Conference on Freedom of the Media and the Internet 13-14th June 2003

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