Keynote på Open Source Days, Köpenhamn (9 mars)


Jag hade den stora äran att få närvara vid Open Source Days, en stor dansk konferens om öppen källkod och öppen mjukvara som anordnas varje år i Köpenhamn sedan 1998. Nedan följer det anförande jag gjorde under konferensen, och efteråt var det många som ställde frågor och förde diskussioner som jag också besvarade så gott jag kunde. Det var många intressanta presentationer utöver min egen som DNS-censur, privatlivsskyddande teknologier för din mobiltelefon (specifikt Android och orbot), samt en mycket intressant historia om hur man kan porta mjukvara från slutna plattformar till Linux, och vilka avväganden man som företag då behöver gå igenom. Jag träffade PROSA, KLID, Superusers och ett makerbot-team som tillverkade små bystar (alltså statyer). Också närvarande var Ung Pirat Malmö:s nya ordförande Janni! Stort tack för sällskapet och jag hoppas vi ses snart igen :-)

I'm very happy to see so many people here. Welcome.

Most of you have come here because you are developers, or implementers, of open source solutions. Am here in a slightly different role. Even if I have been known to use open source software, I'm here because I am a member of the European Parliament, a publically elected representative, and, as such, legislating and creating norms for interactions in society are some of the tasks for which I m responsible and accountable. I am, optimally, responsible and accountable both for choices that I make, and choices that I don't make.

We all make choices, on a daily basis. In the vast majority of cases they don't have a big impact on the people around us, nor do they impact our surrounding world a lot. Many of the choices I make, when I work in Brussels, by contrast impact the framework in which the 500 million citizens of the European Union find themselves.

So I would like to talk about responsibility and accountability.

Last year I was awarded the honour of being named the fifth most influential internet activist in the world by online internet social community magazine Daily Dot, because of my work in the European Parliament against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Now, ACTA is an interesting piece of work since, ultimately, the European Parliament rejected the agreement. The international federation of phonogram industries issues a press release on the day after the vote, July 6th 2012, urging the parliament to be more responsible ”next time”.

But the agreement was already from the outset an example of devastatingly bad allocation of responsibility and accountability.

One of my major concerns in the agreement was the proposition that businesses make their own agreements on how copyright law or trademark law should be enforced.

The reason I don't like this is because I recognise that business, ultimately, doesn't have the olbigation to make difficult and sometimes costly judgement of which particular society benefit should be given preference over another at some given time.

It is us, the legislators, who make that balance through the laws that we enact, and up to the courts to implement these balances.

We have to be able to trust our legislators and our courts to uphold our rights and freedoms. We, the people, everyone of us that interacts every day, need to feel safe that our legislators take responsibility for our common interaction spaces. In the case of ACTA they did, so that is good.

But returning to the issue of responsibility: earlier this week the European Economic and Social Committee had invited me to hold a keynote at one of their meetings. They are not a legislative institution, by the way, so they do not necessarily cause a lot of harm. I was invited to hold a keynote on the responsible use of the Internet. Their thematic conference concerned children, nasty comments on the internet and how we can ensure that the Internet become a friendlier and funner place.

I said at that meeting, and I will maintain, that we have a fundamental political problem in how we define interaction spaces in society when all responsiblity for friendlieness is hurled towards the individual rather than us assessing whether the interaction frameworks are in fact wrongly defined.

We know, for instance, that at the World Summit for Information Society in 2005, ”communciation” was left out from the list of expected benefits from public access to information benefits. An arbitrary exclusion, given how important communication is for society and group cohesion.

In the European Union similarly we are not reforming the opyright laws. They create only uncertainties and risks for those who try to express themselves through use of culture, or those who turn to culture to build commonalities with others. Being a user of cultural works is associated with nothing but risk – all rights and certainties are kept for rightsholders. But because we either do not value communication or because we, the legislators, are unwilling to acknowledge the huge impact our work or, as it were, non-work, has on the abilities for people to interact, the reforms aren't coming.

I will give you an example: in December of last year, the current European Commissioner in charge of copyright issues Michel Barnier said in front of a parliamentary meeting that he did not want to look closer at users' rights in the European legislation because he didn't want to make copyright weaker.

I would argue that a legal framework made in such a way that it creates fear, uncertainty and doubt for those who try to build social networks and communities with each, is a weak legal framework. Our legal system can never be stronger than its legitimacy, and the legitimacy of the current copyright framework with its few limitations is very low.

When teachers, librarians, e-book consumers, radio stations, organizations helping out the visually impaired or Djs find themselves in a situation where they cannot, at any other than severe cost in time, money or to themselves, comply with or respect the law, that is the definition of a weak legal framework.

Laws have no purpose if they don't minimize conflicts between different members of society, or make the conflict resolution between these members as painless as possible if a conflict nevertheless arises. Copyright does exactly the reverse: it generated a multitude of conflicts, and makes the resolution of those conflicts painful and traumatic.

To no reassess users in copyright is irresponsible. It is an avoidance of responisibility that users and citizens themselves can't remedy. It falls upon politicians and elected representatives to take this responsiblity, but the political fear of action in this field is harming our society and our communication places.

Many here will be private persons, entrepreneurs or business people who are deeply concerned with policy areas like competition, standards development or patent law, trademarks or worse: trade-secrets, one of my biggest problems in legal development today.

