The political economy of networks

AN « EXCESS »  OF DEMOCRACY  (2/3)

Networked forms of the 1960s/70s were distinctive because essential to their origin, character and sustainability were values of solidarity, equality and democracy. Consciousness of these origins could help us now, when networked organizations are everywhere, to distinguish between the instrumental use of the concept of network in essentially undemocratic organizations (i.e. within states and corporations) and, on the other hand, as a way of connecting distributed activities based on shared values of social justice and democratically agreed norms.

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The latter possibility is radically enhanced through the new information and communications technology in its non-proprietorial forms. The new possibilities of systems coordinating a multiplicity of autonomous organizations with shared values, through democratically agreed norms or protocol, can help upscale economic organizations based on non-capitalist – collaborative, P2P (peer to peer organizations such as The Pirate Bay) co-operative or other social and democratic – forms of ownership, production, distribution and finance.

What enables us to make this apparently surprising dive from the forms of organization shaped by the consciousness-raising groups of the women’s movement (or indeed other civil society initiatives of the same period, such as the factory shop stewards’ committees combining against multi-plant, multinational corporations and developing alternative plans for socially useful production is the importance they give to practical, experiential knowledge and the need to share and socialize it.

The political economy of knowledge

The reason why this is important for the development of a political economy beyond capitalism is that behind the imposed choice between capitalist market and the state is the polarization between scientific, social and economic knowledge on the one hand and practical knowledge on the other. While the former was regarded as the heart of economic planning and centralized through the state, defenders of the free market sustained the latter as being held individually by the entrepreneur, capable of coordination only through the arbitrary workings of the market, based on private ownership. The relevant step forward of the women’s and other movements of the 1960s/70s was to make the sharing and socializing of experiential knowledge – in combination with scientific forms – fundamental to their focused, but always experimental, organizations. And to do so through consciously coordinated (networked) and self-reflexive relations between autonomous (distributed) initiatives.

Translating this into economics in the age of information and communications technology – a project requiring much further work – points to the possibility of forms of co-ordination that can include and help to regulate a non-capitalist market. A regulated, socialized market, that is, in which the drive to accumulate and make money out of money is effectively inhibited. It also provides a base for democratizing and, where appropriate, decentralizing the state, within the context of democratically agreed social goals (such as concerning equality and ecology).

It is over these issues concerning the sharing of knowledge and information and the implications for the relationship between autonomy and social co-ordination that the ideas coming from the Occupy movement can creatively converge with those of earlier movements. It is interesting in this context to read the economics working group of Occupy London describing in the Financial Times how Frederick von Hayek, the Austrian economist and theorist of free-market capitalism, with his ideas on the significance of distributed knowledge, is the talk of Occupy London. No doubt this was partly a rhetorical device for the FT audience. But the challenge of answering Hayek and his justification of the free market on the basis of a theory of distributed practical and/or experiential knowledge does provide a useful way of clarifying for ourselves the importance of the networked social justice initiatives of today and the anti-authoritarian social movements of the past for an alternative political economy. (http://www.tni.org/archives/books_arguments)
There is a point at which Hayek’s critique of the ‘all knowing state’ at first glance converges with the critique of the social democratic state made by the libertarian-social movement left in the 1960s/70s. Both challenge the notion of scientific knowledge as the only basis for economic organization and both emphasize the importance of practical and experiential knowledge and its ‘distributed’ character. But when it comes to understanding the nature of this practical knowledge and hence its relation to forms of economic organization, these perspectives diverge radically.

Whereas Hayek theorizes this practical knowledge as inherently individual and hence points to the arbitrary, unplanned and unplannable workings of the market and the price mechanism, the radicals of the 1960s/70s took, as we have just explained, a very different view. For them, the sharing of knowledge embedded in experience and collaboration to create a common understanding and self-consciousness of their subordination and of how to resist, was fundamental to the process of becoming a movement. In contrast to the individualism of Hayek, their ways of organizing assumed that practical knowledge could be socialized and shared. This led to ways of organizing that emphasized communication and shared values as a basis for co-ordination and a common direction. It provided the basis for purposeful and therefore more or less plannable action – action that was always experimental, never all-knowing; the product of distributed intelligence that could be consciously shared.

