On 11 July 2017, Ofcom announced that it would be auctioning (i) 40 MHz of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band; and (ii) 150 MHz of spectrum in the 3.4 GHz band in the UK in late 2017. Ofcom has decided to impose spectrum caps to, in Ofcom’s words, ‘safeguard competition‘. It remains to be seen whether any of the market participants challenge Ofcom’s decision on spectrum caps. Ofcom also published an Information Memorandum for prospective bidders and issued a consultation on the auction regulations. The consultation closes on 14 August 2017. Whilst the 2.3 GHz spectrum can be used for current LTE (4G) services, the 3.4 Ghz spectrum is expected to support faster next generation mobile (5G) services. Continue Reading UK to auction 2.3 and 3.4 GHz spectrum in 2017
In a judgment delivered on 14 June 2017, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decided that making available a online sharing platform falls within the concept of “communication to the public” for the purposes of copyright law, and can therefore amount to infringement of copyright in protected works which are shared via that platform. This decision bolsters the ability of copyright owners to pursue the operators of such platforms, and to obtain relief against intermediaries (in particular ISPs) forcing them to block their users from accessing such platforms.
The immediate practical consequence of the CJEU’s decision is that the national courts are entitled to grant blocking injunctions against ISPs in order to block users from accessing TPB. This is plainly a positive outcome from the point of view of copyright holders, giving them stronger rights to restrict unauthorised distribution of their protected works. The generally pro-rightsholder approach of the CJEU in this case mirrors the recent efforts of the English courts to modernise its remedies in order to secure adequate protection against infringing activities, as reported in a previous blog post.
A revised data protection law forms part of the new government’s legislative agenda for the UK. Key points in the Queen’s Speech on 21 June 2017 were that a new UK Data Protection Bill (the Bill) will replace the current Data Protection Act 1998; the new Bill will implement the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the UK (a fact that the party manifestos were silent on before the election); and the government intends to put the UK in the best position to maintain data sharing across the EU and internationally. These points remained unchallenged in the subsequent parliamentary debates, and the government’s express intention to implement the GDPR through national law in the UK was welcomed by many businesses. Continue Reading Proposal for a new UK Data Protection law
On June 8, 2017, The European Council adopted the Regulation on cross-border portability of online content services. The regulation will allow consumers who have paid for online content services in their home country to access those services when visiting another country within the EU. Alongside the ‘Roam like at home’ rules which came into force yesterday, the regulation forms part of the European Digital Single market strategy. The regulation will come into effect in the first quarter of 2018. Continue Reading ‘Watch like at home?’: Europe adopts online content portability rules
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.