Predictions 2016: Monica Horten

December 16, 2015

Two recent news stories suggest issues that will loom large on the Internet policy agenda for 2016. There is Deutsche Telekom’s reaction to the new European Regulation on open Internet access: the German network provider will introduce tolls on start-ups to put them in the fast lane. The price will be a few per cent revenue share. And then there is Microsoft’s decision to ring-fence European data within German data centres under a trustee system, so that it is, ostensibly, out of reach of the United States intelligence services. Customers who want this enhanced privacy protection will have to pay for it.

Both of these developments reflect pivotal changes in the way that Internet-based services operate, and will have long-term ramifications for the future.

It’s interesting that whilst Deutsche Telekom’s Internet fast lanes are certain to be disputed and will generate plenty of political argument – an easy win for a prediction – Microsoft’s proposal has so far received a relatively warm welcome. The notion of Internet fast lanes is relatively well understood, as it has been a key bone of contention in the political debate on both sides of the Atlantic. This new evidence of the telecom providers plans will just add fuel to the fire. However, the idea of paying for protection from the intelligence services is a curious one, raising the notion of data protection as a two-tier service. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as European and US law-makers seek to resolve the new safe harbour rules.

{b}Dr Monica Horten, Visiting Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science. Author of {“The Closing of the Net”:} (Polity Press, forthcoming, March 2016). Website: {} Twitter @Iptegrity{/b}