On 15 February 2017, the European Parliament voted in favour of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). This concludes the process at the EU level. The EU Member States will now have to ratify the agreement, without having a right to make changes to the text. CETA creates significant risks for citizens’ fundamental rights, especially with regard to privacy and data protection.
On 6 February 2017, the Parliamentarian in charge of the Copyright Directive for the European Parliament (EP) Committee for Culture and Education (CULT), Marc Joulaud, published his draft Opinion on the proposal for the Directive.
As EDRi described in previous blogposts the European Commission’s proposal has not fulfilled hopes for a reform that could deliver a modern, harmonised European copyright framework. The proposal has been disappointing both for not introducing the much needed changes and scary for what it proposes, namely an upload filter for all types of content and the ancillary copyright that failed in two European countries already.
On 16 February, the European Parliament voted in favour of the EU Directive on combating terrorism. In EDRI's opinion, the weak, unclear, ambiguous wording in the Directive presents dangers for the rule of law, the right to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression of people in the European Union.
Microsoft persuaded a judge not to let the U.S. government out of a lawsuit alleging the company’s free-speech rights are violated by a law that blocks it from alerting users to the clandestine interception of their e-mails.
The Spanish Supreme Court of Justice has ruled the definitive closure of the website Rojadirecta, including all their domain names, after having agreed to the complete demands from plaintiff DTS (Canal +, today Movistar +) against Puerto 80 Projects, the company that manages and exploits the site offering links to pirated contents.
The ruling maintains that Rojadirecta has violated the complainant's intellectual property rights through public communication of its broadcasts and transmissions. The court decision, which is not final since it can be appealed, also includes the right of the plaintiff to be compensated in the amount that is determined in a subsequent proceeding.
The Spanish Association of Internet users publishes and discusses the new leaked draft of the Digital Tax bill (known as Canon Digital), that would amend the Intellectual Property Law, if approved. In the opinion of the authors, the new draft doubles down in hurtful practices, abiding to the will of the industry and hurting the consumers.
The U.S. Department of State released the Federal Open Licensing Playbook, a list of considerations, use cases, and recommendations for federal departments interested in developing and implementing open license requirements on federally-funded grant projects. It is designed to assist federal efforts to maximize the impact of grant funds, and create opportunities for innovation and collaborative practices using federally-funded resources.
Each of the nine “plays” contains common features, including a checklist, key questions, and examples of use.
A US federal district court has ruled against Public.Resource.Org, forbiding their practice of providing public and open access to documents that have become law through “incorporation by reference”, meaning that they are initially created through private standards organizations and later incorporated into federal law. In the views of the EFF, the district court’s decision suggests that laws can be copyrighted and put behind paywalls as long as they were first written down by someone outside of government.
The US House of Representatives has passed the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387), that updates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to require the government to get a probable cause criminal warrant to access emails, social media posts and other online content stored by service providers in the cloud.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explains the privacy damaging business practices of Vizio: starting in 2014, Vizio made TVs automatically track what consumers were watching and transmitted that data back to its servers all of it without the consumer's constent. They also sold the consumers data, like viewing history, to advertisers and others.
In an executive order focused on illegal immigrants that was signed by president Trump this week, one section specifically noted that privacy protections would not be extended past US citizens or permanent residents in America.
In this blogpost, EDRi lists all the public consultations relevant for digital rights in 2017.
On 24 January 2017, the European Parliament Committee on International Trade voted in favour of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, despite the concerns about fundamental rights and the right to regulate. CETA is portrayed as a trade agreement, but it goes far beyond trade. It touches upon privacy and data protection, the right to access knowledge, as well as other fundamental rights.
Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte’s most recent Constitutional Court case in Germany concerns an anti-whistleblowing provision threatening the freedom of the press. Part-time journalists and bloggers, as well as the legal or IT experts on which journalists rely, now risk a prison sentence of up to three years for handling “leaked” data.
On 10 January 2017, the European Commission published its long-awaited proposal for an e-Privacy Regulation to replace the 2002 e-Privacy Directive.
The proposed draft Regulation contains a number of provisions which, if adopted and effectively implemented, should address some of the current gaps or lack of clarity in protection of the confidentiality of electronic communications and information stored on users devices.
Although the Commission has rightly identified and addressed most of the key issues and objectives in the proposal, strong forces seem to have watered down the text considerably, compared to the earlier version that was leaked in December 2016. For example, the reference to “privacy by design and by default” that was changed in Article 10 will need to be put back in order not to lower down the protections to the current “privacy by option”, options on the degree of online privacy that the browser would offer to the user.
On 12 January 2017, the Danish Ministry of Justice presented a draft law on website blocking for public consultation. Despite the official focus on online extremism and radicalisation, the draft law takes a very broad view on website blocking. The proposed new section in the Administration of Justice Act provides that a website can be blocked if there is reason to assume that a violation of the Danish penal code takes place on the website. Any violation of the penal code, including a new very broad anti-harassment provision for public employees in Section 119a which goes considerably beyond insult and defamation, can be grounds for blocking.
A federal court has ruled that it won't revisit its 2016 July decision that allowed Microsoft to squash a US court warrant for e-mail stored on its servers in Dublin, Ireland. In its petition for a rehearing, the government said Microsoft didn't have the legal right to defend the privacy of its e-mail customers, and that the July ruling isn't good for national security. The authorities believe information in the e-mail could help it investigate a narcotics case.
With several big trade negotiation projects in disarray after the election of Donald Trump in the United States, trade critics gathered at the 11th Internet Governance Forum – the longstanding UN-affiliated gathering – in Guadalajara, Mexico. They sensed an opportunity for some frank talk on the attempts to include the internet in e-commerce and telecom chapters.
This paper deals with article 13 of the Commission’s proposal which introduces a filtering obligation on online platforms that allow users to upload content. The proposal fails to establish clear rules for internet users that make it clear how they can share and remix content legally. Instead it introduces a filtering requirement for online platforms that can potentially serve as a censorship machine and will violate users’ fundamental rights and distort the existing legal framework. From COMMUNIA's perspective article 13 and the related recitals should be deleted from the proposal. You can download a pdf version of the position paper here.