Czech presidency of the Council of the European Union

An already wasted opportunity?

Since last week, Germany took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union from Croatia—the youngest Member State. Their main priorities include the recovery after COVID-19 as well as the fight with climate change. Another important goal is digitization. Two years from now, the presidency will be in the hands of Czechia, which will take over this venerable position from France. Hence, Czechia will have a unique opportunity to be heard in the Union. [Read More]

European joint action on disinformation

During the COVID-19 crisis, people witnessed an unprecedented amount of disinformation. Bad actors spread false information in bad faith—capitalizing on the fear and uncertainty of people—such as different conspiracy theories about the origins of the pandemic, or tried to deceive consumers by advertising fake medicine. United European action against disinformation That is the reason why the Commission decided to step up and tackle the spread of disinformation, which is outlined in their paper. [Read More]

Remote voting in the European Parliament

Why iVote is a strategic mistake

The COVID-19 crisis created a lot of challenge on many fronts. The European Parliament is not an exception. One of the challenges lies in enabling Members of the European Parliament to vote remotely while respecting law, rules of procedure, and democratic principles. Current solution for remote voting So far, bodies of the European Parliament vote remotely based on a decision of the Bureau of the European Parliament that made temporarily remote voting possible by e-mail. [Read More]

Parliament's voice in shaping the future Internet regulation

Loud and clear on the Digital Services Act

The Digital Services Act is expected to be one of the most important pieces of legislation in this parliamentary term, enhancing the liability and safety regime of Internet platforms, services, and on-line marketplaces. Since the recovery plan of the European economy after COVID-19 crisis stands on two pillars—the Green New Deal and digitization—the urgent necessity to draft this act just right is our major task for the following months. [Read More]

Streaming quality reduction

Was it necessary?

Lockdown, social distancing, work from home, and on-line schooling resulted in an increased demand for Internet connectivity during the coronavirus crisis. The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and the Commission stated that the network is not congested; however, that the Internet traffic is increasing. In order to avoid network congestion, the Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, called on the streaming platforms to lower the quality of streaming during the coronavirus crisis, in another words switching from high definition to a standard one. [Read More]

India: The world's largest lockdown

Contact tracing app Aarogya Setu raises privacy concerns

India has adopted the largest worldwide lockdown and 1.3 billion people must stay at their homes since March 25. To prevent the virus from spreading, the Indian government developed an app called Aarogya Setu to trace COVID-19 patients or suspected cases. Recently, there have been attacks from the government on the freedoms on the Internet, so the question of the tracing app raises concerns. As a member of the delegation for relations with India in the European Parliament, I have been watching the issue of digital rights for quite some time. [Read More]

Common EU toolbox for Member States on contact tracing apps

Dos and don'ts

As part of the gradual lifting of confinement measures, the Commission published on April 16 an EU toolbox, developed by Member States for the use of mobile applications for contact tracing and warning in response to the spreading of COVID-19. This is a very timely and welcome initiative given that certain countries started to work on their own measures, often declaring state of emergency and deprioritizing fundamental rights. Poland was one of the first Western countries to roll out an app that collects large amount of personal data, including people’s location and digital photos, in order to combat the pandemic. [Read More]

Censorship machine in action again!

What happened? Last week, a couple of legitimate news articles and posts about COVID-19 disappeared from Facebook. My Facebook post raising awareness about the Union’s support for start-ups to fight COVID-19 got also caught up in this. Application for funds that were made available to support start-ups able to produce solution that could fight the virus was originally open until March 18, 2020. In an attempt to spread the news to all potential interested parties, several followers of mine notified me that they weren’t able to share my post raising awareness about this or links to Commission’s website. [Read More]

Europe's role in fighting COVID-19

There are certain fake news and conspiracy theories spreading on the Internet about the absence of action of the European Union in times of the COVID-19 outbreak. In order to demonstrate the contrary, I summarised below which actions are being taken to preserve the well-functioning of the single market. Brief overview of the Union’s competences and capabilities The European Union has only a complementary competence to the policies of the Member States in the area of health, such as encouraging the cooperation and supporting their activities (Art. [Read More]