During the 2018 Internet Governance Forum held in Paris, the French President Emmanuel Macron spoke. He had been at the helm for just over one year. “Only two models of the Internet were possible”, he stated. One of total self-management deprived of governance, the other of a compartmentalized Internet with powerful and authoritarian governments that are constantly monitored. Retrospectively, Macron’s speech was a curtain-raiser for Europe’s line to Internet regulations. He declared that “We need to provide a new way for governments and Internet players in order to properly regulate.” He pointed fingers at China and the United States of America. It was clear that neither of those models was suitable for the French agreement he had proposed to them.
Since then, Europe’s Internet thinking has changed dramatically thanks to a number of regulatory measures. This feat is amazing for a continent where innovation is very limited. Although the regulatory action was correct in its motivation, it doesn’t take into account the values of the Internet
Europe has made great strides in the short history of Internet regulations to obtain the desired independence and international rule-based agenda. It is the most prominent international force, not only for its demonstration that a rules-based Internet is necessary, but also because of its ability to deliver regulatory recommendations on complex issues, such as cybersecurity, content regulation, privacy, and other related topics.
This fixation with regulation is primarily due to market failure. It is clear that some tech companies have grown far too big and that the market has not been able to regulate them. This has also resulted in the Internet’s promise to become a closed space with limited control. Instead of offering equal opportunities, it is now a closed space where everyone can participate.
However, there’s a central problem. Europe wants an Internet-based on its core values. It has its entire regulatory outline based on variety. They deserve an Internet atmosphere that values them.
The Internet is Europe’s most valuable asset. Yet, its values fail to recognize these Internet values. One, the Internet can be global. Europe insists upon a concept called digital sovereignty. This envisions its own infrastructure for DNS with integrated filtering capabilities. Because the Internet is accessible to everyone, it doesn’t have any restrictions on technology or interests. Europe is contemplating legislation that will require Over the Top service providers (OTT) to pay telecom provider infrastructure investments.
Internet access can be accessed by anyone. The Internet relies upon interoperable blocks, open standards, and technologies. Europe has already established regulation that requires upload filters to be used on platforms. This would reduce the Internet’s ability and flexibility to support a wide variety of users and their applications. Recent regulations regarding the sexual exploitation and exploitation of children by the European Commission have been scrapped. This will force companies into creating technologies to scan for such material. These technologies “close” and can compromise encryption. They will also alter the interoperability of security structure blocks.
Europe’s regulatory agenda, despite some impressive wins and promising signs that regulation experimentation is possible, is a prime example of how it has failed in its promise of cooperation with the wider Internet community. Ironically, their regulatory vision no longer reflects the values of Europe or the Internet. The Continent is now falling into the “China trap” by focusing only on a regulation aimed to reposition the distribution of power within the Internet ecosystem.