Tag: European Union

European Union to establish own DNS infrastructure

Article Map of Europe By User:mjchael by using preliminary work of maix¿? [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

EU wants to build its own DNS infrastructure with built-in filtering capabilities – The Record by Recorded Future

My Comments

Europe is working on another Internet-focused effort to maintain some sovereignty over its online affairs.

The DNS is the Internet’s equivalent of the traditional White Pages telephone book where when you would look up someone’s name in that book to find their phone number. Here, it is about looking up the domain name part of a Web address like “homenetworking01.info” and identifying the IP address of the Webserver that hosts the Website. This process is very similar for looking up the IP address for the email server that is listed after the “@” part of an email address.

Here, the European DNS4EU effort is about creating a network of DNS servers that are based in Europe. It is essentially about European data sovereignty where this Internet-essential function is in European hands and fully subject to European laws and norms rather than in the hands of a few non-European companies.

For example, this DNS effort is run compliant to the European Union GDPR user-privacy directive and avoids issues to do with the USA’s CLOUD Act which can place online data use subject to US authorities’ investigative requirements even if it is used overseas as long as the servers are owned by a company based in the USA.

The DNS4EU DNS service will also have powerful filtering abilities to work against cyber attacks. This can include blocking DNS name resolution for domains associated with malware or phishing sites. But there are questions about which kind of Internet user this would be mandatory for like the public sector, financial services or essential services or whether EU-based or all European based ISPs will be required to take advantage of this new DNS4EU infrastructure.

This same project also assures compliance with court orders against access to prohibited content like child-sexual-abuse imagery or pirated content. But this kind of protection may be limited to the European Union or a wider area like the Euripean Single Market or even the countries under the Council Of Europe’s scope.

Another benefit often seen with this is increased speed for European DNS queries due to the proximity of the DNS4EU servers to European citizens and businesses. It is also a way that Europe can carve out its own online identity amongst their own citizens rather than relying on other areas for its IT needs.

As I have said before, there could be questions raised about the kind of geopolitical reach that the European Union’s new DNS infrastructure would have. But it could be seen as one of many attempts for Europe to have its own IT infrastructure and work in a manner independent of countries like the USA.

Why do I defend Europe creating their own tech platforms?

Previous Coverage on HomeNetworking01.info Map of Europe By User:mjchael by using preliminary work of maix¿? [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Europeans could compete with Silicon Valley when offering online services

How about encouraging computer and video games development in Europe, Oceania and other areas

My Comments

Regularly I keep an eye out for information regarding efforts within Europe to increase their prowess when it comes to business and personal IT services. This is more so as Europe is having to face competition from the USA’s Silicon Valley and from China in these fields.

But what do Europeans stand for?

Airbus A380 superjumbo jet wet-leased by HiFly at Paris Air Show press picture courtesy of Airbus

Airbus have proven that they are a valid European competitor to Boeing in the aerospace field

What Europeans hold dear to their heart when it comes to personal, business and public life are their values. These core values encompass freedom, privacy and diversity and have been build upon experience with their history, especially since the Great Depression.

They had had to deal with the Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin dictatorships especially with Hitler’s Nazis taking over parts of European nations like France and Austria; along with the Cold War era with Eastern Europe under communist dictatorships loyal to the Soviet Union. All these affected countries were run as police states with national security forces conduction mass surveillance of the populace at the behest of the dictators.

The EU’s European Parliament summed this up succinctly on their page with Europeans placing value on human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. It is underscored in a pluralistic approach with respect for minority groups.

I also see this in the context of business through a desire to have access to a properly-functioning competitive market driven by publicly-available standards and specifications. It includes a strong deprecation of bribery, corruption and fraud within European business culture, whether this involves the public sector or not. This is compared to an “at-any-cost” approach valued by the USA and China when it comes to doing business.

As well, the European definition of a competitive market is the availability of goods or services for best value for money. This includes people who are on a very limited budget gaining access to these services in a useable manner that underscores the pluralistic European attitude.

