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Newsletters 13 October 2016

EU Issues Overview – 1 October – 7 October 2016

Internet Access

EU: Uneven development of online public services in Europe

  • The EU eGovernment Report 2016 published on 3 October shows 81 per cent of online public services in Europe are accessible online. Countries such as France, Germany and the Scandinavian bloc are taking the lead while Italy, the UK and Poland are lagging behind.
  • The report concluded that, overall, e-governance is still not transparent enough and cross border mobility needs further improvement – which could impair the development of the digital single market.
  • The European Commission eGovernment Action Plan for 2016-2020, launched in April 2016, aimed to address such challenges by building upon the principles of digital-by-default, cross-border by default, once-only principle, inclusive by default; privacy and data protection; openness and transparency by default.

France: The state of deployment of Protocol IPv6

  • A report by the Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes (ARCEP) on the state of deployment of Protocol IPv6 in France, revealed that IPv6 deployment re: Internet Access Providers in France is lagging compared to other countries in and out of Europe. E.g Spain 0,1%; Italy 0,3%; UK 9,5 %; France 11%; USA 25%; Germany 24% and Belgium 42%.
  • The report addresses technical considerations relating to the transition towards IPv6 in France, detailing the costs and risks linked to a potential delay in the transition and calls for the Government to help speed up the transition.

UK: London leads UK 4G coverage

  • The State of the Mobile Network report undertaken by OpenSignal and consumer organisation Which? found that mobile users in London are able to access 4G nearly 70 per cent of the time, while in Wales users can do so only 35 per cent of the time.
  • The regulator Ofcom has received complaints concerning mobile coverage in the UK; in response it is compiling a crowd-sourced coverage map and contacting the UK’s 20 million Android users to help in the process by downloading an application that automatically measures signal strength and data speeds.


UK: TalkTalk fined record amount for theft of customer details

  • TalkTalk has been fined over €455,000 for failing to implement the most basic cyber security measures, resulting in the theft of personal data of nearly 157,000 customers. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) declared security measures in place were so poor it allowed the attack to be carried out “with ease”. The fine was the largest imposed by the ICO which currently can impose fines of up to approximately €560,000.
  • The ICO opined TalkTalk should have done more to safeguard its customer information. Database software was out of date, which enabled the hackers to access customer details by attacking three vulnerable web pages using a hacking technique called SQL injection.

Ireland: Data protection authority to scrutinise Yahoo’s use of clients’ email accounts

  • The Irish data protection authority said it will undertake enquiries into whether Yahoo helped the US National Security Agency by complying with its demand to search for customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by US intelligence officials.
  • Politicians have called for the European Commission to investigate the issue and legal commentators believe a legal challenge to the new transatlantic data sharing agreement was likely to occur in Europe.
  • Yahoo has disputed the report and has accused the original Reuters article of being “misleading” and declared the “mail scanning described in the article does not exist” in their systems.

EU-US: Commission agrees with Kerry’s push for ratification of EU-U.S. umbrella agreement on law enforcement sharing data

  • US Secretary of State John Kerry urged MEPs in the European Parliament to vote in favour of the proposed EU-US Umbrella agreement on the protection of personal information relating to the prevention, investigation, detection, and prosecution of criminal offenses, during a speech in Brussels on 4 October.
  • A European Commission spokesman supported Mr Kerry’s comments, whereas the Parliament questioned the legal status, the agreement will replace an important data protection regulation protecting EU citizens’ privacy rights.
  • The Parliament’s legal service published a highly critical report on the issue earlier this year.

EU: Commission publishes Free Flow of Data and e-privacy roadmaps

  • The European Commission published Inception Impact Assessments (IIA) on Free Flow of Data (FFoD) and e-privacy on 5 October.
  • The FFoD IIA addresses the growth potential of the EU economy, including IoT, Cloud, and medical research, concluding that EU-level action is needed to remove barriers, provide coherence and legal-certainty to enable cross-border data transfers.
  • The forthcoming Free Flow of Data (FFoD) initiative is scheduled for adoption in November 2016. It will consist of a Legislative Proposal with measures to remove unjustified barriers to the FFoD, and a Communication detailing how to generate a positive, enabling environment that aids further development of the FFoD in future.
  • The e-Privacy IIA outlines how the Commission aims to enhance trust and security in EU digital services – by providing a high level of protection for citizens and a level playing field for all market players; at present, services provided by OTT suppliers do not come under the scope of the Directive and the Commission is considering how best to address the situation.
  • The roadmap identifies potential financial costs of complying with new measures and loss of current economic opportunities; considers strengthening the role of national regulators; suggests removing outdated regulation and measures covered elsewhere (such as the GDPR).
  • The Staff Working Document and legislative proposal on e-Privacy are scheduled for December 2016.


EU: Amazon to settle antitrust e-book investigation

  • Amazon is in discussion with EU antitrust regulators to settle the ongoing investigation into its e-book contracts with publishers preventing them from dealing freely with rival e-book platforms.
  • This decision comes in the wake of Amazon’s case in Luxembourg, where it is under scrutiny over its tax arrangements which could result in the back payment of millions of euros.
  • According to EU settlement rules, Amazon would not be subject to punishment if it offers concessions to calm regulatory concerns.
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