Blog: MEPs want EU to defend digital freedoms at WCIT-2012 in Dubai


MEPs want EU to defend digital freedoms at WCIT-2012 in Dubai

Last week the European Parliament discussed EU priorities for the upcoming WCIT meeting in Dubai from 3-14 December, which seeks to update the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs). You can watch the full debate here, including my intervention. The Resolution was adopted by a majority of the parliament.

Basically it comes down to this: the EU should take the lead in forming a global coalition that counterweighs joint efforts by companies and governments, like those of China and Russia, and which seek to establish centralized control over the internet and impose regulation on the global internet that secures old-fashioned business models. The EU itself doesn't have a seat at the table inDubai, but the EU Member States do. So we need to make sure that they know what they are voting on and get a sense of urgency across. The European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda has an important role to play, and I have called for more involvement from the High Representative on internet and digital freedom related topics on a number of occasions.

Internet governance is not just the work of politicians. To include the input of various stakeholders, last week I posted a draft Resolution on my site and made a request for comments. I have received many valuable suggestions which I have gladly brought to the negotiating table and shared with my colleagues of the other political groups.

The 27 Member States of the European Union are signatories to ITRs and member of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the EU itself is not, and ifEuropewants to act as a global player, and if we want to speak in our interest, we do so with one voice. We should further our goal of advancing the open internet as a truly public sphere, where human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly freedom of expression and assembly, are respected, and free market principles, consumer protection, net neutrality and entrepreneurship are ensured. That is also in our interest.

The Resolution addresses some of the most urgent concerns relating to internet governance. Some people will argue that internet governance is actually a contradiction in terms. What certainly is true is that internet has developed into the fruitful platform that it is today without much regulation. Neither the ITU, or any other single, centralized international institution, is the appropriate body to assert regulatory authority over internet governance or internet traffic flows. The best way to deal with the evolving online space, is through the organically developed, present-day, bottom-up multi-stakeholder model.

We should do our best to preserve that openness and make an effort to protect digital freedoms, for EU-citizens but also for the global internet public. Beyond the WCIT and the ITU there are many other fora, decisions and developments where the openness of the internet is under pressure. The work continues!