54 Marketing Trends found for Regulation / UK

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European MPs vote for new telecoms law

The European Parliament has approved an EU-wide major overhaul of telecoms law across Europe. The package includes a provision for "internet freedom" - the first time it has been referred to in EU law as a fundamental right. Member states have until May 24 2011 to include the legislation in their own rules. To the chagrin of vested commercial interests, the new law clashes with - and will presumably overrule - the introduction in France and the UK of controversial laws that will enable persistent illegal downloaders to be deprived of their internet service.

Protecting internet access and users' rights was a high priority for MEPs hammering out the Telecoms Package.
Many critics say the eventual compromise solution is too weak and will not prevent disconnections.

Other measures in the telecoms package include an aim to harmonise the way mobile broadband is rolled out across the EU, which would help in the push to achieve 100% broadband coverage in Europe by 2013.

It also seeks to improve co-operation between member states' telecoms regulators and make it easier for incumbent operators to both provide and buy network services.

A law on citizens' rights aims to improve how quickly customers can change their mobile telephone number and strengthen personal data and privacy protection by, for example, allowing users to opt in to the use of cookies.

Fair hearing
Perhaps the most scrutinised part of the package is that which relates to file-sharing. It comes as individual member states introduce tough penalties for those who download content illegally.

France has introduced a "three strikes" policy for those who share illegal content. If letters fail to stop them, illegal file-sharers risk being disconnected. And the UK's Digital Economy Bill also seeks to impose technical restrictions, including disconnection, on persistent pirates.

Earlier this month, MEPs agreed on a compromise solution to protect user's rights which read: "A user's internet access may be restricted, if necessary and proportionate, only after a fair and impartial procedure including the user's right to be heard."

What the fair and impartial procedure will mean in practice is, as yet, unclear.

MEPs also agreed that restrictions on a user's internet access can only be taken "with due respect for the principle of presumption of innocence and the right to privacy".

But an earlier amendment which ruled that any application for cutting off internet access must go through a judge was rejected.

Some critics say the compromise is too weak while some lawyers argue that it could put the UK's newly introduced Digital Economy bill at odds with the Telecoms Package.

Meanwhile protests over the UK bill have grown, with 11,000 signing an e-petition against it while others predicted "civil unrest" as a result of the bill.

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: BBC.co.uk
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4937

UK regulator recommends reducing media ownership rules

Ofcom today published its report to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on recommended changes to the media ownership rules.

The final report draws from evidence published in our consultation document on 31 July 2009 and stakeholder responses to that consultation.

It recommends two main changes:

  • Removing the rules around local radio service and multiplex ownership and national multiplex ownership. For local services, this means that all local commercial radio stations could be owned by one operator in a local area, alongside the BBC local radio services; and
  • Liberalising the local cross media ownership rules so that the only restriction is on ownership of all three of: a local radio station; local newspapers (with 50% or more of the local market share); and a regional Channel 3 licence.

These recommendations could help maintain local content, by increasing flexibility for media companies. They would also reduce the regulatory burden on the local media sector and the radio industry in particular.

Consumers still rely on television, radio and press for news, so complete removal of the local cross media ownership rules could reduce protection for plurality.

We have based these recommendations upon our recent analysis of the local media sector – set out in our discussion document Local and Regional Media in the UK - published in September.

Reducing regulations

Our recent consultation on localness regulation for commercial radio, which closed on 23 October, also made a series of proposals aimed at reducing the regulatory burden on the radio sector, while protecting the local content that listeners value.

All of our proposals are recommendations to the Government in line with Ofcom’s statutory duty, under section 391 of the Communications Act, to review the media ownership rules and report to the Secretary of State at least every 3 years. This is our second review of the media ownership rules. Our last report was in November 2006.

Any decisions on these issues are a matter for Government and Parliament. Our radio proposals require legislative changes that the Government has proposed to include in its planned Digital Economy Bill.

Ed Richards, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, said: ‘In line with our statutory duties, we have today set out recommendations for Government and Parliament. These proposals would allow local media companies more flexibility to respond to the challenges that they are facing while at the same time protecting plurality for listeners and viewers; it is for Government and Parliament to take any decisions in this area.’

Read the full statement

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: Ofcom UK
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4914

Anti-piracy law threatens EU telecoms revamp

An effort by the European parliament to limit the reach of anti-piracy prosecutions is threatening to derail the European Union’s ambitious plans to revamp telecommunications legislation. A parliamentary proposal to turn internet access into a fundamental human right is proving unacceptable to member states, with time fast running out for a deal to be struck before the parliamentary elections in June.