At the risk of being somewhat schematic, it could be argued that the movements of the 1960s/70s applied these ideas especially to develop an unfinished vision of democratizing the state. This took place both through attempts to create democratic, participatory ways of administering public institutions (universities and schools, for example) and through the development of non-state sources of democratic power (women’s centers, police monitoring projects and so on). It involved working ‘with/in and against’ the state, such as in the early 1980s when Madrid was handled by Enrique Tierno Galvan and the Greater London Council was led by Ken Livingstone.

Today’s movements are effectively focusing their energies especially on challenging the oligarchic market, and the injustice of corporate, financial power. Here the development of networked forms are increasingly linked to distributed economic initiatives – co-ops, credit unions, open software networks, collaborative cultural projects and so on. In this way, today’s movements are beginning to develop in practice a vision of socializing production and finance and creating an alternative kind of market, complementary to the earlier unfinished vision of democratic public power.

What they have in common, more in practice than in theory, is an assertion of organized democratic civil society as an economic actor, both in the provision of public goods and in the sphere of market exchange.

From social rebellion to transformation

AN « EXCESS »  OF DEMOCRACY  (1/3)

As we become increasingly dominated by the pursuit of economic growth, what campaigners can learn us from #occupy as well as previous radical movements in our attempt to forge a new kind of political economy based on a framework of equality, mutuality and respect for nature.

occupy-everything2The philosophy and experience of radical movements in the 1960s and 70s are complementary to the ideas of the direct action movements today. It is here to examine the possibility of forging a new kind of political economy by assimilating the best of both of them.

The Occupy movement’s ability to create platforms out of our closed political system to force open a debate on inequality, the taboo at the core of the financial crisis, is impressive. It is a new source of political creativity from which we all have much to learn.

One cannot fail to be impressed by the similarities between the late 1960s and 1970s and the current movement. There are both within the same strong feeling of power “from below” that comes from the dependence of the powerful on those they dominate or exploit. There’s the creative combination of personal and collective change, and proper rapport between resistance and experiments in creating alternatives here and now. There’s the repulse of hierarchies and the creation of organizations that are today described as ‘horizontal’ or ‘networked’ – and that now with the new technology tools for networking (Twitter, Facebook …) have both more potential –but it should also lend to greater distortion…

Here come back the same old problems: informal and unaccountable leaderships, tensions between inclusion and effectiveness. The Tyranny of Structurelessness, a strong assay of American feminist Jo Freeman inspired by her experiences in the 1970s in favor of the liberation of women and addressing, in particular, those unforeseen difficulties from the perspective of the movement women’s liberation, may be well read.

But that was 40 years ago – even before the widespread use of faxes, not to mention personal computers and mobile phones. Reflecting on these marginalized earlier movements possibly take forward the debates opened by Occupy and the Indignados.

From social rebellion to capitalist transformation

The fate of the energies and aspirations of that rebellious decade is a long and complex cluster of stories. Considering their relevance today, I want only to point to a historical process that was not generally anticipated at the time and still is not fully understood today. This was the ability of capitalism, which sought a way out of its stagnation and crisis, to feed opportunistically on the chaotic creativity and experimental culture-restless of the movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

For example, in the 80s while attacking unions, corporate management was also dismantling the military-style hierarchies characteristic of many leading companies and decentralizing the production process. A new generation of managers, especially in the innovative industries, assumed that more tacit knowledge by workers would infer a valuable source of increased productivity and higher profits – as long as workers have little or no power on their real redistribution.

Another prime example is how, in the endless pursuit of new markets, marketing experts were able to identify and anticipate business opportunities in the broad perspective and wants of a growing number of women with own income.

The key underlying feature of these and similar trends is that much of the innovative nature of capitalism’s renewal in the 1980s and 1990s – strengthened by the credit expansion– came from external sources to both the society and the state. In fact, frequently its origins lay in the resistance and the search for alternatives to both.

In other words, capital proved very much more agile in responding and appropriating the new energies and aspirations stimulated by the critical movements of the 1960s and 1970s than did the parties of the left – for which these movements could have been a force for democratic renewal.

Counter-movement

Now, with the credit that supported the social turmoil of this particular period of capitalism having become toxic, the search for alternatives is back again. Even the Financial Times, much to our astonishment, insisted in a series of articles on the crisis of capitalism to conclude that “at the heart of the problem is widening inequality”.

Are we witnessing in the combination – not necessarily convergence – of unease within at least the cultural elites, the growth of sustained popular resistance and public unhappiness, the emergence of what Karl Polanyi called a ‘counter-movement’ to the socially destructive consequences of rampant capitalism? And to what extent might the ideas of the movements of the 1960s and 1970s influence the character of that counter-movement?

