A measure which would be illegal if implemented by a government should also be illegal if implemented by industry as a “voluntary” measure, as a result of government pressure or for public relations or anti-competitive reasons. However, as key international legal instruments, such as the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as national constitutions are binding for states and governments, they are not directly applicable to other entities, such as private companies. As a result, there is a major trend towards governments persuading or coercing companies to impose restrictions on fundamental freedoms under the guise of “self-regulation,” thereby circumventing legal protections.

23 Aug 2016

Copyright reform: Unlocking copyright for users?

By Diego Naranjo


On 8 September 2016, only a few days before the European Commission will announce its plans for a copyright reform, Communia and EDRi will be organising an event to discuss some of they key issues, namely the failures of the current EU copyright law, and the situation of exceptions and limitations. The event “Copyright Reform: Unlocking copyright for users?” takes place at the European Parliament, room 6G1.

The key speakers include members of Communia, Kennisland and EDRi, and the event is kindly hosted by Therese Comodini Cachia MEP (EPP) and Carlos Zorrinho MEP (PASD).

After the presentations and the discussion, we kindly invite you to join us for a lunch in Jan 3q Brasserie.

Please find a detailed agenda of the event here.

If you want to participate in this event, please register by Monday August 29 by sending email to: If you do not yet have an European Parliament pass, please include in your email the following information:

  • First name and family name
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Type of ID
  • Number of ID

Please notice that without a visitor pass and your passport you will not be able to enter the building!



17 Aug 2016

The EDRi-network working group needs your input! Deadline: August 28


Earlier this year, a number of EDRi-members launched a working group looking at how our network functions. We decided to tackle two subjects: the network itself and how to strengthen the network.

In the first week of September, we will be drafting a document that will help us better understand how the network should function and how we can get it to function optimally. We would love to take on board the feedback of all members and observers, big and small, and of organisations that are (not yet) in our network. Please e-mail us your answers to the following questions by 28 August:

1. What should member organisations contribute to the network?

2. What do member organisations need from the network?

3. What is the role of the Brussels office within, or in relation to,
the network?

4. What risks do you identify and how can we subvert them?

When answering the questions, try to be as concrete and precise as possible. For instance, if you think members should contribute “knowledge”, describe what kind of knowledge you’re talking about, how they should share it and to what aim. Finally, try to think of the best possible scenario within a realistic future.

Would you like to become more involved with the working group? Do you applaud the initiative but think we’re on the wrong track? Please get in touch.

01 Aug 2016

EU Telecom Regulators meet to analyse over 500 000 consultation responses


Brussels, 1 August 2016. Tomorrow, telecom regulators from all over the EU will gather in Brussels for a uniquely challenging task: analysing over half a million responses to their consultation on net neutrality.

Meanwhile, telecom companies are maintaining their attacks on the open internet – this time by pushing to delete paragraphs regarding free speech from net neutrality rules. This move comes after several associations of journalists expressed their concern that net neutrality violations are a threat to online expression and media pluralism. They argue that strong net neutrality rules (including a clear ban on zero-rating) are needed to ensure everybody has an equal opportunity to be heard online.

BEREC, the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications, is on a tight schedule. They must publish new rules on net neutrality by 30 August, which leaves them precious little time to process the hundreds of thousands of responses.

This race against the clock has started as BEREC has to carefully take into account more then 500,000 comments from the the public calling for clear net neutrality

, said Thomas Lohninger, net neutrality activist at

The unprecedented number of responses demonstrate the public’s interest for the delivery of unequivocal guidelines protecting net neutrality. Now, the whole world is watching: it may be the most important decision BEREC ever makes

, said Estelle Massé, Senior Policy Analyst at Access Now, member of

BEREC has had to endure increasingly bizarre and aggressive attacks on its role, its expertise and its analysis from big telecoms operators seeking new internet monopolies,

said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights (EDRi).

