Vivianne Reding named 2006's 'villain of the internet'

.eu palaver tipped the scales

European Commissioner Vivianne Reding is the internet's biggest villain of the year, according to UK internet service providers. She was given the title by the ISP Association (ISPA) in protest at the rules for registering a .eu domain name.

Every year the ISPA anoints a hero and a villain of the internet, and Reding and the whole European Commission were this year's villains over their handling of the new top level domain (TLD) .eu.

"Commissioner Vivianne Reding and the European Commission received the award for foisting the most arcane set of rules yet seen for prior registration of .eu domains, requiring UK registered companies to submit legal affidavits to justify the authenticity of their business," said an ISPA statement.

Reding, who is Commissioner for the Information Society and Media, has been praised recently for her attempts to lower the roaming charges levied by mobile phone operators when someone uses a mobile phone abroad. She is trying to persuade operators to lower tariffs voluntarily but has threatened to force changes via the Commission if they do not.

That counted for nothing with the ISP representative body, though, which decided that controversy over the complex registering and queuing system used in .eu's "sunrise period" was too big a mistake to leave unpunished.

The hero of the awards was Vodafone's content standards manager Annie Mullins. Mullins has worked on initiatives to boost the safety of the internet for children.

"Annie Mullins received the award for her work with the Home Office Task Force on Protection of Children on the Internet and the European Union's Safer Internet Programme," said an ISPA statement.

Mullins beat off regulator Ofcom, the Home Office, and the European Union to the title "hero". Reding's rivals for the villain award were the US government and file-sharing opponents the British Phonographic Industry.

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