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Archive for the ‘transparency’ Category

Ich finde es unziemlich, wenn Leute aus Haartracht die Gesinnung einer Person ableiten wollen. Es ist auch nicht der Herr Freiherr zu Guttenberg, der zurücktreten muss, sondern es ist unsere Kanzlerin, die diesen Herrn aus dem Amt des Ministers selbstverständlich zu entfernen hat.

Der formal zwingende Grund ist seine ressortmäßige Verantwortung für die Bundeswehruniversitäten, und die dort herrschenden disziplinarrechtlichen Konsequenzen seines Handelns.

Der Mann der Tat

Der Grund meines Ärgers (und des Ärgers vieler anderer Beobachter) ist, wie realitätsverzerrend der Freiherr über den Fall kommuniziert statt sofort die notwendigen Konsequenzen aufgrund der Sachlage zu ziehen und Schaden von anderen Institutionen abzuwenden, von seinem Doktorvater, von seiner Universität, von deutschen Hochschulstandards, von seinem Amt als Verteidigungsminister, von den Mitgliedern seiner Familie, von seiner Partei, der CSU, und der Schwesterpartei CDU, nicht zuletzt Schaden von ihm selbst.

Der kommunikative Trick des Freiherrn zu Guttenbergs ist, dass jede Verteidigung und jede Kritik ihn als den Handelnden sieht. “Fehler” hat “man” begangen. Er “hat sich entschuldigt”, behauptet er selbst. Er selbst “bittet” die Universität um Rücknahme seines Doktortitels. Er “soll zurücktreten”, fordern Kritiker und Presse. Sie machen ihn damit zum Akteur seines eigenen Schicksals, als gäbe es hier einen Entscheidungsspielraum seiner Person, dem natürlich sein Verbleiben im Amt Hohn spricht.

Eine Kritik an seiner Person macht seine Person nur stärker oder sagen wir präsenter. Alle reden über seinen Namen auf allen Kanälen, in medialer Überdosis. Das ist bekannt aus der Popkultur, manchmal gibt es keine negative Publicity. Nebenbei stärkt der Twitter-Storm (#guttenberg) auch den Markenwert von “Steve Guttenberg”, einem US-Schauspieler. Der Aufschrei über des Ministers Fehlverhalten und böse Worte lassen den Angreifer unsympathisch erscheinen. Was hält man denn sonst von einem Menschen, der die Regierung als Fälscher, Lügner und Betrüger beschimpft?

Und das ist wirklich das unerträgliche für viele Beobachter, dass in weiten Teilen der Öffentlichkeit die Kommunikationsstrategie funktioniert, was zu einer weiteren Skandalierung und Polarisierung in der Öffentlichkeit führt.

Studieren wir seine Technik

Studieren wir doch folgende steile Antwort, die für die anwesenden Abgeordneten im Bundestag wie ein Hohn geklungen haben mag, aber nicht für sie bestimmt war, sondern für den unbeteiligten Dritten und Schlagworte für die Medien enthält:

Vielen Dank. – Herr Kollege Gehring, zunächst einmal, was die Signale anbelangt, die der Bundesverteidigungsminister auszusenden hat: Das sind Signale, die sich an dem Aufgabengebiet des Bundesverteidigungsministers auszurichten haben, und das sind Signale, die ich weiterhin mit dem Verantwortungsbewusstsein aussenden will, mit dem ich das bisher getan habe. Auf die Frage, was man für ein Signal in die Wissenschaftsgesellschaft sendet, wenn man eine offensichtlich sehr fehlerhafte Doktorarbeit geschrieben hat, kann ich nur sagen, dass das ein schlechtes Signal ist, das ich hier gesendet habe, und ein Signal, das als solches auch nicht aufrechterhalten werden konnte und sollte, weshalb ich die Universität Bayreuth ja darum gebeten habe, den Doktortitel zurückgeben zu können bzw. ihn zurückzunehmen. Ich habe mich aufrichtig und auch von Herzen dafür entschuldigt und wiederhole das auch noch einmal gerne hier in diesem Hohen Hause. Ich glaube, das ist das Signal, das man geben kann, wenn man Fehler gemacht hat.

Diese Kommunikationsstrategie ist perfide, aber wird auch von der Kanzlerin gestützt, wenn sie euphemistisch feststellt, die Universität Bayreuth habe der Bitte des Freiherrn entsprochen.