A fundamental break

To answer this we need briefly to remind ourselves of the essential nature of the original social critique driven up by the 1960s/70s movements and in particular the nature of its potential break with the institutions of the post-war order: their paternalism, their exclusions, their narrow definition of democracy and the assumption that production and technology were neutral values.

Essential to the character of this assessment was its aspiration, more in practice than in theory, to overcome the deleterious dichotomies of the Cold War between the individual and the collective/social; freedom and solidarity/equality; ‘free’ market versus ‘command’ state – dichotomies that were refrozen through neoliberalism and the conditions in which the Berlin Wall fell.

The ideas and practices of the feminist’s movement are particularly explanatory. This movement arose partly from the gender-blind inconsistencies and from unfulfilled promises of radical movements of the time. It deepened and extended their transformation, adding ideas emerging from women’s specific experiences of breaking out of their subordination.

Especially important here was an emphasis on the individual as social and the collective as based on relationship between individuals: a social individualism and a relational view of society and social change. After all, the momentum of the women’s liberation movement was encouraged both by women’s desire to develop as individuals and their determination to end the social relationships that blocked these possibilities of progress. This required social solidarity: an organized movement.

The nature of its organization was shaped by a constant attempt to create organizational forms that combined freedom and autonomy – what every man struggles for– with solidarity, mutuality and values of equality. The result – cutting a complex and tense story short – was ways of relating that allowed autonomy, coordination and mutual support, without having to go through a single center. It’s what might be called an early solution, pre-ICT (*), a form of network organization.

Censorship on the Internet

censorship

Be irrepressible, an Amnesty International campaign.

>> Haga clic aqui para la versión en Castellano

Chat rooms monitored. Blogs deleted. Websites blocked. Search engines restricted. People imprisoned for simply posting and sharing information.

The Internet is a new frontier in the struggle for human rights. Governments – with the help of some of the biggest IT companies in the world – are cracking down on freedom of expression …

The web is a great tool for sharing ideas and freedom of expression. However, efforts to try and control the Internet are growing. Internet repression is reported in countries like China, Vietnam, Tunisia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria. People are persecuted and imprisoned simply for criticising their government, calling for democracy and greater press freedom, or exposing human rights abuses, online.

But Internet repression is not just about governments. IT companies have helped build the systems that enable surveillance and censorship to take place. Yahoo! have supplied email users’ private data to the Chinese authorities, helping to facilitate cases of wrongful imprisonment. Microsoft and Google have both complied with government demands to actively censor Chinese users of their services.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. It is one of the most precious of all rights. We should fight to protect it..

Database of censored material

Amnesty International is working with the OpenNet Initiative (ONI) to help raise awareness of internet censorship around the world.

The ONI is a collaboration among the Citizen Lab, Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, the Advanced Network Research Group at Cambridge University, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School UK, and the Oxford Internet Institute, plus partner non- governmental organizations worldwide.

The aim of the ONI is to document empirically patterns of Internet content filtering and surveillance worldwide behind national firewalls over an extended period of time. The ONI employs a unique methodology that combines in-field investigations by partners and associates within the countries under investigation and a suite of technical interrogation tools that probe the Internet directly for forensic evidence of content filtering and surveillance technologies.

Its 11 country reports have documented the scope, scale and sophistication of numerous filtering regimes worldwide, and have helped verify the use of US commercial filtering technologies, such as Smartfilter and Websense that are used in some ways to underpin these regimes. The ONI’s flash map of global filtering shows the results of these investigations.

The work of ONI is supported by the Information Program of the Open Society Institute and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. ONI’s mapping work is supported by the International Development Research Centre (Canada).

The examples of censored material used for Irrepressible.info have been drawn from websites that have been blocked in one of the following countries – China, Iran, Myanmar, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Syria and Vietnam, and are based on latest testing results available from each country.

Wandering over the Internet: ‘Newsmap’ and ‘Worldometers’

Newsmap 2.0, your daily portion of breaking news.

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prixarsNewsmap is a well-known application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator.

A treemap visualization algorithm helps display the enormous amount of information gathered by the aggregator. Treemaps are traditionally space-constrained visualizations of information. Newsmap’s objective takes that goal a step further and provides a tool to divide information into quickly recognizable bands which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe.

Newsmap’s objective is to simply demonstrate visually the relationships between data and the unseen patterns in news media.

