Blogs

Fear and loathing in data protection

Author: 
25 Jan 2018
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

All eyes in the tech community in Europe and beyond are fixed on 25th May 2018 when the EU’s General Data Protection Agreement (GDPR) finally enters into force. But many are misunderstanding what is driving the agenda here - focusing on the apparent loathing of big tech in Brussels when, in truth, the European Commission is driven more by fear of failure.

Power and responsibility for big tech: a last chance for self-regulation?

Author: 
5 Oct 2017
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the EU and the US legislated for an online ‘liability exemption’ under which websites and online platforms are broadly not held liable for the content or products that their customers and users upload to their sites. This approach was replicated globally and has been key in allowing user-generated and user-uploaded platforms such as YouTube, eBay and Twitter to grow, flourish and consolidate. It has also been criticised by more traditional media that do not enjoy the same immunity.

The Digital Single Market has a new commissioner – will Mariya Gabriel censor social media?

Author: 
22 Jun 2017
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

After an eight-month hiatus, the EU looks finally set to have a new Commissioner in charge of its flagship, the Digital Single Market (DSM) agenda. Mariya Gabriel is a former MEP, and it showed, in an effective hearing before the European Parliament, which is now certain to rubber stamp her appointment. This support matters for Gabriel as she will need to mobilise MEPs to publicly back her agenda, particularly on issues where member states in the Council are proving intractable. Gabriel acknowledged that she had two years remaining in the post, and, rather than proposing a slew of additional reforms, her primary responsibility will be in cajoling MEPs and member states into finalising proposals that are already on the table. Her main task will be implementation rather than policy formulation.

The audio-visual single market unravels – saying goodbye to the country of origin principle

Author: 
25 Apr 2017
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

A vote today in the European Parliament’s Culture Committee on the reform of the Audio-Visual Media Services (AVMS) Directive signals a significant re-nationalisation of the EU’s single market in online broadcasting.

Vestager dislikes Facebook status on WhatsApp data

Author: 
20 Dec 2016
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

The European Commission today brought charges against Facebook, alleging the company misled the EU’s competition authorities during its acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014. The social media giant stands accused of submitting evidence to the Commission to the effect that it was technically impossible to match its users’ accounts with WhatsApp’s, something subsequently shown not to be the case when the companies announced in August this year that their accounts would be matched.

Protecting Tech – is it in the public interest?

Author: 
25 Nov 2016
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Region: 
UK

"I am tackling the longstanding problem of our fastest growing technology firms being snapped up". So said UK Chancellor Philip Hammond this week. Yet the very next day it was announced that Skyscanner, one of the UK’s leading tech companies, had been “snapped up” up by Ctrip.com, the Chinese online travel company for £1.4 billion. Should we see this as an example of the kind of problem Hammond thinks he needs to solve? If so, what might he do? 

Political support for the “gig economy”: nowhere left to hide?

Author: 
2 Nov 2016
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Region: 
UK

Ed Vaizey made a splash at Global Counsel’s breakfast “Digital Tech: Bridge or Barrier to Social Mobility?” when he suggested that self-employed platform workers should receive the minimum wage. The former Minister of Culture and the Digital Economy was responding to a succession of controversies over working conditions in the so-called “gig economy”: Deliveroo riders have protested changes in their remuneration structure; the courier service Hermes is potentially facing an investigation from HMRC; and an employment tribunal ruling against Uber could fundamentally transform their self-employed business model.