How is this relevant to business and consumer IT?

Nowadays, business and consumer IT is more “service-focused” through the use of online services whether totally free, complementary with the purchase of a device, paid for through advertising or paid for through regular subscription payments. Increasingly these services are being driven by the mass collection of data about the service’s customers or end-users with people describing the data as being the “new oil”.

Examples of this include Web search engines, content hosting providers like YouTube or SoundCloud, subscription content providers, online and mobile gaming services, and voice-driven assistants. It also includes business IT services like cloud-computing services and general hosting providers that facilitate these services.

Europeans see this very differently due to their heritage. Here, they want control over their data along with the ability to participate in a competitive market that works to proper social expectations. This is compared to business models operated by the USA and China that disrespect the “Old World’s” approach to personal and business values.

The European Union have defended these goals but primarily with the “stick” approach. It is typically through passing regulations like the GDPR data-protection regulations or taking legal action against US-based dominant players within this space.

But what needs to happen and what is happening?

What I often want to see happen is European companies build up credible alternatives to what businesses in China and the USA are offering. Here, the various hardware, software and services that Europe has to offer respects the European personal and business culture and values. They also need to offer this same technology to individuals, organisations and jurisdictions who believe in the European values of stable government that respects human rights including citizen privacy and the rule of law.

What is being done within Europe?

Spotify Windows 10 Store port

Spotify – one of Europe’s success stories

There are some European success stories like Spotify, the “go-to” online subscription service that is based in Sweden as well as a viable French competitor in the form of Deezer, along with SoundCloud which is an audio-streaming service based in Germany.

Candy Crush Saga gameplay on Windows 10

Candy Crush Saga – a European example of what can be done in the mobile game space

A few of the popular mobile “guilty-pleasure” games like Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds were developed in Europe. Let’s not forget Ubisoft who are a significant French video games publisher who have set up studios around the world and are one of the most significant household names in video games. Think of game franchiese like Assassin’s Creed  or Far Cry which are some of the big-time games that this developer had put out.

Then Qwant appeared as a European-based search engine that creates its own index and stores it within Europe. This is compared to some other European-based search engines which are really “metasearch engines” that concatenate data from multiple search engines including Google and Bing.

There have been a few Web-based email platforms like ProtonMail surfacing out of Switzerland that focus on security and privacy for the end-user. This is thanks to Switzerland’s strong respect for business and citizen privacy especially in the financial world.

Freebox Delta press photo courtesy of Iliad (Free.fr)

The Freebox Delta is an example of a European product running a European voice assistant

There are some European voice assistants surfacing with BMW developing the Intelligent Personal Assistant for in-vehicle use while the highly-competitive telecommunications market in France yielded some voice assistants of French origin thanks to Orange and Free. Spain came in on the act with Movistar offering their own voice assistant. I see growth in this aspect of European IT thanks to the Amazon Voice Interopability Initiative which allows a single hardware device like a smart speaker to allow access to multiple voice-assistant

AVM FritzBox 7530 press image courtesy of AVM GmBH

The AVM FRITZ!Box 7530 is a German example of home network hardware with European heritage

Technicolor, AVM and a few other European companies are creating home network hardware typically in the form of carrier-supplied home-network routers. It is although AVM are offering their Fritz lineup of of home-network hardware through the retail channel with one of these devices being the first home-network router to automatically update itself with the latest patches. In the case of Free.fr, their Freebox products are even heading to the same kind of user interface expected out of a recent Synology or QNAP NAS thanks to the continual effort to add more capabilities in these devices.

But Europe are putting the pedal to the metal when it comes to cloud computing, especially with the goal to assure European sovereignty over data handled this way. Qarnot, a French company, have engaged in the idea of computers that are part of a distributed-computing setup yielding their waste heat from data processing for keeping you warm or allowing you to have a warm shower at home. Now Germany is heading down the direction of a European-based public cloud for European data sovereignty.

