Conference on Freedom of the Media and the Internet

EFFI was invited to participate in a conference on the freedom
of the media and the Internet
arranged by OSCE
representative on the freedom of media
June 13-14th in Amsterdam.
There were around thirty people attending from all over Europe, mostly NGOs
and academics, but also e.g. the Council of Europe had a presentation.
Background papers can be downloaded from the conference website including
EFFI’s contribution on the Finnish situation.

Most speeches were, in short, criticism of the existing and forthcoming
regulation on data retention, intermediary liability and over-excessive intellectual
property rights. It was commonly agreed that regulation based on the broadcasting
model of the traditional media does not fit into Internet’s internet end-to-end
logic. Also, now trendy self-regulation initiatives were criticized as secret and
potentially unequal ways of rule-making.

Freimut Duve, the current OSCE media representative, made several historical insights.
He compared the situation of online civil rights movement to the
late 1960s and early 70s pluralistic environmental debate.
According to Duve this early – now almost forgotten – green discussion
had a significant corrective function on e.g. oil consumption. Unfortunately,
with environmentalism now in the mainstream, consumption figures are high again.
Duve also told an alarming example from strengthening intellectual property
rights: the introduction of plant seeder’s monopoly which hasn’t gained
that much public attention. The rationaly behind is that e.g. Indian plants
are now unable to reproduce crops themselves, they must buy new seeds from
US companies each year. Seeds are “licensed” over again
and again. Duve said the monopolization of global goods at large scale started
in the 1960s and 70s. As a result, while developing countries may today have more crops,
they also need to buy new seeds every year.

Some pics from the two days:

Conference going on at the Amsterdam City Hall. The elegant gentleman in the front row on the right is Freimut Duve.

Speech going on.

Story and pics: Mikko Välimäki