Dear Neelie Kroes…

… let me begin like this. I generally appreciate your work on the Digital Agenda. (although there are still a lot of obstacles in Europe that need to be tackled!) Your team is doing a great job in  developing this important policy. You seem to take interactions with citizens seriously and you have shown that Commissioners can indeed be innovative. The Digital Agenda is one of these rare EU policies that could really make a difference across Europe – and even worldwide.

So why ruin everything  by appointing Karl Theodor Maria Georg Achaz Eberhardt Josef Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg as your special/personal advisor?

Technology can support human rights, but we must also ensure it is not used against those struggling for freedom. I want Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg to champion this cause with governments and NGOs and ensure it gets the attention, focus and support it deserves. – Neelie Kroes

During your press conference you said you wanted “talent and not saints”. Fair enough, but are you sure that he has the necessary talent? His political achievements in Germany are mediocre at best. His rethoric has always trumped his policies. He is a master of blaming others for his failures. He is unable to admit mistakes. Very frankly, he is an aristocratic snob who could not care less about the problems of online activists and the rights of bloggers. I  have never heard of any achievement that would qualify him to work on these issues. Mr zu Guttenberg has never been an advocate for the freedom of the internet. In fact he has been in favour of net censorhip and supported the German government in introducing a more restrictive net surveillance policy. He has no track record whatsover.

The question is why did you not appoint someone with a more substantive track record in online human rights policy? And more importantely, since this advisory role is about the international impact of the digital agenda, why did you not involve the EEAS in your decision? (Update: The EEAS was involved. – see comments)

Moreover, online activists were responsible for his resignation when they revealed  hat Mr zu Guttenberg plagiarised his PhD thesis.  He is not a credible choice for the job in question. You say that  ‘if anyone understands the power of the internet, and its power to hold authorities to account, it is Karl-Theodor.‘  This may be true. However, the problem is that Mr zu Guttenberg never gave the impression that he shares this assessment. He never said anything positive about the ‘power of the internet’. Until this day he argues that this whole PhD affair has been some sort of misunderstanding and can be explained by some bad referencing. If you look at the GuttePlag wiki you will be surprised to learn how much of his thesis was plagiarised!  He claims that he lost the overview and could not distinguish between his own ideas and the ideas of others.  Is that the sort of intellectual property or ‘open data’ policy you want to advocate with the Digital Agenda?

You have created a very interesting online community which is generally supportive of the Digital Agenda. You have an excellent social media strategy and there have been great debates online – and offline. Why did you not ask people for their opinion or listen what they have to say about Mr zu Guttenberg? Who advised you to give Mr zu Guttenberg the opportunity for another political comeback?

Well, you see, Mr zu Guttenberg is a rather controversial politican as you may have noticed if you followed the recent debates in Germany. Unfortunately, these controversies will overshadow your policy.  Not all publicity is also good publicity! I am wondering whether you considered that this decision might have an affect on your own reputation – especially among your key online  stakeholders?

And this brings me to my last point. His appointment  is exactly the sort of EU behaviour that people hate. The EU as the  exile  for failed politicians that are not wanted on the national level anymore – but are desperate for some sort of important sounding job. Jobs for the boys. It is indeed sad that the Digital Agenda has become the latest example in this category.

Yours Sincerely,

Kosmopolit

Update 14/12/12:  A response by Neelie Kroes can be found here.

53 Comments

  1. The EU as exile for failed politicians – that sounds familiar in Germany. Its not just Guttenberg, but also Verheugen, Stoiber, Oettinger… perhaps Kroes knew about that and thought that Germans dont mind – but they do. Everybody in Germany is laughing at the Commission today! For more detals see http://lostineurope.posterous.com/due-guttenberg-show (in German)

  2. FYI- the EEAS is involved. Cathy Ashton even gives a quote in the press release! And Neelie has been talking with activists.
    People need to keep this choice in perspective; it is just one element of the wider no disconnect strategy, which itself is literally one of 100 digital agenda actions

    Even if KTzG is as terrible as you say- how can this wreck a five-year 27-country agenda. It is simply irrational to say so. I urge you to look beyond disappoint in the man and focus more on what is being tackled.
    This is about what is best globally and for Europe- it is about much more than one country or one man’s sins of the past.

