Will Neelie Kroes Defend or Destroy EU Net Neutrality?
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - I have a lot of time for Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission with responsibility for the Digital Agenda. She's easily the most tech-savvy of the European Commissioners - although cynics would point out that's setting a low bar. Sometimes, she's downright radical, as in this speech about copyright, delivered back in 2011:
let's ask ourselves, is the current copyright system the right and only tool to achieve our objectives? Not really, I'm afraid. We need to keep on fighting against piracy, but legal enforceability is becoming increasingly difficult; the millions of dollars invested trying to enforce copyright have not stemmed piracy. Meanwhile citizens increasingly hear the word copyright and hate what is behind it. Sadly, many see the current system as a tool to punish and withhold, not a tool to recognise and reward.
Similarly, as early as May last year she openly admitted that ACTA was probably dead, even while the European Commission was still stubbornly insisting the contrary:
We have recently seen how many thousands of people are willing to protest against rules which they see as constraining the openness and innovation of the Internet. This is a strong new political voice. And as a force for openness, I welcome it, even if I do not always agree with everything it says on every subject. We are now likely to be in a world without SOPA and without ACTA. Now we need to find solutions to make the Internet a place of freedom, openness, and innovation fit for all citizens, not just for the techno avant-garde.
Against that heartening background, I do nonetheless wonder whether Mrs Kroes really appreciates what true net neutrality for the Internet entails, and is prepared to defend it in Europe through legislation. Last week, the French newspaper Liberation published a major opinion piece by her, prompted by the decision by one of the largest ISPs in France, Free, to block Web ads by default on its FreeBox router. That's obviously problematic for many sites that depend upon advertising in order to generate revenue.