There has been significant research conducted by various European institutions that have impacted our online lives. One example is Frauhofer Institute in Germany have contributed to the development of file-based digital audio in both the MP3 and AAC formats. Another group of examples represent efforts by various European public-service broadcasters to effectively bring about “smart radio” with “flagging” of traffic announcements, smart automatic station following, selection of broadcasters by genre or area and display of broadcast-content metadata through the ARI and RDS standards for FM radio and the evolution of DAB+ digital radio.

But what needs to happen and may will be happening is to establish and maintain Europe as a significantly-strong third force for consumer and business IT. As well, Europe needs to expose their technology and services towards people and organisations in other countries rather than focusing it towards the European, Middle Eastern and Northern African territories.

European technology companies would need to offer the potential worldwide customer base something that differentiates themselves from what American and Chinese vendors are offering. Here, they need to focus their products and services towards those customers who place importance on what European personal and business values are about.

What needs to be done at the national and EU level

Some countries like France and Germany implement campaigns that underscore products that are made within these countries. Here, they could take these “made in” campaigns further by promoting services that are built up in those countries and have most of their customers’ data within those countries. Similarly the European Union’s organs of power in Brussels could then create logos for use by IT hardware and software companies that are chartered in Europe and uphold European values.

At the moment Switzerland have taken a proactive step towards cultivating local software-development talent by running a “Best of Swiss Apps” contest. Here, it recognises Swiss app developers who have turned out excellent software for regular or mobile computing platforms. At the moment, this seems to focus on apps which primarily have Switzerland-specific appeal, typically front-ends to services offered by the Swiss public service or companies serving Swiss users.

Conclusion

One goal for Europe to achieve is a particular hardware, software or IT-services platform that can do what Airbus and Arianespace have done with aerospace. This is to raise some extraordinary products that place themselves on the world stage as a viable alternative to what the USA and China offer. As well, it puts the establishment on notice that they have to raise the bar for their products and services.

Germany to instigate the creation of a European public cloud service

Article

Map of Europe By User:mjchael by using preliminary work of maix¿? [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Europe to have one or more public cloud services that respect European sovereignty and values

Germany to Unveil European Cloud to Rival Amazon, Alibaba | ITPro Today

France, Germany want more homegrown clouds to pick from | ITNews (Premium)

My Comments

Germany is instigating a European-wide project to create a public cloud-computing service.  As well, France is registering intent in this same idea but of creating another of these services.

Both countries’ intention is to rival what USA and Asia are offering regarding public-cloud data-processing solutions. But, as I have said before, it is about having public data infrastructure that is sovereign to European laws and values. This also includes the management and dissemination of such data in a broad and secure manner.

Freebox Delta press photo courtesy of Iliad (Free.fr)

… which could also facilitate European software and data services like what is offered through the Freebox Delta

The issue of data sovereignty has become of concern in Europe due to the USA and China pushing legislation to enable their governments to gain access to data held by data service providers that are based in those countries. This is even if the data is held on behalf of a third-party company or hosted on servers that are installed in other countries. The situation has been underscored by a variety of geopolitical tensions involving especially those countries such as the recent USA-China trade spat.

It is also driven by some European countries being dissatisfied with Silicon Valley’s dominance in the world of “as-a-service” computing. This is more so with France where there are goals to detach from and tax “GAFA” (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) due to their inordinate influence in consumer and business computing worlds.

or BMW’s voice-driven assistant for in-car infotainment

Let’s not forget that Qarnot in France has designed computers that put their waste heat to use for heating rooms or creating hot water in buildings. This will appeal to a widely-distributed data-processing setup that could be part of public cloud-computing efforts.

Questions that will crop up with the Brexit agenda when Europe establishes this public cloud service will include British data sovereignty if data is held on the European public cloud or whether Britain will have any access or input into this public cloud.

