Laws for the net

This is what’s in it for you

Who says the European Parliament is
only interested in crooked cucumbers?
Five laws from Europe and what
they do for you.

  • All weapons exported from Europe are required to have two centimeters of curvature for every ten centimeters of barrel. This great idea for world peace came from the mind of Martin Sonneborn, an MEP who proposed a motion to this effect in the Euro­pean Parliament. But was he just having a bit of fun? Sadly, yes – it was just a joke. For who isn’t aware: Martin Sonne­born represents Die PARTEI, a German parody party that won a seat in the European Parliament in 2014. His motion was to fall by the wayside, as was his attempt to reintroduce the long-repealed regulation on crooked cucumbers.

    But the European Parliament is about much more than just twisted cucumbers and curved gun barrels. In fact, it produced countless laws that turn out to be very useful to you. To follow are just five of the more notable of them.
All weapons exported from Europe are required to have two centimeters of curvature for every ten centimeters of barrel. Martin Sonneborn – Leader of the satirical party „Die PARTEI“
  • 1

    Let the buyer beware ... or not?

    • Online shopping is more than just a handy and easy way of acquiring things you need, thanks to the EU you as a buyer now enjoy many rights all over Europe that make online shopping safer across 28 Member States. For example, you have the right to expect your order to be delivered within 30 days. And if it hasn’t arrived within that time you have the right to cancel the order. But what if you have received the goods, but they’re not to your liking? No problem. You have 14 days to return the delivery, without hav­ing to give a reason for doing so. Let’s say, though, the goods are what you want, but they’re not working correctly? Well, in that case you have the right to demand that they be repaired or replaced. And if that doesn’t work, you can claim a discount or return the goods. You have a minimum two-year gua­ran­tee on all goods. And on top of all that, deal­ers are required to offer their goods and services to every­one in every EU member state at the same price.
  • 2

    Hate is not an opinion

    • It’s not hard to find hate on the internet. According to a scientific survey conducted by the Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia, almost every 14- to 24-year-old in Germany has come across hate speech on the internet. And according to a survey commissioned by the Council of Europe, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual people are the most frequent targets of such hate speech, though Muslims and people who stand up for these groups are also victims. The European Union strongly opposes internet hate speech and has agreed on an EU Code of Conduct, which was launched in 2016, with Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and some other social platforms. "You victim" and similar insults, but especially racist and xenophobic comments should be deleted as soon as possible by the platform operators, the Code of Conduct suggests. And it is effective: 89 percent of the reported comments are now under consideration and 72 percent of illegal hate comments have been deleted, as the fourth movement of the EU Code of Conduct shows.
  • 3

    Digital slavery no longer on the menu

    • An ever increasing number of people are now earning their daily bread wielding a mouse or swiping a touchscreen – they’re composing texts, researching on the web, delivering food for delivery services, or whatever it is their clients need at whatever the time. These microjobs, which form part of what has come to be known as the “gig economy,” can take as little as a few minutes to complete – think, for example, of the task of researching an address on the internet. Exchanges designed to match jobs to available clickworkers are sprouting like mushrooms all over the web. So, the digital revolution is matching demand to supply quickly and conveniently, and everyone’s a winner! ... Or not, as the case may be! According to Welt, the European Commission is worried about the potential to exploit clickworkers, fearing even the risk that a form of digital slavery might emerge from the phenomenon. Enrique Calvet Chambón, a rapporteur in the European Parliament, takes a critical view of these new developments as they emerge all over the world. For example, the parliamentarian considers it neither true nor fair for a delivery service to claim that no real employer-employee relationship exists between it and its messengers. The EU is now moving to lay down a set of rules to govern when clickworking counts as a genuine employment relationship and the conditions under which employees begin to enjoy the corresponding labor protection rights. For example, the EU wants to introduce laws to prohibit platforms from simply canceling microjobs spontaneously without payment, and to draw up rules setting minimum daily working hours in advance so that gig workers can better plan their daily lives. EU Social Affairs Commissioner Marianne Thyssen sums it up: "Today's economy needs flexible labour contracts, but flexibility must be combined with minimum protection.".
  • 4

    Networked to better safety on the road

    • Cases such as the racers on Berlin’s Ku'damm underline the fact that far too many people are still dying on Europe's roads as a result of irresponsible behavior or simple human error. In an effort to make our roads safer, the European Parliament has decided that intelligent networked assistance systems will become mandatory in all new vehicles from 2024. These systems should make it possible, for example, for cars to tell whether their driver has been drinking and block the ignition if so. And the system will also detect if the driver is driving too fast and issue a warning. If the driver still doesn’t slow down, the car will automatically restrict the fuel supply to reduce its speed. The European Road Safety Council has described this decision as the most important milestone in the history of road safety since the introduction of the seat belt.
  • 5

    EU General Data Protection Regulation

    • This sounds bulky, but it's a real innovation for the protection of your data: Information may only be collected about you, or even passed on to third parties, with your agreement. If you want to know what companies have stored about you, they have to tell you – and erase everything if you want that.