Tag: European Union

EU to shake up e-commerce market

euroflagzEuropean Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is set to start a year long quest to break down barriers to e-commerce trading across borders.

According to a report on Reuters, she believes barriers are preventing the growth of sales online.  She also appy ears to believe that some companies are using the existing situation to block trade between the 28 European Union countries.

The European Union said that one in two people bought stuff online during 2014, but only 15 percent of people bought kit from another EU country.

She will send a set of questionnaires to the 28 members of the EU and she will also send the billet doux to a number of companies that she believes might be actively blocking trade by using border barriers.

She expects to have a report ready by the middle of next year and believes that it’s important to have a single digital market in the European Union.

Apparently, investigators from the Commission raided European companies that sell electronic gizmos online that Vestager believes may be engaging in anti-competitive behaviour.


House of Lords pushes for drone registration

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 14.50.27A European Union committee of the House of Lords is recommending that the EU make an online register of people who own drones.

It wants the EU to have a database aimed first at businesses and then individuals who own drones.

The committee wants drones to include software to prevent drones from certain areas using GPS coordinates to prevent them from flying near airports and the like.

But at the same time the committee doesn’t want drones to be over regulated, particularly as the industry will be responsible for over 150,000 jobs by the middle of the century.

There are already rules about flying drones in the UK. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules that drones can’t be flown above 400 feet, and should be flown at least 164 feet away from vehicles, buildings and people. It’s also a rule that they can’t be used within 492 feet of a places where there are lots of people, such as a concert.

The committee also recommends that drone flights should be traceable.


Facebook faces European probe

european-commissionData protection authorities in the European Union are getting edgy about Facebook’s privacy policy, it’s been reported.
Facebook released a new privacy policy at the end of last week which, among other things, even tracks you when you’re not logged into the social network.
You are automatically “upgraded” to the new privacy policy but you can choose to opt out.
According to PC World, authorities in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany have formed a group in the belief that Facebook may breach the European Union’s privacy rules.
Other elements of Facebook policy the authorities are investigating include it claiming rights to data from profiles for business, and sharing of data with third parties.
The same report says that German authorities are worried about Facebook sharing information with its subsidiaries, such as Instagram.
Facebook always maintains that anything it does is to help individual users.
But the company makes its revenues from advertising – and its users are a means to that end.
European data protection authorities are increasingly cooperating with each other to keep multinationals like Facebook and Google on their toes.
The British ICO recently extracted a promise from Google that it would work to improve its privacy policy in Europe.


Europe shows rise in high speed broadband

euroflagzA report commissioned by the European Commission has found that the number of European households able to access at least 30Mbps download speeds is 62 percent.

The survey covered 2013 and showed that 4G LTE support increased by 32 percent during the year.

Coverage growth was influenced by deployments of Very High Speed DSL (VDSL) – it was the fastest growing fixed broadband tech for the second year in  a row.

But the position is still bad for people living in the country.  Rural households showed 89.8 percent coverage, compared to 97.2 percent for urban households.

UK got the thumbs up in the survey. The vast majority of people in the UK have 100 percent coverage, the EC said.

LTE takeup was patchy. Sweden had the highest penetration, while three countries – Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta – had no coverage whatsoever at the end of 2013.

Google faces antitrust hearing

330ogleA judge will hear a plea from Google today that she on dismiss an antitrust lawsuit in San Jose based on a class action against the internet giant.

Google will ask US District Judge Beth Freeman to dismiss a class action alleging that its Android operating system forces companies that use the OS in their devices to not use competing software from other companies like Microsoft.

Google will argue that people are free to use any apps on Android that they want to even though the plaintiffs insist it’s difficult or fiddly to do so.

If the class action is allowed to proceed, it’s likely that it will take some time and we’ll be treated to internal Google emails while executives from the company might be required to argue their position under oath.

Google is under increased scrutiny for its business activities.  A four year long investigation in Europe was given extra impetus last month when the European Parliament passed a resolution to break up the company because of its dominance. That caused the US administration to express worries about the case being politicised.

The European Commission has not yet given any indication of when its investigations will be completed, but has the power to levy large fines on the firm.

US gets shirty with EU over Google

euroflagzA motion in the European Parliament to be debated tomorrow and voted on on Thursday has raised the ire of the United States.

Two MEPs are proposing that Google should be dismembered because its power is excessive.

And even though the European Parliament has no powers to enforce such a move, it’s attracted ire from the US mission to the EU, according to Reuters.

In an email to the the EU the mission said it was concerned about the call to dismember Google.

It added that looking at competitive problems and remedies should be based on objective and impartial information and “not be politicised”.

If the European Parliament votes for the motion on Thursday, that’s likely to put pressure on the European Commission to step up its investigations.

Google has been under scrutiny by the EC – a separate entity from the parliament for four years following complaints by all and sundry that it is behaving in an antitrust manner.

EU to vote on Google breakup

euroflagzA motion to break up search giant Google will be debated in the European parliament this week.

That follows scrutiny of Google’s practices within Europe by antitrust regulators.

The vote, proposed by MEPs from Germany and Spain proposes that Google’s search business should be separated from the rest of its business activity.

But even if the vote goes against Google, the parliament doesn’t have the power to take it to pieces.  Nevertheless such a vote in favour would be a bad PR blow to Google, which has led a spin initiative in the last few months to convince Europeans that it isn’t evil.

What a positive vote might do is to put pressure on the EU’s competition commissioner to scrutinise Google more.

Google has argued that it is not anticompetitive and that it already has plenty of competition in Europe.  That hasn’t stopped publishers like News Corp and German publishing outfit Axel Springer getting irated about Google’s marketing clout.

EU lets Huawei off the hook

huawei-liveChina and the European Union have decided to bury the hatchet over subsidies made to telecoms giant Huawei and others.

The EU was worried that the government of China was subsidising Huawei and ZTE, so threatening European vendors’ ability to compete.

But, reports Reuters, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said the telecoms matter has now been resolved.

De Gucht said that the EU takes every opportunity “to level out the playing field” for European vendors.

Both China and the European Union are expected to hammer out a free trade deal in the near future.

Huawei was started by a former member of the Chinese PLA.  It has come under repeated criticism in the USA because of fears by some politicians that its gear is embedded in American infrastructure.