    Ryan Heath (spokesperson for Ms Kroes)

    • Thanks for pointing out the role of the EEAS. Not sure how I could miss that. In any case – my mistake.

      However, KTG has no credetials whatsover and his appointment looks like a PR stunt. There is an amazing pool of talent in the various digital agenda communities and I am sure you could have found someone that really represents online activists and stands for the ‘positive power of the internet’. Moreover, it has given the Commission quite some bad press which should not come as a surprise. This is why I think KTG’s appointment is damaging the cause of the digital agenda. Why is that irrational to say? Your only hope from a PR perspective is that that people forget about it in a few days. Unfortunately people tend to remember these sort of appointments and for many people this may be the first and last time they hear about the Digital Agenda…

    • According to the Commission’s press release, this “appointment forms a key element” of the “No Disconnect Strategy”! If Commissioner Kroes ever announces another key element of any other future policy, should we then also just “keep it in perspective” (i.e.: forget about it)?
      I don’t think Mr zu Guttenberg’s appointment is merely a German concern (I am Austrian, and I am concerned). It does show an incredible lack of judgment to appoint this “talent”, just for being a “talent”, with no relevant expertise in internet freedom issues whatsoever to back it up, and with a hard-earned reputation of being stubbornely dishonest in academia.
      Sadly, the appointment of Mr zu Guttenberg as special adviser severely discredits the whole No Disconnect-Strategy. And while Mr zu Guttenberg does not have a good reputation to lose, one should think that Commissioner Kroes does. She could save it by acknowledging an error in judgment and presenting a true expert as a new special adviser.

      • Again, let me stress to “hp lehofer”

        KTzG is not a “special adviser” of the Commission. This is a personal invitation of Ms Kroes.
        And as is perfectly obvious from his experience in technology, in security and in foreign affairs KTzG is indeed qualified to give ideas to Ms Kroes.

        You may argue about whether he is the most qualified of all the people on the planet but it is absurd to say that he does not have the capability and experience to give useful input.

        • Thank you for the information that Mr zu Guttenberg is not a special adviser (and I can accept that in the Commissioner’s view his former political experience is enough of a qualification).
          I do wonder then, what kind of contractual relationship does Mr zu Guttenberg have to the Commission, as I understood that the Commission will not pay him, but reimburse travel expenses, and I am sure that there have to be confidentiality agreements and so on. Will Mr zu Guttenberg be bound by the Staff Regulations or which statute will govern his duties and responsibilities (if any)?

        • “And as is perfectly obvious from his experience in technology, in security and in foreign affairs KTzG is indeed qualified to give ideas to Ms Kroes.”

          Experience in technology, in security and foreign affairs?
          You are kidding, don’t you?

          Please do some (more) background checks and don’t get confused by the fact that he held 2 senior positions in the German government (albeit just for a few months).

          You will find out how bad his performance has been there too.

          I find it completly ridiculous to appoint someone like him for such an important job, *especially* (and contrary to what you wrote) because he doesn’t have any acceptable credentials here.

          Doesn’t reading the 100% negative reactions to this decision (many of them being very constructive and providing well researched and checkable facts)make you at least a little bit unsettled? It should, and I am convinced that correcting this decision would help regaining frivolously lost credibility on Neelie’s side. Would definitely help the cause of the no disconnect project.

        • Fully underlined! Bravo!!

        • “from his experience in technology”? Is this some kind of joke?

          If you get run over a car, does this somehow make you a mechanical engineer? (To quote the founder of the Guttenplag-Wiki). Is this an “experience” worthy of mentioning in your CV?

          Mr. Heath, are you aware of the fact this technology is so vastly complex that it has its own curriculum at university? Computer Sciences.

          Mr. zu Guttenberg has studied law, not technology. His qualification for the technology is zero, nil, null. Every pre-graduate student is by far more qualified in the technology.

