Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Citizens in the EU Information Society (European Digital Agenda)

The previous Grahnlaw blog post EU: Last call for copyright comments! Consultation closing (30 December 2009) was, in its own humble way, an example of European cross-border networking in the digital age.

Squaring the Net

On Twitter, I noticed a tweet by Fabien Cazenave, which led to a blog post on La Quadrature du Net: Une semaine pour répondre à la Commission européenne sur le futur du droit d’auteur (29 December 2009). Later I realised that there existed an English version of the web site, with the same blog post: A week left to respond to the European Commission on the future of Copyright (even posted a day earlier, on 28 December 2009).

Anyway, without these messages, I would have continued my writing on EU telecoms policies, information society policies and the future European Digital Agenda, arriving at copyright issues well after the closure of the copyright consultation, officially based on Content in a European Digital Single Market: Challenges for the Future ─ A Reflection Document DG INFSO and DG MARKT.

I believe that copyright issues are going to be of crucial importance in the development of the internal market as well as with regard to the European Union’s trade relations with the outside world (e.g. ACTA) in 2010 and the years to come.

I also believe that it is important that all interests, including citizens and consumers, are adequately represented, when the EU shapes its information society policies.

La Quadrature du Net is an active bilingual (French and English) advocacy group promoting the rights and freedoms of citizens on the Internet. It has dossiers on: Net neutrality, ACTA, the Telecoms package and Hadopi (the French law). I even found an English name for the Group: Squaring the Net.

There is too much to digest at one go, but here are a few samples of interesting news and posts:

ACTA: A Global Threat to Freedoms (Open Letter) (Updated 24 December 2009)

Questions for the new European Commissioners (16 December 2009)

Copyright: Towards a recognition of users’ rights at WIPO? (23 December 2009) has a similar agenda, in German: ist ein Blog und eine politische Plattform für Freiheit und Offenheit im digitalen Zeitalter.

Pirate Party

The Pirate Party (Swedish: Piratpartiet) is turning into an interesting pan-EU phenomenon, with one elected member of the European Parliament (soon to become two).

Here is the (Swedish) Pirate Party agenda in a nutshell:

The Pirate Party wants to fundamentally reform copyright law, get rid of the patent system, and ensure that citizens' rights to privacy are respected. With this agenda, and only this, we are making a bid for representation in the European and Swedish parliaments.

Numerically small, but growing like a mushroom, the Pirate Party could have the potential to become a real pan-European party, while the traditional Europarties are still tying their shoelaces.


The Internet is borderless, but the European Union is an important player concerning the internal market, international trade relations (e.g. ACTA) and international organisations (e.g. WIPO).

No longer can EU member state governments, lobby groups or the European Commission rely on passive and uninterested citizens and consumers to accept the outcomes of deals signed and sealed between diplomats.

Active citizens and networks, together with the European Parliament, have an important role to play in forming a fair and open European information society.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Read the FT Brussels Blog and other great euroblogs listed on multilingual, our common “village well” for fact, opinion and gossip on European affairs