Airbus A380 superjumbo jet wet-leased by HiFly at Paris Air Show press picture courtesy of Airbus

… just like this Airbus A380 superjumbo jet shows European prowess in aerospace

Personally I could see this as facilitating the wider creation of online services by European companies especially with the view to respecting European personal and business values. It could encompass ideas like voice-driven assistant services, search engines, mapping and similar services for consumers or to encourage European IT development.

Could this effort that Germany and France put forward be the Airbus or Arianespace of public-cloud data services?

European Union’s data security actions come closer

Article

Map of Europe By User:mjchael by using preliminary work of maix¿? [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

The European Union will make steps towards a secure-by-design approach for hardware, software and services

EU Cybersecurity Act Agreed – “Traffic Light” Labelling Creeps Closer | Computer Business Review

Smarthome: EU führt Sicherheitszertifikate für vernetzte Geräte ein | Computer Bild (German Language / Deutschen Sprache)

From the horse’s mouth

European Commission

EU negotiators agree on strengthening Europe’s cybersecurity (Press Release)

My Comments

After the GDPR effort for data protection and end-user privacy with our online life, the European Union want to take further action regarding data security. But this time it is about achieving a “secure by design” approach for connected devices, software and online services.

This is driven by the recent Wannacry and NotPetya cyberattacks and is being achieved through the Cybersecurity Act which is being passed through the European Parliament. It follows after the German Federal Government’s effort to specify a design standard for routers that we use as the network-Internet “edge” for our home networks.

There will be a wider remit for EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENSA) concerning cybersecurity issues that affect the European Union. But the key issue here is to have a European-Union-based framework for cybersecurity certification, which will affect online services and consumer devices with this certification valid through the EU. It is an internal-market legislation that affects the security of connected products including the Internet Of Things, as well as critical infrastructure and online services.

The certification framework will be about having the products being “secure-by-design” which is an analogy to a similar concept in building and urban design where there is a goal to harden a development or neighbourhood against crime as part of the design process. In the IT case, this involves using various logic processes and cyberdefences to make it harder to penetrate computer networks, endpoints and data.

It will also be about making it easier for people and businesses to choose equipment and services that are secure. The computer press were making an analogy to the “traffic-light” coding on food and drink packaging to encourage customers to choose healthier options.

-VP Andrus Ansip (Digital Single Market) – “In the digital environment, people as well as companies need to feel secure; it is the only way for them to take full advantage of Europe’s digital economy. Trust and security are fundamental for our Digital Single Market to work properly. This evening’s agreement on comprehensive certification for cybersecurity products and a stronger EU Cybersecurity Agency is another step on the path to its completion.”

What the European Union are doing could have implications beyond the European Economic Area. Here, the push for a “secure-by-design” approach could make things easier for people and organisations in and beyond that area to choose IT hardware, software and services satisfying these expectations thanks to reference standards or customer-facing indications that show compliance.

It will also raise the game towards higher data-security standards from hardware, software and services providers especially in the Internet-of-Things and network-infrastructure-device product classes.

Europeans could compete with Silicon Valley when offering online services

Map of Europe By User:mjchael by using preliminary work of maix¿? [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia CommonsVery often I have read articles from European sources about the Silicon Valley companies not respecting European values like privacy. This ends up with the European Commission taking legal action against the powerful Silicon Valley tech kings like Facebook or Google, ending up with placing requirements or levying fines on these companies.

But what can Europe also do to resolve these issues?

They could encourage European-based companies to work on Internet services like Web-search, social networking, file storage and the like that compete with what Silicon Valley offers. But what they offer can be about services that respect European personal and business values like democracy, privacy and transparency.

There has been some success in this field in the aerospace industry with Airbus rising up to challenge Boeing. This was more evident with Airbus releasing the A380 high-capacity double-decker long-haul jet and Boeing offering the 787 Dreamliner jet that was focused on saving energy. Let’s not forget the rise of Arianespace in France who established a competing space program to what NASA offered.