[Estimated timeframe:2009-onward]

Though intellectual property protection was not part of the original telecoms package, which is set to give Brussels the upper hand in scrutinising phone operators, diplomats fear that failure to tackle the contentious issue could derail two years of negotiations.

Framing internet access as a human right would effectively scupper the entertainment industry’s efforts to hamper illegal file sharing by threatening to cut off persistent copyright transgressors’ internet connections.

EU diplomats painted the parliament’s position as “extreme” and accused it privately of raising the issue to attract publicity ahead of the elections.

“If the parliament doesn’t stand down, the telecoms package will simply not go through,” said one person involved in the negotiations.

The parliamentary proposal would mandate that only a court order could authorise the termination of an internet connection. Opponents say this is an issue of legal enforcement over which Brussels has traditionally had few powers.

The parliament’s stance is a reaction to France’s proposed “three strikes” law, personally championed by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, which critics say makes it too easy for internet service providers to cut off access.

France originally pushed to have a version of the law adopted at European level. The move prompted a group of parliamentarians, led by Catherine Trautmann, a French Socialist, in turn to suggest that cutting off internet access was a restriction on human rights.

A spokesman for the rotating EU presidency said: “None of the existing conventions and laws recognise internet access as a fundamental right on its own. It is simply one of the means of access to information.”

A final meeting between the parliament, Commission and member states is due tonight, with no further opportunities to agree a deal before the elections without the entire package being reopened.

A spokesman for the Commission stressed that “a solution [on intellectual property protection] must be found, and we believe it will be found”.

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Source: FT.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=3942

EU Takes Action Over UK Internet Privacy Violations

The European Union started legal action against Britain on Tuesday for not properly implementing EU privacy rules to protect personal electronic data. The EU also warned that it could force social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace to hide minors' profiles from search engines.

[Estimated timeframe:2009-]

The European Commission -- the executive branch of the EU -- said Britain should outlaw Internet traffic interception and monitoring unless users give explicit consent that their behavior can be tracked and analyzed.

The commission said the use of a technology known as "Phorm" by U.K. Internet-service companies to monitor web-surfing and deliver targeted advertising violates some data-privacy rules. The commission said the U.K. hadn't required operators to gain the consent of users before gathering their personal data.

"Such a technology in the view of the European Commission and European data protection law can only be used with the prior consent of the user," said EU spokesman Martin Selmayr.

On Tuesday, regulators sent a first legal warning to Britain asking it to explain or change the way it interprets EU rules, because it currently allows Internet traffic interception when it is unintentional, or when a tracker has 'reasonable grounds' to believe that consent was given.

Britain has two months to respond. The European Commission can issue more warnings before taking a government to an EU court, where it may be ordered to change national law or face daily fines.

BT sought consent from users when it tried out Phorm from October to December 2008 in an invitation-only trial. The company says on its website that the trial didn't keep or pass on information that could identify users and what they did. It gave no comment on the EU statement Tuesday.

Internet companies, privacy advocates and regulators disagree on what kind of traffic data is personal -- such as IP addresses that give a location -- and whether storing information on a crowd of people might evade strict privacy rules because they can't be identified individually.

Phorm plans to work with three Internet operators reaching 70% of Britain's broadband market -- BT Group PLC, Virgin Media Inc. and Carphone Warehouse Group PLC's TalkTalk. Virgin said it would like to try out the technology but would do so only with users' consent.

A message left with the London office of Phorm Inc. wasn't immediately returned. Britain's Information Commissioner's Office, which is charged with protecting personal information in the country, said it couldn't comment on the EU move.

Separately, EU Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said that social networking sites needed to move fast to step up default privacy settings, especially for younger users – and that she would table new EU rules if sites didn't act.

"Is every social networker really aware that technically, all pictures and information uploaded on social networking profiles can be accessed and used by anyone on the web?" she asked in a video message. "Do we not cross the border of the acceptable when, for example, the pictures of the Winnenden school shooting victims in Germany are used by commercial publications just to increase sales?"

Ms. Reding also warned about radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags that can be used as an electronic label on clothing or food to pass on information such as expiry dates or prices to a store cashier or stock checker.

"No European should carry a chip in one of their possessions without being informed precisely what they are used for, with the choice to remove or switch it off at any time," she said.

Stores and other smart-tag users complain that some of the requirements to inform customers or switch off the tags could be burdensome and unnecessary, and might prevent them from investing in the new technology.

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: WSJ.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=3911

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