Neelie Kroes is Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, and recently gave a speech to the World Wide Web Conference 2012 in Lyon, France. It was a hell of a good thing, making the case for network neutrality and open standards, and stating unequivocally that it is not legitimate to punish people for what they do on the Internet by disconnecting them.
In the Arab Spring, many brave activists successfully used the open Internet to coordinate peaceful protests. In response, despotic governments sought to control or close down Internet access; and also used ICT tools as a tool of surveillance and repression.
We cannot allow democratic voices to be silenced in that way. And I am committed to ensuring "No Disconnect" in countries that struggle for democracy. We must help such activists get around arbitrary disruptions to their basic freedoms.
The benefits of openness are clear. And when it's as simple as an oppressive government trying to turn off the Internet, it's clear that we need to do what we can to prevent that.
What does it mean to be open online?