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EU Reporter under attack

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Last week an article in the publication Politico Europe alleged that EU Reporter had engaged in “EU lobbying dressed up as journalism” because our marketing literature says: “Use EU Reporter to influence”.

EU Reporter totally rejects this accusation of undercover lobbying, which was an attack by Politico Europe on a smaller but successful rival publication and its publisher.

We were given just hours to respond to these ill-founded accusations, mostly based on a trawl through stories we’ve published over the past ten years, to defend our well-earned good name.

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To reassure our audience, we have asked the independent news monitoring organization NewsGuard, to monitor our output from now on, and to make its findings publicly available.

EU Reporter believes Politico EU’s attack on us is a cynical attempt to achieve market dominance, and invites our readers to view today’s Politico Brussels Playbook, which offers:

“POLITICO Media Solutions provides brands with the solutions to create, convene, and connect with power players. We create opportunities for brands to connect with our influential audience”

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A case of people in glass houses throwing stones perhaps?

Aviation/airlines

Consumer protection: Airlines commit to timely reimbursement after flight cancellations

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Following dialogues with the Commission and national consumer protection authorities, 16 major airlines have committed to better information and timely reimbursement of passengers in case of flight cancellations. The Commission had alerted the Consumer Protection Co-operation (CPC) enforcement authorities in December 2020 to address several airlines' cancellation and reimbursement practices in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said: “It is good news for consumers that airlines cooperated during the dialogues, and committed to respecting passengers' rights and improving their communication.” Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean added: “I welcome the fact that the bulk of the reimbursement backlog has been cleared and that all airlines concerned have committed to solve remaining issues. This is crucial to restoring passengers' confidence. The recovery of the air transport sector depends on this. This is why we are also currently assessing regulatory options to reinforce passenger protection against future crisis, as foreseen in our Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.”

The CPC network will now close its dialogues with all airlines, but will continue to monitor whether commitments are correctly implemented. More information is available here.

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Artificial intelligence

Distinguished leaders from Boston and Balkan regions to collaborate for Global Law on AI and Digital Rights

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Two distinguished organizations from the Northeast United States and the Balkans, Boston Global Forum (BGF) and Nizami Ganjavi International Center (NGIC) have announced a collaboration to promote pioneering initiatives related to a Global Alliance for Digital Governance. The initiative, which was the subject of a recent Policy Lab online forum, also involves the United Nations Centennial Initiative, AI World Society (AIWS) and the Club de Madrid.

The joint announcement states that BGF will support NGIC’s Global Enlightenment Education Program in Baku, as well as a number of other initiatives.

BGF and NGIC will exchange resources to develop initiatives to solve complex and controversial issues in the world today and shape the future for “Remaking the World – Toward an Age of Global Enlightenment.”

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Under the agreement, the BGF and NGIC will join in promoting the Global Alliance for Digital Governance (GADG), and NGIC will connect governments of Balkan and Middle East nations to support the Alliance. The two organizations will recommend speakers, promote conferences and forums, and publicize joint events.

Nguyen Anh Tuan, Co-Founder and CEO of the BGF, hailed the agreement and noted its impact on expanding the Alliance: “NGIC will bring a high level of engagement and distinguished leaders of the Balkans, contributing to the creation of a Global Law and Accord on AI and Digital Rights, and discuss the Accord at significant conferences that NGIC often organize in many cities as New York, Beijing, Riga, Athens, Andorra, Cairo, Sarajevo, Sofia, Brussels, Missions in Kiev,

Tel-Aviv, Amman, Istanbul, Bucharest, which are attended by many head of states and government leaders.”

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 About the Boston Global Forum

The Boston Global Forum (BGF) offers a venue for leaders, strategists, thinkers and innovators to contribute to Remaking the World – Toward an Age of Global Enlightenment.

In 2019, the Boston Global Forum, in collaboration with the United Nations Academic Impact, launched the United Nations Centennial Initiative. It began with the release of a major work titled “Remaking the World – Toward an Age of Global Enlightenment”. More than twenty distinguished leaders, thinkers, strategists, and innovators put forth unprecedented approaches to the challenges that lay before the world. These contributors include President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Governor Michael Dukakis, Father of Internet Vint Cerf, Former US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Harvard University Professors Joseph Nye and Thomas Patterson, MIT Professors Nazli Choucri and Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland, and MEP Eva Kaili.

The BGF introduced core concepts that are shaping groundbreaking international initiatives, most notably, the Social Contract for the AI Age, AI International Law and Accord, the Global Alliance for Digital Governance, the AI World Society (AIWS) Ecosystem, and the AIWS City.

 About the Nizami Ganjavi International Center

Nizami Ganjavi International Center (NGIC) is an international, non-political organization dedicated to the memory of the great Azerbaijani poet, Nizami Ganjavi and to the study and dissemination of his works with a mission to build a dialogue, understanding, mutual respect, tolerance between cultures and peoples for building functional and inclusive societies. Nizami Ganjavi International Center’s main mission is to promote Learning, Tolerance, Dialogue, Understanding and Shared Societies in a world in many ways today facing unprecedented challenges.