But why are the Europeans concerned about Silicon Valley’s behaviour? Part of it is to do with Continental Europe’s darkest time in modern history where there was the rise of the Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin dictatorships, underscored by Hitler’s Germany taking over significant areas in France and Eastern Europe before the Second World War. This was followed up with the Cold War where most of Eastern Europe was effectively a group of communist dictatorships loyal to the Soviet Union. In both these situations, the affected countries were run as police states where their national security services were conducting mass surveillance at the behest of the country’s dictator.

There are a few of these businesses putting themselves on the map. Of course we known that Spotify, the main worldwide online jukebox, is based in Sweden. But Sweden, the land of ABBA, Volvo, IKEA, Electrolux and  Assa Abloy, also has CloudMe, a cloud-based file-storage service on their soil. It is also alongside SoundCloud, the go-to audio-content server for Internet-based talent, which is based in Germany. The French also put their foot in the IoT space with a smart lock retrofit kit that has Web management with its server based in France.

A few search engines are setting up shop in Europe with Unbubble.eu (German) and StartPage (Dutch) metasearch engines in operation and Qwant and Findx search engines that create their own indexes. But the gaps that I have noticed here is the existence of a social network or display ad platform that are based in Europe and support the European personal and business values.

There are also the issues associated with competing heavily against the Silicon Valley giants, such as establishing presence in the European or global market and defining your brand. Here, they would have to identify those people and businesses in Europe and the world who place emphasis on the distinct European values and know how to effectively compete against the established brands.

The European Commission could help companies competing with the Silicon Valley IT establishment by providing information and other aid along with providing a list of European-based companies who can compete with this establishment. They could also underpin research and development efforts for these companies who want to innovate in a competitive field. It can also include the ability for multiple companies in the IT, consumer-electronics and allied fields to work towards establishing services that can have a stronger market presence and compete effectively with Silicon Valley.

The EU are now pursuing the right-to-repair issue in Europe

Article

Europeans want to see the ability for people to have consumer electronics repaired by independent technicians so they can see the equipment have a long service life

EU lawmakers call for a right to repair electronic equipment | PC World

My Comments

An issue that recently has been raised in the US is “right-to-repair”. This is to allow consumers to have their equipment repaired or upgraded by an independent technician rather than a manufacturer-approved technician.

Here it’s about avoiding the need to replace equipment once it breaks down or live through a fault like a cracked screen because it costs too much to repair. It also affects the ability to see a device serve us for the long haul such as not being able to upgrade it with higher-capacity data storage or improved functionality through its service life.

It also includes the availability of repairers who can keep our equipment in good repair such as being able to take our smartphones to the repair kiosks in the shopping malls when the screen breaks or the battery dies out.

Saeco GranBaristo Avanti espresso machine press picture courtesy of Philips

Could that church or other community organisation use this espresso machine as part of their coffee-stall fundraiser without its use being questioned by the machine’s manufacturer?

For small businesses and community organisations, there is the issue of being able to use high-quality cost-effective equipment pitched at the domestic market yet be able to seek repairs at a cost-effective price even though the equipment such as a microwave oven or premium “bean-to-cup” espresso machine  is used in what is seen by the manufacturer as “commercial use”.

There is also the issue of seeking insurance coverage for repairs done to equipment that had suffered damage, something that can affect policies that provide accidental-damage coverage or industry-specific liability coverage associated with providing services. In this case, there is more incentive to have the repair covered without any party needing to be slugged extra when it comes to premiums or excesses.

The European Union have tackled this issue under many fronts when it comes to equipment being maintained in Europe.

Here, it encompasses the availability of spare parts, tools and knowledge to independent European-based repairers, including the ability to easily dismantle the product rather than having parts like batteries glued in to it. This includes having the spare parts available for the product’s lifespan and function. In some ways I would also see it as encouraging “parts-common”design approaches where equipment uses parts that are common with prior designs or maintaining a particular design platform for a very long time but providing incremental improvements.

