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 to 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.
Lit-up facade of the Museum of Modern Art in Graz, Austria collects money for privacy
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, to settle the remaining ambiguities of the adopted Regulation.
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.
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.
New EU rules regarding net neutrality are being brought to use for the first time by AKVorrat. By filing a complaint with the telecom regulator RTR the Austrian NGO, which is representing several users, has documented illegal discrimination of Internet services by the mobile provider Hutchison Drei in Austria.
This summer, the EU established strong net neutrality protections for its citizens. After three years of fierce negotiations a broad coalition of activists, journalists, media associations, academics, librarians and startups brought about the enshrinement in law of the principles that make the Internet the free ecosystem of innovative ideas we know today. After the United States of America, Canada, Brazil, India and now the European Union have established similar laws to protect the Internet’s openness, we may be witnessing a global trend.
New net neutrality guidelines from the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) confirm strong protection for net neutrality, and for the free and open internet in the European Union.
Tomorrow telecom regulators from all over the EU will gather in Brussels for a uniquely challenging task: analysing over half a million responses to their consultation on net neutrality.