Displaying items by tag: European Parliament

Internet behemoth Google deemed the overhaul of the bloc’s online copyright law to be damaging for Europe for “decades to come” as it urged the European parliament to resist its approval.

European lawmakers have until next week to vote on the landmark legislation. This legislation that is aimed at modernizing copyright for the digital age has caused a lobbying war in Brussels.

This reform has been debated for the past few years by EU member states, tech giants and artistic creators. Google has tried to approach MEPs to discourage the law from being passed this month.

The biggest issue as of yet is the request for illegal content to be deleted off YouTube (owned by Google) and various other platforms using automatic filters otherwise, there would be liable.

According to Google’s senior Vice President of Global Affairs, Kent Walker, the reform “creates vague, untested requirements” that would mean that many websites would end up “over-blocking content”.

“This would be bad for creators and users who will see online services wrongly block content simple because they need to err on the side of caution and reduce legal risks,” he said.

The “unintended consequences” could potentially “hurt Europe’s creative economy for decades to come” he added.

Another issue is the provision to devise “neighboring rights” for media publishers.

News organizations are in favor of this legislation to be passed because they feel that tech giants such as Facebook have made billions from advertising that is very often tied to news stories, while the publishing industry suffers.

In reference to the implications of this planned reform on the publishing industry, Walker said that it “hurts small and emerging publishers, and limits consumer access to a diversity of news sources.”

He warned: “Under the directive, showing anything beyond mere facts, hyperlinks and ‘individual words and very short extracts’ would be restricted.”

Due to the controversy around the issue, the outcome of the vote remains uncertain.

Published in Infrastructure

EU citizens can now steam subscription services anywhere in EU

Written on Thursday, 09 February 2017 05:40

The European Union will now allow citizens of the EU to stream online subscription services such as Netflix or BBC iPlayer in any country in the EU. Collectively, EU citizens spend about one billion nights in other EU nations every year but are faced with the frustration of not being able to stream their subscription services outside their home country.

The European Union’s executive arm, the European Commission, proposed the change and reached a compromise with negotiators from the European Parliament and the European Council of 28 member states, who collectively agreed that the measure should go forward and succeed. EU citizens will be able to enjoy the new measure in early 2018, the commission said.

“Today’s agreement will bring concrete benefits to Europeans,” said Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s vice president for the Digital Single Market. “People who have subscribed to their favorite series, music and sports events at home will be able to enjoy them when they travel in Europe.”

As it currently stands, subscribers to Netflix or Amazon streaming services in, for example, Germany, will only have access to the service if the country they are visiting has the service available, and often the movies or series available differ drastically from their home version. The same goes for digital subscribers to Sky Sports in London who are unable to access Premier League football matches on their iPads or laptops when traveling abroad.

“This is very good news for EU consumers,” said Monique Goyens, head of Brussels-based the European Consumer Organization. “Artificial barriers blocking you from using your online video, music or game subscription contradict the very principle of a single market.”

The measure puts a zero limit on the amount of time travelling Europeans can enjoy their home-based subscriptions. This is unlike the EU's free roaming promise for mobile phones that comes into effect in June, which comes with a list of restrictions.

Published in Government

The European Parliament members recently proposed robot “kill switches” as artificial intelligence rapidly advances. A resolution was passed on Thursday, Jan. 12, urging Brussels into action on automation ethics. The campaign was led by Socialist MEP from Luxembourg, Mady Delvaux, who warned that Europe is standing by as robots take on increasingly powerful roles in society, such as autonomous vehicles.

To prepare Europe for the potential dangers of artificial intelligence, Delvaux tabled a resolution at the European Parliament that stressed the need for an EU agency that is dedicated to dealing with A.I. If the resolution is passed, it could force the European Commission to draft laws to tackle these issues head-on.

“A growing number of areas of our daily lives are increasingly affected by robotics,” said Delvaux after a committee vote on her measure. “In order… to ensure that robots are and will remain in the service of humans, we urgently need to create a robust European legal framework.”

According to reports, the resolution introduced by Delvaux was passed without objection by the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee and now faces a plenary vote which is expected to take place in February 2017.

In her report, Delvaux gave an overview of how robots are gaining more significance in peoples’ lives and that the EU must maintain control of the growth. The report’s recommendations were wide-ranging, including a proposed “kill switch” which would allow humans to shut down robots at the slightest sign of danger.

In an interview with EU affairs website EuroActive, Delvaux warned that without such measures in place, “humanity could face the apocalyptic scenario where robots turn on their human masters.” The same way the EU has regulations for food products and aviation, Delvaux recommends the organization have similar regulations in place for robotics. Most urgently, the report urges the EU to introduce a legal framework for autonomous cars.

Many carmakers want to see robotic cars on the roads by 2020, but difficult questions remain on who would be legally liable in the case of a car crash. Greens MEP Julia Reda, who backed Delvaux’s report, said, “If all decisions of a machine are no longer directly attributable to the actions of a person, it must be clarified who is liable if something goes wrong.”

To fill this void, the MEPs called for an obligatory insurance scheme and a fund to ensure victims are fully compensated in cases of accidents. The report also called for the EU to find ways to help the millions of workers who will inevitably lose their jobs as industries become increasingly automated.

Published in Government