The Closing of the Net  "original and valuable"  Times Higher Education

Proposed joint EU-US rules for the telecommunications industry pose a threat to net neutrality and to citizens' rights in general. Drafts leaked earlier this week of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Parnership (TTIP ) telecoms chapter,   indicate that  powers of regulators such as Ofcom could be neutered, and any action that a regulator might take could be challenged by industry. This is a serious matter for Europe, where US telecoms companies have been lobbying for a re-structuring of the European telecoms industry, and it extends the corporate threat from TTIP that has been highlighted in other sectors.

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The European Union has warned the United States not to make last-minute demands for measures on intellectual property rights, as the two attempt to conclude the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Parnership (TTIP ). In particular, the EU has stressed that some US demands would 'have a limited chance of being accepted'.

The position on  IPR in TTIP has come to light in the documents leaked to Greenpeace, and revealed to the German media on Tuesday this week.

Within the documents made public by Greenpeace was

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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The Closing of the Net 

 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 

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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!

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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

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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.

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 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.

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The Copyright Enforcement Enigma tells the story of the 2009 Telecoms Package and how the copyright industries tried to hijack it.

'accurate and absorbing account of the story of the Telecoms Package' -Journal of International Commercial Law and Technology

'...a must read for those interested in knowing in depth about copyright enforcement and Internet.' -Journal of Intellectual Property Rights.  

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

European Parliament launch for Copyright Enforcement Enigma

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Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten, European expert on Internet policy and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She is an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on Cross-border flow of Internet traffic and Internet freedom (MSI-INT). She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012. Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy. Iptegrity has a core readership in the Brussels policy community, and has been cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity

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The politics of copyright

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review

Paperback and Kindle and Epub formats.

Available from all good online bookstores or get it from the publisher Zed Books  direct:

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