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Posts Tagged ‘no disconnect’

As a result of turmoil in parts of the German society on the appointment of Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg for her “No Diconnect Strategy” Neelie Kroes issued another statement in her blog in German and English language.

She eloquently defends his selection as her personal choice and explains the rationale. A German MEP from the Greens, Jan-P. Albrecht, additionally sent a bunch of nasty parliamentary questions to the Kroes office.

My invitation to Karl-Theodor to help me take this work forward is my choice, and it’s about how we can help people who struggle without the most basic rights you can think of. In the past I’ve worked personally with him, and I know he is capable of coming up with and delivering excellent ideas. I also know that we need someone with his international outlook and contacts to help us push these issues forward: someone who understands the highly relevant security and foreign affairs world. This does not preclude other people and ideas from being involved; far from it, I want to build grass-roots coalitions and capacities.

I regret how much the controversy around the representative Zu Guttenberg overshadows his important tasks given by the European Commissioner, namely to support connectivity and safe infrastructure for bloggers abroad. How important that is we learned in the 2nd phase of the UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunesia when visiting NGO representatives and journalists were intimidated by the host nation, even during the preparatory sessions in Berlin at Humboldt University. I wondered why our German government did not provide any technical assistance services to non-governmental organizations. Their work in Tunesia largely depended on their ability to make use of advanced communication technologies.

Neelie Kroes raises the issue Zu Guttenberg would be able to cast light into the overlooked scene:

There are individuals who are so brave and resourceful, and organisations doing great work. This invitation does not diminish their achievement in any way; nor should it inhibit their work. Part of Karl-Theodor’s role will be to reach out to those people, to ensure that their work gets the proper support and recognition. And so I hope those people are able to share their ideas and experiences.

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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.

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