  3. Ryan, you ask “how can [Guttenbergs appointment] wreck a five-year 27-country agenda”? There is a simple answer to that: Because activists in their right mind won’t contact an initiative represented by somebody amply proven to be neither reliable nor trustworthy. You are perfectly right to point out that the issues at stake are highly important. Which is exacly why Neelie Kroes choice of zu Guttenberg is so appaling …

  4. @ Ryan Heath – do you assume anyone might have wanted to wreck anything by such appointments? I wonder. This cant be the point – we need experts, right? We just dont need him – and no one needs any pretender in any position. Why did he seem qualified to you or any of the advisors? Because of his obvious talent to pretend? Give me hope, just hope it´s not that simple …..

  5. You just cannot appoint a person who is linked in the CSIS to this job. Even as former Minister of Defense he’s totally unacceptable for the intended beneficiaries of the project. An yes, it is a slap in the face especially for the Germans – Europeans really don’t need that kind of frustration right now.

  6. Look – if there was solid truth involved in the claims here, I would be as interested as anyone.

    And let me also say that Neelie Kreos does not condone plagarism. She is not here to apologise for KTzG’s past actions.

    But here are some more points for people to consider regarding the most recent comments on here:

    1) Activists do talk to and trust Neelie Kroes and will continue to. This KTzG announcement was not even her most significant announcement yesterday (though clearly has a deep impact amongst those oppressed). The most important one in overall scale (number of people affected) was Kroes’ new Open Data Strategy for Europe. Which is warmly welcomed by tech activists and show her commitment to very things the KTzG invitation is claimed to undermine. (see link: http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/neelie-kroes/opendata/)

    2) Secondly being a former security/defence Minister with good links to the USA is a critical factor in being able to do the work asked of KTzG. And I can tell you, the Americans aren’t running around signing petitions to have the invitation withdrawn. We need someone who understands the inside of the security world, someone who can help put this issue on NATO’s agenda for example – that is very different from inviting someone who will side with repressive security regimes.

    3) I’ve heard a lot of complaints about that KTzG supports internet censorship. Which is another way to say he is against child pornography (as is Neelie Kroes) and supports using the EU legal framework to stop it. Which again is totally different from being anti-democratic or pro-censorship. You can debate the effectiveness of efforts to reduce child porn access, but if anyone here supports child pornography it is you who should be ashamed.

    4) Is someone seriously telling me that a Syrian activist or anyone else is going to reject training or software or hosting support on the basis that Neelie Kroes is using KTzG as a sounding board for part of her overall strategy? The strategy that she retains responsibility and control for. That is a ridiculous claim.

    • Look – if there was solid truth involved in the claims here, I would be as interested as anyone.

      Look, if you start your comments like this, you prove you are just as bad a PR guy, that your arguments are so weak you have to start by denying those who think your failed PR stunt

      And let me also say that Neelie Kreos does not condone plagarism. She is not here to apologise for KTzG’s past actions.

      What else than apologising is saying “I want talent, not a saint”? That’s an apology trying to make his failure(s) look less problematic than they are.

      1) Activists do talk to and trust Neelie Kroes and will continue to. This KTzG announcement was not even her most significant announcement yesterday (though clearly has a deep impact amongst those oppressed). The most important one in overall scale (number of people affected) was Kroes’ new Open Data Strategy for Europe. Which is warmly welcomed by tech activists and show her commitment to very things the KTzG invitation is claimed to undermine. (see link: http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/neelie-kroes/opendata/)

      You try to divert from the actual subject. Now the issue Guttenberg was meant to make PR is less important – yet it’s for this initiative you chose a former high profile figure as your poster boy. It’s for the Guttenberg iniative you tried to raise particular attention. For the other initiative you prefer to depend on tech activists. Kind of shows your priorities.

      2) Secondly being a former security/defence Minister with good links to the USA is a critical factor in being able to do the work asked of KTzG. And I can tell you, the Americans aren’t running around signing petitions to have the invitation withdrawn. We need someone who understands the inside of the security world, someone who can help put this issue on NATO’s agenda for example – that is very different from inviting someone who will side with repressive security regimes.

