Newsletters 20 May 2019

European Regional Bureau Newsletter – 11 May – 17 May 2019

Internet Access

Global: China pushes for ‘Internet sovereignty’ in WTO negotiations

  • This week, China circulated a proposal on the reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the organization to play a bigger role in global economic governance, including on Internet sovereignty, data security and privacy protection.
  • According to China, new rules for WTO should “respect members’ right to regulate and accommodate specific concerns of developing members” and should also “strike the balance among technological advances, business development and such legitimate public policy objectives as Internet sovereignty, data security and privacy protection”.
  • China also called on the development of international rules that harmonise the recognition of electronic signatures and online consumer protection.

 EU: Commission selects a new wave of 5G projects to accelerate deployment

  • The European Commission has this week selected seven research and innovation projects for large-scale 5G trials that will receive a total of €100 million of EU funding.
  • The projects, which are expected to be launched in June 2019, cover a broad range of vertical industrial sectors and have been selected in the context of the 5G Public-Private Partnership (5G-PPP) programme which is co-lead by the European Commission and industry. The sectors which have received the funding range from smart manufacturing, to healthcare or aviation.

EU: Commission plans to harmonise the last pioneer 5G frequency band

  • The European Commission adopted earlier this week a decision to harmonise the 26 GHz frequency band for wireless networks, taking a step towards the deployment of 5G across the EU.
  • The harmonisation of radio spectrum waves are the basis for cross-border wireless communication services and sets common technical conditions for use of these bands.
  • The harmonisation of the 26GHz band is expected to help the roll out innovative services such as high-definition video communication, as well as virtual and augmented reality.
  • The harmonisation of the band across Europe must be completed by all Member States by March 2020, and the effective use of it will happen by the end of 2020 the latest.


Global: Big tech giants join forces against extremist content

  • Earlier this week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron hosted an international summit in Paris where world leaders called on tech giants to take action to tackle violent and terrorist content online.
  • The summit comes in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attack earlier this year where the perpetrator managed to disseminate live-coverage of his attack thanks to a Facebook’s live feed function.
  • The leaders shared the ‘Christchurch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online’.
  • Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft published a joint statement following the summit where the US companies committed to take further action to tackle violent and terrorist content online, outlining five actions that include updating terms of use, establishing solid user reporting of terrorist content, enhanced detection technology, extra checks for livestreaming and the publishing of regular reports on the topic.
  • In the companies’ view, “terrorism and violent extremism are complex societal problems that require an all-of-society response. For our part, the commitments we are making today will further strengthen the partnership that Governments, society and the technology industry must have to address this threat”.

 EU: Final step for the Copyright Directive

  • The Copyright Directive was published in the EU’s Official Journal earlier this week after EU ministers had finally approved it in mid-April.
  • The directive will now enter into force in 20 days, and Member States have until June 2021 to transpose it into their national law.
  • Under the new rules, large platforms like Google must negotiate bilateral licensing agreements with right holders (record companies, collecting societies and media companies) in order to publish their content on YouTube and Google News. They will also need to monitor the content published on their platforms to make sure that it is not copyright-infringing.
  • Some Member States have already started paving the way. This is the case for France, which has created the “Press publishers right”.

 EU: ENISA publishes a guide for cybersecurity SMEs and start-ups

  • The EU’s cybersecurity agency, ENISA, published earlier this week a set of development recommendations for start-ups, SMEs, and entrepreneurs active or interested in entering the cybersecurity market.
  • After assessing the recommendations given by key experts such as venture capitals, incubators or start-up founders, the Agency has identified a number of challenges and opportunities that cybersecurity companies might face in their early stages of development.
  • Among the recommendations, ENISA identifies the need to clearly define the product being offered; the importance of investing in a solid compliance scheme; and take advantage of already existing structures and clusters in the EU level that are specialised in cybersecurity.

 EU: 10 steps to protect human rights in the deployment of Artificial Intelligence

  • The Council of Europe released earlier this week a set of 10 recommendations aimed at strengthening human rights through the deployment of artificial intelligence, rather than them being undermined.
  • The recommendations, which are particularly designed for national authorities and are based on the existing international human rights system. The report suggests that Member States should establish a legal framework that sets out a procedure for public authorities to carry out human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) on AI systems acquired, developed and/or deployed by authorities.
  • It also argues that the use of an AI system in any decision-making process that has a meaningful impact on a person’s human rights needs to be identifiable. The use of an AI system must not only be made public in clear and accessible terms, individuals must also be able to understand how decisions are reached and how those decisions have been verified.
  • As well as the recommendations, the report also includes a checklist of “dos” and “don’ts” in order to make the guidance easier for public authorities to action.

EU: Data protection – A prerequisite for free and democratic elections, EU supervisor says

  • The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), issued a press release this week underlining the need to put  data protection at the heart of the European elections next week.
  • The EPDS argues that ensuring data protection in relation to the elections is essential for maintaining trust democracy has become more important than ever in this digital age. The article notes the importance of both safeguarding the privacy of voting choices and defending public discourse from online manipulation.

The EDPS, alongside national authorities, is responsible for ensuring compliance with EU data protection rules. According to Giovanni Buttarelli, “The task of ensuring safe and secure elections is complex and cannot be tackled by one arm of regulation along, this must be a concerted effort”.

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