EU Commissioner Kroes Speaks Out On Internet Openness; Says We Cannot Allow ISP Disconnects

from the say-it-again dept

EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, has been saying a ton of smart things lately. A few months ago, we wrote about her pointing out that copyright is being used to punish & withhold and how copyright middlemen should get with the times and innovate, rather than looking to ratchet up enforcement.

Now she's continuing to speak more directly on the importance of openness online, including how it relates to copyright. It's not often you see a politician quote either the Free Software Foundation or leading thinker on these issues Yochai Benkler, but Kroes quotes them both in explaining the importance of openness:
Only the other day, the Free Software Foundation wrote to me about open standards. With their letter they enclosed something I don't normally get in the mail, a pair of handcuffs. Because they're worried about "digital handcuffs", and wanted to know if I am with them on openness. And the answer is yes. Let me show you, these handcuffs are not closed, not locked. I can open them if and when I want. That's what I mean by being open online, what it means to me to get rid of "digital handcuffs"...

[....]

Openness is also complex because sometimes it's unclear what it means.

For Yochai Benkler, it means, as he put it, that "it's open for anyone to create and innovate and share, if they want to… Because property is one mechanism of coordination. But it's not the only one." And he sees freedom as deriving from the extent to which actors can shift from one set of networks, from one way of doing things, to another. I agree: we need an environment where different models openly compete; and where people can openly choose.
Another thing she's clear on: openness can't mean kicking people offline, something she insists should not be allowed:
We cannot allow democratic voices to be silenced in that way. And I am committed to ensuring "No Disconnect" in countries that struggle for democracy. We must help such activists get around arbitrary disruptions to their basic freedoms.
Of course, that's talking about countries "struggling for democracy" such as those in the Arab Spring. But what about established democracies that are already putting in place laws to kick people offline -- like France with Hadopi? Hopefully she'll fight against such attacks on connectivity as well.

Either way, it's good to see that Commissioner Kroes continues to be committed to these issues. I had the pleasure of meeting Kroes a few months ago when she visited Silicon Valley, and I'll say that I was impressed not just by her knowledge, but by her willingness to dig deep into important issues concerning these kinds of policies. In an era where it seems like so many politicians only have a completely superficial understanding of how important the internet is, it's good to see someone in a high position who really does seem to grasp the significance of the internet, and how easily bad policies can do it harm. I don't always agree with her, but she certainly seems sincere in really pushing for true openness online.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 12:42am

    But, but...

    There is no negative narrative here! How am I now gonna vent my frustrations. Do I have to wait for Bob to post some derogative statements?

    Such male cow excrement. You can do better than that Mike!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 12:51am

    Absolute openness is like absolute freedom - they only exist in theoretical models.

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 1:32am

    Of course, that's talking about countries "struggling for democracy" such as those in the Arab Spring.
    Seems to me that countries such as the US, UK, France, et al are also "struggling for democracy".

     

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    Cerberus (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 2:08am

    @Masnick: "I don't always agree with her, ..."

    Now I am curious: what is your main difference of opinion with Kroes? (To be honest, I should know more about my country's Commissioner.)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 2:13am

    bit late now that the EUCJ has ruled that customers info can be given to the entertainment industries and/or their lackeys by ISPs. what the hell does she think is going to happen to people accused of infringement? get a slap on the wrist? she should have insisted that the EU got it's own house in order first, so people know exactly what is going on before spouting off about 'countries struggling for democracy'. the EU is supposed to be a lot of things until push comes to shove. then, just like everywhere else, the people are shit on from a great height!

     

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      abc gum, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 4:41am

      Re:

      "the people are shit on from a great height!"

      The trickle down theory in action.

      And then they expect you to clean it up for them, stating that you should be grateful for having a job.

       

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    fb39ca4, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:48am

    It's like...

    Cutting off someone's Internet access for copyright infringement is like cutting off tap water to a murderer who drowned his/her victim.

     

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      Chargone (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:14pm

      Re: It's like...

      only less justified and less inhumane at the same time...

      analogies: inherently broken, whether i agree with you or not :D

      (Note: i do agree with your point.)

       

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    Gilbert, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 2:48pm

    There is no freedom unless it's without control

    So in countries trying to free themselves there should be no censorship or disconnections, but those are allowed and enforced by law in so-called free countries like France or UK ?

     

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      Chargone (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:15pm

      Re: There is no freedom unless it's without control

      at which point, obviously, they stop being free...

      but it's bad form to encourage revolution in allied nations.

       

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