      If that’s what you want, why don’t you say it? Say we want a well-connected lobbyist with good relations to the politico-military apparatus, especially in the US. This politico-military apparatus is well known to having detained Private Manning (alleged Wikileaks leaker) for over a year without a trial and are thus they know what

      3) I’ve heard a lot of complaints about that KTzG supports internet censorship. Which is another way to say he is against child pornography (as is Neelie Kroes) and supports using the EU legal framework to stop it. Which again is totally different from being anti-democratic or pro-censorship. You can debate the effectiveness of efforts to reduce child porn access, but if anyone here supports child pornography it is you who should be ashamed.

      If you had followed the debate over several years in Germany and on the EU level, you would know that this has never been a debate “for or against child pornography”. I recommend reading this just as a starter. With the argument you make, the German government is all for child pornography because they recently sacked the law Guttenberg was all in favour when in government. If I was you I was ashamed calling the German government child pornography supporters.

      4) Is someone seriously telling me that a Syrian activist or anyone else is going to reject training or software or hosting support on the basis that Neelie Kroes is using KTzG as a sounding board for part of her overall strategy? The strategy that she retains responsibility and control for. That is a ridiculous claim.

      Well, maybe a Syrian activist will prefer to work with civil society initiatives instead of working with the EU Commission and a former defence minister working for a think tank close to the military complex in the US. Who knows – that’s on you to prove, because it’s your PR initiative.

      • If I was just some PR schmuk, I wouldn’t be engaging here, I wouldn’t have been part of Neelie’s social media presence since the beginning, and I wouldn’t have my job in the first place.

        Saying “I want talent, not a saint” is not condoning plagiarism, it’s practicing forgiveness. There’s plenty of people who could try it.

        I notice also a strong lack of perspective in lots of the German and online commentary on this issue. Yet take a look at this article from Deutsche Welle for example:
        http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15595909,00.html

        Do you notice that it doesn’t even mention KTzG? Why? My bet is because even Deutsche Welle realizes that virtually nobody outside of Germany, and some specialist tech communities, cares about this issue. It’s not because they are all plagiarists, or evil, or stupid – it’s because the popular reaction is Germany is a “storm in a teacup.”

        And this brings me back to a point I made on Twitter last night. We can’t stop our work at the EU to run a focus group in Germany every time there is a controversial issue or invitation at stake. Our job is to take care of the EU general interest, and generally speaking the people of Europe don’t share the views on this blog and other online sources on this issue.

        That doesn’t mean we don’t listen; it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t improve if we are fundamentally wrong – but it does mean that commenters ought to show some more respect for the thinking behind this invitation, even if they ultimately choose to disagree.

        On your second point about political / military labeling, that’s a subjective debate. You’re welcome to use what labels you want, but our position is obvious, clear and reflects the EU’s well-established strategic relationships, as affirmed as recently as last Thursday and Friday with Hillary Clinton in The Hague.

        On the German net access debate, I don’t make any comment except to say that KTzG and the German Government both before and now, were all operating within the bounds of EU law, and it’s all part of a legitimate debate. No-one in that debate is disqualified from contributing to the No Disconnect Strategy. And we should all remain grateful that we can have the debate, because that is the freedom we have in EU, and that is what we must fight for elsewhere. Nothing about this debate says that KTzG therefore lacks the right or the credibility to help those suffering under repressive regimes. If Iranian bloggers don’t want to talk to us because of this choice, then they can tell us that. They don’t need other people to be outraged on their behalf without even consulting them.

        And finally, this isn’t a P.R. exercise; if it was, we wouldn’t have spent months planning the strategy across the different EU institutions. We’ll engage with all serious people to achieve our goals.

        • Dear Mr Heath,

          Greetings from Spain — I am also outraged about zu Guttenbergs appointment just as the German commentators here.

          And your suggestion that supporting online censorship equals in one way or another the fight against child pornography is unspeakable: either you are dangerously uninformed about the issue or highly cynical — you should be ashamed in either case.

    • Dear Ryan,

      thank you for explaining the backgrounds, now it becomes clear how this could happen and that the decision wasn’t made by accident.

      So, in your above reply, you inform the public that the way “No Disconnect” is intended to help democracy is with help of NATO, the US security apparatus, which of course includes covert operations etc. and that the program wants to connect to activists in “spring” countries and provide hosting, training and software.

