Finishing my internship with EDRi

By EDRi · April 22, 2014

The last three months have provided a great opportunity to get first-hand experience observing digital policy in the European decision-making process. I have worked on a number of topics and assisted with the launch of the campaign. By far the most memorable (and successful) thing I’ve worked on has been the Telecoms Single Market Regulation, which saw net neutrality take a significant step forwards towards being enshrined in EU law.

Getting to this stage hasn’t been easy, and has largely been the result of a collaboration beween EDRi and its member organisations. This development proves that the EU has the capacity to be a world leader on the future of digital policy, and that digital rights will be central to the next parliamentary term. Not everyone was pleased. Telecoms representative ETNO lamented the fact that its ambitions for a two-tier internet designed to account for the loss of revenue that its members can charge on mobile roaming had been defeated. On Twitter, its chairman referred to the amendments as “populist” measures, a fair assessment given that they favour consumers and civil society over discriminatory networks.

Some of the other highlights of my internship have been attending events and meetings with key figures in EU digital policy. These events have been diverse, ranging from discussions on the Trans-Atlantic Trade Investment Partnership, to the ethics of civilian drones. Attending these events can provide a real advantage in getting up to speed with the latest developments. The panellists are often highly informed on the subject and can provide unique perspectives that are otherwise difficult to find. For example, the various occasions in which I saw MEP Marietje Schaake discuss internet governance gave real insight into the status of this issue in Europe. In another discussion, Jacob Appelbaum’s talk on the extent of government surveillance was highly informative and illustrated the threat of hardware-level backdoors in the future.

I would recommend the internship to anyone with a keen interest in digital policy. The office is located extremely close to the European Parliament, making it easy to attend events and meet with key individuals. Interns’ main task is to produce a weekly report – a summary of everything happening on an EU level that concerns digital rights. In producing this report you, gain an awareness of digital policy developments as they happen, which provides a sort of vantage point over the direction this policy will take in the future. This is of great benefit to anyone who wants to get involved with digital policy from the perspective of consumers and civil society.

Perhaps the greatest thing about working with EDRi lies with the fact that it is a European hub for its 36 member organisations, with many lively discussions occurring on a range of topics concerning digital policy. Following these discussions introduced me to a number of digital rights issues that I had not previously considered.

Andrew Walsh