Google News automatically groups news tories with similar content and places them based on algorithmic results into clusters. In Newsmap, the size of each cell is determined by the amount of related articles that exist inside each news cluster that the Google News Aggregator presents. In that way users can quickly identify which news stories have been given the most coverage, viewing the map by region, topic or time. Through that process it still accentuates the importance of a given article.

Newsmap also allows to compare the news landscape among several countries, making it possible to differentiate which countries give more coverage to, for example, more national news than international or sports rather than business

Currently, the internet presents a highly disorganized collage of information. Many of us are working in an information-soaked world. There is too much of everything. We are subject everywhere to a sensory overload of images, bombarded with information; in magazines and advertisements, on TV, radio, in the cityscape. The internet is a wonderful communication tool, but day after day we find ourselves constantly dealing with information overload. Today, the internet presents a new challenge, the wide and unregulated distribution of information requires new visual paradigms to organize, simplify and analyze large amounts of data. New user interface challenges are arising to deal with all that overwhelming quantity of information.

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Worldometers makes you use your brain

Worldometer welcome screen

Worldometer welcome screen

My good friend Charles told me a few days ago about the existence of Worldometers which I did not know.

Worldometers.info is managed by an international team of developers, researchers and volunteers with the aim of making world statistics available to the widest audience in the world in a format that makes you use your brain.

Worldometers.info uses data and statistics from the most reputable organizations and statistical offices in the world.

The counters that display the real-time numbers are based on Worldometers’ algorithm that processes the latest statistical data available together with its estimated progression to compute the current millisecond number to be displayed on each counter based on the specific time set on each visitor’s computer clock.

Can Twitter Be Saved?

It’s in danger of collapsing under its own weight.
By Mark Gimein

Even by Internet standards of hyper-growth, there has never been a phenomenon like Twitter. Less than a year and a half ago, Twitter hit 1 million users. It now has 44 million, a rate of expansion so rapid that if it could continue growing at that speed it would in another year and a half be used by everyone on Earth. It is impressive not just for the sheer number of users but for the share of mind it has carved out, from the national elections to its starring role in Iran’s election protests. Twitter has become so ubiquitous so fast that it’s almost impossible to imagine it disappearing. But it can. The irony of Twitter is that even as it becomes more pervasive, it is in danger of very quickly becoming markedly less useful. Twitter is in danger of collapsing under its own weight. Not because of its problems keeping up with traffic–those are solvable–but because the volume of material that Twitter unleashes now puts impossible demands on its users’ time and attention. The problem, in a nutshell, is information overload. The more Twitter grows and the more feeds Twitterers follow, the harder it gets to mine it for what is truly useful and engaging. Even as Twitter reaches a peak in the cultural cred cycle, it’s time to start asking how it can be saved from itself.

(Source: TheBigMoney) Click here to read the full article

The Political Importance of the Power of Images to Reveal Government Abuse

One of the places where the Iranian uprising against falsified election was given a narrow coverage was China. An attempt was made indeed in PRC to block online images of demonstrations meanwhile official media tried to ignore the clamor.

Chinese rampage against Uighurs

The reason was clear enough: any mass protest and its brutal suppression raises uncomfortable memories of Tian’anmen Square on the 20th anniversary of China’s nasty crackdown of student movement.
Now China faces itself violent troubles in its Xinjiang western region as Muslim Uighurs confront Han Chinese in what seems to be the worst nation’s ethnic conflict in years. As in Iran, the authorities are trying to repress the protest movement through a combination of technology and force: cutting off cell phone service, blocking the Net, shooting people and sending the riot police.
The Chinese unrest poses an interesting dilemma. What is Iran? An Islamic republic, whose leader aspires to lead the Muslim world, to make of Muslims rising up in an authoritarian state? Islamic commitment requires solidarity with the Uighurs, while repressive solidarity requires pledge with Chinese security forces. The answer in the current Iranian climate has been predictable enough: almost no mention in the official media of the Chinese riots –and no mention that one party is Muslim.

These are both authoritarian states that have generally stopped short of totalitarian control, adapting to the 21st century by limiting freedom and deploying repression where it is critical to the maintenance of the system, but allowing some measure of liberty –to travel, trade, speak out– where it is considered harmless. Call them the new “Red Line” states. Live your lives and make money, they say, but never cross the red lines, which include organizing against the system and denouncing the leadership in place.
These methods have seemed effective but became unsuccessful in recent weeks. The Iranian regime, surprised by a last minute wave of support to the opposition leader, Mir Hussein Mussavi, opted in mid June for a brutal crackdown in defense of an electoral lie. The shift from control to savage repression was abrupt and devastating, pushing many young Iranians from reluctant consent to .total opposition.

