Feeds

So. Farewell then Steelie Neelie: You were WORSE than USELESS

Digital Agenda Commish - do we really need one?

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

+Comment Neelie Kroes' stint as the EU's “Commissioner for a Digital Agenda” ends when the Barroso II Commission closes up shop in the autumn. Perhaps the post should be abolished with her departure.

The Dutch economist could have carved out a distinctly European approach, distinct from the Asian autocracies and American Wild West, but failed to do so.

Instead, Kroes' tenure was marked out by a wide-eyed pandering to fads – in the hope of winning the affections of “civil society” – and a overly welcoming approach to Silicon Valley. The agenda she promoted is more Californian than a Beach Boys karaoke surf board. Good luck finding anything European in that.

Kroes' officials were at it again this week. A year ago they were telling us, in background briefings, that net neutrality legislation was a terrible idea, propagated by the pig ignorant and tinfoil hat lunatics.* On Tuesday, the commissioner’s office was tweeting that Europeans are naked without net neutrality legislation – and claimed it was stepping in to “save us”.

Ryan Heath is Neelie’s representative on Earth

(In the end the draft Telecoms Bill rolled through the Euro Parliament's industry, research and energy committee without some of the amendments that NGO activists wanted.)

So what’s going on?

Anyone but Neelie

Most of you regular readers will already have figured out that the “Steelie” in the Steelie Neelie nickname is ironic. The European Commissioner for a Digital Agenda (to give her the full title) has never seen a fad, a cause or a campaign from Silicon Valley or its “policy entrepreneurs” (how Google’s front groups like to describe themselves) she didn’t like. Whenever Big Californian Tech required Kroes' office to jump, the response was “how high?” This, combined with staggering naivety, has had some pretty strange consequences.

We've Opened up the British Library! Oh no you haven't

For example, last June Kroes' office trumpeted its open data directive, really a set of tweaks (PDF) to existing guidelines for the disclosure of public sector information. The press release proclaimed:

[EU citizens] will also have access to more exciting and inspirational content since materials in national museums, libraries and archives now fall under the scope of the Directive.

The British Library chuckled when I read this back to them. Copyright materials in museum collections and archives had never been under the scope of the 2003 rules, and these sectors were specifically excluded in the 2013 revision (see PDF above, paragraph 22).

Why did the commission’s office imply a mere directive trumped established copyright statutes and treaties? Why did it pretend the directive applied to areas it specifically excluded? Either Steelie Neelie’s press team couldn’t understand her own directive, or it had deliberately chosen to mislead, to pander, to strike a pose.

Even stranger was the office’s insistence that it would recommend Creative Commons licences for the data sets. Why recommend something designed for cultural works, for copyrightable material, to govern the use of dry tables of data? No one else does.

“They’re the best licence for the job,” insisted Kroes’ proxy, although he couldn’t name a single precedent. I later learned that the commission had been star-struck by Lawrence Lessig – the man who invented Creative Commons, and hardly a disinterested bystander.

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.