Prof. Lepsius (Uni Bayreut) äußert sich

Der Nachfolger seines Professors äußert sich:

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Internet connectivity seems slowed down in Libya. James Cowie of Renesys with details:

Renesys confirms that the 13 globally routed Libyan network prefixes were withdrawn at 23:18 GMT (Friday night, just after midnight Saturday local time), and Libya is off the Internet.

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Die europäische Studentenorganisation AEGEE organisiert Ende März in den Nijmegen/Niederlande ein zweitägiges Symposium zu Fragen der Privatheit im digitalen Raum. Gerne habe ich zugesagt, etwas zur Konferenz beizutragen, als Student war ich selbst einmal bei AEGEE aktiv in Sachen europäische Völkerverständigung, in der “Antenne” Osnabrück. Eine solche Veranstaltung zu organisieren, das ist eine Heidenarbeit, wenn man nebenbei studiert, aber das gehört zu den Erfahrungen der Universtitätszeit, die mehr Wert haben mögen als Scheine für die eigene Entwicklung. Typisch für AEGEE ist auch die intellektuelle Offenheit und Internationalität. Ich habe gesehen, dass die sehr engagierten Veranstalter, allesamt Studenten, mir auf der vorläufigen Agenda das Thema “ACTA” zugewiesen haben. In der Thematik der europäischen Verwaltungstransparenz ein musterhafter Fall im letzten Jahr. Ich hoffe, ich treffe einige Kollegen und sehr Interessierte in den Niederlanden, den niederländischen IT-Journalisten Brenno de Winter sehe ich zum Beispiel auf dem Programm, …

Die vorläufige (?) Website der Veranstalter.

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I filed a “confirmatory application” for access to the Council document 17220/10 (I shared the Council’s answer to the primary application here earlier, it appeared to me as if they wanted me to file a confirmatory application), my arguments in short

  • post-Turco treatment of legal advice
  • general analysis, objective nature of the requested matter, directed to general audience.
  • “legal advice would be taken out of its specific context and be applied in other areas where the question is raised.” –> desirable.

I want to find out inhowfar Article 4 EC/1049/2001 extends to general legal analysis anymore.

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

aufgrund ihrer Weigerung Dokument 17220/10 freizugeben, nehme ich an, dass Sie die Rechtslage nach Turco inkorrekt anwenden. Es gibt keine Grundlage mehr um Rechtsgutachten generell zurückzuhalten, die nicht direkt einen Rechtsstreit der Institution betreffen, sondern einen Sachverhalt von allgemeinem Interesse, hier die Kompatibilität einer Erweiterten Kooperation mit den europäischen Verträgen und dem Binnenmarkt.

Eine “Weite der Fragestellung” spricht für ein allgemeines Interesse an der Offenlegung der Information. Die Kompatibilität mit dem Gemeinschaftsrecht ist eine Rechtsfrage von allgemeinem Interesse und objektiver Gestalt. Diese Fragestellung betrifft keine rein institutionellen Erwägungen.

Ein Transfer von Rechtsmeinungen in andere Kontexte ist entgegen der Ansicht des Sekretariat wünschenswert. Der Schutz von Rechtsempfehlungen kann entgegen Ihrer Ansicht nicht zur Aufrechterhaltung von Inkonsistenz in der institutionellen Praxis herangezogen werden, die nach Offenlegung durch interessierte Dritte aufgedeckt werden mag. [..]
Das angefragte Rechtsgutachten bezieht sich nicht auf ein Gerichtsverfahren oder die rechtliche Beratung einer institutionellen Partei, wie in EC/1049/2001 vorgesehen, sondern auf die Erörterung einer wichtigen Rechtsfrage von allgemeinem Charakter und objektiver Gestalt. Es richtet sich seinem Wesen nach an eine unbestimmte Fachöffentlichkeit oder in der Frage der Vertragskonformität potenziell an jeden Bürger der Union. Es besteht daher kein sachlicher Grund, auf eine Offenlegung zu verzichten.

Ich bitte Sie daher um Überprüfung Ihrer Entscheidung.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

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The European Council has some difficulties to apply the TURCO judgement of the ECJ which clearly mandates a disclosure of legal advice unrelated to court proceedings. Legal advice concerning the enhanced cooperation on an unitary patent, they think they are permitted to keep it confidential. I strongly doubt so. Just have a look at the arguments:

Dear Mr Rebentisch,

Your request of 26 December 2010 for access to document 17220/10 was registered on 3 January 2011 by the “Access to Documents” unit. Thank you for your interest.