Personally, I would also like to see the availability of “official” optional-function modules and accessories for the product available also for its lifespan. This is important with European-designed electronics, especially television sets, where the manufacturers were providing modules to add functionality to these devices like teletext reception, viewdata terminal functionality or picture-in-picture functionality once a technician installed the required module.

The Europeans also demonstrate an interest in the “right-to-repair” issue because they want to see more European-based employment of technicians in European-based repair workshops along with the sale of second-hand equipment within Europe. Let’s not forget a call-back to European values when it comes to how consumer electronics and similar items offered in that area by European firms are designed and manufactured. It is infact something I have noticed with equipment that has a strong European pedigree like the Freebox Révolution, and the AVM Fritz!box routers or even the Revox B77 open-reel tape deck which I had regarded as the “Technics SL-1200” of open-reel stereo tape decks – a model that existed for a long time with a large parts base and given respect by personal and professional users. This is where there is an emphasis on a long service life and the ability to see a continual product-improvement cycle over a long time even for existing products.

Here, the Europeans are also using another angle to approach the “right-to-repair” issue. They want to provide an incentive for manufacturers to offer repairable products by requiring them to extend the warranty period on the product if it takes more than a month for a warranty repair job to be completed.

They also want to see some form of standard consumer-facing identification of products prior to purchase to highlight their durability and repairability. This also includes the continual availability of updated firmware for these products so there is a committment to data security but also the ability for a device to adapt to newer circumstances.

At least Europe is joining in with the USA to push for “right-to-repair” along with having equipment designed for a long service life rather than ending up as e-waste.

EU wants to establish a security baseline for Internet Of Things

Article

Netgear DG834G ADSL2 wireless router

The security of network connectivity equipment is now in question thanks to the Krebs On Security DDoS attack

The EU’s latest idea to secure the Internet of Things? Sticky labels | Naked Security Blog

My Comments

The European Commission wants to push forward with a set of minimum standards for data security especially in context with “dedicated-function” devices including the “Internet Of Things” or “Internet Of Everything”. This also includes a simplified consumer-facing product-label system along with a customer-education program very similar to what has taken place in most countries concerning the energy efficiency of the appliances or the nutritional value of the foodstuffs we purchase.

This issue has been driven by a recent cyber attack on the Krebs On Security blog where the “Mirai” botnet was used to overload that security blog, the latest in a string of many attacks that were inflicted against data-security journalist Brian Krebs. But this botnet was hosted not on regular computers that were running malware downloaded from questionable Internet sites, nor was it hosted on Web hosts that were serving small-time Websites running a popular content management system. It was based on poorly-secured “dedicated-function” devices like network-infrastructure devices, video-surveillance devices, printers and “Internet Of Things” devices that had their firmware meddled with.

Nest Learning Thermostat courtesy of Nest Labs

… as could other Internet-Of-Things devices like these room thermostats

There will be issues that concern how we set network-enabled equipment up to operate securely along with the level of software maintenance that takes place for their firmware. A question always raised in this context is the setup or installation procedure that you perform when you first use these devices – whether this should be about a “default-for-security” procedure like requiring an administrator password of sufficient strength to be set before you can use the device.

But I also see another question concerning the “durables” class of equipment like refrigerators, televisions, building security and the like which is expected to be pushed on for a long time, typically past the time that a manufacturer would cease providing support for it. What needs to happen is an approach towards keeping the software maintained such as, perhaps, open-sourcing it or establishing a baseline software for that device.

Manufacturers could be researching ways to implement centralised simplified secure setup for consumer “Internet-Of-Things” devices along with maintaining the software that comes with these devices. This could be also about working on these issues with industry associations so that this kind of management can work industry-wide.

But the certification and distinct labelling requirement could be about enforcing secure-by-design approaches so that customers prefer hardware that has this quality. Similarly, a distinct label could be implemented to show that a device benefits from regular secure software maintenance so that it is protected against newer threats.

