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Platform Regulation and Hate Speech – DSA vs. Austrian Communications Platforms Act

Online platforms remain tricky terrain. How should we treat this quasi-public space, where anyone who has the necessary reach can speak to and mobilise thousands in the blink of an eye? To achieve something comparable in the analogue era, you needed a broadcast licence, and these licences were subject to certain rules for a reason. Now, anyone can be a sender and a receiver, and this raises new challenges.

eIDAS 2.0 – Unprecedented Risk for Privacy

On 6. December 2022 the Council of the European Union will adopt its General Approach to the reform of the eIDAS regulation. Epicenter.works has obtained the text and issues a strong warning about the unprecedented risk and shortcomings of the new electronic identity system of the EU. The member-states-version of this important reform creates a dangerous and uncontrolled environment for the sensitive health, financial and identity data of all Europeans.

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Network fee: the new attack on the open Internet

A major attack on net neutrality is currently underway at the EU level using the slogan "Fair Share". Under this term, the telecommunications industry wants to massively increase its profits. Major telecom companies are demanding that in the future online content providers should pay for their services to be accessed on the network of telecom providers. This would mean paying twice for the same data, since we all already pay money for our Internet connections and, according to net neutrality, also have the right to access any data from anywhere in the world.

Chat Control – A Good Day for Privacy

Today is a good day for the open internet and our privacy. The Austrian parliament voted in its EU committee to adopt a resolution that – given the Austrian constitution – has a binding effect on the position of the Austrian government not to agree to the proposal for the controversial child sexual abuse regulation (dubbed “chat control”), if it is not brought in line with fundamental rights.

Analysis of 5th eIDAS compromise from Czech Council Presidency

Summary

The trend of the Czech Presidency that first became apparent with the third compromise text continues. Industry interests are ranked above fundamental rights concerns of citizens. We see a further eroding of safeguards previously introduced by the Commission and French Presidency. This will make trilogue more difficult, as we observe the opposite trend in the ongoing negotiations of the lead ITRE committee where data protection safeguards have been strengthened in the last compromise texts by the rapporteur.

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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.