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EU Legislation

European Parliament passes controversial Copyright Directive

By | EU Legislation, Europe, News

The European parliament has voted in favour of controversial proposals to reform online copyright. The two most controversial articles in the proposed copyright directive, article 11 and article 13, had been amended after being rejected by MEPs when they voted on the draft legislation in July.

Article 11, which has been dubbed the “link tax” by critics, would require news aggregation and search sites such as Google to pay publishers for showing news snippets or linking to news stories on other sites. Article 11 has now been amended to allow links to contain individual words from the linked to publishers’ content in a bid to address criticism that it would criminalise the use of hyperlinks.

Article 13 would require companies to automatically filter copyrighted material uploaded on their platforms, unless it has been specifically licensed. The amended proposals have reduced the scope of article 13 to platforms that both host “significant” amounts of content and also “promote” that content, and an exemption is made for small businesses.

A large number of musicians, including Paul McCartney, backed the proposals in article 13 arguing that they would ensure artists were appropriately compensated for their work. However, an open letter signed by 70 technology leaders, including Tim Berners-Lee, warned that the proposals were an “imminent threat” to the future of the internet as we know it, and could effectively ban things like memes and remixes which use some copyrighted material.

While recorded entertainment industries welcomed the vote,  critics say that the two articles have only been subject to cosmetic changes, which have done nothing to mitigate their concerns.

The legislation will now be subject to trialogue negotiations with the European commission and Member States through the European Council. It will then return for a final vote in the European parliament in January.

UK Government launches consultation on implementing NIS Directive

By | EU Legislation, News, Security

The UK Government has launched a consultation on its plans to implement the Security of Network and Information Systems Directive (“NIS Directive”). The NIS Directive was adopted by the European Parliament on 6 July 2016 and Member States have until 9 May 2018 to transpose the Directive into domestic legislation. The Government has emphasised that it supports the overall aim of the NIS Directive and that its intention is that this legislation will continue to apply in the UK even after the UK has left the EU.

The NIS Directive imposes obligations on two groups of businesses: “operators of essential services” and digital service providers. However, it does not affect network providers as they are already subject to similar obligations in the UK under Section 105 of the Communications Act 2003.

Under the Directive, operators of essential services including those in the energy, transport, water, healthcare and digital infrastructure sectors will have to take “appropriate and proportionate” security measures to manage the risks to their network and information systems. Operators of essential services will also be required to notify serious incidents to the relevant authority.

Key digital service providers (search engines, cloud computing services and online marketplaces) will also have to comply with the security and incident notification requirements established under the Directive.

Organisations who fall in scope of the Directive will be required to develop a strategy and policies to understand and manage their risk; to implement security measures to prevent attacks or system failures, including measures to detect attacks, develop security monitoring, and to raise staff awareness and training; to report incidents as soon as they happen; and to have systems in place to ensure that they can recover quickly after an event, with the capability to respond and restore systems. The Government has stated that “any operator who takes cyber security seriously should already have such measures in place.”

Organisations who fail to implement effective security measures could be fined as much as £17 million or 4 per cent of global turnover. The Government has said, however, that fines would be a last resort, and will not apply to operators that have “assessed the risks adequately, taken appropriate security measures, and engaged with competent authorities but still suffered an attack.”

The NIS Directive relates to loss of service rather than loss of data, which falls under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

The consultation closes on 30 September 2017.

For more information, see: Consultation on the Security of Network and Information Systems Directive

EU to spend €120m to extend free Wifi across Union

By | EU Legislation, Europe, News
The EU has announced it will spend €120 million to extend Wifi across 6,000 to 8,000 municipalities, bringing Wifi to “every European village and every city” with free Wifi by 2020. 

The scheme, dubbed WiFi4EU, is described by the European Commission as having the aim to “increase accessibility to high-performance mobile internet, and to raise awareness of the benefits of such connectivity.”

The action falls under the framework of the digital single market and the desire to make customers’ experience across the EU the same.

You can find more information about the initiative here.

EU to impose national quotas on streaming services

By | EU Legislation, Europe, News
The EU is to impose national quotas on streaming services.

The EU is currently considering imposing a quota on streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, to feature a minimum quantity of European works in their catalogues. The European Parliament has proposed a requirement of 30%, an increase on the European Commission’s proposal of 20%. The quota will be implemented as an amendment to the Audiovisual Media Services directive, which will likely be extended to include social media and any streaming on-demand service.

Colin Bortner, director of public policy for Netflix, argues that the quotas will result in lower quality work. One unnamed diplomat who opposed the measure said that there is a risk the directive will drift away from its original purpose and will move to policing “any moving picture on any screen”.

The quota is currently going through the ordinary legislative procedure, in which the Council of Ministers will also decide its own view, prior to the final outcome being negotiated between the three institutions in a process known as “trialogue”.