Despite this, many young Iranians have borne witness –with mobile video images and photos, through twitter and other shapes of social networking–  and have thus amassed a permanent global act of indictment against the usurpers of mid June 2009. the Neda effect –the image of eyes blanking, life abating and blood blotching across the face of young student Neda– will undermine the regime over time.
China makes no electoral simulation in its one-party system, but it too, has been temporarily undone by the power of word and image spreading across the Internet. The current unrest in the Xinjiang western desert region has its origins in an incident thousands of kilometers away in southern Guangdong province, where a Uighur dormitory was attacked in June by Han Chinese and at least two people were killed.
Photographs appeared online. The government tried and failed to delete them. Calls for protest spread through web sites and instant messaging. Again, the government attempted to block online discussion of the incident. But Uighur rage had gone viral.

By the official count 183 people have now been killed in the protests. As in Iran, images of police officers, confronting weeping women burgeon, carrying emotional charge all through the country and across the world.
Both Iran and PRC have tried to blame people outside the country for the turmoil. They have identified foreign agents they assert are orchestrating troubles. They should look closer to home.

Repression, injustice and brutality have encountered a force hard to control: the empowerment of people through technology. Communication feeds a hunger for freedom that may in the end be stronger than any red line.

Software to Help Dissidents

Net_forbiddenChina, Myannmar, Iran: surfing in these countries can be dangerous for political opponents. Psiphon software, developed by a Canadian university, can evade the censors of the Internet in non-democratic countries.

This is a recurrent question of Internet users in China: how to circumvent the Great Firewall , the censorship on the Net erected by the Chinese authorities. They may now acquire Psiphon. This software allowing to evade the Net censors, was developed by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto in association with the Universities of  Cambridge and Oxford, and Harvard University.

Ron Deibert, creator of the system, decrypts how it works:

“The only way to bypass filters is to connect to a computer in a democratic country, then make a request via this computer, which then sends you back the information”.

Clearly speaking, the user in the censored country does not install any program on his PC. The citizens of democracies are the ones who download the software, thus becoming a node connection. Then they quietly pass the necessary information (IP address, username and password) to their correspondents in the countries monitored. They can access an encrypted line, reflecting their messages as vulgar trade, banking or shopping on eBay. Provided always that the volume of on line exchanges are important enough for the user under surveillance to blend easily into the flow of commercial transactions. In other words, as stated Ron Deibert, “if you are a dissident known and there is little exchange on the network, as in Uzbekistan or Myannmar, you’d better not to use it at all.”

Ron Deibert has recently created the company Psiphon Inc., to expand the scope of the project.  “Upon release of the software, we had great media coverage, with CNN, al Jazeera, BBC, and we were bombarded with emails from countries censored saying” please, I do not know anyone in West, connect me to a node “…” says the director of Citizen Lab.

Thus, Psiphon Inc. will install nodes for powerful users (associations, human rights organizations) that can provide service to residents of non-democratic regions. But install and operate thousands of nodes is expensive.  Therefore Psiphon Inc. will market its service to the media and large companies seeking to assist financially this citizen project.

Constitutional Court knocks down Hadopi

hadopi-mortuaireThe French law that allows disconnecting Internet-users has crashed against the Constitutional Court today at 18.00. The highest authority on constitutional law condemned late this evening the controversial legislation passed a month ago by the parliament on the grounds that “internet is a component of freedom of expression and consumption” in the Declaration of Human Rights, and that justice is the only who can punish illegal downloads -not an Administrative  authority.

The European Parliament provided the same evidence, by approving an amendment that rejected an administrative authority who could decide, as provided by law now condemned, to  punish users. The text, approved with the objections of the Socialists, allowed an administrative authority so called Hadopi, order off recidivists for a period ranging from three months to one year.

It’s been a great blow to president Sarkozy. The Constitutional Court verdict means a severe blow to Nicolas Sarkozy, who defend the project tooth and nail to make it a personal matter. The law also has earned the support of a majority of artists.

The Government, which must comply with the ruling, argues that when establishing an administrative authority its target was not to overburden the courts. Immediately this evening, the French minister of culture, Mrs Christine Albanel, has just reiterated her desire to push the project even if the Government has to reform a so basic issue as the way to apply the sanction.

