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BVT: a lot of power, no trust and too little control

Despite being one of Austria's most powerful institutions, the Federal Agency for State Protection and Counterterrorism (abbreviated BVT in German) does not enjoy a good reputation. Numerous past incidents have branded the BVT and damaged its international standing. Among foreign intelligence services, Austria is considered a "security gap." An audit report by the "Club de Berne", which includes directors of all domestic intelligence services of the EU member states, Norway and Switzerland, identifies severe deficiencies.

Telecom reform in Austria: consumers must benefit from Router Freedom

Austria is reforming its telecommunications law to incorporate the new European directives on electronic communications. The Austrian government has now an unique opportunity to leverage router freedom at the legislative level to protect consumers and the market.

EU Parliament adopts the Covid Pass: risks for data protection and new forms of discrimination

On April 28, 2021, the European Parliament adopted its position on the Covid Pass (the "Digital Green Certificate" or "Green Passport"). The legislative proposal has been designed to make travel within the EU possible again. The proposal aims to provide EU countries with a common framework which would allow certificates detailing test results, recovered Covid infections or vaccinations to be issued and verified.

FLoC: Google's new means of following you across the web

If you browse the web without an ad blocker, you will have noticed that the ads you see tend to follow you around. Have you been looking around for a new pair of shoes? Be prepared to see more ads for shoes on completely unrelated websites. This advertising technique is called "behavioural retargeting" and is built on recording your web history in a central place, then using that information to select ads that advertisers expect you are more likely to react to.

A long way to a transparent state

The review period for the Freedom of Information Act ended on 19 April 2021. Austria is the only country in the EU where official secrecy is still regulated at constitutional level. This has made it difficult for citizens to obtain information about government action or the use of tax revenue. The Turquoise-Green government recently presented a draft law under which all citizens shall have access to information of general interest. Official secrecy will be cut from the constitution.

Why the electronic green vaccination certificate creates new problems instead of solving them

We have been warning about an electronic immunity certificate and the severe consequences such a system would have on society since May 2020. In a cloak-and-dagger operation the legal basis was created last week. Today we publish internal slides on the project, which unfortunately confirm our fears regarding its scope. Before it’s too late, we want to initiate the public debate which politics has avoided so far.

How Austria wants to implement upload filters and ancillary copyright

It was a dark day for internet freedom and Europe’s role in global internet policy, when the controversial Copyright Directive was passed in the EU Parliament in 2019. While we still hope to overthrow this directive before the ECJ, we also see it as our task to ensure that the Austrian implementation turns out as Fundamental rights-friendly as possible.

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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.