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European Parliament Net Neutrality Proposal Moving Forward

Officials and politicians have wrestled for several years with the question of net neutrality: should Europe lay down in law a basic principle of non-discrimination of traffic on the internet, or would – as European telecoms operators have argued for years – such measures burden Europe’s telecoms industry with new unwelcome regulation? This month, the European Parliament’s Industry Committee is set to vote on an important and controversial piece of legislation which will introduce an EU-wide net neutrality rule for the first time ever. The Committee’s vote precedes final adoption by the Parliament in April. Next, EU Member States will review and amend the proposal, meaning that the legislative process has a long way to go.

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EU Copyright Reform: Europe Needs Flexible Rules that Enable Innovation

We highlight the need for a copyright system that enables innovation in web-based services and new ways for users and consumers to engage with copyrighted content – while enabling content creators to be fairly compensated. This requires a flexible approach to limitations and exceptions to copyright. Flexibility facilitates criticism, teaching and creative re-uses of works, but it does more than that. It is crucial to technological innovation and the success of new Internet services across Europe.

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International Data Protection Day: Reding hits the right notes on EU data protection and surveillance

Yesterday, on Data Protection Day, European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding took the opportunity to deliver a keynote speech in Brussels setting out a set of priorities to govern European data protection policy going forward. I was pleased to represent CDT on the panel following her remarks, alongside Claude Moraes, the Member of Parliament responsible for the Civil Liberties Committee’s electronic surveillance inquiry, and Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor.

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Copyright Week: Fair Use and Innovation

Today is all about fair use. Given its role in remix, mashups, parody, and lots of what’s funny on the Internet, fair use is always a favorite topic. It’s also famously hard to pin down, so it makes for some of the most interesting debates on copyright. But beyond its role in allowing space for free expression, criticism, and the creation of new works that build on others, fair use plays a critical role in driving technological innovation.

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Court Strikes Down Open Internet Rules: What Now?

A federal appeals court sent the FCC back to the drawing board on Internet neutrality today, striking down the agency’s Open Internet Rules. The decision is a real loss for US Internet users; the rules offered an important safeguard for keeping the Internet the remarkable engine for free expression, creativity, and innovation that it is. The upside, though, is that the decision also suggests that the thing really tying the FCC’s hands in this area is neither the Communications Act nor the Constitution, but rather the FCC’s own prior decisions regarding how to classify Internet access service. Far from putting Internet access services and Internet neutrality entirely outside the FCC’s purview, the decision effectively puts the ball back in the FCC’s court.

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Transparency: the first step towards government surveillance reform – in the US, Europe and beyond

The drama surrounding the Snowden revelations helped shine light on a fundamental challenge for both companies and citizens: governments worldwide are accessing more and more personal data through the private sector. Counter-terrorism and national security is an important part of this picture, but it goes broader than that. Governments access, collect and store data for law enforcement, social security, health care, transportation, and lots of administrative purposes – and they do so on a larger and larger scale. Increasingly, authorities’ access to this data is automated, or systematic, indiscriminate, and often requires no human involvement. The laws that authorize access are opaque or secret, national parliaments conduct limited oversight, and judicial review is often lacking.

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Progress Made Revising EU Data Privacy Laws

For the past few years, European policymaking institutions have been working to revise the European Union’s data privacy laws. Last month that effort took a significant step forward as the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee of the European Parliament voted on and passed new legislative text on a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Developing consensus text was by itself a Herculean task, as various and diverse members and committees had proposed thousands of amendments. The bill still has a number of hurdles to clear before it becomes law, but this vote was an important (and positive) step.

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IGF Discussion Preview: A Internet Neutrality Model Framework

Among the meetings on CDT’s agenda this week at the Internet Governance Forum in Bali is the first meeting of the Dynamic Coalition on Net Neutrality. CDT is a member of the Dynamic Coalition, and we contributed a position paper to the group’s first annual report, laying out the human-rights arguments for preserving the neutrality of the Internet by law. The report is being published in connection with the inaugural meeting of the group on October 25.

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