Thursday, October 29, 2015
Today, the European parliament voted against key amendments to a Regulation which could have guaranteed net neutrality in the European Union. Loopholes in the rules as passed now mean we could see the introduction of paid fast-lanes for Internet traffic.
Anne Jellema, CEO of the Web Foundation comments:
“Today, Europe took a giant step away from its vision of becoming a world leader in the digital economy. These weak and unclear net neutrality regulations threaten innovation and free speech. Now, European start-ups may have to compete on an uneven playing field against industry titans, while small civil society groups risk having their voices overwhelmed by well-funded giants.
“However, all is not lost. The European Parliament is essentially tossing a hot potato to the Body of European Regulators, national regulators and the courts, who will have to decide how these spectacularly unclear rules will be implemented. The onus is now on these groups to heed the call of hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens and prevent a two-speed Internet."
The European Parliament today voted for a Regulation on a Single Market for Electronic Communications. The EU institutions will claim that this will protect net neutrality. This is sadly not true.
“The European Parliament has avoided making decisions on all crucial points,” said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights. “Now, national regulators will have to decide – on abuses imposed through ‘zero rating’, on rules on congestion management, on specialised services and so on”, he added. “We will engage with BEREC and the Commission to provide clarity in the interpretation of the rules. Hopefully, the vagueness of the regulation can be fixed by BEREC’s guidelines and through diligent enforcement by national telecoms regulators”, Mr. McNamee concluded.
Esta es la posición de Tim Berners-Lee no seguida por el Parlamento en su decisión:
"Tomorrow, members of the European Parliament face a key vote on the future of the Internet. The proposed regulations in front of them are weak and confusing. To keep Europe innovative and competitive, it is essential that MEPs adopt amendments for stronger “network neutrality” (net neutrality).
When I designed the World Wide Web, I built it as an open platform to foster collaboration and innovation. The Web evolved into a powerful and ubiquitous platform because I was able to build it on an open network that treated all packets of information equally. This principle of net neutrality has kept the Internet a free and open space since its inception.
Since then, the Internet has become the central infrastructure of our time — every sector of our economy and democracy depends on it.
To strengthen and clarify the proposed EU net neutrality rules, here are the amendments that MEPs should insist on:
· The current proposal allows ISPs to create fast lanes for companies that pay to have their content load faster by calling them “specialized services”. Fast lanes will make it harder for anyone who can’t pay extra fees — start-ups, small businesses, artists, activists, and educators in Europe and around the globe — to reach Europeans online. MEPs should vote for the amendments that close the so-called “specialized services” loophole to prevent the creation of online fast lanes and keep the Internet a level playing field.
· The current proposal permits ISPs to exempt applications from users’ monthly bandwidth cap (“zero-rating”). Economic discrimination is just as harmful as technical discrimination, so ISPs will still be able to pick winners and losers online. MEPs should adopt the amendments that allow member states to create their own rules regulating the harmful practice of zero-rating. That way, States which have already banned this practice will be able to continue to do so, while others can move to protect innovation if they choose.
· The proposal allows ISPs to define classes of services, and speed up or slow down traffic in those classes, even in the absence of congestion. As well as harming competition, this also discourages encryption: many ISPs lump all encrypted services together in a single class, and throttle that class. MEPs should vote for the amendments that ban class-based discrimination to protect users, competition, privacy, and innovation online.
· The proposal allows ISPs to prevent “impending” congestion. That means that ISPs can slow down traffic anytime, arguing that congestion was just about to happen. MEPs should vote to close this loophole.
If adopted as currently written, these rules will threaten innovation, free speech and privacy, and compromise Europe’s ability to lead in the digital economy.
To underpin continued economic growth and social progress, Europeans deserve the same strong net neutrality protections similar to those recently secured in the United States. As a European, and the inventor of the Web, I urge politicians to heed this call. Meanwhile, the Web belongs to all of us, and so it’s up to each one of us to take action. European residents can visit the savetheinternet.eu website today to contact their MEP and ask them to vote for the amendments that will protect the open Internet for us and future generations."
– Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, Founding Director of the World Wide Web Foundation
Sunday, October 18, 2015
The Japan Syndrome Comes to China by Jeffrey D. Sachs - Project Syndicate
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China now confronts the risk of the same sequence of events. Its booming exports in the mid-2000s led US officials to threaten trade retaliation unless the Chinese authorities took steps to restrict exports, cause the
renminbi to appreciate, and shift to “consumption-led growth.” This is the same message once given to Japan. The US insistence on renminbiappreciation intensified after the onset of the 2008 financial crisis.
The results to datecan be seen in Figure 3, which maps China’s real exchange rate from the start of renminbi current-account convertibility (1996) until today. The Currency began appreciating sharply in 2007. As in Japan, the appreciation sparked destabilizing capital flows into China on the assumption that the renminbi, like the yen before it, had nowhere to go but up.
As in Japan, a financial bubble accompanied the currency appreciation. Yet, as Figure 4 shows, the real appreciation led to a rapid collapse of China’s annual export growth, from above 15% (smoothed over three-year intervals) to below 10%, and now to a financial slump as well.
From 2007 to 2014,the renminbi appreciated by 32% in real, trade-weighted terms; by May 2015 (the most recent month of the reported index), its total appreciation had reached 40%. This partly reflected nominal appreciation against the US dollar, together with effective appreciation against the euro, yen, Korean won, and other currencies as the US dollar strengthened relative to them.
The renminbi remains highly overvalued, despite August’s modest 3% nominal depreciation against the soaring US dollar. The renminbi’s real appreciation should be compared with the recent movements of the yen and won. As of May 2015, the yen had depreciated in real terms by around 7% since January 2007, and the won by around 3%, thereby exacerbating the cost pressures on China’s exporters relative to their Asian competitors.
Further depreciation of the renminbi seems necessary if China is to bolster its flagging economic growth and avoid a long-term “Japan trap.” It is important to note that many of China’s increased exports would find their way not to the US and Europe but to Africa and Asia, especially in the form of infrastructure equipment and other machinery. Nonetheless, political pressures from the US and Europe, manifested as charges of currency manipulation and unfair trade practices, as well as misguided ideas in China about the renminbi’s “prestige,” might lead China to resist any meaningful exchange-rate correction.
A month after the renminbi’s 3% depreciation, Chinese President Xi Jinping commented that, “Given the current economic and financial conditions at home and abroad, there is no basis for sustained depreciation of the RMB.” In recent weeks, the People’s Bank of China has been defending the currency’s valuation through foreign-exchange sales.
Earlier this year, The Economist offered the conventional Western thinking.Don’t let the renminbi depreciate, it wrote, for four reasons:depreciation might provoke a currency war in Asia; China’s companies are awash in dollar-denominated debt; depreciation might lead to renewed US charges of currency manipulation; and depreciation might reverse China’s progress in making the renminbi an international reserve currency.
Such misguided reasoning is precisely what led to a generation of unnecessarily slow growth in Japan. It could happen again in China.
Jeffrey D. Sachs
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