Tag Archives: Sweden

yksik.puu

Why Independent?

There were two main challenges in the context of the European Parliament elections in Estonia in 2009. One of them was the election system, that did not give people the possibility to decide who to vote for (so-called “closed lists”) – the parties’ leaders comfortably deciding themselves. Furthermore, this is related to an even larger – and still existing – problem.

People in Estonia are too often forced into party membership. They are left with no other choice when they wish to do business in certain areas, build a house, expand their company’s market share, have job at a ministry, etc. I decided I want to contribute to finding a solution, instead of whining about the situation. Moreover, I thought my contribution would make a rather good one, as there is currently only 1 politician from Estonia who happens to have more experience in foreign affairs matters than my 17 years and that is my colleague in the EP, Mr Tunne Kelam. As an independent candidate, I offered the people a little diversity in this context during the last elections and it seemed to resonate with quite a few people.

I have been interested in politics ever since I was little, but I haven’t joined any party. Being in the party during the Soviet occupation was out of the question for understandable reasons. After Estonia had restored its independence, I thought it would be more suitable for a free country to have an apolitical civil service. Even later, when I was the advisor to the Prime Minister and chancellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was unthinkable that the civil service could belong to a party. I still believe that top officials without party membership are much better than bureaucrats with a party membership.

I acknowledge different ways of thinking, hobbies etc, because they enrich society on the whole. However I cannot say that I could belong to any of the two parties in Estonia that call themselves liberal on a European level because in my opinion they are not. In some things I am rather conservative, maybe even a bit nostalgic. This would however relate only to the Republic of Estonia before World War II. But unlike our conservatives, I am able to interact with the Russians – I can present my thought to them in an understandable way and sometimes even earn their respect. I don’t worship money, though it’s natural that it motivates people rather often. Should I have more money left over, I would prefer it to be given for those in need. Therefore I may say that I also have a social-democratic part in me.

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Internet freedom and the protection of intellectual property rights


The First Web War took place in Estonia in 2007 when different government institutions were overrun with cyber attacks that supposedly came from Russian computers and servers. Luckily no serious damage was inflicted and all ended well. About a year later, the NATO Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence was founded in Tallinn. This was a remarkable sign of trust and faith in such a little country to deal with an ever-growing 21st century challenge. Today the whole world has come to realise the seriousness and scale of the threats regarding the Internet – abuse and misuse can cause serious consequences for governments, private companies and ordinary citizens alike.

In addition to NATO, there are other institutions that have to deal with this problem, such as the European Parliament. A serious challenge consists of certain foreign countries who wish to block and censor (European based) websites. A more imminent problem might on the other hand lie in the domestic sphere as several EU countries wish to obtain more control over data online (e-mails, calls, chats, pictures, videos, etc). This raises questions about when and on what grounds would tapping Skype calls, for instance, be legal and justified. Downloading and sharing films and music is a known issue and has made the relevant industries take action; raising awareness on this issue even gave the Swedish Pirate Party 2 seats in the European Parliament elections.

In Autumn 2009 the EP scored a great success regarding the so-called “Telecom package” (EU’s plan for the reform of the regulatory framework for electronic communications) where a point that would have restricted the use and freedom of Internet users was removed. Instead, an amendment emphasising the need to respect and withhold the rights of Internet users as ordinary citizens was pushed through.

But how to regulate the handling and use of intellectual property, found on basically every step on the Internet? Member States have already started to update their legislation on this issue, supporting to the EU’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive or IPRED created in 2004. The IPRED law in Sweden, Hadopi law in France and the Digital Economy Bill in Great Britain are a few examples.

In France there is the 3-strike system, meaning that the authorities will send a letter to a person who has been caught illegally downloading data; should he or she not comply, the measures taken will get more severe and a person can be deprived of his or her Internet connection and/or receive a fine. Belgium is expected to adopt a similar law in 2010.

There’s a heated debate going on in the European Parliament on IPRs. This year the so-called Gallo report was adopted. This IPR report, tabled by French MEP Michelle Gallo (EPP group) offers a variety of methods that could be used for enforcement of IPRs. This report proved to be a very controversial one, that led the Social-democrats along with the Greens/EFA to table their own alternative resolutions, as their view was that the report restricts citizens’ rights and puts downloading and sharing files on the same level with large scale piracy. Their concern was shared by Reporters Without Borders.

At the same time, however, different artist associations across Europe turned to the EP asking MEPs to adopt the report in its current form. The European Writers’ Council, European Visual Artists, European Federation of Journalists, Society of Audiovisual Authors, Federation of European Film Directors and the European Council of Artists wrote in their letters that the Gallo report emphasises the appropriate and necessary protection of IPRs from the point of view of the authors. Other associations’ letters followed. Furthermore, the alternative resolution tabled by Social-democrats and the Greens/EFA group as a sign of protest was widely condemned by the artists unions.

The views of artists as people directly involved with IPRs have to be taken into account. Nonetheless one should ask a critical question: do these associations reflect more the views of the artists or the industry?

Anyway the report has been adopted. The document calls upon the European Commission to harmonize the EU’s IPR laws and remove the obstacles from creating a single digital market; also, the report suggests the creation of IPR enforcement so-called helpdesks abroad, where EU companies would be able to receive help when exporting or doing business in India or Russia, for example.

At first, however, as the report puts it – a thorough research has to be carried out on the modern problems and possible solutions related to IPRs.

As file sharing, buying books and music affects us all, it would be useful to know your view, dear reader. Is there anything you would like to change in Europe or in your country with regard to IPRs, file sharing, downloading and uploading films, music, audiobooks, etc? There will surely be new reforms on IPR in the EU in the near future. Whatever the restrictions in this field (or merely changes) may be, they will be felt by both Internet users and artists providing the content for it.

For more information, please read:

The Economist special report on Internet security

The Web is dead?

Hillary Clinton’s speech on Freedom of the Internet

Studies on filesharing in the Internet

IPRED laws

About the IPRED law impact in Sweden

French Hadopi law

Belgian IPRED law

About the Digital Economy Bill

Ireland’s IPRED law

Gallo report

Reporters Without Borders on the Gallo report

La quadrature: About the Gallo report

European Parliament: About the Gallo report