EU Commissioner: No to an Internet freedom law and Yes to net neutrality

By EDRi · February 11, 2009

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The intentions of some European Parliament members (MEPs) to introduce in EU
a similar law with the Global Online Freedom Act proposed by the US Congress
in January 2007, was considered unnecessary and a too “hard law” by
Commissioner Viviane Reding.

The US bill is meant to promote freedom of speech on the Internet and
prevent US companies from being forced to act like “cyber police”. Some MEPs
are on the opinion that EU should follow US example and try to counterattack
the actions of several states that have increased the control and censoring
of the Internet thus violating citizens’ human rights.

However, Reding’s opinion is that such a law, involving export controls,
civil and criminal penalties and the creation of a specific EU body
controlling European Internet companies with operations abroad, would be too
hard and not really efficient.

“Rather, our goal should be to find ways to allow operators and service
providers to respect human rights without doing either,” said Reding on a
speech delivered on 2 February 2009 during an international conference on
the future of the Internet.

With a completely opposed position that she had last year when she supported
the three-strike measures, Reding pleaded now for the openness of the
Internet and for net neutrality. “(…) we will only be able to reap the
full social and economic benefits of a fast moving technological landscape
if we manage to safeguard the openness of the Internet. Openness is one of
the key ingredients that made the Internet so successful as an innovation
place, and we have to make sure that it is not compromised” she said. “Net
Neutrality has to be guaranteed. New network management techniques allow
traffic prioritisation. These tools may be used to guarantee good quality of
service but could also be used for anti-competitive practices. The
Commission has taken additional steps, through measures proposed to reform
our telecom package, to better prevent such unfair abuse to the detriment of
consumers” added Reding.

Reding also talked in favour of open standards: “We need to take advantage
of the win-win of open interfaces and standards such that the market can
grow for all. Dominant players may try to use proprietary standards to lock
consumers into their products or to extract very high royalties, ultimately
stifling innovation and foreclosing market entry by new players.”

In the Commissioner’s opinion, financial investments could be used for the
research and development of anti-censorship software. “In these times of
economic downturn, it is also our responsibility to invest in promising
technologies that will give us the much needed competitive edge that will
accelerate the economic recovery.”

EU media chief rules out Internet freedom law (3.02.2009)

Vivian Reding’s Speech – Internet of the future: Europe must be a key
player – Future of the Internet initiative of the Lisbon Council (2.02.2009)