In short, this is the first time in many years, that the highest court setbacks so harshly the government in France. Specifically, the high court has made clear that the government has not respected the right to three fundamental principles: the trias politica separation of powers, the presumption of innocence and the freedom of internet access. It seems that Mr Sarkozy’s Government forgot that these are -and still remain- general principles of law.

And whether some like it or not, Montesquieu’s tripartite system is the model for the governance of democratic states.

Related Posts:
· Hadopi Law to Constitutional Court
· European Parliament Gives Support to Internet Freedom

Hadopi Law to Constitutional Court

accessdeniedTuesday 19 May, French Socialist MEPs have lodged an appeal to the Constitutional Court, aimed to annul the Hadopi law against illegal downloading  –adopted 13 May.

Most of Communists and Green party have given support to the appeal. In a long argument, published by Les Echos website, the opposition representatives point out eleven points they consider unconstitutional.

Three main points were raised by the MPs opposed to the Hadopi law during the Parliament debates and they appear on the appeal:xxxxxxx

  • “The introduction of a presumption of guilt” and “a serious infringement to the respect for defense rights and the right to an effective review on appeal” as well: In case of dispute the law provides that it is the user’s duty to prove his innocence revealing that he has ensured all necessary measures to secure his connection, i.e. installing security software agreed by the Government. MEPs consider these measures are contrary to Article 9 of the Statement of human rights and citizen, who defines the presumption of innocence.
  • The “vague and blurred nature of the breach instituted by law”: Hadopi does not punish the downloading as such, but the “lack of security of Internet access”. Any line holder may be punished, even if he is not downloading himself,  but a third party (as a relative, or sb else who uses his wireless network without his knowledge). Too vague, say MPs Socialists, whom the text does not follow the Constitutional Court caselaw. The latter pointed out that the lawmaker should define very clearly the deficiencies established by law, in order to “exclude arbitrariness in sentencing.”
  • The “double punishment” jeopardy and the “disproportionate punishment”: Having sent a first warning by e-mail, then a second by registered letter, Hadopi may sentence the holder with 1 year of Internet access suspension. However, the user must keep on paying his subscription while the suspension length runs, and may also be subject to criminal prosecution. Socialist MEPs consider that it hold concurrently “an administrative sanction of financial nature and a criminal punishment”, in violation of the Constitutional Court legal precedents.

Without commenting on the overall points on appeal, the conservative UMP spokesman Frédéric Lefebvre -a shy Hadopi promotor-, said that “the arts and creative world will judge the Socialists harmful intent to damage this protective text (…), whereas we show our determination to defend a lower VAT on CDs and DVDs, along the lines of what we obtained for food industry”.  The Constitutional Court now has a month to decide. Veredict expected on 19 June.

European Parliament Gives Support to Internet Freedom

The European Parliament has decided that ISPs and regulators, such as Hadopi in France, cannot restrict individuals’ access to the internet.
But this vote approving online freedom of expression is not the conclusion of the EU debate taking place between the European Parliament and Council. Since the Parliament has not agreed with the Council, the proposals will now enter the EU’s conciliation procedure where both bodies will try and reach a compromise.
The discussion came out from the modification of the Telecoms Package 2002 and specifically, one of the five directives that make up the package, called the Framework Directive. The reform cast the possibility that a three strikes measure –riposte graduée– proposed by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, could be adopted.
A three strikes law would kick file sharers and illegal downloaders off the internet for up to a year if they were third-time offenders. The decision by the Parliament not to adopt Sarkozy’s proposition is the second time it has come to this conclusion.
During the first reading of the proposal, Parliament formed what is known as Amendment 138. The Amendment reads, “No restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities, notably in accordance with Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on freedom of expression and information, except when public security is threatened in which case the ruling may be subsequent.”
Catherine Trautman, author of the other report relating to the Framework Directive, revised the text in April to weaken the Parliament’s Amendment and secure agreement between the Council and the Parliament, before the elections in early June.
Citizen rights groups, such as La Quandrature du Net were outraged by Trautman’s changes and called on MEPs to side with the previous version of the report, which contained the amendment.
Now the groups have welcomed the decision of the MEPs; i.e. Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net, described it as a “victory”. “A formidable campaign from the citizens put the issues of freedoms on the internet at the center of the debates of the Telecoms Package,” (…). And “the massive re-adoption of amendment 138/46 rather than the softer compromise negotiated by rapporteur Trautmann with the Council is an even stronger statement,” he concluded.