agendas such as extremism. Closing the net entails
I was honoured to present a training course on Internet Governance and Human Rights for policy-makers and academics in Ukraine. The course was part of a programme sponsored by the Council of Europe and the European Union. My co-presenter for the training was Veronica Cretu. Working closely with the Council of Europe, we planned and wrote the course to meet the needs of the target audience. The aim was to impart key principles of Internet governance and the ways in which human rights apply online, using an interactive training methodology.
We delivered the training in a 3-day package to over 30 participants in Kiev in November 2015. It was a fantastic group. They threw themselves enthousiastically into the exercises and we received some lovely feedback! The pictures below show how much everyone enjoyed it!
I was honoured to be invited to present at the Ukrainian Internet Governance Forum (IGF) on 30 September. The panel was Internet and Human Rights. I spoke about how blocking and filtering technologies enable interference with freedom of expression and how the collection of communications traffic data engages the right to privacy. It was a great experience to make such a presentation in a country that is
A new EU telecoms law adopted on Tuesday (27 October 2015) should mean lower mobile Internet bills for travellers but threatens also to ride roughshod over net neutrality – or does it? We know there has been a political deal but what does it really mean for policy-makers.
Will the Internet's future be decided by politics and not by principle?
The European Parliament will take a crucial vote on net neutrality in a couple of hours' time. From the debate this morning, the political undertones of this vote are coming out. What is clear is that the Parliament allowed itself to be pressured by the Council of Ministers. That is not good for European democracy. Nor is it good for the Internet.
Tomorrow a crucial vote in the European Parliament will decide whether Europe supports the principle of net neutrality. A proposal will be put before the Parliament that is headed 'open internet access' and will be touted as protecting net neutrality. However, it is highly contoversial, because it threatens to open the door to zero-rating of content. Amendments have been tabled that would protect net neutrality and their acceptance could be crucial for the future of the Internet.
The Parliament has the choice to doff its cap to the Council of ministers or to stand up for itself as a democratic institution and support its own position.
A highly-respected German website is to be investigated for treason after publishing leaked documents relating to mass Internet surveillance.
The German Internet policy website, Netzpolitik.org, has been put on notice for treason after it published two articles revealing government plans to expand intelligence capabilities for Internet surveillance. The website received the notice yesterday from the German attorney general, following a complaint from the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz – this is the internal intelligence service, the German equivalent of MI5. The matter has sparked a media storm over freedom of the press, in a country where Internet surveillance issues are household knowledge.