      That’s of course a toolkit of rogue measures and KTzG’s traits may really fit into this. On the other hand, that’s exactly why you are seeing this wave of protest now.

      THE EUROPEAN PEOPLE DOESN’T WANT NATO TO GO AROUND AND “FIX THE WORLD”!

      And the European Commission should better listen, as exist the known democratic deficits in the appointment of EU commissioners anyway.

      What we need to help activists abroad and inside the EU is the state and rule of law and transparency. Secret operations are just the contrary of that. And you don’t need to send instructors or software, people can learn by themselves and the software is already available.

      But you can make sure that:
      – cryptographic tools stay legal
      – that internet traffic and connections must not be tracked
      – that the use of spyware by the state is prohibited
      – that hosted content is protected and cannot be taken down without a normal legal process in the courts
      – and that instead of covert operations transparent initiatives are the tool of choice.

      And please, can you provide a link, where the “No disconnect” framework with its “literary over 100 planned measures” is detailed so that the public has an idea?

      Thank you very much.

      Best Regards
      C.E.

    • > All this makes the invitation to KTzG reasonable

      Ryan is a paid for spokesperson who has spent quite a bit of his life in Australia. And he’s trying to protect some guy who exposed himself being perceived as a gutless liar who kinda fled continent afterwards.

      I do not need to trust his words and I do not.

    • @Ryan Heath:
      >Look – if there was solid truth involved in the
      >claims here, I would be as interested as anyone.

      It is. So now we expect you to be interested.

      >And let me also say that Neelie Kreos does not
      >condone plagarism. She is not here to apologise
      >for KTzG’s past actions.

      Then what about KTzG current actions? He says in his book that he did not plagiarise, he merely got so confused with 80 data carriers that completely lost oversight.

      Does Mrs. Kroes condone completely losing oversight and being confused with 80 diskettes?

      >1) Activists do talk to and trust Neelie Kroes and
      >will continue to.

      I would not be so optimistic on that point.

      >We need someone who understands the inside of
      >the security world,

      The European Union needs foreign insight into the security world? Really?

      >3) I’ve heard a lot of complaints about that KTzG
      >supports internet censorship. Which is another
      >way to say he is against child pornography (as is
      >Neelie Kroes) and supports using the EU legal
      >framework to stop it.

      That is not true. He helped introduce a law that clearly breaks German constitution by establishing a secret (!) list of things that became illegal by a secret meeting of people from a secret police (!).

      In the EU legal framework citizens have a right to know what is illegal and what is not – beforehand.

      The problem is that, besides breaking the constitution, this was from a technological point of view counterproductive. This regulation, had it ever been enforced (which it hasn’t), would have allowed criminals to keep their child porn on the internet! Worse, the display of the so-called “stop sign” would even serve as an early warning to the criminals, that the police is on their toes.

      In which way is keeping this appalling stuff on the net and even giving early warnings to criminals proof of a will to fight child pornography? Or a sign of “experience in technology”?

      >Which again is totally different from being
      >anti-democratic or pro-censorship.

      No, it isn’t. When we boil it down to technology, there is no difference whatsoever!

      >You can debate the effectiveness of efforts to
      >reduce child porn access, but if anyone here
      >supports child pornography it is you who should
      >be ashamed.

      You should be ashame to accuse people of that! Shame on you! I for my part am as strongly opposed to child pornography as you are. And that is precisely why I was so appalled by KTzG law!

      You follow precisely KTzG’s strategy. He simply labelled everyone who did not share his opions as being a supporter of child pornography. That is outrageous!

      >4) Is someone seriously telling me that a Syrian
      >activist or anyone else is going to reject training
      >or software or hosting support on the basis that
      >Neelie Kroes is using KTzG as a sounding board
      >for part of her overall strategy?

      Yes! a) Activists will know that Germany introduces default logging of all electronic communication events (which KTzG endorsed), which in the case of cell phones does include the geographic location of the call originator or receptant. No activist could risk being located.
      b) Activists will know that Germany introduced trojan software to compromise some computers. This software was in open breach to the regulations of Germanys supreme court. Who could trust a software coming from here?

