Stories from Abroad

Since 2010, the Benton Foundation and the New America Foundation have partnered to highlight telecommunications debates from countries outside the U.S.

Iran’s Online Crackdown Prompts Smuggling of Starlink Kits

Iran’s government has throttled down bandwidths, stepped up filtering of social-media sites and taken down virtual private networks, according to analysts and reports by nongovernment organizations. It has also sought to intercept Starlink and other satellite internet devices, which are illegal in Iran. The number of Iranians with access to Starlink is a tiny fraction of the millions who use virtual private networks and other platforms to evade government restrictions, users say.

Microsoft Fined $64 Million in France Over Advertising Cookies

France’s privacy watchdog fined Microsoft for not making it easy enough for users of its Bing search engine to reject cookies used for online ads, as part of a broader increase of enforcing Europe’s privacy laws. France’s data-protection regulator, the CNIL, fined a Microsoft subsidiary in Ireland 60 million euros, equivalent to almost $64 million. The company hadn’t—until earlier in 2022—offered users the option to reject so-called cookies alongside the button to accept them, the regulator said.

European Commission accepts commitments by Amazon barring it from using marketplace seller data, and ensuring equal access

The European Commission has made commitments offered by Amazon legally binding under European Union antitrust rules. Amazon's commitments address the Commission's competition concerns over Amazon's use of non-public marketplace seller data and over a possible bias in granting sellers access to its Buy Box and its Prime program. Amazon's practices raised three competition concerns:

Microsoft and Viasat announce new partnership to deliver internet access to underserved communities globally

Microsoft and Viasat announced a new partnership to help deliver internet access to 10 million people around the globe, including 5 million across Africa.

Ofcom probes transparency of telecoms price rises

Ofcom has today launched an industry-wide enforcement programme into whether in-contract price rises were set out clearly enough by phone and broadband companies before customers signed up.

China Clamps Down on Internet as It Seeks to Stamp Out Covid Protests

China’s internet watchdog, the Cyberspace Administration, instructed tech companies to expand censorship of protests and moved to curb access to virtual private networks, as a government clampdown succeeds in keeping most protesters off the streets after 

Elon Musk’s satellites to be part of UK trial to get internet to remote areas

Elon Musk’s satellite Starlink technology is to be part of a UK government trial to get better internet connectivity to remote parts of the country. Starlink will initially be trialled at three remote locations—Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire Moors national park, Wasdale Head in the Lake District, and two sites within Snowdonia national park. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said it was continuing to look at the capability of the system, as well as looking at other solutions and services with different suppliers.

Starlink prices in Ukraine nearly double as mobile networks falter

The list prices of Starlink communications devices have nearly doubled in Ukraine, as mobile networks have started failing under Russia’s assault on the country’s electricity grid and increased demand for the SpaceX-manufactured satellite communication device. Starlink terminals, which are made by Elon Musk-owned SpaceX, will increase in price to $700 for new Ukrainian consumers, according to the company’s website.

‘It’s discrimination’: millions of Britons frozen out in the digital age

Many people in Britain can’t live without their smartphone and use it to manage all aspects of their lives, from banking to shopping and socialising.

Global legal perils beset a downsized Twitter

Twitter faces a mass of forces abroad and in Washington that aim to compel the company to obey privacy rules, speech limits and other regulations as Elon Musk remakes the service. Musk's word is law inside Twitter now, but his disdain for rules will encounter tough pushback from governments around the world — just as the company has lost most of the people who managed its relationships with regulators and legislators. Twitter's biggest challenges lie abroad, particularly in Europe, which has been steadily tightening tech regulations for years.