from the quick,-get-that-in-writing dept
One of the useful side-effects of the groundswell of protest against SOPA and PIPA is that a surprising number of people in positions of power have come out against their approach, notably in Europe. First, we had Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, who tweeted:
Glad tide is turning on #SOPA: don't need bad legislation when should be safeguarding benefits of open net.
And now she's been joined by her colleague, Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship:
"The protection of creators must never be used as pretext to intervene in the freedom of the Internet," Reding told an international Internet conference in the southern German city of Munich, noting the "heated debate" surrounding the issue.
That's an interesting comment to make when the European Commission-supported ACTA is arguably doing precisely that. For example, the academics Douwe Korff and Ian Brown prepared a report on ACTA in October last year at the request of the Greens/European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament. Here's what they wrote in on the topic of ACTA and fundamental rights in their conclusion:
Overall, ACTA tilts the balance of IPR protection manifestly unfairly towards one group of beneficiaries of the right to property, IP right holders, and unfairly against others. It equally disproportionately interferes with a range of other fundamental rights, and provides or allows for the determination of such rights in procedures that fail to allow for the taking into account of the different, competing interests, but rather, stack all the weight at one end.
This makes the entire Agreement, in our opinion, incompatible with fundamental European human rights instruments and standards.
In her comments at the German conference, Reding went on to make an even more interesting statement:
"You'll never have from Europe a blocking of the Internet -- that's not the European option," she said.
If she meant it, then that's an extremely important line in the sand given that the blocking of sites has already started in Finland, the Netherlands, and the UK. It will be interesting to see if she and her colleagues back those words up with any action.