The regulators should not be deflected from their hugely important task,

he added.


Net neutrality is the principle that internet traffic must be treated equally. It protects internet users and online services from interference and discrimination by the telecom operators who own internet infrastructure. At stake are basic, fundamental principles: will the Internet remain a vibrant level playing field for business, culture and political speech? Or will regulators let powerful telecom companies put most websites in a “slow lane”, while wealthy corporations pay for special treatment?

In addition to overwhelming public support, the net neutrality movement has also attracted support from a broad range of experts and professionals. 120 entrepreneurs and investors signed an open letter in favour of strong, innovation-friendly net neutrality rules. The scientific community has also joined the fray, with a statement from 126 academic researchers.

One especially prominent proponent is Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, who wrote a joint statement with legal experts Barbara van Schewick (Stanford) and Lawrence Lessig (Harvard) stating that net neutrality is ‘essential to preserve the open Internet as a driver for economic growth and social progress’ and urged regulators to ‘not cave in to telecommunications carriers’ manipulative tactics’.

The telecommunications industry is the main adversary to this broad coalition. This summer, they launched a full-frontal attack on net neutrality in their ‘5G manifesto’, which calls on the EU to water down its net neutrality rules in exchange for investment in new 5G network technologies. More recently, the consultation response from telecom industry associations ETNO and GSMA, published on 19 July, provoked outrage by demanding an almost complete repeal of net neutrality rules including the deletion of all references to the freedom of expression and media pluralism.


29 Jul 2016

Copyfails bonus track: Copyright levies

By Diego Naranjo

The EU is reforming its copyright rules. We want to introduce you to the main failures of the current copyright system, with suggestions on how to fix them. You can find all the Copyfails here.

This article is an additional one – a “bonus track” – to the series presenting Copyfails.

How has it failed?

The “private copying levy” is a surcharge on the price of media capable of making copies. For example, when buying a blank DVD, the price includes a private copying levy (in most EU Member States).

Rights holders, for example record companies or publishers, claim that people making copies of, for example, CDs or DVDs for private use causes them a financial loss. Even if, in some EU Member States, citizens have the freedom to make private copies, levies were created to compensate for these alleged losses. The harm to rights holders has not been clearly proven – no independent credible study on this has been published. Maybe sometimes there really is a cost, but maybe there is a benefit: who would buy a music CD these days if they couldn’t copy it onto an MP3 player or a smarthphone?

Copyright rules, including private copying levies, are implemented quite differently across the EU. This leads to a risk that you end up paying several times for the same thing. You will pay a levy when buying a blank CD to which you copy the music as a backup, a levy on the external hard drive of the computer that you use to make the copy, and as a levy on the device (a tablet or mP3 for example) that you use to listen to the music.

The fact that the rules are not the same everywhere in Europe, gives unfair advantages to some, and hampers fair competition. In the digital “single market”, 22 of the 28 EU Member States impose a levy. Six do not.

The internet has brought with it the possibility to exchange all sorts of files not only copyrighted ones. New compensation models and new business models need to be encouraged, rather than imposing a random payment which does not fit the purpose for which it was invented.


Why is this important?

It has been argued that the levy will support creation. However, under the current situation, it seems to be rather an obstacle. The private copying levies distort the market; it compensates economic loss that has not been clearly demonstrated and appears to have a negative impact on new business models.

Furthermore, consumers might buy products with copyright levies, and even if they never use them for private copies of copyrighted works, they still have to pay.

The cost of levies varies wildly around Europe, which makes the same product more costly for consumers in one country, and cheaper in another. For example, in 2010, there was a levy of 36 euro on a mobile phone with 32MB of memory in Germany. The levy on the same phone was forty times more expensive than the one in Italy, and there was no levy at all in Ireland.

Finally, a study published by Digital Europe shows that it costs 51,2 cents to collect each Euro for EU copyright levies. This is absurd. We need to find new ways to remunerate authors!

Unfortunately this chaos is likely to continue. A meaningful reform is not planned in the upcoming legislation on the creation of a “digital single market”.

How to fix it?


Read more:

EDRi’s response to the to the European Commission’s public consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules

EDRi’s booklet on copyright

Antonio Vitorino: Recommendations resulting from the mediation on private copying and reprography levies (31.01.2013)

What is a Copyright Levy?

Compensation for private copying: an economic analysis of alternative models, Enter-IE.


28 Jul 2016

EDRi is looking for a policy intern

By Kirsten Fiedler

EDRi is looking for an intern to support our advocacy team, located in Brussels. The internship will go from September to mid-December 2016.

European Digital Rights (EDRi) is an international non-profit association of 31 digital civil rights organisations from across Europe. We defend and promote rights and freedoms in the digital environment, such as the right to privacy, freedom of expression, and access to information.

Join EDRi now and become a superhero for the defense of our rights and freedoms online!
Interns receive a monthly remuneration of 750,- EUR.

Key tasks:

  • Research and analysis on a range of policy topics;
  • Monitoring international, EU and national related policy developments;
  • Organising and participating in meetings and events;
  • Assisting with writing of the EDRi-gram newsletter;
  • Assisting with preparing draft reports, presentations and other internal and external documents;
  • Assisting with preparing communication tasks;
  • Development of public education materials.
  • Find out more about internships at EDRi:


  • A demonstrated interest in and enthusiasm for civil liberties and technology-related legal issues;
  • Excellent research and writing skills – preferably native English speaker;
  • Fluent command of spoken and written English;
  • Computer literacy.

How to apply:

To apply please send a maximum one page cover letter and a maximum two page CV *in English* to kirsten.fiedler(at)
The closing date for applications is the 12 August 2016.
The interviews take place 16-19 August 2016, starting date is 5 September.

28 Jul 2016

EDRi is looking for a Fundraising Manager

By Kirsten Fiedler

abc on flickrEuropean Digital Rights (EDRi) is a not-for-profit association of 31 digital rights organisations from across Europe. EDRi is the only European NGO specialising in the protection of digital rights. Our objectives are to promote, protect and uphold civil rights in the field of information and communication technology, such the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, communication, and access to information.

You will be responsible for a wide range of fundraising activities, to create and maintain a reliable, efficient and ethical funding base to meet the needs of European Digital Rights’ work as a fast-growing and dynamic network!

You will raise funds from foundations, companies, individuals and NGOs in close liaison with the Management and staff responsible for communications. You will lead on the development of funding streams for both restricted and unrestricted funds carrying out prospect research and harnessing opportunities for new income.

As a strong communicator, you will demonstrate excellent interpersonal and negotiation skills, proven leadership skills. You will be enthusiastic and creative in your approach as you use your expertise to engage, motivate and inspire our supporters and develop lasting relationships with a range of partners.


  • Develop the targeting and solicitation of new foundation and corporate donation prospects, researching and identifying opportunities, developing the approach plan, briefings to move solicitation forward
  • Develop and implement the current fundraising strategy, together with the Managing Director.
  • Develop and implement individual giving, project funding e.g. via crowd-funding.
  • Development of individual contacts to identify potential major donors and a roster of potential ambassadors for the organisation.
  • Compile and maintain the database of existing and potential donors.
  • Contribute to the conceptualisation and messaging of grant proposals, together with the Communications Manager.
  • Development of a project portfolio for EDRi’s work.
  • Coordinate, facilitate and sometimes lead periodic meetings with donors.
  • Review draft activity reports.
  • Represent the organisation at events and meetings to establish contacts with potential donors.

The successful candidate should possess the following:

  • At least 3 years’ experience in fundraising.
  • A relevant degree or certificate in fundraising.
  • Demonstrable personal experience of generating income from a range of sources.
  • Experience working for an international organisation.
  • Penchant for exploring new ways and avenues to increase supporter base and fundraising income.
  • Ability to reach fundraising targets and motivate others to achieve targets.
  • Excellent communication skills to inspire, enthuse and motivate current and potential donors.
  • Experience in fundraising techniques, especially analysis of fundraising and marketing data.
  • Strong management skills.
  • Ability to be innovative and creative.
  • Outstanding networking skills and highly developed interpersonal skills.
  • Fluent English, other languages are a plus.

Location: Flexible, preferably Brussels-based or within an easy distance from Brussels

What we offer: The role offers a challenging and diverse full-time role in a fast-growing NGO, with a competitive salary and flexible work hours. We offer the exciting opportunity to help defend the civil rights of people across Europe and beyond. The team in Brussels is a blend of languages, cultures and professional backgrounds that makes it an attractive place to work. A remuneration package will be offered and discussed at interview stage.

Applications should be by email in the format of CV with a covering letter to: Michela Petruzzo, Senior Office Manager, via email: michela.petruzzo(at)

Closing date for applications is Friday 23 September 2016.

(photo CC-by abc on Flickr)

27 Jul 2016

Turkey: “The worst menace to society” helps to defeat the coup

By Guest author

On 15 July 2016, coup d’état attempt against the Turkish government took place. Although tension in Turkey gradually escalated in the first half of 2016, nobody expected a military coup.

The news about the the blocking of the bridges over the Bosphorus strait quickly spread via social media at about 10 pm in the evening of 15 July. One hour later the coup announcement was read in state TV, which was controlled by the troops. However, the announcement did not give much information about the forces behind the attempt.

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Starting at around 11pm, the internet appears to have been slowed down by bandwidth throttling, to the point that it was practically impossible to access social media websites. There are also unconfirmed reports claiming that throttling was applied to not only major social media sites, but also to other sites such as news portals. However, it is not clear whether access difficulties to the news sites stemmed from deliberate throttling or from a surge in overall traffic. Throttling is normally done by the Union of Internet Service Providers (BSE) on the order of the Turkish Telecommunications Authority (TIB). However, it is not clear whether at that point the government or rebel soldiers controlled the TIB and the BSE. By the time the throttling started, TV stations started reporting about the coup.

President Erdogan, who was in a coastal town for holidays appeared on a TV channel via the Facetime videotelephony tool, which was provided to him by a journalist. He called his supporters to take to the streets and resist the coup. He claimed his former ally and current rival Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim preacher, to be the mastermind of the coup attempt. Gülen, however, denied any involvement.

The coup attempt appeared to be an old-fashioned one – it did not take internet technology into consideration. The forces behind the coup gained control of the state TV, and lost it to the government forces after midnight. By that time, Erdogan’s supporters flocked to the streets, and almost all TV channels started broadcasting against the coup. The government ordered the 85 000 mosques in the country to send a message from their loudspeakers, denouncing the coup and calling people to the streets.

At about 1.30am an unlikely and unprecedented event – in Turkish conditions – occurred: The internet throttling was removed and all web sites became freely accessible. It appears highly probable that this action was taken by the TIB and the BSE which were under the government control at that time. It seemed that the government realised that the same social media it had been speaking against since the Gezi uprising could actually be a decisive weapon at that crucial point.

The footage circulating in the social media appears to have had a huge psychological effect, giving the advantage to the opposition to the coup, and leaving the coup leaders to a weaker position. The soldiers supporting the coup seemed to be confused and disoriented by the masses of people filling the streets to oppose the coup.

Claiming that it was the social media that caused the defeat of the coup would be exaggerating. The main reason the coup failed was the lack of social support. The role of the social media and the internet was, however, very noteworthy. Even if the coup started successfully, it was not long before the resistance against the coup began. With little support from the population, the only choice that the coup leaders would have had, was to crush the opposition with brute force. Hence, it could be argued that social media saved the lives of thousands of people by helping to defeat the coup at its very beginning.

Even if the attempt was stopped quickly after its start, its aftermath is bleak: More than 60 000 public officers were removed from office as of 24 July. A state of emergency was declared. One third of the generals and thousands of lower ranking officers are under arrest.

It is yet to be seen what effect this tension will have for Turkey in near future.

Social media grinds to a halt inside Turkey (15.07.2016)

“FaceTime is a cyberweapon” and other lessons about digital age coups (19.07.2016)

Why Turkey issued a social media ban during a coup attempt—and promptly lifted it (17.07.2016)

WikiLeaks: Search the AKP email database



27 Jul 2016

More Copyfails or meaningful improvements?

By Diego Naranjo

The EU will soon be reforming its copyright rules. The European Commission is planning to present its proposal on 21 September 2016. To succeed in updating the copyright rules in a way that respects the needs of both the users and creators of cultural goods, we believe both European citizens and policy makers should better understand how the current system has failed, and how those problems could be fixed.


Over the last few months, we have been publishing weekly topical blogposts on key failures of the current European Union copyright framework, suggesting how they could be eliminated. You can find all the Copyfails here.

The EU missed the chance to fix many of the Copyfails in 2001 when the main norm regulating copyright in Europe was passed. The internet was in its early stages – there was no YouTube, Facebook, WordPress – and its possibilities were not yet evident. Fifteen years later, we are still stuck with the outdated rules that are not adapted to the digital era.

If the EU really means to achieve a “more modern, more European copyright” and a real digital single market, as the Commission has claimed, EU policy makers cannot act as if the current chaos of unclear and varying rules around Europe did not exist. The Commission cannot spend time, money and effort making cosmetic changes to a fundamentally unfit system, putting “lipstick on a pig”. They are under huge lobbying pressure from big industries that have profited from these failures in the past. Now, however, leadership is needed.

Libraries, researchers, artists, educators, academics and civil society have shown in a very concrete way how and why the framework is not working for them, and for the society in general. The EU should not let corporations, claiming to defend the interests of European culture and creators, but defending most of all their own private financial interests, decide how the copyright system in the EU will look like after the reform.

In our Copyfails series we highlighted the nine main problems that need to be tackled if the EU wants to have a real copyright reform. Will the EU listen and engage in a genuine debate, so that we can achieve a European copyright framework fit for the future? Or will we end up with rules that only benefit a narrow range of stakeholders? We’ll get the answer to this question shortly after the summer, first from the European Commission and then, in the subsequent months, from the EU Member States and European Parliament.

Read more:

Copyfails: Time to #fixcopyright! (23.05.2016)

Copyright reform: Restoring the facade of a decrepit building (16.12.2015)

Communia: Best Case Scenarios for Copyright (06.06.2016)


27 Jul 2016

EU Ombudsman demands trilogue reform, following our advice

By Maryant Fernández Pérez

On 12 July 2016, the European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly adopted a decision that asks for a reform of trilogues. In her decision, she follows many of our recommendations. The Ombudsman is the body dealing with maladministration in the European Union (EU).

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Trilogues are informal negotiations conducted between a small number of representatives of the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the Commission to rush the adoption of EU legislation – laws which have an impact on the lives of 500 million people. While this system can be efficient, trilogues nonetheless undermine EU’s democracy, transparency and accountability. Due to long-standing criticism, the European Ombudsman decided to investigate on the transparency of the trilogues process. After conducting an investigation and receiving 51 responses to a public consultation, including from EDRi, the European Ombudsman now recommends that the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union:

  1. Publish a “trilogue calendar” and to include trilogues in the institutions’ public databases;
  2. Pro-actively publish the Parliament’s and the Council’s positions vis-à-vis the Commission’s proposal before trilogues start, regardless of the legal status of their positions (for example, regardless of their positions being a “general approach”, the result of a Parliamentary committee vote, etc);
  3. Publish summary agendas before or shortly after trilogue meetings;
  4. Pro-actively publish the evolution of the “four-column documents”, which present a comparison of the Commission’s initial proposal, the position of the European Parliament and the Council, and a the compromise text between the institutions, including the final text, as soon as possible after the conclusion of the negotiations;
  5. Make available links to minutes and videos of public trilogue meetings in the institutions’ databases and respective calendars;
  6. Pro-actively disclose details of the policy-makers involved in trilogues, including civil servants;
  7. Pro-actively publish a list of trilogue documents to facilitate access to public documents’ requests;
  8. Work together to publish as much trilogue information and documentation as possible via a user-friendly database.

The European Ombudsman does not go as far as we would have wanted to, but the recommendations, if acted on, would represent a huge step forward for more accountability, democracy and transparency in the European Union. The institutions have until 15 December 2016 to inform the Ombudsman on the actions they intend to take

European Ombudsman’s decision concerning the transparency of trilogues (12.07.2016)

EDRi: Trilogues: the system that undermines EU democracy and transparency (20.04.2016)

EDRi’s response to the European Ombudsman’s public consultation on the transparency of trilogues (31.03.2016)

(Contribution by Maryant Fernández Pérez, EDRi)



27 Jul 2016

Massive lobby against personal communications security has started

By Joe McNamee

Since 2002, European citizens’ freedom of communication, the security of our communications devices, and the protection of our personal data in the online world have been safeguarded by the so-called e-Privacy Directive. This Directive is now up for renewal. Unsurprisingly, after the big online companies launched probably the biggest ever lobbying campaign to undermine the EU’s general privacy legislation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), they’re now attacking this legislation – this time joined by telecoms providers.

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The online companies want to protect their ability to track people as they use the internet. They want to protect their ability to use data from apps to discover where people are going in the offline world and to be able to use this data to create profiles. Already, with data from just three hundred clicks on Facebook “like” buttons, researchers have shown that they can develop a better insight into your personality than anybody you know – better than your spouse, your siblings or your family. Telecoms providers look at all of this information and the huge profits the online companies are making out of it. They look at the protection that the e-Privacy Directive gives to their customers and cry that this is unfair. They want to make money out of it too – they have information about our location, about our movements, about our friends, about the businesses we communicate with. Why can’t they spy on us too? It is for our own good, after all.

As a result, an impressive-sounding twelve trade associations signed a letter demanding that the protection to our freedom of expression and communication should be repealed. Apparently for comedy value, the letter calling for removal of the only EU legal instrument protecting the confidentiality of communications was entitled “Empowering trust and innovation by repealing the e-Privacy Directive”.

The list of signatories to the letter seems impressive until we realise that it is just a small number of companies mobilising them. This is very much in line with the lobbying on the General Data Protection Regulation: The key industry players used various methods to make sure their arguments were repeated by lots of different voices, to create the impression of a broad opposition against the legislation. In the case of this letter, for example Google is a member exactly half of the signatory associations – the App Developers Alliance, Interactive Advertising Bureau, Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Digital Europe, the European Digital Media Association (EDiMA) and the European Internet Service Providers Association (EuroISPA).

Shockingly, the European Coordination Committee of the Radiological, Electromedical and Healthcare IT Industry (COCIR) also signed up for the call for the repeal of the privacy rules. What interest do they have in removing rules on placing software on users’ devices? What aspect of protection of protection of confidentiality of communications worries them? We don’t know. We do know that its members include Deutsche Telekom’s subsidiary T-Systems. Deutsche Telekom is also a member of signatory associations European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) and the GSM Association (GSMA).

Between now and November 2016, the European Commission will decide how it will update the e-Privacy Directive.

Joint Industry Statement: Empowering trust and innovation by repealing the e-Privacy Directive (05.07.2016)

EDRi: Data Protection Reform – Next stop: e-Privacy Directive (24.02.2016)

(Contribution by Joe McNamee, EDRi)