Former German defense minister Karl Theodor von und zu Guttenberg serves as a lobbyist for the CSIS, a Think Tank in the United States. Today EU-Commissioner Neelie Kroes launched an initiative with him to help net dissidents abroad. Let me quote from the press release:
Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg will liaise with Member States, third countries and NGOs which are committed to work in this area and advise on how to advance the strategy in a co-ordinated and effective manner.
The “No Disconnect strategy” will assist people in four ways:
Developing and providing technological tools to enhance privacy and security of people living in non-democratic regimes when using ICT.
Educating and raising awareness of activists about the opportunities and risks of ICT. In particular assisting activists to make best use of tools such as social networks and blogs while raising awareness of surveillance risks when communicating via ICT.
Gathering high quality intelligence about what is happening “on the ground” in order to monitor the level of surveillance and censorship at a given time, in a given place.
Cooperation. Developing a practical way to ensure that all stakeholders can share information on their activity and promote multilateral action and building cross-regional cooperation to protect human rights.
The heated press conference (on video) indicates how her choice completely distracts from the substance of her proposal. Media coverage in Germany was pretty strong as the controversial former minister still polarises the public in the aftermath of his phd forgery scandal (which led to his regrettable resignation).
For his role Mr. zu Guttenberg just receives travel compensation from the EU which leads us to question what special role CSIS takes in the project. According to Kroes spokesperson Ryan Heath CSIS is not officially behind the project, however, it was listed as zu Guttenberg’s affiliation at the European Commission press conference. Zu Guttenberg emphasized to be based in the United States, and insisted his participation was no “return” to Europe.
CSIS not yet listed in the EU lobby register. When I expressed regret to colleagues that funding sources are undisclosed I gladly received the CSIS report from 2009.