Brexit the gift that never gave in the first place, keeps going. The January 2020 Developers Alliance EU Policy Update.
In This Update
Countdown To Brexit
The last week of January is also the last week of the UK as a Member State of the EU.
State Of Withdrawal
The Withdrawal Agreement Bill was approved by the UK Parliament and was given Royal Assent.
Presidents of the Council (Charles Michel) and of the Commission (Ursula von der Leyen) signed, on January 24th, the Agreement on the Withdrawal of the UK. The next step is ratification. The European Parliament’s plenary vote is scheduled for January 29th, while the Council will formally adopt its decision by written procedure.
Deal, No Deal
There will then be an 11 month transition period, until December 31, 2020, while the UK will still follow EU rules, even if it will no longer be a Member State. The EU and the UK will negotiate new arrangements for their future relationship, which could take the form of a free trade deal.
For developers out there connected in different ways to the UK, that haven’t prepared yet, you could check the UK Government’s information site.
Brussels Is Preparing To Regulate AI
The European Commission will present a Digital Strategy next month that will propose regulatory measures for artificial intelligence, data economy, and online platforms. The Strategy will be based on the concept of “EU technological sovereignty”. A recent blog post of the Commissioner for the Internal Market could give an idea on the EU’s vision and plans in this sense.
Google E.U. Dialogue
Google and Alphabet’s CEO Sundar Pichai met European Commission’s Vice Presidents Margrethe Vestager (in charge of competition and digital policy) and Frans Timmermans (responsible with the Green Deal). He also presented his views on Artificial Intelligence at an event organized by the think-tank Bruegel (audio recording here).
The Liabilities Of (Artificial) Intelligence
The European Parliament has stepped into the AI debate with a strong position. The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee approved a resolution addressing several challenges arising from the rapid development of artificial intelligence and automated decision-making technologies.
The same committee held a public hearing on the revision of the Product Liability Directive with regard to its adaption to technology development. Liability for developers of software and digital services embedded in the products is under discussion. Consumer organizations are demanding the extension of liability also to unbundled apps. The Commission also presented to the Parliament the Report “Liability for Artificial Intelligence and Other Emerging Technologies” from the Expert Group on liability and new technologies.
Germany Combats Online Extremism
At the end of last year, the German Justice Ministry proposed a draft law aimed at combating right-wing extremism and hate crime. Stricter obligations could be imposed on social media platforms to delete hate speech and to proactively report offending content to the authorities.
France Gives Hate Speech 24 Hour Notice
France’s National Assembly is keeping on the legislative proposal on hate speech, and especially with the controversial requirement for platforms to remove flagged hate speech within 24 hours. The law will have to pass the second reading in the Senate. In November last year, the European Commission asked Paris to postpone the adoption of the law, considering Brussels plans with the Digital Services Act.
While Brussels Sets The Bar At Only One Hour
The interinstitutional negotiations on the terrorist content regulation continue, with a new round scheduled for March 18, with several preparatory technical meetings before.The regulation would impose on online platforms to remove flagged terrorist material within one hour. Cross-border removal orders allow authorities from one EU country to make requests to companies located in another EU country. The co-legislators maintain their divergent positions on cross-border removal orders (which allow authorities from one EU country to make requests to companies from another EU Member State) and automated content recognition tools (filters).
Brussels Seeks Harmony On Hate Speech
The European Commission will soon present the Digital Services Act, in order to update the eCommerce Directive. It is expected to propose harmonized measures for tackling illegal content online and political advertising, and a common approach to hate speech at the EU level.
Data Protection & Privacy
The Kids Will Be Alright, By Design
The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published the Age Appropriate Design Code, a set of 15 standards that online services should meet to protect children’s privacy. Digital services should automatically provide children with a built-in baseline of data protection whenever they download a new app, game or visit a website. According to ICO, “data collection and sharing should be minimized and profiling that can allow children to be served up targeted content should be switched off by default too”.
France Puts Hand In Cookie Jar
France’s data protection supervisor (CNIL) has published a set of recommendations for cookies and other similar data collection tools. Stakeholders feedback is expected until February 25.
The recommendations underline the need for companies to inform the users on exactly what information is being collected on them, and how they can either consent or reject that data being used, especially for online advertising.
ePrivacy Directive Positions Have Their Day In Court
At the European Court of Justice, two opinions from Advocates General indicated that the ePrivacy Directive should be applied to the access to data by the government law enforcement. The national governments are arguing that in such cases data retention is justified by national security reasons and therefore EU law shouldn’t apply. If the Court decides to follow these opinions, then the privacy activists will have their win.
Data Safety Via Committee
The European Data Protection Board has commissioned studies to find out whether data brokers and mobile apps are complying with the GDPR. The assessment will cover 25 mobile applications and 10 data brokers. The studies will be the basis for future guidelines. The European Data Protection Board is also requesting stakeholders’ feedback, via a survey that is part of the annual review of its activities (EDPB Annual Report 2019).
The French digital tax was delayed after high-level discussions and under the US threat to impose tariffs on certain French products. A global agreement on digital taxation could be reached if the negotiations within OECD will be successful.