By Yiran Zhang – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk
Senators Introduce a Bill which Requires Social Media Companies to Report Terrorist Activity
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Republican Sen. Richard Burr have introduced legislation that would require social media and other technology companies to report online terrorist activity they become aware of to law enforcement. The proposed legislature does not require companies to take additional actions other than to report the information such as attack planning, recruitment, or distribution of terrorist material if companies become aware of terrorist activity. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden opposed the bill, reasoning that the it “would create a perverse incentive for companies to avoid looking for terrorist content on their own networks”.
New EU Copyright Rules Left Possibility for Google Tax
The European Commission’s new “modern, more European” copyright framework left the possibility for the introduction of a new ancillary copyright that would require people to pay a licensing fee for the use of short snippets online, also known as the “Google tax”. The document describing the Commission’s plans raises concerns about the fragmentation in EU digital market, referring to individual EU Member States such as Germany and Spain’s attempts to require search engines—particularly Google—to pay publishers for using snippets from their publications in search results. The framework, however, ruled out a tax on hyperlinks. The framework wants to bring in cross-border portability, instead of its earlier, more expansive promise to stop unjustified geo-blocking. The regulation on cross-border portability is expended to come into force in 2017, without needing any further legislation. As part of the new copyright framework, the Commission also wants to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty, figure out the freedom of panorama issue, and disrupt commercial scale copyright infringement activities. It has launched a public consultation of this legal framework, open for comments until April 1, 2016.
COP21 Reached an “Ambitious and Balanced” Deal on Climate Change
On December 12, the 21st Conference of Parties, or COP21, issued a final draft of the climate change agreement, which the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius described as “fair and legally binding.” If adopted, the agreement would set an ambitious goal of halting average warming at no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial temperatures—and of striving for a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible. It sets up a bottom-up system in which each country sets its own goal of greenhouse gas emission reduction, or “nationally determined contribution” as called in the agreement. Bill McKibben, the co-founder of 350.org, said that the agreement “may have saved the chance of saving the planet”, with a cautious optimism typical among environmental activists.