Media Law Roundup: September 13th

New Policy Expands Online Free Speech Threats in China

A September 10th ruling in Beijing announced that posting a rumor online that gets shared 500 times or seen 5,000 times will result in penalties. The law expands existing “online rumor” laws and expedites authorities’ ability to jail people who supposedly post malicious and libelous content that defames, creates disturbances, or extorts. Offenders are threatened with up to three years of jail time if prosecuted. A number of parties protested the new policy, many citing the law’s expansion of China’s already oppressive freedom of expression record. Critics of the law also include Zhu Mingguo, a party official in the province of Guangdong, and Guangzhou law enforcement who deemed the policy a “potential nightmare” on its microblog. The policy comes at a time of increased crackdown in China on microblogging and influential online opinion makers.


EU Proposal to Ban Roaming Charges and Internet Throttling

On September 11th, 2013 the European Commission telecoms commissioner Neelie Kroes proposed plans to ban roaming premiums within the European Union and a controversial plan regarding Internet throttling and Net Neutrality.  While the ban on roaming charges for incoming calls, which would go into effect in 2014, received little criticism, questions arose regarding the Commission’s Internet throttling proposal. Telecoms and Internet providers heavily lobbied for the plan, which bans throttling and severing Internet connection, but fails to banprioritization which allows companies to pay to have priority service. Paid prioritization opposes Net Neutrality principles as it allows for discriminating communications and gives advantage to big actors with substantial resources. The European Commission’s proposals must still be approved by the European Parliament and member states.


U.S. Phones Companies Seek Liberation from Federal Communications Commission

Big U.S. telecom providers including Verizon, AT&T and Comcast are calling to move regulation of their broadband business from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to other less powerful agencies. The FCC has been criticized for not modernizing fast enough to keep up with the pace of changing technologies. For example, the commission is cited with attempting to transfer old telephony policies to broadband firms. Currently the FCC is in the midst of leadership change with new chairman Tom Wheeler taking over the agency within weeks. Telecom providers are hoping courts will overturn FCC Net Neutrality rules which prevent broadband providers from throttling or prioritizing certain Internet services.


Featured Photo Credit:AttributionSome rights reserved by Robert Scoble

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