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EU body calls for US to give up internet control, pushes for international governance

Published time: February 12, 2014 17:40
Edited time: February 14, 2014 11:51
European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes (Reuters / Yves Herman)

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes (Reuters / Yves Herman)

The European Commission has said it is determined to “redraw the global map of internet governance” as massive US surveillance has damaged public trust in the web, and said it is ready to negotiate with Washington for control of web architecture.

The commission, the EU’s top executive body, on Wednesday proposed a key reform to the way the internet is managed and run, saying that Europe will “pursue a role as honest broker” in future global negotiations on the issue.

“The next two years will be critical in redrawing the global map of Internet governance. Europe must contribute to a credible way forward for global internet governance. Europe must play a strong role in defining what the net of the future looks like,” EC Vice President Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

Kroes directly connected her demands of a “more transparent, accountable and inclusive governance” of the web to the revelations on large-scale internet surveillance conducted by the US government, which was exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The revelations “have called into question the stewardship of the US when it comes to Internet Governance” and pointed at the need to switch to a “more global model,” the EC statement said.

“Our fundamental freedoms and human rights are not negotiable. They must be protected online,” Kroes said.

Currently, some vital functions of internet management are in the hands of US-based companies. For instance, top-level domain names (as .com, .net, .org) and IP address spaces are controlled and managed by the California-based corporation ICANN, which operates under a contract with the US government.

But according to the EC statement, ICANN and other key decision-making internet institutions must be globalized to “safeguard the stability, security and resilience of the Internet.”

It also called for the creation of the Global Internet Policy Observatory – an online platform for “creating transparency on internet policies.”

The “open and unfragmented nature” of the global web must be protected by a special set of principles, the Commission said.

Previously, when a UN agency, the International Telecommunication Union, came up with detailed proposals on more diversified global internet control, the US, the UK, Canada and Australia rejected the plan. The four governments – allies under the so-called Five Eyes intelligence sharing group – claimed that internationalization of internet governance would lead to internet censorship in some countries.

Kroes also appeared to be skeptical of the UN’s proposal, calling it a “top-down approach.” A multi-polar internet should be the world’s aim, she believes.

“We must strengthen the multi-stakeholder model to preserve the Internet as a fast engine for innovation,” the EC official said.

Kroes’ words came as European Parliament lawmakers were preparing a response to US snooping activities. The MEPs are keen to demand that virtual data be stored on computer servers in Europe to improve oversight, Reuters reported.

Before any concrete steps are taken by Europe, both the lawmakers and the EC need to gather support of EU member states, some of which have been reluctant to get tough with the US, despite vigorous rhetoric.

Comments (39)


MerriAnnie Smith 14.03.2014 23:52

Anybody who still thinks there is any privacy on the internet is too much of a pollyanna to be on the internet. Put away your computer until you learn how to accept the cold, hard facts of internet life.

They will, they do, they have been into your emails and everything else you do online.

When I participate in my local news sites and I complain about my governor and legislature and the Koch boys and whomever else, they do know exactly who I am if they care to know. Staying in a fake name keeps my neighbor from knowing, primarily because my neighbor hardly even knows how to send an email, much less hack one.


paul Floody 16.02.2014 02:30

Peter Anderson 14.02.2014 23:45

I would rather America in control of the internet than the E.U.
America may spy on you but they have the right to free speech under the Constitution. The E.U is the home of the P.C facists and will take away your rights quicker than China.


Ha ha that is funny! No government intervention is required, your constitution is finished. Start a protest and see how you go, the US cops will bash your head in.


Paul London 15.02.2014 00:01

Peter Anderson 14.02.2014 23:45

I would rather America in control of the internet than the E.U.
America may spy on you but they have the right to free speech under the Constitution. The E.U is the home of the P.C facists and will take away your rights quicker than China.


Gr anted the EU is riddled with fascist anti-free speech regimes but the American Constitution? Please...that was trashed long ago. Anyone who still believes in it is living in fantasy land.

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