The European Internet Forum will finally be launched on 3 December by the European Commission. The purpose of the initiative is to fight terrorism by large online companies doing things that seem like they might be useful to fight terrorism.
“It is fanciful to the point of being childish to believe that online giants are going to stumble on worthwhile solutions to dealing with online terrorism. This initiative has no democratic legitimacy, no clear problem identification, no accountability and no review process”
, said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights
The EU institutions apparently believe that the key task is to pile enough public relations problems on Internet companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter that this becomes a serious problem for them. The assumption appears to be that the Internet companies will then implement measures that are evidence-based, effective and proportionate. Furthermore, it appears that the European Commission believes that the solutions will – in the ever-changing online environment – be consistently effective and that there is, despite solid evidence to the contrary, no risk that the measures will be counter-productive.
The promise that civil society will be involved in the European Internet Forum, repeated most recently in a European Commission press release on 17 November, has not, yet at least, been fulfilled.
The initiative is the latest in a very long line of failed initiatives from the EU to persuade Internet companies to solve public policy problems. Other examples include:
- The “Clean IT” project – which had broadly identical goals to the “Internet Forum” was generously funded by the European Commission, after the project proposal initially rejected for being of sub-standard quality, and failed to produce meaningful outcomes. The project website now contains a link to a pornography website.
- The “Stakeholders Dialogue on Illegal Uploading and Downloading” failed to produce any meaningful results.
- The European Commission run project on “public-private cooperation to counter the dissemenation of illegal content within the European Union” (we are not aware of final recommendations being published).
Launch of the EU Internet Forum – behind closed doors and without civil society (05.08.2015)
EU Commission: IT companies to fix “terrorist use of the Internet” (06.10.2015)
EU Commission set to re-brand the failed CleanIT project (03.06.2015)