Will Europe Lead US in Progressive Internet?

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"Artists who may be inclined to seek more protection for work online should consider such may be employed to regulate the art itself, or at least what can be transferred via web at all." - SOPA, PIPA, ACTA are contributing to alphabet soup confusion regarding proposed internet regulation, but certain trends may be evident above the stream of letters. While US debates more regulation to protect products, art and security, Europe has focused more on the right of individuals. However, the right question to ask: does any new national/international regulation add potential for stifling freedom? Regulations/Laws: First Rule Perpetuate-Second Rule Expand! The justification for most new oppressive laws from US to China is security, protection of society/person/property. As more despots and repressive regimes have increasingly employed terror as excuse, it has become diluted in its value to would-be-controllers in Washington, Brussels and most freer societies. The new “battle cry” of regulation heralds protection of intellectual property and war against online piracy – see SOPA, PIPA and ACTA. As usual though when it comes to most “controls”, fear real and/or manipulated provides the soap for the slippery slope. Artists who might be inclined to seek more protection for their work online should be concerned that such in end may be employed to regulate the art itself, or at least what can be transferred via web at all. The history of US laws as RICO (presented to combat Mafia) and Patriot Act (purportedly anti-terror), the development of such has been evolution toward ever broader application – (bit like the aggressive African bee taking over relatively passive honey bee colonies). Should we see new EU law, as it has been tagged – “Right to be Forgotten” on the Internet in similar concern. In part yes, though it clearly does provide some pushback to the individual vis-à-vis the rapidly expanding Internet corporate giants. Requiring that embarrassing, inaccurate or simply personal data will have to be deleted from the internet and company databases if consumers ask is not a bad thing, although in application it could end up with unforeseen application/implementation. The first rule of regulatory bureaucracies is perpetuation and the second is expansion. EU Right to be Forgotten: Matt Warman, Consumer Technology Editor at The Telegraph provides an elegant explanation: “The move will mean that social networks such as Facebook or Twitter will have to comply with users' requests to delete everything they have ever published about themselves online. It will also mean that consumers will be able to force companies that hold data about them, such as for Tesco's Clubcard, to remove it. The changes, which could take more than two years to implement, also include a new EU power to fine companies up to 2 per cent of their global turnover if they breach the rules. The new laws will apply to any company offering services in an EU nation.” Link to Matt's article - www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/matt-warman/ Borderless Internet/Boundless Regulation? That last sentence is key. It opens application across borders, as the Internet is borderless, and thus for regulation/imposition at times may be least open to scrutiny, like ACTA, in its application among national regulators acting within obscurity of “international cooperation.” One arena which may define the balance between freedom and security on global basis was established 7 years earlier – “International Governance Forum.” It just concluded another session. Although most of the action undertaken is debate, and that is the best form of action re the Internet, While some countries with long standing governments (ie dictatorships of person and/or party) have promoted more regulation/controls, there has been also pushback, and it comes as much from European representatives as that from US. There is though a more genuine discussion regarding balance between privacy and openness on the Internet. Read : “Internet Security, Openness & Privacy Forum Concludes.” diplomaticallyincorrect.org/films/blog_post/internet-security-openness-privacy-forum-concludes-by-ambassador-mo/35706 . The best and worst aspect of the International Governance Forum is that it does not have a centralized institutional management. It is composed of a rather fluid group of individuals, NGOs, other institutions and governments. The UN Secretary General has been largely responsible for providing the impetus for further discussion/debate and conferences. Alex Fitzpatrick at Mashable, also takes note of the global application of the new EU law. It is intended to harmonize the laws of almost 30 EU states and several others (from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia to Turkey) who have aspirations/affiliation with respect to the EU. This could actually enhance Internet freedom in the future by creating a higher standard for domestic regulatory intervention as well as purportedly promoting privacy for the more immediate term. “All online businesses operating in Europe would be bound to the new rules, whether or not they’re based on the continent. ..In the past, European Union (EU) member states have issued varying interpretations on existing digital privacy laws. Those different analyses have resulted in discordant levels of enforcement from country to country. If passed, this law would unify all 27 EU member states under a single set of privacy rules. The EU argues this Europe-wide standardization would save businesses money by providing a sole definitive source of online privacy law for the continent. However, many internet companies depend on access to users’ data for advertisement revenue. A spokesman for European Union justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, told the BBC that the proposed laws are a means of protecting children and young adults who share details online which they later want removed for professional or personal reasons.‘These rules are particularly aimed at young people as they are not always as aware as they could be about the consequence of putting photos and other information on social network websites, or about the various privacy settings available,’ said spokesman Matthew Newman.” Read Alex at mashable.com/2012/01/25/europe-facebook-google/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+Mashable+%28Mashable%29 The EU initiative will take at least another couple of years to be adopted/adapted and implemented. However, from geo-political perspective, it is becoming a trend that while the EU focuses on privacy, the US has been focused on security and presumably protection of IT property. ACTA in reality follows the latter. All could pose threats to Internet freedom. However, for well over a decade the US regulatory/criminalization trend has been with evident anti-libertarian undertones. Regardless of real and/or imagined threats, libertarianism is the ideology of the Internet. It would be ironic if the US would in terms of economics, politics and ideology deter the individualistic tradition of creativity, development and interaction on the Internet. Read our Previous Article: “Fear of Printing Press & Internet” -http://www.filmannex.com/posts/blog_show_post/fear-of-printing-press-internet-revolution-by-ambassador-mo/43969 By Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey - FOLLOW mo @MuhamedSacirbey Facebook Become a Fan at “Diplomatically Incorrect” Twitter – Follow at DiplomaticallyX

About the author


"Voice of the Global Citizen"- Diplomatically Incorrect (diplomaticallyincorrect.org) provide film and written reports on issues reflecting diplomatic discourse and the global citizen. Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey (@MuhamedSacirbey) is former Foreign Minister Ambassador of Bosnia & Herzegovina at the United Nations. "Mo" is also signatory of the Rome Conference/Treaty establishing the International…

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