  7. @Ryan Heath
    A) yes, there might be many pro´s to appoint a politician with obvious links to the US:
    B) But, as the reason for his appointment was given as “He is an out-of-the-box-thinker”, this is a surpising slap in fact to anyone thinking out of boxes. We find it hard to believe how Neelie Kroos and the digital agenda is falling to a “Prince Charming” and his personal agenda, then calling him a “talent” and “visionary” – we would have expected more. This is disappointment rather than an appointment.
    C) Addressing anyone opposing him as a possible supporter of child pornography is not what will win your position any support. Not a recommended digital strategy.
    D) Maybe be bloggers or comments are sometimes ridiculous: but claiming so doesnt make your opinion more credible. It will just make us turn away from your position. Be strategic in your answers.

  8. Mr Heath does have a point on the fact that “a Syrian activist or anyone else is [not] going to reject training or software or hosting support on the basis that Neelie Kroes is using KTzG as a sounding board for part of her overall strategy”.

    He’s right about the bit about child pornography too.

    But in my opinion, it’s not in any way about criticizing the Digital Agenda (because it’s definitely good). It’s only about saying that, towards EU citizens, it is a bad PR move. Why not enroll some of the hacktivists that contributed to the Arab Spring through tech support? They may not have the visibility, but they do have the competence!

    Besides, giving them this visibility might help break up the image of eurocracy (gasp, what an ugly word!) that some have when talking about the EU and gain support of a larger online audience. I mean, they’re young, and they definitely don’t look like they’ve spent their lives in a suit in an office.

    Just my 2 bits.

  9. 🙂 Thank you – that is the sort of useful feedback we can work with. And Neelie is definitely keen to engage competent young people (in fact she was mentioning how much such admires young hackers at her Open Data press conference yesterday). So the idea to apply them / their ideas to NDS is a very interesting one. I will pass it on.

  10. Here some ideas:

    – FOSDEM is coming up. That is where the competent, young, open people meet. In Brussles. Since 10 years. Largely unnoticed. What about the commission sponsoring FSODEM big time? Pay for flights to get activists there? Invite for an official reception? Speak at the event?

    – Coming back from Egypt, where I was invited as a speaker at the MEOSS conference and having met the geeks behidn the revolution – how about helping the egypt, tunisian open source community to assist in getting freedom and democracy “installed”?

    If interested, I am open to connect an ddiscuss.

    Jan Wildeboer – Red Hat EMEA Evangelist

  11. There are two things at work here:

    – one is that authoritarian states around the world are using measures to mute freedom of expression, which is fought against by hackers all over the world, and rightfully condemned by politicians in Western society. Increasing the access to open data in our Western societies fits in here too, even though it is far less urgent, and far less dramatic for now.

    – the second one is that in the fight against content infringement some companies and public actors (like SABAN or GEMA) try to protect their relative monopoly in the distribution and usage of cultural products like music, movies and literature, and are willing to severly limit civil rights to see their agenda pushed through. This includes introducing measures on a small scale and then broadening that scope massively, which is where the fight against child pornography fits in:
    Instead of really going against child molesters a technical measure is installed that blocks access to certain websites. This does not solve the problems of sexual child abuse, or the distribution of similair content, which goes on on peer to peer networks online, or even via mobile phones, but takes ressources and money away from combating these much graver problems in the fight against child pornography. It basically gives society an excuse to not do more against the problem ‘we installed the filter, that ought to be enough).
    Worse, it allows companies to lobby for blocking other problematic content on the net, and they often not only use those tools against copyright infringement, but also opinion that goes against them. The political acktivists in Western countries are far more critical than many politicians on that field. (Even though Mrs Kroes went a few big stept in the right directions on this one so far).

    Appointing somebody that can help you coordinate with other political players on the first topic is a good thing, and it seems that Mr zu Guttenberg is indeed not the worst man for that job. However, it would have been far wiser to keep him in the background, as his relative screw-up on the 2nd topic in Germany just means that you will have to fight against the shitstorm you see now.

  12. Dear Ryan Heath,

    “Look – if there was solid truth involved in the claims here, I would be as interested as anyone.”

