Apart from the over-hyped "Google-Thing" in the same resolution for
supporting consumer rights in the digital single market another aspect
was strongly repeated towards the EU-Council: a clear and real protection
of net neutrality.
Knowing that WMF move to kill net neutrality for the greater good of
spreading Free Knowledge around the world, it is important to remember that
net neutrality as a central element of a free open web (which also enabled
Wikipedia) needs protection right now, because it is globally under heavy
attack by access and pipe providers. Their lobbies in the political sphere
around the world use Wikipedia Zero as an example that making exeptions
becomes a normality.
The movement as a whole must ensure that this wrong development from the
past is changed into something that combines the promotion of Free
Knowledge and the protection of net neutrality as a constitutional element
of the free web. The recent interview with an WMF-representative in the
Washington Post gives some hope that this awareness is now shared better
in WMF itself.
The EU-Council where the memberstates a represented by its head of state
and is ministers is strongly lobbied by national and international
access/pipe providers. To prevent a 2-class-web it is important to have a
EU-Parliament which stands strongly pro net neutrality because their
approval is needed, too.
On a side note, Tim Bernes-Lee already talked to the new commissioner in
charge. A nice photo isn't a win, but at least somebody serious explained
the new commissioners what net neutrality is all about.
Thanks Karl and Dimi,
That NYT piece is indeed a good one, putting things in perspective, and
accurately downplaying things that ought to be downplayed.
I also found this FT article interesting,
especially the part about the French and German governments piling in
behind the sentiment,
While the parliament resolution is legally toothless, its political
demands echo a concerted Franco-German push to
convince Brussels to begin
regulating more tightly access to internet platforms such as Google,
Facebook, Amazon and Apple’s iTunes.
Calling for “public consultation” on these digital heavyweights, Paris
and Berlin argued that regulations and antitrust rules should be toughened
up to ensure “a level playing field” that allows European companies to
A joint letter to the European Commission, signed by Germany’s Brigitte
Zypries and France’s Axelle Lemaire, on behalf of the German and French
governments, suggests “essential” digital platforms should potentially be
brought under existing rules for telecoms markets, a standalone regulation
or specially tailored antitrust rules.
“Essential platforms rely on closed and integrated ecosystems and
constitute bottlenecks in certain markets,” said the letter, in a reference
to legal doctrine that applies to natural monopolies such as utilities or
“A necessary debate will show which conditions an internet platform has
to fulfil to be qualified as essential in the digital world and to what
extent these criteria are congruent to the definition of an essential
facility in a classical sense.”
As you both say, it's probably not worth making too much of. But if there
was an analysis floating around in the next couple of days -- not by you,
you've both got other things to do, but made by somebody else -- as to how
the votes went on some of the amendments on this clause (rather than the
overall final vote), and in particular how different national factions of
the larger groups voted, that might be interesting to have.
But only if somebody else has done the work!
On 28/11/2014 07:21, Dimitar Parvanov Dimitrov wrote:
@Karl thanks for the analysis! Very helpful.
I honestly believe that what it was a media stunt. Here's what I think
The larger groups are in a grand coalition now and took some questionable
positions - regarding international trade agreements and not dealing with
some leaks about J-C Juncker.
Simultaneously, in Germnay there is a lot of polemics surrounding the
failed "ancillary copyright" for publishers (trying to get Google to pay
for snippets displayed in search results). The German Commissioner
Oettinger has publicly toyed with the idea of introducing it Europe wide,
perhaps as part of a copyright reform deal. While such a piece of
legislation would be DOA, punching giants like Google scores you a lot of
sympathy points with the media and the public. And since it is just a
resolution, it doesn't cost much political capital.
The larger parties wanted to show that they're not always just defending
"big business" and care about the "little guy" instead. What better
than to do this in a fuzzy, non-binding resolution? Most jumped on the
I wouldn't read too much into this, but then again, the two largest groups
voted in favour of it. Perhaps we can spin points 1-3 in our favour
somehow, in case they don't support Free Knowledge in the future. The text
reads: "address all existing barriers", " any legislative proposal
to the digital single market must comply with the EU Charter of
Rights" and "tackle and combat the digital divide in order to fully grasp
the potential ".
2014-11-28 2:28 GMT+01:00 Karl Sigfrid <karl(a)wikimedia.be>be>:
> I cannot offer an in-depth analysis, but here are a few additions to what
> you have already written:
> The resolution originates from within the EPP group, authored by, the
> German Christian Democrat Andreas Schwab. As you point out, it was then
> tabled by members from both EPP and S&D.
> Here is the entire thing for anyone interested:
> What some have described as a call for a Google break-up can be found as
> item number 10 in the list. Judging from the non-committal formulations,
> is probably not meant to be taken as more than a general signal of
> The parliament says in the resolution that the Commission should
> “consider” proposals to unbundle search engines from other commercial
> services “as one potential long term means” to achieve its policy goals.
> In other words, they don't really take a stand for unbundling. Only for
> viewing unbundling as one of many options, but that doesn't make a very
> good headline.
> A reason for the resolution to come now could be that we have a new
> antitrust Commissioner whom the EP wants to encourage to follow up on
> previous efforts to scrutinize practices such as integrating Google
> services with the search engine.
> An article which I found informative was this one from from the NYT:
> Best regards,
> James Heald skrev den 11/27/2014 9:10 PM:
> I appreciate that it was of symbolic value only, and the text is
> exhortative only, but Dimi and Karl, could you give us a bit of
> on the Google vote today.
> It's always a bit difficult for outsiders to understand what's going on,
> who's voted for what and why, because even the recorded roll-count votes
> aren't published for a couple of days, and without really following the
> dossier it takes a lot of work to unpack which amendment is which, and
> which groups went which way over it.
> The crude picture I've got from tweets here and there is that there was
> amendment to take out the break-up language from the resolution, with (I
> think) the Liberals and some national delegations critical of the
> and the Greens seeing it as a distraction; or worse, as a Trojan horse to
> force Google to have to index links even if it had to pay for the
> But these amendments were voted down roughly 3-to-1 -- presumably by
> groups who hadn't written them.
> Both the Economist and policy tank EPIC had some things to say about why
> it doesn't appear to make that much sense
> Even if Google's market share is massive, search is a very contestable
> market, and there's very little consumer lock-in.
> Google's Android can arguably be said to be pro-competitive, a defensive
> effort that made sense for Google, to prevent its core offerings being
> sidelined at the Operating System level.
> So why did this motion get so many MEPs to pile in with their support?
> Which were the groups that pushed it, and why?
> And if, as some are saying, this is the publishers showing their
> legislative power with a warning shot against those who seek a more
> liberalised downstream copyright environment, is that analysis right; and
> does it suggest that the forces of restriction have a strong hold on a
> large swathe of MEPs ?
> I'd be interested to know the team's analysis.
> -- James.
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