The General Secretariat of the Council has examined your request on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (Official Journal L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43) and the specific provisions concerning public access to Council documents set out in Annex II to the Council’s Rules of Procedure (Council Decision No 2009/937/EU, Official Journal L 325, 11.12.2009, p. 35) and has come to the following conclusion:

Document 17220/10 contains a contribution of the Legal Service regarding the compatibility of possible enhanced cooperation in the field of patents with the internal market and the other provisions of the Treaties.

The legal advice contained in this document is particularly wide in scope, since it examines the question of whether implementing enhanced cooperation as regards the European Union patent is compatible de jure with the provisions of the Treaties, and in particular those that govern the internal market. Were the document released to the public, there is a risk that the legal advice would be taken out of its specific context and be applied in other areas where the question is raised. This would be detrimental to the protection of legal advice.

In addition, divulgation of the legal advice contained in the document would undermine the protection of legal advice, since it would make known to the public an internal opinion of the Legal Service, intended for the members of the Council. The possibility that the legal advice in question be disclosed to the public, may lead the Council to display caution when requesting written opinions from its Legal Service, since it could find itself in a situation where it would need to defend the decision it has taken against a – potentially critical – advice given by its Legal Service.

Moreover, the Legal Service could come under external pressure which could affect the way in which legal opinions are drafted and hence prejudice the possibility of the Legal Service to express its views free from external influences. Disclosure of the legal advice would also affect the ability of the Legal Service to effectively defend the decision taken by the Council before the Community courts.

In view of the foregoing, the General Secretariat is unable to grant you full access to this document, since the disclosure of the document would prejudice the protection of legal advice under Article 4(2) second indent of Regulation 1049/2001. As regards the existence of an overriding public interest in disclosure, the General Secretariat considers that, on balance, the principle of transparency which underlies the Regulation would not, in the present case, prevail over the above public interest so as to justify disclosure of the document.

However, pursuant to Article 4(6) of the Regulation, you may have access to the first three paragraphs of the requested document, which are not covered by any of the exceptions under the Regulation.

According to Article 7(2) of the Regulation, you may submit a confirmatory application requesting the Council to reconsider this position, within 15 working days of receiving this reply 1.

Yours sincerely,

For the General Secretariat

Jakob Thomsen

Enclosure

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The July versions of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement draft included political corruption measures in Article 3.3. to promote adhesion of prospecting nations to the agreement. The latest version of the draft Article 3.3 looks different:

ARTICLE 3.3: TRANSPARENCY/PUBLICATION OF ENFORCEMENT PROCEDURES AND PRACTICES
For the purposes of promoting transparency in the administration of its intellectual property rights enforcement system, each Party shall take appropriate measures, pursuant to its domestic laws and policies, to publish or make available to the public information on:
(a) procedures available regarding the enforcement of intellectual property rights including competent authorities for enforcement of intellectual property rights and contact points for assistance;
(b) relevant laws, regulations, final judicial decisions and administrative rulings of general application pertaining to enforcement of intellectual property rights; and
(c) efforts to ensure effective enforcement and protection system of intellectual property rights.

ARTICLE 4.3 is the new Article 3.3

At first sight the provisions seem gone in the 25 Aug draft. But now consider Article 4.3 where we find the political corruption measures in their diplomatic beauty:

ARTICLE 4.3: CAPACITY BUILDING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
1. Each Party shall endeavor to provide on request and on mutually agreed terms and conditions, assistance in capacity building and technical assistance in improving enforcement of intellectual property rights for Parties to this Agreement and, where appropriate, for prospective Parties to this Agreement. Such capacity building and technical assistance may cover such areas as:

(a) enhancement of public awareness on intellectual property rights;
(b) development and implementation of national legislation related to enforcement of intellectual property rights;
(c) training of officials on enforcement of intellectual property rights; and
(d) coordinated operations conducted at the regional and multilateral levels.

2. For the purposes of paragraph 1, each Party shall endeavor to work closely with other Parties and, where appropriate, countries or separate customs territories not a Party to this Agreement.
3. Each Party may undertake the activities described in this Article in conjunction with relevant private sector or international organizations. Each Party shall strive to avoid unnecessary duplication of the activities described in this Article with respect to other international efforts

Article 4.3 a) apparently overlaps with 3.4, which demonstrates us the remaining immaturity of the 25 August draft: In Article 3.4 we find provisions for moderate participation in public opinion building, of course a deviation from the principle of normative individualism:

ARTICLE 3.4: PUBLIC AWARENESS
Each Party shall, as appropriate, promote the adoption of measures to enhance public awareness of the importance of respecting intellectual property rights and the detrimental effects of intellectual property rights infringement.

