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This Was 2021: Transparency Report Published

With the publication of our annual transparency report we briefly revisit the year 2021. The second year of the pandemic was again very inspiring, busy and exciting for the team here at epicenter.works.

Although the team spent most of the year working from home, we never lost our sense of community thanks to our good internal infrastructure. We met for the occasional team afternoon at the office or out of doors for small celebrations of our successes.

The victories

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Who is Really Protected by the Proposed New Whistleblower Act?

Whistleblowers have an important corrective function in a democratic society because they expose misconduct like corruption, abuses of power and white-collar crimes. They frequently incur high personal risks. Threats directed against them or even family members are however just the tip of the iceberg – dismissals and other consequences that jeopardise their livelihoods are largely the rule in this unequal fight for truth, legality and justice. The cases of Edward Snowden, Frances Haugen, Julian Assange are current examples.

The European Commission threatens to undermine the core values of the free and open internet

On 8 June, 34 civil society organisations from 17 countries published a joint statement to raise their concerns with Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s and Commissioner Thierry  Breton’s public statement to alter the regulatory framework underpinning the free and open internet.

Chat Contol: European Commission launches direct attack on privacy

Petra Schmidt

In a press conference held today, the European Commission has initiated the end of privacy and confidentiality of communications on the internet in Europe. The proposed new legislation would require hosting and messenger providers to search the content of their users for potentially illegal content using error-prone upload filters.

Open letter for the right to install any software on any device

The European Union is about to redefine the ecodesign criteria for products in several legislative proposals, including the Sustainable Product Initiative, the Circular Electronics Initiative, and the Right to Repair. These proposals aim at extending the usage time of hardware and facilitating circular use of electronic devices. The current regulations stem from 2009 and do not include any criteria regarding the design and licensing of software as an important factor for the sustainability of electronic products.

Effects of the War in Ukraine on the Open Internet

As internet activists who work to promote a free and open internet, we are watching the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and the reactions around the world very closely. A free and open internet essentially allows a global exchange between all people, regardless of national borders, ideologies, social position or education. This direct cultural exchange fosters peace, but is undermined by a trend towards isolation that can be observed in China for instance. In Russia, freedom of the press and freedom of opinion have also deteriorated for many years.

Orwell’s Wallet: European electronic identity system leads us straight into surveillance capitalism

Pixabay

In June 2021 the European Commission launched a reform of the 2014 eIDAS Regulation to overhaul Europe’s framework for electronic identity (eID) systems. This ambitious reform tries to create a counterbalance to the widespread login systems of Google, Facebook and Apple, as well as to provide widely-adopted eID systems for eGovernment and eCommerce applications to the population.

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Closing the Loopholes in EU's Net Neutrality Framework

Kiwikong/pixabay

The European net neutrality rules are being reformed to fix one of the biggest loopholes in the EU‘s framework: Zero-Rating. epicenter.works together with EDRi and others has been vocal about the dangers of Zero-Rating, a practice by which telecoms companies discriminate between online services by making some data traffic more expensive than other such traffic.

CJEU in surprise judgment: zero rating is illegal under EU law

katarina_dzurekova/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Contribution by: Jesper Lund, Chairman EDRi member, IT-Political Association of Denmark

Europe’s highest court has put an end to a long-standing legal battle around the EU’s Net Neutrality Regulation. In a landmark judgement published last week, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) confirmed what EDRi and its members have argued for years: that zero rating is illegal under EU law because it violates the neutrality obligations of internet access providers.