INFORMATION SOCIETY - NEWROPEANS WORKING PAPER (11/03/2009)
The Information society is important and essential for economic growth. High-speed Internet is the passport. The EU should ensure affordable high-speed broadband access for all its citizens across its territory.
A fully recognized universal access right is the prerequisite for diffusion of commons-based critical knowledge. We want to contribute to the building of the Single European Information Space defining legal and economic instruments to achieve the goals of the i2010 strategy and beyond. While the Space promotes an open internal market for information society and media, Newropeans also wants to protect the rights of network users from distorting and limiting market forces.
A European Bill of digital rights enforcing fundamental rights in the Internet environment (WSIS Tunis 2005) has our strong support. Recent governmental, technological and corporate influence on web users' rights show the need for a constitutional dimension of the protection of fundamental rights in the information society. We favour a bottom-up approach starting from the existing debate, through stakeholders, up to the Internet Governance Forum meetings. Digital rights should apply beyond the Internet to other and future systems that will replace the contemporary Internet.
These rights and principles should include privacy, data protection, freedom of expression, universal access, network neutrality, interoperability, global reachability of all nodes, the use of open formats and standards, public access to knowledge and the right to innovate.
We believe in the principle of net neutrality to preserve the benefits of the internet as a free and open technology fostering innovation, economic growth and democratic communication. Transport of information should not be prioritized by the identity of its sender or its destination. The EU should stimulate neutral networks free of restrictions on content, sites or platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and on the modes of communication allowed.
A short-term regulatory solution should split responsibilities for content from those of transfer. ISPs are to be divided into IHPs (hosting) and ITPs (transfer). ITPs must treat all packets equally. Companies shall not provide both services. The middle-term goal is public municipal broadband infrastructure, like roads, sidewalks, and parks.
Privacy protection should be strengthened for the digital age using technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy. Newropeans consider privacy as a key to the equality society. We emphasize the right to the protection of personal data in the digital environment; privacy is a pre-requisite to the democratic processes and an essential tool for citizens to act autonomously.
Standards guarantee access to information over space and time. The EU should require the use of standards in its administration.
Open Source Formats and Software should be used by public administrations all over the EU and should be encouraged to convert office processes from paper-based to electronic, the goal being a paperless but interoperable public administration.
Newropeans want International intellectual property policies adopted through democratic processes and with public interest participation.
We promote alternative forms of licensing for creative material (such as Creative Commons licenses), open access to scientific publications and research results, management of works of unknown authors. We consider intellectual property very important but we are also concerned about the respect of civil rights and of web architecture. We strongly challenged the recent Commission proposal (COM(2008) 464 final).
We want an avant-garde role for the EU exploring solutions for the digital ecosystem within voluntary collective licensing models. Newropeans claim that despite the risks of P2P systems, this technology could enrich human interaction with innovative ways of collaboration and creative relationships.
A market for pure information should be built starting from an experiment with digital cash and micro-payments. This would solve some of the problems of business models now based exclusively on advertising and dubious intellectual property techniques. We consider imperative to encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media and to promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints. We believe democracy requires a citizens' exposure to a wide variety of topics, ideas and different points of view not specifically selected in advance.
Data Ownership will be vital in the Information Space. Computing for the citizen will rest on data storage services for private data outside of the user's home. These services are similar to the storage of private money in banks, and should be equally regulated against risk taking and abuse.
The influence of social networking sites should be studied carefully so that laws can be created for the protection of fragile members of society (children, elderly) without hindering the useful sides of these tools.
Robert Cailliau & Luca Cominassi*
* Robert Cailliau is a Belgian computer scientist who, together with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, developed the World Wide Web. He is member of Newropeans - Luca Cominassi is member of Newropeans and one of the Newropeans 30 top candidates (N°3 in Italy, Regions North-West, Centre).