Half way through my internship at EDRi

By EDRi · March 3, 2014

My interest in digital policy began last year following a competition on public policy. After graduating, I was looking towards working for an organisation that focused on European digital policy from a civil-society perspective. After doing some research, I applied for a 3 month internship with EDRi after seeing that they match these criteria perfectly. I am now halfway through, and it has been a great opportunity to gain insight into the European policy process. EDRi produces a number of publications designed to inform activists of the European policy process – which have come in handy alongside the my experience working in the office.

EDRi keeps a close eye on a number of European developments concerning digital policy. Some of the developments that I have followed include The Safe Harbour Agreement, a US-EU agreement designed to protect the data of EU citizens held by companies in the US that has been repeatedly contravened. This agreement allowed US companies to ‘opt-in’ to the program with the understanding that they would abide to seven principles that ensured compliance with the European Union Data Protection Directive. Of course, as everyone is now aware post-Snowden, this hasn’t prove to be a very effective policy; but significant failings were repeatedly identified before the revelations on mass surveillance. As a result, there is an ongoing debate as to which action ought to be taken, with some political parties advocating reform and others, an outright cancellation.

Another issue that has become particularly important in recent times is Net Neutrality, the idea that all network traffic should be treated equally by ISPs. This principle is under threat from vested monopolistic interests in the telecommunications industry, and from certain quarters prone to venality. Following the postponing of this vote on the 24th February, it will be interesting to follow the run-up to the vote that will take place in two weeks.

Having reached a half-way point in my internship, I feel that my knowledge on the European policy process has been greatly expanded. I hope to continue to improve my understanding of this process and digital policy over the next month. One topic I am interested in learning more about is internet governance, which received widespread attention during the World Conference on International Telecommunicatons in 2012. At this conference, a majority of countries voted in favour of proposals that would have made the internet a sovereign concern; giving much greater authority to countries that implement internet censorship. This issue is currently creeping up on the EU agenda, and I will be highly interested in the developments that follow.