Written by: Mark Chapman

Written by: David Elston

Written by: David Elston

Written by: David Elston

Written by: David Elston

Written by: Danfox Davies

Written by: Danfox Davies

Written by: Danfox Davies

Written by: Mark Chapman

Written by: Loz Kaye

Written by: Andy Halsall

Written by: Adrian Short

Written by: Loz Kaye

Written by: Loz Kaye

Written by: Andy Halsall

Written by: Andy Halsall

Andy Halsall : Take your phone on Holiday (well, almost)

If there is one thing the EU does manage to get mostly right on a fairly regular basis it is consumer protection. Maybe as a bloc it has more clout when facing big business, maybe it's more responsive in dealing with transnational issues, it's certainly better placed. Whatever the reason, we have the makings of a success story today with the vote on the excitingly named 'Telecoms Single Market Regulation'.

One of the issues dealt with was roaming fees, and it's about time: With roaming data fees of up to 46p/MB in EU countries, and up to £8/MB around the rest of the world it has been expensive and confusing to take your phone or tablet abroad and use mobile broadband services. Essentially the practice left people out of touch, or out of pocket.

Right now as a UK Virgin Mobile customer it would cost you £20 for 250MB of mobile usage within the EU using your UK Virgin account. That compares to £1 per 100MB in the UK, an 800% difference. It would be £1250 for the same outside of the EU, but that's an issue for another day.

Sephy Hallow : Copyright Reform: We're Getting Somewhere

Participation in politics is something I've been thinking about a lot recently, and one of the common complaints I hear from friends of a politically apathetic persuasion is that politics no longer represents the views of the people; we aren't consulted, and when we are, our politicians make policies that go against public opinion or welfare. That's why I'm thrilled with the outcome of the UK copyright consultation, the first sign in a long time that the government listens to its people.

As one of the Pirate Party's flagship policies – and yet one of its most abstract – copyright reform has been one of the most difficult ideas to promote. With big business at stake, copyright reform was always going to be our most difficult policy to push, and we have met with resistance from many stakeholders, including the infamous BPI. However, after years of fighting, we finally have our first major breakthrough: namely, that new copyright exceptions are set to come into law (pending review from both houses) on the 1st June 2014.

Adrian Short : Books for prisoners - A novel approach

In a nutshell for those with limited reading time:

New rules that stop UK prisoners receiving parcels have led to a political row over prisoners' access to books being restricted. Justice secretary Chris Grayling sees books as a privilege that must be earned through prisoner cooperation rather than as a basic right for everyone. While prisoners will still have access to prison libraries, the new rule clearly greatly reduces prisoners' access to the wide range of reading opportunities that they might like. Whether prisoners are reading for pleasure or education (or both), easy access to a wide range of books should be non-negotiable in a decent society, even for the most notorious or uncooperative prisoners. People are more than just flesh and blood; we need to feed our minds as well as our bodies.

Andy Halsall : EU-US free trade deal must not diminish European standards

The free trade agreement between Europe and America raises the possibility that consumer, employee and environmental protections will be seen as inconveniences that can be reduced rather than levelled between the two partners.

The wave of announcements on both sides of the Atlantic on the proposed negotiations between the European Union and the United States on the 'world's biggest ever' free trade deal came with a surge of positive predictions of such an agreement's impact and not without good reason. After all, the EU and US enjoy one of the closest economic partnerships in the world and certainly the largest.

If you look at the relationship in terms of bilateral trade, the picture is pretty clear with more than €2bn a day passing between the two in 2012. According to the Office of the US Trade Representative, transatlantic investment is directly responsible for around 6.8 million jobs. It is a relationship that has a broad impact. Not only does it help to produce economic prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic but also in dozens of other trading partners around the world.

It is hard to argue that any measures that might make this partnership more efficient, or remove barriers to competition would not be a good thing. Of course, as with any relationship in which both sides are competing, the positive aspects come with a few negatives. Disagreements and tariffs may be minor but they do pose a barrier to access for both EU and US businesses. Current subsidies and state support ensure that in some areas competition is less than ideal, or even impossible.

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