Technology now permeates almost everything we do. For some, it’s difficult to imagine a time pre-Internet. As the digital realm increasingly claims a bigger stake on our lives and society at large, it’s clear that shaping good tech policies will have a huge bearing on protecting citizens rights and freedoms.
Inevitably, part of this means we need to ensure European lawmakers not only have a thorough understanding of the ever-shifting digital landscape, but are invested in and held accountable for making decisions that move towards upholding our digital rights. After the elections this week, members of the European parliament will be confronted with new issues including copyright, data protection reform and civil/criminal enforcement of IP rights – all of which will have important implications on our digital future.
In the run-up to the European elections Tech.eu highlights some key EU digital policies from the last couple of years.
In the last couple of years, the EU has faced a lot of heat with certain key digital policies. Here’s a small reminder before you head to the voting station this week…
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade (ACTA) – After garnering public attention in May 2008 due to a WikiLeaks document, ACTA became the focus of discussion when opponents of the international treaty – aimed at establishing multinational standards on intellectual property rights enforcement – claimed it could lead to censorship and loss of privacy. The treaty spawned protests around the world. In July 2012, MEPS in the European parliament defeated the bill.
Clean IT Project – Initiated by the European Union in an effort to discourage online terrorism and illegal activities on the Internet. However, opponents of the project saw it as restricting Internet use and had the potential to yield huge amounts of censorship power.
Data Retention Directive – In 2006, the European Commission introduced the data detention directive, which requires telecom companies to store certain information such as emails, traffic and location data, as a means to help authorities improve the investigation and prosecution of organized crime. However, many privacy advocates argued that it would be a breach of privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. In April, the European Court of Justice declared the directive as invalid.
Net neutrality – It’s been a long, heated discussion, but last month the European Parliament voted for the net neutrality law that forces internet service providers to treat all traffic equally, despite its source. Though it’s one step forward, the bill still needs to be voted on again after the European elections. Obviously this is one to watch closely.
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