From today, June 15 2017, European mobile subscribers will be able to ‘roam like at home’ and use their home call, text and data allowances in any other European member state at no additional cost. This is the first tangible result of Europe’s Digital Single Market strategy and results from a pro-consumer agenda consistently pursued by the European Commission since 2007 in the face of industry resistance. Continue Reading The end of intra-EU roaming charges
The European Commission’s January 2017 Communication on Building an European Data Economy (‘Communication‘) proposes a principle of free movement of data within the EU. Whilst the coming into force of the General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR‘) on 25 May 2018, significantly changes and tightens the rules relating to the collection and use of personal data in Europe, those changes need to be read alongside the Communication (and the accompanying staff working paper) to fully understand the regulatory environment for data in Europe. The Communication examines actual or potential blockages to the free movement of data and presents options to remove unjustified and or disproportionate data location restrictions in the EU. It also considers the barriers around access to and transfer of non-personal machine-generated data, data liability, as well as issues related to the portability of non-personal data, interoperability and standards. Continue Reading European data economy: the free movement of data principle and other tall tales…
Following the result of the UK general election, the upcoming Brexit negotiations, which were due to start in over a week’s time, have now been thrown into doubt. Nevertheless, businesses are still analysing the impact that Brexit will have on both existing and future commercial contracts. This has led to businesses now exploring the possibility of incorporating a “Brexit clause” when negotiating a new contract or amending an existing contract that allows parties to renegotiate terms in the event of a defined Brexit-related event (i.e. the date of the UK’s formal withdrawal from the EU). Continue Reading Back to the business of Brexit – what’s a “Brexit clause”?
On May 23, 2017, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the text of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that solicits public comment on what FCC Chairman Ajit Pai calls a plan for “Restoring Internet Freedom.” The NPRM contemplates reversing the 2015 FCC Open Internet Order that classified both fixed and mobile broadband internet access services as telecommunications services and subjected them to some of the common carrier regulations found in Title II of the Communications Act. The 2015 Order also adopted no-blocking, no-throttling, and no-paid-prioritization rules, as well as a general internet conduct standard. Continue Reading American Federal Communication Commission Publishes NPRM Geared Towards Reversing Open Internet Order
On 10 May 2017, the European Commission published its mid-term review of the implementation of Europe’s Digital Single Market strategy. Launched in 2015, the ambitious strategy covered 16 actions under the three pillars: (1) improving access to digital goods and services for consumers and businesses across Europe; (2) creating the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to flourish; and (3) maximising the growth potential of the digital economy. Despite a lot of activity, the Commission was only able to highlight one actual delivered improvement in its review – the abolition of retail roaming charges – although it looks forward to the imminent implementation of cross-border content portability in early 2018 and the expected approval of a proposal to address unjustified geo-blocking.
On 27 April 2017, the UK’s new Digital Economy Act came into force. Following the calling of a snap General Election for 8 June, it was brought into force during the final parliamentary wash-up. Whilst some proposals were withdrawn or watered down, a number of important provisions, notably reform of the UK’s electronic communications code which governs the relationship between telecoms operators and landowners, were brought into force without significant amendment.
In January 2017, the European Commission published the proposed text of a new draft e-Privacy Regulation (ePR) as part of its ongoing drive to advance one of its key initiatives, the Digital Single Market.
Whilst the impending introduction of the GDPR has been dominating headlines for the past months, the ePR has somewhat gone under the radar. We set out the key points to look out for with regard to the ePR and who it is likely to apply to.
On 8 March 2017, Mr Justice Arnold sitting in the English High Court granted in favour of The Football Association Premier League Limited (“FAPL”) the country’s first “live” blocking order, requiring internet service providers (“ISPs”) to block, in real-time, servers hosting unauthorised live streams of Premier League football matches. The landscape of technology used by infringers has evolved significantly in recent times. Infringers now often make content available directly to enabled devices rather than via a specific website. This evolution from previous forms of blocking order demonstrates how the English courts are prepared to evolve their thinking in order to track advances in the ways that people seek to infringe IP rights, and is a positive sign for rightsholders.
In 2015, the European Commission published a study (written by IDC) which provides an overview of Europe’s IoT digital ecosystem, its current status and anticipates a suggested vision of the same ecosystem in 2020. That study found:
The IoT (Internet of Things) is a pervasive innovative technology building on the universal connectivity of things and people, now moving in Europe from the pioneer phase to widespread adoption. In combination with cloud computing and Big Data the IoT is opening the new age of the hyper-connected society and acting as a powerful driver of business innovation, but also facing equally strong barriers in terms of security risks, concerns about privacy protection, and resistance to organizational change.”
On 30 March 2017, Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, published its annual plan for financial year 2017/18. It also published its budget and work programme for the year. The changes identified by Ofcom in relation to its responsibilities, markets and technology and the legislative framework under which it operates provide a great snapshot of current industry trends and issues.
Taking these in turn: