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EE will bring back European roaming charges next year
by Paul Hill
The mobile carrier EE is set to bring back roaming charges for customers visiting Europe from January 2022, according to a BBC News report. The new £2 a day charge will allow customers to use their allowances in 47 European countries from January 2022 but it will only apply to customers joining or upgrading from July 7, 2021.
The European Union decided to scrap roaming charges several years ago. From 2017, mobile networks in EU countries have not been allowed to charge customers for using their device while roaming. Since Brexit, however, mobile networks in the UK have been able to go back on this decision but EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone all said they had no plans to reintroduce roaming charges as recently as January 2021.
According to the report, EE wants to use the money it raises from roaming charges to support investment in its UK-based customer services and its overall network. Interestingly, EE is one of the companies that will now have to remove Huawei hardware from its network due to a government decision. Mobile operators did warn that this would see costs go up for customers, so this could be the implementation.
There will be an exception to the new rule for EE customers who are travelling to the Republic of Ireland, where the fees won’t be charged. For those travelling to the other 47 countries, customers will be able to buy 30-day passes to continue using their normal tariff while abroad. The cost of the passes will vary depending on the tariff you’re on.
UK mobile networks won't re-introduce EU roaming charges
by Paul Hill
Earlier this year, the United Kingdom left the European Union (EU) and entered a transition phase where things more or less stayed the same. From January, the UK enters a new relationship with the EU which could technically see the re-introduction of roaming charges for travellers to the mainland. The four network operators: EE, O2, Vodafone and Three have all stated, however, that they have no plans to bring back roaming fees, but MVNOs could.
Speaking to the BBC, the UK’s biggest network EE said:
O2 also has no plans for roaming fees, it said:
As for Three, it pointed out that it already offers roaming at no extra cost for its customers in over 70 countries including the United States, Australia and New Zealand. It said it will retain “this great customer benefit regardless of Brexit negotiations.” Vodafone also told the BBC that it wasn’t going to re-introduce roaming fees.
It’s not clear what mobile virtual network operators will do regarding roaming fees but hopefully, they will not re-introduce them either; they typically run on one of the big four networks which aren’t introducing roaming so it’s likely this will filter down to MVNOs too.
The EU scrapped roaming fees in 2015. Before the rule change, many unsuspecting customers came back from holiday with extortionate bills. It’s also worth noting that industry warned of a massive increase in roaming charges for UK customers after Brexit; it’s not clear if this will come true in the future but for the time being, roaming fees won’t be coming back.
Source: BBC News
The UK will not implement the controversial copyright directive passed by the EU last year
by Paul Hill
The UK’s Universities and Science Minister, Chris Skidmore, has announced that the country will not implement the EU Copyright Directive when it leaves the bloc. The UK is set to leave the European Union next Friday at 11 PM. The EU passed its new copyright law last March in a bid to update copyright for the 21st century but it drew a lot of criticism, primarily for Articles 11 and 13. The latter would make social media platforms liable for any copyrighted content uploaded to their platforms.
After the law was approved by the European Parliament, everything went a bit quiet because EU member states have until 7 June 2021 to introduce the new law. The UK will have left the EU by that point, though, so is under no obligation to implement it. Earlier, the UK was one of 19 countries that was in support of the law but the ruling party has since changed leadership and subsequently, it seems, its position on this law.
According to critics of the law, Article 13 would have endangered memes and GIFs that typically rely on popular scenes from copyrighted content. Opposition voices envisaged a web where platforms would build filters to block the upload of any copyrighted content, and by extension, memes. Tweaks made to the law last year sought to protect memes by allowing the use of copyrighted material “for purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody, and pastiche.”
One vocal corporate critic was Google. YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki, said Article 13 could jeopardize YouTube’s content creators' incomes as a result of “unintended consequences”. She said that YouTube supports the overall goal of the copyright directive but that Article 13 does more harm than good.
Article 11 of the copyright law was also problematic because it may have seen Google shut down its news curation service which some think would have reduced traffic to websites. With the UK backing out of the copyright directive, Google News should be here to stay. It’s unclear now whether the UK will work on updating its own copyright laws for the digital era.
Source: BBC News
Here's how you can watch Mark Zuckerberg testify in front of Congress
by Paul Hill
Later today, Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify in front of Congress on the issues of Cambridge Analytica and Russian meddling. The testimony includes an introduction, discussion on each of the previously mentioned issues, and a conclusion. Each issue will be discussed by Zuckerberg and contain two sections each, ‘what happened’, and ‘what we’re doing about it’. Following the testimony, Zuckerberg will be grilled by the senators.
The first hearing is scheduled for 14:15 Eastern Time or 18:15 UTC + 0 and will be streamed on the Committee on the Judiciary hearings website. On Wednesday, Zuckerberg will go in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. That hearing will take place at 10:00 ET or 14:00 UTC + 0, and will be live streamed on YouTube and the Energy and Commerce website.
Senator John Thune of South Dakota said in a statement:
While it’ll be interesting to see whether anything new comes from the hearing, Facebook is already quite vocal via its Newsroom about what measures it is taking to tackle issues the confront it. Just yesterday, the firm announced that it was going to give scholars access to data in order to see if social media did impact elections and by how much, and it has also used the outlet to set people straight on issues such as call and SMS data that it collects.
Source: Committee on the Judiciary and Energy and Commerce Committee via Wired
Facebook to help scholars assess social media's impact on elections
by Paul Hill
As a result of the growing cognisance that Facebook holds sway over the way people vote on political matters, the firm has announced that it will be granting select scholars access to data in order to see exactly what effects social media has on voters.
Alongside Facebook, a commission of experts will be chosen with different political outlooks, expertise, life experiences, gender, ethnicity, and from a broad range of countries. Firstly, they’ll prioritise what they want the research to identify; secondly, they’ll work with Facebook to develop requests for research proposals in order to meet the research agenda; and thirdly, the body will manage a peer review process to select which scholars receive funding and get access to privacy-protected datasets in order to answer the agenda questions.
In the announcement, Facebook discussed how it would keep user data secure:
The research that the commission decides it wants to publish will be published without any interference, according to Facebook. The social media giant said it is committed to transparency around “the rationale for the structure and membership of the commission."
Facebook said the project will get financial backing from the likes of the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.