On Wednesday, the European Commission (EC) unveiled a pair of proposed legislative packages that would provide new protections for copyrighted video, music and other content transmitted online while promoting wireless fifth-generation (5G) network connectivity that consumers need to access the advanced web-based services of the future. As stated in an EC press release, the proposed copyright rules seek to “increase cultural diversity in Europe and content availability online, while bringing clearer rules for all online players.” The telecommunications legal package, meanwhile, would provide “new initiatives to meet Europeans' growing connectivity needs and boost Europe's competitiveness,” while “[encouraging] investment in very high-capacity networks.” Specifying an interim goal of commercial 5G network availability in at least one major city of every European Union (EU) member state by 2020, the telecommunications directive would establish a new European Electronic Communications Code that would include “forward-looking and simplified rules that make it more attractive for all companies to invest in new top-quality infrastructure everywhere in the EU.” In addition to setting forth new initiatives to promote the deployment of free municipal Wi-Fi connections, the directive also heeds carrier recommendations for regulatory parity in requiring web-based telephone and messaging services to comply with emergency calling, security and other rules that have been applied traditionally to telecommunications network operators.

The proposed copyright directive would give newspaper and magazine publishers the right to charge news aggregation and social media websites that carry their content. Other provisions would require video and music sharing platforms to deploy technologies that “automatically detect songs or audiovisual works which right holders have identified and agreed with the platforms either to authorize or remove.” Although Gunther Oettinger, the EC’s Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, predicted that "our creative industries will benefit from these reforms which tackle the challenges of the digital age,” twenty five technology firms warned EU officials this week that the proposed directives, if enacted, “would have immediate and far-reaching chilling effects on innovation, consumer rights and freedom of expression.” Observers anticipate that both legal packages will undergo months of debate before they are modified and/or ratified by the European Parliament and EU member states.