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Our outlook on internet policy matters in 2021

Image by Pat_Scrap from Pixabay

It comes as no surprise that 2021 too will be dominated by the coronavirus pandemic and political activity will focus on the battle against the infectious disease. Nevertheless, there are many issues advancing in the background which need to be worked on. Many of these have been on our radar for quite a while now, and new ones will arise for sure. If the past year has taught us anything, it is reacting quickly and bracing ourselves for spontaneous legislative amendments on short notice.  

Reform of the BVT: 12 benchmarks for oversight of intelligence services

The Federal Agency for State Protection and Counterterrorism (abbreviated BVT in German) is one of the most powerful institutions in Austria. Yet there is hardly any other organization of similar disrepute. There is no party which does not address deficiencies and the need for improvement. Foreign intelligence services already restricted cooperation with the BVT years ago and the abroad considers Austria a "security gap".

Our position on electronic identity

Austria has been working on an electronic identity – e-ID in short – for quite some time now. Recent discussions on this type of electronic identification have focused on the electronic driving license, which is to be introduced in spring 2021. The draft legislation proposed by the federal government provides for voluntary participation, so switching to an e-ID is not obligatory. The e-ID serves as technical basis and infrastructure for electronic identification.

First Analysis of the Austrian Anti-Hate Speech Law (NetDG/KoPlG)

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On September 3rd the Austrian government released a legislative package to tackle online hate speech. Besides a comprehensive justice reform, the package also contains a bill that creates new obligations for online platforms to remove illegal user-generated content. This article offers a first analysis of the so called Kommunikationsplattformen-Gesetz (KoPl-G) and the many similarities it has to the German Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (NetzDG).

The New EU Net Neutrality Guidelines: BEREC Responds to Criticism

The Open Internet Regulation 2015/2120 forms the legal basis for the net neutrality protections that are in effect in the EU. The Regulation foresaw that the net neutrality rules would be evaluated by 30 April 2019, roughly three and a half years after the Regulation came into effect, and while the European Commission has decided not to amend the regulation, the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) has decided to update their implementation guidelines for national regulators.

Help us survive the year!

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This February we have celebrated our 10 year anniversary as an association. At the time, we enjoyed our little office party and we had no idea about what we would soon be faced with: the Corona crisis, for which we outlined implications and recommendations for digital rights right away. Not only did the Corona crisis increase our workload immensely, but it also complicated our work due to political circumstances.

Austria's Biggest Data Privacy Scandal: Private Residential Addresses Made Public

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Nobody took data protection into account for the so-called “Supplementary Register for Other Concerned Parties” (Ergänzungsregister für sonstige Betroffene). The Ministry for the Economy and the Finance Ministry are responsible for a data breach to which the Austrian Economic Chambers were an accomplice.

Analysis of the "Stopp Corona" App: Improvements through expert report

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Experts from epicenter.works, noyb.eu and SBA Research evaluated the Austrian Red Cross' "Stopp Corona" app for data security and privacy. No critical security gaps were found, but some potential for improvement in data protection implementation was identified. 

Many recommended improvements have already been implemented by the Austrian Red Cross. Within the existing system, some of these have already been implemented, others require long-term changes - including by Apple and Google.

Digital Rights Implications of the COVID-19 Crisis

This is the start of a pandemic. The new challenges facing our society are enormous and we can only overcome them by working together. We all have to stick together and contribute towards shared solutions. At the moment, the most important thing we can do is follow the recommendations of the health authorities and the scientific community, especially when our own behaviour can help relieve the crisis. Nonetheless, we are convinced that we must make a contribution as a digital rights policy organisation.