Senior Eurocrat praises the net

David Weinberger sez, "Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, has followed up her controversial observation that the current copyright laws do not seem to be making things better for creators or for culture with a talk that sketches a reasonable approach to helping the Net serve as an instrument of democracy in unfree nations. Go, Neelie, go!"

First, citizens living in non-democratic regimes need technological tools to help them. Tools which shield them from indiscriminate surveillance. Tools which help them bypass restrictions on their freedom to communicate. Tools which are simple and ready-made. I want the EU to help develop and distribute those tools, in a framework that ensures the legitimacy of our action.

Second, activists may need guidance on the opportunities offered by ICT services like social networks. But they may also be dangerously ignorant of the risks they run when they use ICT: like the risk of being spied on and tracked down, even for sending a simple email or text message. We must educate them about the risks and opportunities of ICT. Through material which is simple and informative. Stuff that people without a degree in computer science can understand. In the form of pamphlets, videos, websites, whatever it takes.

Third, to respond to disruptions in ICT services, we need high-quality intelligence about what is going on "on the ground". To know when to act, we need to get information quickly, and act on it quickly. We need information we can trust. And we need to combine the expertise and intelligence of everyone – from the public sector to business, academia and civil society.

ICT for democracy: supporting a global current of change