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At least 186 EU ISPs use deep-packet inspection to shape traffic, break net neutrality

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Despite net neutrality regulation being in effect in the EU since 2016, European internet service providers are already breaking the rules and shaping traffic, according to a conglomerate of NGOs, academics, and private companies.

Earlier this week, this group — made up of 45 entities from 15 countries — has sent an open letter to EU authorities expressing concerns about European ISPs breaking net neutrality rules, and local regulators ignoring their actions.

The letter was sent as European authorities are in the midst of negotiations on the EU’s new net neutrality rules. These negotiations are currently being held behind closed doors with national telecom regulators.

The group of NGOs and academics, spearheaded by the European Digital Rights (EDRi) organization, are worried that “some telecom regulators appear to be pushing for the legalisation of DPI [deep packet inspection].”

The EDRi is worried about the increased usage of deep-packet inspection technology as a whole, because this technology allows ISPs to shape traffic and enforce tiered pricing plans, but it also poses a threat to user privacy, as it allows telcos a deeper look at the sites users are accessing.

Some EU ISPs already breaking the rules

The current net neutrality rules allow European ISPs to inspect and shape traffic under certain circumstances, but only for network resource optimization, and not for commercial or surveillance purposes.

The EDRi points out in its letter that EU ISPs are already ignoring net neutrality rules, and, for the past years, have been deploying DPI to examine customer traffic and detect intended traffic destinations.

EDRi cited a report published in January 2019, which found that 186 European ISPs appeared to be using DPI to offer customers differential pricing offers.

“[ISPs] are increasingly using DPI technology for the purpose of traffic management and the differentiated pricing of specific applications or services (e.g. zero-rating) as part of their product design,” the EDRi and partners said.

“DPI allows [ISPs] to identify and distinguish traffic in their networks in order to identify traffic of specific applications or services for the purpose such as billing them differently throttling or prioritising them over other traffic.”

“Most regulators have so far turned a blind eye on these net neutrality violations. Instead of fulfilling their enforcement duties, they seem to now aim at watering down the rules that prohibit DPI,” the EDRi said.

DPI should not be legalized

If ISPs get exemptions to use DPI technology legally, the fear is that telcos might use it as a legal loophole to mask tiered pricing plans as mundane traffic management operations and bypass any current net neutrality rules.

Further, the EDRi warns about the huge threat DPI poses to EU users’ privacy, as it would also allow telcos access to user data without their consent, under the guise of “approved” traffic management operations.

European authorities are expected to hold a public consultation on new net neutrality rules in the autumn of 2019. The EU’s revised net neutrality rules are expected to come under vote in March 2020. The EDRi and its partners hope DPI will not be legalized, and effectively neuter both net neutrality and EU privacy legislations.

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BMW iX5 Hydrogen Production Starts, But Don’t Expect To See This Fuel-Cell SUV In Dealerships

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The reality, though, is that even with a small number of BMW iX5 Hydrogen SUVs being produced — using individual fuel-cells supplied by Toyota, but assembled into a stack by BMW using the automaker’s own processes and technologies — the expectation is that hydrogen as a fuel will be predominantly of interest to non-passenger vehicles. Instead, it arguably makes the most sense, BMW suggests, for larger vehicles like medium- to heavy-duty trucks, along with the marine and aviation sectors. We’ve already seen Toyota reveal its plans for such an FCEV truck.

Despite that, and an acknowledgment that battery-electric vehicles will undoubtedly lead in the mainstream, BMW still believes there’s a place for FCEVs. After all, the automaker argues, if the infrastructure is being built to cater for trucks, there’s no reason not to also use it for passenger vehicles like the iX5 Hydrogen.

The results of the small-series production beginning today will be used as technology demonstrators across select regions from spring 2023, BMW says. It’s unclear at this point how many will be built. Depending on the reception and the strengths of the technology, series production of a first model could follow mid-decade, ahead of a potential full portfolio of BMW FCEVs from the 2030s onwards.

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Tesla Set To Deliver The First Semi To Pepsi

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In October, Tesla’s CEO revealed that the production of the Tesla Semi had begun, and it was bound to be delivered today. Tesla has already started the countdown, and we expect the unveiling event to go down at the Nevada factory. The electric truck will be dispatched to Pepsi, which had ordered 100 units. Investor reports that Tesla’s stock price increased by 7.7% on Wednesday, probably in anticipation of Tesla’s Semi first delivery.

Musk tweeted on Saturday that the “Tesla team just completed a 500-mile drive with a Tesla Semi weighing in at 81,000 lbs!” However, considering that Musk said that the company is dealing with supply chain issues and market inflation, it’s unclear if Tesla will stick to the original $180,000 price it intended to sell at when it was announced in 2017. Then again, Tesla offers a cheaper Semi that will be available for about $150,000 — but it can only achieve up to 300 miles at full load capacity. For now, we can only wait until it’s on the road to confirm if the specs match up to what was promised five years ago.  

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Coinbase Joins Elon Musk In Slamming The Apple App Store Tax

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Coinbase complained that Apple’s insistence on its cut unreasonably interfered with its business.

Coinbase’s argument was largely the same as Elon Musk’s, and the basis of Epic Games’ aforementioned lawsuit. According to all of the above, Apple was half of a duopoly: with Google, it controlled the global app marketplace. The “duopoly” part of the argument is pretty much incontrovertible: As of October 2022, both Apple and Google control 99.43% of the global smartphone market between them (via StatCounter). Both get a 30% cut of everyone’s action on its marketplace. From the perspective of Coinbase, that took too much money out of too many elements of its business.

Epic sued over that and, as noted above, won with an asterisk. Apple had restricted in-app purchases, and courts found that anticompetitive, but did require that Apple get a 30% cut of the profits, even though they took place in someone else’s app. In short, according to the Verge, the court said that if you’ve found a way to make money using iOS, you owe Apple 30%, period.

Epic thought in-app purchases should be exempted from the tax. Coinbase thinks elements of the NFT development process — in this case, gas prices to run the processing equipment necessary to mint NFTs — should be exempt from Apple’s app tax. Apple treats all user expenses on an app as in-app purchases and, per the Epic court decision, in-app purchases mean Apple gets a cut.

It’s not a simple problem, and it’s not likely to be solved anytime soon. Stakeholders and regulators have barely begun to integrate cryptocurrency and NFTs into the conventional marketplace. Who gets paid for what is likely to be a conversation for years on end. For now, all that’s certain is that conversation has begun.

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