August has started and all of Brussels is going into its annual summer slump. Only one small Directorate General is bravely working trough the heat to prepare its copyright (reform) package on 21 September. Here’s a very brief bulletin from Brussels that hopefully won’t keep you away from the sun for too long.

This and past reports:



Copyright Reform?: The European Commission will present its next reform package on 21 September. It is supposed to include a revision of the Information Society (Copyright) Directive. It seems that the conservative side of the Commission is currently prevailing. There won’t a proposal really worthy of the name “reform”. Instead we’re likely to receive an ancillary copyright pitch and “something that will go against YouTube”. Depending how wide the YouTube is cast, there might be plenty of bycatch, including us. On the exceptions and limitations side only a very, very weak text and data mining provision seems to be in the cards. All of this is bad news and means the European Parliament will have to strongly modify the text for us to be able to support it. Formally no decisions have been taken yet and DG Connect is working throughout August (employees not allow to take long leaves this summer). We’re working on it, but the fronts seem deadlocked.


Privacy Shield: The European Commission has approved the so-called Privacy Shield on 12 July. [1] This is an agreement between the US and the EU that is supposed provide clear rules for the transfer of personal data, e.g. when Facebook copies European users' profile information to its US-based servers. This is necessary because European data protections laws don’t allow transfers of personal data to third countries. There already was such an agreement with the US called Safe Harbour, but it was struck down by the Court of Justice of the European Union because it didn’t comply with fundamental right to the protection of personal data and its control by an independent authority. [2] The new agreement took just about 7 months to come into force. Critics say the text is essentially the same and doesn’t address the fundamental rights issues will too be struck down in court. [3] The European Commission, on the other hand, believes this is now solved. [4] Meanwhile we should keep in mind that the new General Data Protection Regulation will become effective in two years’ time, which might require a new agreement anyway. This concern is also shared by the European national data protection authorities (a.k.a. Article 29 Data Protection Working Party) [5] and the European Data Protection Supervisor. [6]


Net Neutrality: When the European Union adopted its network neutrality rules last year, the decision in the trialogue (final negotiation round between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission) was to avoid making a decision. Instead, the burden wash shifted to the national regulatory authorities (NRAs) and their European-level body (BEREC). [7] Needless to say they weren’t very happy about the hot potato they had been handed over. Still, BEREC ran a public consultation that received about half a million contributions. [8] The resulting guidelines (i.e. the rules for net neutrality in the EU) will be announced on 30 April. Meanwhile Europe's telecoms industry seemed to refocus its attention and started asking for special treatment with the development of 5G networks. [9]