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Net Neutrality vs. 5G: What to expect from the upcoming reform in the EU?

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Since 2016 the principle of net neutrality is protected in the European Union. Half a billion people benefit from the protection against network discrimination by telecom companies. Net neutrality is a founding principle of the internet and one of the most essential digital rights. It ensures the protection of the right to freedom of speech, the right to assembly, the right to conduct business and the freedom to innovate on the internet. These protections came about in no small part due to the work of civil society.

Civil society urges Portuguese telecom regulator to uphold net neutrality

13 civil society organisations have submitted a complaint to the Portuguese regulator on one of the most extreme net neutrality violations in Europe, urging them to use their authority to prohibit so-called zero-rating offers.

EU Copyright Reform: Upload Filters Endanger Our Democracy

CC BY 4.0 Werner Reiter

All across Europe, nearly everyone seems to agree that the European copyright regulations need to be updated and brought into the 21st century. However, some of the proposed measures appear to be flashbacks to darker times in our past or the methods of authoritarian dictatorships. This is especially true for the upload filters in Article 13 of the European Commission's proposal. Obliging platforms to screen every bit of content that is uploaded for possible copyright violations requires a censorship system that would endanger the free and open internet and with it our democracy itself. The human rights NGO epicenter.works illustrated what this would mean in an activist intervention as part of the PrivacyWeek 2017: The Internet party takes place without any of its users, since upload filters deny us the free and open access to internet services. On 21 November 2017, the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) will consider the European copyright reform. epicenter.works calls upon all members of the committee to take a strong stance against upload filters and not to endanger our democracy by introducing a censorship system.

Net Neutrality: BEREC misses opportunity to lead the way

In November 2015, the European Union adopted the Net Neutrality Regulation (2015/2120), which contained a number of compromises that needed clarification. The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) was given the task of developing implementation guidelines to ensure a consistent application of the Regulation throughout Europe and, in practice, settle the remaining ambiguities of the adopted Regulation. After a public consultation to which almost half a million citizens responded and demanded strong net neutrality, BEREC adopted the guidelines in August 2016.

Proposed surveillance package in Austria sparks resistance

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The Austrian coalition parties have renegotiated their government programme in January 2017. This new programme contains a so-called “security package” that encompasses the introduction of several new surveillance measures and additional powers for the Austrian security agencies. These changes in the law are to be implemented by June 2017.

Net neutrality violations ceased after AKVorrat intervention – data volumes increased up to 17-fold

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On 5 October, AKVorrat filed a complaint against mobile operator Hutchison Drei based on Drei's violations of net neutrality principles. Now the operator has given in and stopped the offending practice. At the same time, Drei has more than quadrupled data volumes included in its data plans, and in some cases has even increased them 17-fold. This shows that net neutrality is beneficial to service operators as well as customers, even though the telecoms industry would rather ignore the new net neutrality provisions in EU law.

Throttling prohibited: AKVorrat files first complaint for infringement of net neutrality

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New EU rules regarding net neutrality are being brought to use the first time by AKVorrat. By filing a complaint with the telecom regulator RTR the Austrian NGO has documented, representing several users, illegal discrimination of Internet services by the mobile provider Hutchison Drei in Austria.