Also here, unarguably, we are suffering from a gret number of problems over which politicians largely do not exercise much responsibility. Because of the very unclear value-base which guides all policy around communication, be it innovation, group work, personal or economic endeavours or what, the very concept of ”responsible use of the internet” is naturally confusing.

Is it responsible to have built a market model entirely dependent on the removal of freedom, choice and privacy of your customers?

I would argue that it isn't, but politically we have huge difficulties acknowledging concepts like indutrial leadership or the consequences of showing, or refusing to show, such leadership. What we seem particularly unable to determine, politically, is how to discuss the frameworks for interaction that we are making.

Because politicians, publically elected officials, decide the frameworks within which all other actors in society operate, it is incredibly important that they have a vision and some values to impose on that framework.

So for instance, I believe that we need a much stronger policy against vertical integration. Competition policy, which today deals msotly with cartels, mergers and dominant actors need to have a shift of focus towards market entrance barriers. For each level of a different product chain we should not only ponder, but also enforce, functional separation. This will make market entrance on each level of the vertical chain much easier and more actors will be able to join in innovation and product development.

What we are seeing instead is a less conflictful application of competition law now than in the past. When Apple locked its platform sot hat developers only by locking in themselves could participate in the AppStore, the European Commission was happy to accept only a weak commitment from Apple to open partially the developer kit in 2010.

Clearly a more useful discussion or investigation to have been had could and should have been the exact control exercised by Apple over every step of their value chain, and whether anti-trust laws should actually be given a larger role in contravening such practises.

Similarly, when Apple and four publishers were doing price-fixing and locin-in for the e-book sectors, the Commission cautiously criticized the license market they were engaging in as potentially in violation of competition laws, but in the end the Commission decided to not go in and actually just ban the market that they though was not in any way competitive, but instead accept the voluntary commitment to discontinue these market practises for a period of two years.

Clearly more political evaluation over what type of market models we are actually willing to accept would have been useful here.

Even in the Commission's merger investigations, they will very rarely scrutinize the conglomerating effects of merging patent portfolios on a licensing market. But the market for licenses of certain types of patents can be very heavily influenced by large mergers.

The type of competition overhaul that I would like to see would of course demnd involvement not only of competition authorities, but politicians and sector-specific national regulatory authorities as well. It is possible, but it reuires consistent and responsible politicians that are willing to be accountable, and responsible, for the decisions and values they implement.

We as citizens should not be letting our publically elected officials get away with losely referring to industry self-regulation or how they do not want to stop some business development from happening.

Even if it is clear that vertical integration and centralization can have some benefits, freedom, choice and the liberty to make new things is to me more important, and comes only from a structural framework of functional separation.

This brings me over to a last point that i would like to propose on the topic of responsibility. I say that often we hear politicians avoiding responsibility by stressing their unwillingness to interfere with business development or the development of new business models. It is already quite clear that all businesses emerge inside a society context, and that politicians, parliamentarians, governments and commissioners have the responsibility for how that framework is set up.

We all exist inside this framework, which defines how and when we interact in which way with whom. It defines our social interactions, our interactions with businesses, public authorities or the way that businesses interact with each other or public institutions.

These frameworks are made to reduce th total amount of conflicts and bad blood. They are here to help us make bad blood that nevertheless appers go away in some process least traumatic to the parties involved.

So clearly, in order to preserve these conflict minimizing properties of our framework for interaction, we should not be scared of, or avoid, showing an appropriate amount of industrial leadership.

Privacy, data protection or security are good examples of where a larger degree of political responsibility is needed.

In one place I read, and I think this captures beautifully this point: one national data protection authority based in a member state of the European Union stated that it feels its mission is to mitigate the negotative consequences brought on to private persons and citizens in their interactions with business and public authorities by the large scale deployment of information and communication technologies.

Mitigating the negative consequences implies that all is lost, and you would wonder why we at all make public investments in data protection authorities if all is lost.

As we see, and as many of you know, we could simply politically decide not to accept some economic models which create the need for ex post crisis management and damage mitigation with respect to privacy concerns.

We need stronger leadership, responsibility and enforcement of the privacy and data protection measures that we want.

I'm not saying politicians must necessarily favour some technology over another, but I do believe strongly that we both can and should consider the properties which technologies that get deployed at large-scale have to possess.

As business models deal a lot with interaction and communication, we can and should also exercise responsibility in open, democratic debates about which business models we find ok, and which ones we don't.

Now finally, then, if one is a private person and one would like to interact with policy making institutions because one is concerned about the lack of responsibility or one wants to increase accountability? I would suggest writing e-mails, letters or give phonecalls to deputies, that are personal. One person writing a heartfelt, personal email to their deputy easily counts more than any lobbyist or any other interest. Keep in touch with your deputies, ask what they are doing, get in touch when you know that they are addressing issues relevant to you.

2 kommentarer

Tack så mycket! :-) Det var jätteroligt att vara där. Har er t-shirt på mig just nu faktiskt!

Det var en fornøjelse at have dig på konferencen. Og alle jeg efterfølgende har talt med var virkeligt glade for din keynote og diskussionen der fulgte bagefter.

Så stor tak fra Open Source Days bestyrelsen for dit spændende bidrag til konferencen.

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