Board members of NGIC include the former presidents and prime ministers of the Balkan area and Northern European leaders from Finland, Latvia, Belgium, the United Nations, and distinguished figures from the U.S.

For information about the recent Policy Forum, visit

· Media kit for Policy Lab

· Registration for Policy Lab

· About the Boston Global Forum

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Digital economy

Digital Services Act: Legal Affairs Committee attacks user privacy and free speech online

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Today (30 September), the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) adopted its recommendations on the Digital Services Act as proposed by French opinion rapporteur Geoffroy Didier (EPP). For the benefit of citizens, the Committee calls for a right to use and pay for digital services anonymously and for a ban on behavioral tracking and advertising (AM411). Voluntary own-initiative investigations by online platforms shall not lead to ex-ante control measures based on upload filters (Art. 6).

There shall generally be no obligation for companies to use the controversial upload filters (Art. 7), as “such tools have difficulties of effectively understanding the subtlety of context and meaning in human communication, which is necessary to determine whether assessed content violates the law or terms of service”. The DSA shall not prevent the offering of end-to-end encrypted services (Art. 7).

Public authorities shall be given the right to order the reinstatement of legal content that was removed by platforms (Art. 8a). Dark patterns are to be banned (Art. 13a). However MEP Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party), shadow rapporteur of the Greens/EFA group, warns about other parts of the opinion: “These proposals threaten the confidentiality of private correspondence, encourage error-prone ex-ante upload filtering, introduce excessively short content take-down delays, enforce excessive national laws (e.g. in Poland or Hungary) throughout the EU, turn 'trusted flaggers' into 'trusted censors' and much more. I don’t think all my colleagues in the Legal Affairs Committee are aware of the implications. They reflect mas-sive lobbying by the content and rights holder industry.”

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Attack on confidentiality of instant messaging

Specifically the proposed Article 1 would add private communications/messaging services to the scope of the DSA. This threatens the privacy of correspondence and secure encryption. Obliging messaging providers to review and remove the content of private messages (Art. 8, 14) would prohibit secure end-to-end encryption which citizens, businesses and governments rely on. The Committee’s proposal to exempt the personal use of messaging services does not work because it is impossible for the service to know the pur-pose of an account or message without reading correspondence and breaking encryption.

Risk of overblocking

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Furthermore, the proposed Article 5 would fundamentally change the liability regime, burden businesses, favour overblocking of content and threaten fundamental rights of users:
• Par. 1(b) would mandate error-prone upload filters by requiring providers to "permanently" remove certain pieces of content. Algorithms cannot reliably identify illegal content and currently routinely re-sult in the suppression of legal content, including media content. Reappearing content can be legal in a new context, for the new purpose or posted by another author.
• Par. 1a would impose inflexible and excessively short take-down delays, some even shorter than for terrorist content. Without the time for proper scrutiny providers will either have to underblock illegal content ("we didn't have time to establish this is illegal") or to overblock legal content ("we'll take it down just to be on the safe side"). This is a major threat to the fundamental right to free speech.

Race to the bottom regarding free speech

The proposed Article 8 would allow one member state with extreme national legislation to order the removal of content published legally in another member state. This would result in a race to the bottom regarding freedom of speech, with the most repressive legislation of all prevailing throughout the Union. Also enforcing EU law globally by removing content published legally in non-EU countries would result in retaliation by those non-EU countries (e.g. Russia, China, Turkey) asking EU providers to remove perfectly legal and legitimate content on the basis of their excessive national rules.

Error-prone upload filtering

The proposed Article 14 would introduce a strict 72h time limit for deciding on reported content. Without the time for proper scrutiny providers will either have to underblock illegal content ("we didn't have time to estab-lish this is illegal") or to overblock legal content ("we'll take it down just to be on the safe side"). It would also allow providers to use error-prone re-upload filters to block the uploading of deleted content (“stay-down”). Algorithms cannot reliably identify illegal content and currently routinely result in the suppression of legal content, including media content. Reappearing content can be legal in a new context, for the new purpose or posted by another author.

Filtering algorithms cannot reliably tell legal from illegal. “Trusted censors” Art. 14a(2a) would essentially allow private "trusted flaggers" to have content directly removed or blocked without even the provider needing to assess the legality. This would turn "trusted flaggers" into "trusted cen-sors" and threaten the accessibility of legal content. Art. 20 (3c) would indirectly abolish anonymous accounts and mandate identification of all users in order to prevent suspended users from using or registering another account.

Multiple online identities are essential to activists, whistleblowers, human rights defenders, women, children and many more who cannot disclose their real identity. Outlook The Legal Affairs Committee’s recommendations will be discussed in the lead Internal Market (IMCO) Committee, which plans to finalize the text before the end of the year. Next week the IMCO negotiators will meet for the first round of debating politically controversial issues.

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