EU Antitrust Probe Could Put an End to Geo-Blocking

The European Union (EU) has started an antitrust investigation into a number of Hollywood film studios and the UK satellite programming provider Sky. The European Commission (EC), which is investigating the companies on behalf of the EU, has the ultimate aim of abolishing geo-blocked film and television content, and has made its objections to geographical restrictions clear to six major studios, including Warner Bros., Disney, and Paramount.

TV and movie content is often region-locked and only available for a limited period due to complex and exploitative licensing agreements that favour the studios over the content provider, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video, a practice the EC intends to put an end to.

The EU has US studios Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, and Warner Bros, plus SKY UK, in its crosshairs, sending a statement of objections to all seven before launching its antitrust probe.

Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy, says of the antitrust investigation, “European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU.”

“Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today, also because licensing agreements between the major film studios and Sky UK do not allow consumers in other EU countries to access Sky’s UK and Irish pay-TV services, via satellite or online,” she added.

The EC has outlined its intent “to end unjustified geo-blocking,” a practice it describes as “a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons.”

The gist of the EU’s ire is, if content is available in one European member state, it should be available to all other member states equally. The EU is a community of countries and, as such, one member should not have any rights or privileges that another does not or cannot enjoy. We’re all equal, or something. Bloody hippies.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Search Engine Land.

If You Don’t Want to be Spied On, Close Your Facebook, Warns European Union

The European Union (EU) has warned its citizens that they should delete their Facebook profiles if they don’t want their information making its way into the hands of the US intelligence and security services, as current Safe Harbour legislation isn’t sufficient to protect user data from surveillance requests.

The alert comes from European Commission (EC) Attorney Bernhard Schima during his handling of Maximilian Schrems’ privacy court case, which examined whether EU citizen’s online data should be considered safe in the hands of the US, post-Snowden.

During the case at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, Schima told EU Attorney General Yves Bot, “You might consider closing your Facebook account, if you have one.”

The Safe Harbour framework is designed to facilitate the transmission of EU citizens’ data to the US. In its absence, it would be illegal for that information to be sent outside of the EU. Schrem argues that companies operating within the EU should not be allowed to take advantage of the Safe Habour protection.

The case is on-going. A decision from the European Court of Justice on the Safe Harbour framework is expected on 24th June.

Source: The Guardian

US Lawmakers Against Europe’s Google Break-Up Plan

Last week, the European Union’s Parliament called for Google to be broken up into separate businesses to curb the company’s internet monopoly. Now, US lawmakers have made their opposition to the idea very clear. According to the Financial Times last night, “Capitol Hill hit back at EU lawmakers on Tuesday for politicizing an antitrust investigation into Google, as tensions rose ahead of a European parliamentary vote calling for the possible break-up the technology group.”

The pointed letter from US lawmakers to their EU counterparts asks them to “consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services.” The resolution should pass in the European Parliament on Thursday, but it still needs to be ratified by the executive branch of the EU, the European Commission, to become law.

“Search engines like Google should not be allowed to use their market power to push forward other commercial activities of the same company,” one member of European Parliament said in support of the proposal.

Source: ars technica

EU Wants to Break Up Google

The European Union’s European Parliament is calling for Google to be broken up into separate businesses in an effort to curb the company’s internet monopoly. It is putting pressure on the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, to either engage in a thorough anti-trust investigation of the company, or introduce new laws to reduce its power.

The Financial Times has reportedly got its hands on a draft motion indicating its concern over Google, asserting that the “unbundling [of] search engines from other commercial services” could be one solution to dilute Google’s market dominance. The move is supported by both the European People’s Party and the Socialist Party, the two main political sides within the European Parliament.

Source: Business Insider

The EU Raids Several ISPs Over Throttling Of Services Like YouTube

The European Commission (EC) is investigating whether several large European ISPs are abusing their position by unfairly throttling access to internet services in an attempt to extort additional revenues from service providers. The EC “raided” the offices of ISPs in several countries, though they declined to disclose the full list of who had been affected.

France Telecom, aka Orange, Deutsche Telekom and Spain’s Telefónica all noted that they had been raided and that they were cooperating full with the EC regulator.

“The European Commission can confirm that on 9 July 2013 commission officials initiated unannounced inspections at the premises of a number of telecommunications companies active in the provision of internet connectivity in several member states” stated the EC.

The EC hinted that the investigation was to do with ISPs favouring particular internet services over others to the detriment of customers. France Telecom has stated in the past that it slows down YouTube for its subscribers and will continue to do so unless Google pays for more bandwidth. Yet France Telecom subscribers are already paying full for their internet service so why should Google have to pay as well?

We will be sure to bring you more news on this as it develops. I am furious that ISPs could use such dirty tactics to try and demand money off internet sites and services like YouTube in return for “not throttling” bandwidth that customers already pay for! What are your thoughts on this story?

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