Political Corruption decoded

In a public discourse it is common that angry crowds describe their governments as corrupt, swear on their government policies. That is not what I am talking about here. That would be emotional ranting but not actual political corruption. The case here is different, and  it is a clear case. The language was largely borrowed from the so-called development agenda process at WIPO.

Article 4.3 is a blueprint for political corruption.

  • ‘Technical assistance’ for ‘development and implementation of national legislation related to enforcement of intellectual property rights’ is a diplomatic cover-up term for imposition of laws.
  • ‘Capacity building’ means bribes and
  • enhancement of public awareness on intellectual property rights’ undue interference in the inner affairs of other states by means of propaganda.

Political corruption is subject to international and regional regulations which mostly stem from the United Nations Charter Article 2 fundamental principle, political independence of a state. The Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption Article 6 mandates contracting states to establish political corruption as a criminal offence under domestic law when involving any person who is a member of any public assembly exercising legislative or administrative powers in any other State. Precisely, when committed intentionally:

the promising, offering or giving by any person, directly or indirectly, of any undue advantage to any of its public officials, for himself or herself or for anyone else, for him or her to act or refrain from acting in the exercise of his or her functions.

and

the request or receipt by any of its public officials, directly or indirectly, of any undue advantage, for himself or herself or for anyone else, or the acceptance of an offer or a promise of such an advantage, to act or refrain from acting in the exercise of his or her functions.

Exactly that is what “technical assistance” and “capacity building” is about. These legal principles against corruption make sense. It is not upon us to participate in “development and implementation” of national laws by non-domestic legislatures or interfere otherwise in the inner affairs and political deliberations of those nations. I would like to see that fundamental principle preserved.

Commissioner de Gucht raises “public awareness”

Commissioner Karel de Gucht who bears the political responsibility for the ACTA process on behalf of the European Commission currently makes headlines in European mainstream news media with his antisemite remarks. It is likely that his current scandal would overshadow the ACTA deliberations in the European Parliament.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010 Final draft agenda 39k
09:00 – 11:50 Debates
Conclusions of the special ECOFIN Council meeting of 7 September
Protection of animals used for scientific purposes
Elisabeth Jeggle A7-0230/2010
Ongoing negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)

I sincerely hope de Guchts media scandal won’t distract from the need to pay close attention to the radical and revolutionary policy proposals of the ACTA process driven against the ordinary democratic process in the participating nations. Contrary to popular opinion “ISP liability” is just one small item on the maximalist negotiations table.

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SUEPO informs:

The Administrative Council of the EPO will meet from 28 to 30 June in Munich. The agenda counts about 60 points and a roughly equal number of supporting documents. The election of a new Chairman of the Administrative Council and the appointments of new Vice-Presidents for DG1 (search and examination) and for DG5 (legal matters) are amongst the more important internal matters to be dealt with. Topics of interest for the external stakeholder include those concerned with fee reforms, and with co-operation at European and at global level.

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Mayday! (doom mongering)

It is may. Mayday for democracy and internet freedoms. I just stumbled upon a weird document. I have no idea where the released document originates from, if its an authentic governmental negotiations document release, no reason to dispute that, have a look, simply outrageous. According to the URI it was put online only this month by Techrights.  Recently I often mentioned the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a plurilateral IPR agreement negotiated by some industrialized nations.  The ACTA drafts are a harmless Nagasaki-style menace compared to the H-Bomb-style proposal, a EU-India ipr agreement draft document. Appears to be part of a “dooms day machina” for democracy.

EU-India and the ACTA wolf

To me the document lets you view an evil wolf behind the ACTA, less window dressing, less constraints, focus on substantive law, not just on enforcement, what EU trade administration really had in mind before ACTA was publicly exposed. ACTA is dramatized by NGOs into an attack on the internet. Others criticise a lack of transparency. ACTA deserves better public scrutiny. It is not at all an internet agreement, it affects e.g. access to pharmaceuticals for developing nations.  With so much public awareness cast on ACTA an institutional aspect is hardly understood: The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)  is parallelized by bilateral trade talks with so called “problem countries”, among them India with its strong generic pharma industries, but also Korea and others. The bilateral agreements are negotiated by virtually the same few persons responsible for ACTA. EU-India is bilateral, two negotiating parties: EU (trade department) and India (trade department). It is far easier to negotiate bilateral agreements than plurilateral agreements, and certain dangers stem from that.

