EU Tech Policy Brief: August 2019 Recap

Written by Jens-Henrik Jeppesen

This is the August 2019 recap issue of CDT’s monthly EU Tech Policy Brief. It highlights some of the most pressing technology and internet policy issues under debate in Europe, the U.S., and internationally, and gives CDT’s perspective on them.

CDT publishes principles for future European intermediary liability policy

The European Commission is understood to be preparing policy options for the incoming College of Commissioners, possibly in the form of a Digital Services Act, which will among other things amend the intermediary liability provisions of the 2000 E-Commerce Directive. This month, CDT published recommendations for this upcoming EU legislative reform on intermediary liability. Any new policy should aim to protect and promote online free expression, innovation, and entrepreneurship. New initiatives should also be based on solid evidence and targeted at well-defined public interest concerns. Obligations to moderate online content should only be placed on content hosts that have direct relationships with uploaders, and ability to make decisions on discrete pieces of content. 

CDT hosts panel on intermediary liability at CCCamp in Berlin

On 24 August, CDT hosted a panel on the future of Intermediary liability at CCCamp, an international event organised by the Chaos Computer Club for digital policy advocates and hackers. The panel included MEP and VP of the European Parliament Marcel Kolaja (Cz/Greens), Vice President of the European Parliament, Martin Husovec, Assistant Professor at Tilburg University, and representatives of European Digital Rights (EDRi) and CDT. Panelists reviewed and discussed the recommendations CDT recently put forward on intermediary liability reform, and policymakers, academics,  civil society, and the hacker community provided feedback.

CDT responds to UK CMA consultation on online platforms and digital advertising 

At the end of July, CDT submitted comments to a study on online platforms and digital advertising markets, conducted by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The study is organised around three broad themes: (1) market power of online platforms in consumer-facing markets; (2) consumer controls over data collection practices; and (3) competition in the supply of digital advertising. In our comments, we highlighted important questions the study should seek answers to, on advertising pricing, transparency and success metrics available to advertisers, and the importance consumers ascribe to different types of data portability.  

DSM Copyright Directive: Polish government’s CJEU challenge to Article 17 is published

In May, the Polish Government launched a challenge to the validity of Article 17 of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Details about this challenge have now been made available. Article 17 requires content hosts to use preventive control mechanisms, or upload filters, for  content that users attempt to post to their websites. The Polish Government alleges that this practice would “undermine the essence of the right to freedom of expression and information”, as guaranteed by Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and “do[es] not comply with the requirement that limitations imposed on that right be proportional and necessary”. Third parties like the other Member States, the European Commission, and the other EU bodies, offices, and agencies can apply to intervene until early October.

DSM Copyright Directive: European Commission calls for a Stakeholder Group on Article 17

The European Commission published a call for a stakeholder dialogue on implementation of Article 17 of the DSM Copyright Directive. The objective is to discuss best practices for cooperation between online content-sharing service providers and rightholders, as set out in this article. The Commission invited relevant representative organisations of stakeholders — in particular, EU-level representatives of rightholders, of online content-sharing service providers, and consumers, users, and fundamental rights organisations — to participate in the stakeholder dialogue. The deadline for application is 18 September 2019. CDT aims to participate in this Stakeholder Group. 

Five Eyes meeting addresses encryption – again 

Security and Home Affairs Ministers from the ‘Five Eyes’ nations had encryption on their agenda at a recent meeting in London. According to media reports, UK officials stated that law enforcement and security services need ‘lawful and exceptional access to the information they need’. What exactly that entails does not appear from available statements. However, it seems likely that ministers have in mind the so-called ‘Ghost Protocol’ idea, initially proposed by the UK GCHQ. Ministers’ concerns about access to information critical to fighting serious crime are real, but undermining encryption in online communications is not the right answer. CDT and others responded to the GCHQ proposal and explained why it would be detrimental to online security and confidentiality. The debate about encryption and law enforcement has been going on for a long time. CDT has cautioned consistently – and will continue to do so – against any attempt to create ‘backdoors’ or otherwise interfere with the development and use of encryption technology.

RIP Giovanni Buttarelli, European Data Protection Supervisor

It was with deep sorrow and regret that we at CDT received the sad news that Giovanni Buttarelli, European Data Protection Supervisor, passed away on 21 August. The global privacy community lost a leader and visionary, a true gentleman and a consummate professional. A towering figure in the field, Giovanni’s achievements are too many to mention, and his legacy is sure to last long into the future. Joining colleagues and friends from across the world, CDT Board Member Peter Hustinx paid tribute in a post. Giovanni will be sorely missed.

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