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Posts Tagged ‘Lobbying’

Without much general awareness of the larger public, there are fresh American plans to choke an expected update of EU data protection laws. The plan is using a trade funnel torpedo and the fiction of non-tarrif trade discrimination. Sure, the current policy drift towards privacy/digital rights leads to a stronger position of Europe to defend the privacy of its citizens abroad. The midterm counter-measure proposed by the Americans would be IDEA:

“We suggest that the EU and the U.S. initiate negotiations over an International Digital Economy Accord (IDEA) based on the principle of the free flow of information. … The IDEA should address market access related problems, non-tariff barriers and service regulations. The exact design and content of the IDEA must of course be the subject of negotiations between the countries that have decided to join the “coalition of the willing” negotiating this agreement.

The negotiating agenda should reflect the practical concerns and experiences of firms engaged in the cross-border digital economy. Concerns related to the information, communications.
and technology (ICT) sector are numerous, especially since trade in ICT goods and services support the whole economy.

What is the perceived problem?

The ability of companies to process data and deliver services internationally is under serious threat. Regulators in many countries increasingly require personal data to be maintained on servers in the home jurisdiction. It is sometimes required that offshore services be relocated to the importing country and, in the case of China, data-processing hubs are obliged to be located within the regulated markets. Moreover, users of international digital services are being challenged more and more by national regulations on issues of data management, digital rights, data privacy and the location of commercial data, with growing nationalist pressures everywhere to use local services suppliers in these areas in order to generate local jobs.

And the solution: abolish data sovereignty:

The IDEA would seek to prohibit any requirements to locate information technology (IT) infrastructure (e.g. servers) within the domestic jurisdiction as a condition of permission to process data or to provide digital services. The IDEA would also encourage international harmonization of data privacy requirements, and encourage the adoption of internationally accepted security frameworks and the use of third party auditors to reassure regulators that data is properly protected without the need for cross-border restrictions.

The agreement could take various forms. Ideally it would be an agreement that provides for a negotiating mechanism to continually update its content, since the digital-economy changes quickly.”

I makes you wonder whether they forgot the SWIFT spying scandal where the United States had unauthorised access to highly sensitive European financial transaction data, simply because mirror servers were operating in the United States.

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It is well understood that Microsoft is keen to get the governments into “eSkills” because it is the smart thing to do. Essentially your customers are trained with public funds on how to use your popular products. For the past decade the company has been a committed driver behind all eSkills programmes in the European Union. Nothing wrong with this, I guess it is a “Win-Win” and a matter of social responsibility to enhance the ICT skills of citizens, in particular disadvantaged ones and elderly people.

It looks a bit over the top, however, to watch an institutional EU Commission website eskills-week.ec.europa.eu which features public relations of that American corporation as front page news:

Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Zapatero visiting the Microsoft’s Digital Classroom

On the opening day of CeBIT 2010, and the official opening day of the European e-Skills Week, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Zapatero were welcomed by Achim Berg, General Manager, Microsoft Germany to visit and connect live through the Microsoft’s digital classroom.
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Now the news article:

CeBIT 2010: Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Zapatero visiting the Microsoft’s Digital Classroom

Written by Johanna Snellman

CeBIT 2010 opened its doors on 2 March 2010 in Hannover, Germany. This year’s theme of the most important fair for the IT business is “connected world”. Microsoft took this as an ideal opportunity for a dialogue on how IT can be a tremendous benefit for learning and skills development.

Microsoft took this as an ideal opportunity for a dialogue on how IT can be a tremendous benefit for learning and skills development. Until Saturday, 6 March, in the center of Microsoft’s CeBIT stand, visitors can watch more than 500 students aged 10 to 16 learning with the latest technologies for the digital classroom.

On the opening day of CeBIT 2010, and the official opening day of the European e-Skills Week, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Zapatero were welcomed by Achim Berg, General Manager, Microsoft Germany to visit and connect live through the digital classroom.

More information at: http://www.microsoft.eu/skills (European website) and http://www.microsoft.de/cebit (German website).

And when you look into the contacts information of the EU-Commission eSkills Week website you find that the website is run by:

Magali MERINDOL
DIGITALEUROPE Communications Officer
T. +32 2 609 5315 M. +32 477 229 939
E. magali.merindol@digitaleurope.org
http://www.digitaleurope.org

In other words the Communications officer of an European ICT lobbying group, DIGITALEUROPE (formerly called EICTA), is responsible for the contents of an EU Commission website. Or as they explain:

This ground breaking initiative of the European Commission’s DG Enterprise and Industry is coordinated by DIGITALEUROPE and European Schoolnet in conjunction with twenty national partners.

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Ciarán O’Riordan was recently chosen as the campaigner for the ESP campaign of the FSF, a position previously taken by Ben Klemens in the US. He starts with shock campaigning in Brussels:

EndSoftwarePatents.org will be launching the “Economic Parasites” campaign and our first action will be to inform the attendees of Microsoft’s “Growth and Innovation Day”.

I wonder if hate speech is helpful for the cause but for certain the escalation is driven by the public outrage over the TomTom patent litigation case which affects the automotive sector and the massive intervention of the American company in European policy matters in the area.

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