Backroom deals for billions of people

For European citizens the domestic effects of a “bilateral agreement” are exactly the same as of a plurilateral or multilateral one.[*]. Trade negotiators negotiate, legislators are asked to rubber stamp [+]. Provided the measures don’t get rubberstamped via ACTA (because parliament spotted it) administration can try again with bilaterals as EU-Korea, EU-India, EU-China, EU-Switzerland, EU-Bahamas, EU-Fiji, EU-Tschingbimbistan. While ACTA receives a lot of attention now (“light” which puts an end to the vampires, as J. Zimmermann of Quadrature coined their advocacy method), EU-India does not attract much debate and attention. An agreement which affects the legislative environment for billions of people, with no turning back.

With teeth

For EU anti-internet backdoor laws you don’t need ACTA, EU-India is sufficient to get criminal sanctions (Art 34), ISP liability (Art 35) and border measures (Art. 36), DRM protection and lots more. Of course all this is not in the existing EU legislation (“acquis”) . As an oddity the Techright document also refers to the idiosyncratic EU database copyright, an EU legislative failure as the Commission admitted in its policy review. The proposal exports these rights to India, too.

When Parliament insisted on internet freedoms for ACTA and rejected the three strikes proposals, the Commission pretended no one’s ever proposed that, the Commission publicly attacked those who mislead made the representatives aware of it. What we find in the EU-India document is an impression of ACTA as it was meant to be.

No one depends on ACTA

When the interested public and Parliament fails to spot undesirable measures in ACTA (cast light on it) we’ll get it anyway, sneaked through a bilateral route, because Commission trade specialists want it so. Domestic effects of institutional activism and forum shopping. The process demonstrates us how trade policy severely undermines parliamentarian democracy when trade administration steps into merely regulatory matters, legislation not trade. I hate to admit that but maybe the globalisation critics were right with their fierce criticism of the EU- “Global Europe” strategy spirit.

More EU-India

As I wrote above, I cannot confirm if the document was authentic but I found some background documents:

“On 28th June 2007, the EU and India began negotiations on a broad-based bilateral trade and investment agreement in Brussels, Belgium.”

  • Commissioner De Gucht speech 4 Jan 2010: “We must complement the multilateral system by strengthening key bilateral and regional relationships. This is because bilateral agreements can go further and faster in promoting openness and integration, by tackling issues which are not ready for multilateral discussion and by preparing the ground for the next round of multilateral negotiations. Many key issues, including investment, public procurement, competition, intellectual property, …, can be addressed in such agreements. This would mean concluding Free Trade Agreements or similar types of agreements with amongst others India, ASEAN countries, Ukraine, Canada, Euromed, but also Mercosur.”
  • Commissioner De Gucht about the agreement, Indian television, mentions the need to address “non-trade issues”. In his mind the term comprises issues like “Climate Chance” and “Human Rights” [x] but IPR aspects in the TechRights document are also not trade-related but legislative.
  • Aid agencies on EU-India: Aids, not internet, EU-India may hinder access to essential medicines: “In recent years, India has become “the pharmacy of the developing world”. Ninety-two percent of people living with HIV on treatment in low- and middle-income countries currently use generic antiretrovirals (ART), mostly manufactured in India.”

[+] Commissioner De Gucht in Frankfurter Allgemeine stresses that Parliament’s role is just approval and assumes institutional legitimacy for the Commission like in a nation state: “In einer Demokratie muss das Parlament bei der Handelspolitik mitreden. Auf der anderen Seite muss klar sein, dass nicht das Parlament die Verhandlungen mit unseren Handelspartnern führt, sondern die Kommission. Das Parlament wird über den Fortgang der Verhandlungen informiert und kann dann am Ende “ja” oder “nein” sagen, mehr nicht. Das ist bei internationalen Verhandlungen in allen Staaten[!] so.”

[x] A classic Red Herring power technique, in order to avoid procedural criticism, that a trade process relates to non-trade issues, they shift the debate to other non-trade policy issues which are expected to be backed by potential opponents of the agreement.

[*] Bilaterals are a dangerous “policy laundry” road for our nascent EU parliamentarian democracy.

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You read about an case at the European Court of Justice, you have the case reference but Google is no help. This explains it all:

http://curia.europa.eu/jurisp/cgi-bin/form.pl?lang=En&Submit=Submit&numaff=C-278/08

You just have to replace C-278/08 in the URI by the case number you are looking for.

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In an interview of the San Francisco Chronicale with the EFF director, she presents her perspective on data protection aspects of energy data:

The ebb and flow of gas and electricity into your home contains surprisingly detailed information about your daily life. The California PUC proposes to measure energy usage data practically moment by moment, which allows the reconstruction of a household’s activities

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