Digital rights continue to open up across EU... but for how long?

Roaming charges across the European Union ended last year.  Now, business travellers and holidaymakers can use their online TV, film, sports, music or e-book subscriptions without incurring extra cost.

"Bring your favourite TV programmes and sports matches with you wherever you travel in the EU," said European Commission vice-president, Andrus Ansip. In addition. He further hopes that before the end 2018 citizens will be able to buy festival tickets or rent cars online from all over the EU "without being geo-blocked or re-routed".

The European Commission technical note emphasises the data protection rules that ensure better protection for Europeans' personal data.

Digital rights already in daily use.

Since June 2017, people have been able use their mobile phones while travelling in the EU just like they would at home, without paying extra charges. Since the EU abolished roaming charges, more than five times the amount of data has been consumed and almost two and a half times more phone calls have been made in the EU and the European Economic Area.

Since April 2018, consumers can access online content services they have subscribed to in their home country also when travelling across the EU, including among other films, series and sports broadcasts (see examples in factsheet).

Data protection rules, in place across the EU since 25 May 2018, mean that Europeans can safely transfer personal data between service providers such as the cloud or email; everyone now has the right to know if their data has been leaked or hacked, or how their personal data is being collected. Furthermore, with the 'right to be forgotten', personal data has to be deleted upon request, if there are no legitimate reasons for a company to keep it.  The free flow of non-personal data, complements the free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

On a related subject, from September 2018, Europeans will have increasing rights to use their national electronic identification (eID) across the whole EU to access public services.

And as of 3 December 2018, Europeans will be able to shop online without unjustified discrimination wherever they are in the EU. They will not have to worry about a website blocking or re-routing them just because they – or their credit card – come from a different country.

Finally, with the net neutrality rules mean every European has access to open internet, guaranteeing their freedom of choice - without discrimination – for content, applications, services and information. 

"I believe that we must make much better use of the great opportunities offered by digital technologies, which do not know any borders.  To do so, we will need to have the courage to break down national silos in telecoms regulation, in copyright and data protection legislation, in the management of radio waves and in the application of competition law.  That way, we can ensure that consumers can access services, music, movies and sports events on their electronic devices wherever they are in Europe." - Jean-Claude Juncker.

Jean-Claude Juncker is right. However, from April 2019, UK (and to a lesser extent) EU citizens may no longer have the same freedom of choice and access rights. This would be a major set back in the rapid, and wide-spread use, of the 'social technologies' that we've now all become so dependent on and is just another example of the potential 'ripple effect' of Brexit..


John ShuttleworthComment