It usually just requires something to happen in a significant manner to be a wake-up call regarding computer and data security. But once a standard is worked out, it could answer the question of keeping “dedicated-purpose” computing devices secure.

European Commission gives financial thumbs-up for Germany’s rural-broadband efforts

Article

German countryside - By Manfred&Barbara Aulbach (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

European Union provides aid to Germany for real broadband in its rural areas

Euro Commish OKs €3bn German broadband aid scheme | The Register

Further resources

Breitbandauschreibungen.de – Broadband infrastructure office (German language / Deutsche Sprache)

Previous coverage

Discussions in Germany about how broadband can benefit rural areas

Deutsche Telekom raises isssues about rural broadband in Germany

My Comments

Germany has had a long desire to make sure that rural areas in their Länder (States), especially their Flächlander (Area States) which have these rural areas, were getting real broadband. Now they have been given EUR€3 billion to help them with these efforts.

According to the Breitbandauschreibungen.de Website which is administering this aid, Saxony-Anhalt have become the “first cab off the rank” to seek funding for various projects to assure 50Mb broadband over the State. Most of these efforts in the site have been fielded by local governments under the auspices of the Staatskanzlei des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt (the state government for the Saxony-Anhalt state).

Most likely these efforts will take place at the state (Länder} level with help from local government rather than the onus being placed on Berlin. This works better because the state and local governments know what’s going on at the coalface. But Berlin would need to play its part in assuring real competition for broadband Internet service throughout Gernany and not give Deutsche Telekom special favours.

Why keep the VAT for e-books high?

Lately, France and Luxembourg pegged the Value-Added Tax (same as the GST in Australia, New Zealand and Canada and similar to the sales tax levied by US states) for e-books at the lower rate used for printed books.
Just lately the European Commission rapped them over the knuckles for daring to do this because they think that the “electronic hard copy” is a luxury and should be taxed the higher rate compared to the printed hard copy. I support France and Luxembourg for valuing the idea that the electronic hard copy of a book is as of the same value as the printed hard copy.  As well it is considered to be an important distribution channel for the book or magazine. For example, a lot of women like the strong romance novels in this format because others don’t notice they are reading these steamy stories on the train or bus – they just notice the Kindle, iPad or Nexus 7. Similarly this format suits serialised content more than the printed book. As well, the NAS could work as the electronic library on the home network.
Personally, I would like to see a situation where copyright and tax issues for artistic and similar works are treated the same no matter the publishing format or the distribution channel.

Another example of public money towards real broadband Internet–this time in Germany

Article

Broadband for rural areas: financed by the EIB and WIBank | European Union Press Releases

My Comments

Some more public money has been put up in the European Union towards facilitating next-generation Internet in rural Europe. This time, it is taking place in the middle of Germany.

Here, the European Investment Bank had put €80m towards Hessen government’s promotional bank (WIBank) to lend to companies to develop next-generation broadband in that state. They want to have this service pass pass 75% of households by 2014 with a desirable throughput of 50Mb/s.

It is seen to be part of “Digital Agenda For Europe” which is needed to satisfy increased data volumes that are now occurring in Europe. Hessen’s main urban centres like Wiesbaden and Frankfurt have the high-throughput infrastructure but there is a desire to get the high-speed broadband out to peri-urban areas, small towns and rural areas.

This may require building out of VDSL2 infrastructure in more of the towns and establishing the FTTP fibre-optic infrastructure in the dense areas like most of Frankfurt. Personally, I would also like to see the VDSL2 infrastructure moved towards FTTC (fibre-to-the-curb) where there are the shorter runs so as to increase the bandwidth available.

The Hessen broadband development is being set up to permit competitive business but is also to be seen by the European Union as an example of a next-generation urban-rural broadband deployment.

It is another of the European publicly-funded broadband-improvement developments that needs to be observed by countries considering the implementation of broadband improvements using public money.