    This is not a question of “if” … as you would very well know had you actually showed any interest in this matter at all.

    Putting this man on the “noDisconnect” project provokes the “disconnect” of good parts of the educated (German speaking).

    Now you are trying to downplay the importance of the contribution of “one man” by saying that he cannot “wreck” the whole thing. This is not really an argument, is it?
    This still leaves the question why he should be involved in the first place.

    The only argument you seem to be able to offer is: this man has good US contacts. Well, I find it hard to believe that this makes him the one only choice, or does it?

    If you do not want to understand that a good part of the German public does not want to see a man in any public/governmental role anymore (including the EC) who continuously denies and belittles his obvious fraud…
    then Mr. Heath you might want to prepare yourself for receiving a lot more (well justified) “heat” from the appalled citizenry.

    The timing of this “recruitment” (just when KTzG is trying so hard to push back on the political scene) and the “talent and not saints” statement of Mrs Kroes is an incredible affront … plain and simple!

  13. This is mostly a reply to both Seb and CE.

    Internet freedom is a complex issue, of which Neelie and KTzG are only a small part.
    And the opinion of net activists and German citizens is itself only a part of the many factors that need to be considered in determined EU-level actions on the issue.

    For these reasons, I find the rather extreme, rather black and white, and rather self-centred critiques of Neelie’s choice difficult to accept.

    Additionally you take my words and turn them into statements and beliefs they were never intended to express. My words mean what they mean – they should not be overlaid with your own assumptions. My several arguments should not be turned into your opinion that I have only “one argument” (even if, perhaps, you don’t like the other arguments)

    And it helps to do basic research before attacking me and Neelie. For example, when I speak of 100 actions of the Digital Agenda, I speak of the very well publicised 101 actions launched in May 2010 (http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/10/245&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en) A simple Google search of “Digital Agenda” or “Neelie Kroes” turns this information up. There is nothing secret about this – I just expect you to read about us before you attack us.

    But it is easier not to do that research, it is easier just to bring prejudice to a discussion, and that is what some people choose to do.

    The facts are rather clear:
    – you need more than grassroots activists to align all the actions across all the forces for good in the world to make sure people can stay online, and express themselves on online.
    – what we need is openness, and this is precisely what both of Neelie Kroes’ announcements yesterday are designed to foster
    – KTzG is qualified to give input, even if you don’t think he’s the best person
    – Neelie Kroes doesn’t condone plagiarism, but she does have a willingness to forgive and look to the future

    All this makes the invitation to KTzG reasonable if not likable to all. But I don’t often hear such concessions in feedback here and on others sites – I hear mostly anger and agression, which doesn’t really help anybody. And most of all, virtually no-ones shows any concern for the people this initiative is desgined to help: the people who don’t have the freedom to express their rage online, all those commenting here.

    So, I am happy to keep having reasonable discussions, but that requires reasonable interlocutors.

    • Dear Ryan,

      I appreciate your reply, thank you. Let me be brief:

      1.) As you can see from the above link to the program you provided on my question on what “the 100 actions of the program” actually are: There are no details in it. That’s not transparent enough.

      2.) So, you expect internet activists to trustfully take and use tools from the EU? What is the state of safe free speech in the EU? Last time I checked, Mr. zu Guttenberg had the opinion that there should be more surveillance and that infrastructures to block access should be developed. If I was an activist, I would thus expect to get tools with backdoors in them, so that I would be tracked.

      3.) The whole goal the European Commission should pursue, is to protect democrats in not so democratic states where human rights are at stake. So as a first step, the EC should get rid of personnel who are themselves against safe free speech on the internet, like Mr. zu Guttenberg.

      Please consider this, if want to do citizens of the EU and abroad a favor.

      Sincerely Yours
      C.E.

      • C.E. – really, you need to try harder.

        The Digital Agenda is a highly publicised multi-billion dollar policy programme to get Every European Digital … if you need to click more than once to fully understand it in detail, as you seem to wish, then the problem isn’t lack of material, the problem is a lack of willingness on your part to click and read.

        At this link you can find dozens upon dozens of pieces of information in every member state about progress on the Agenda: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/digital-agenda/index_en.htm

        Sometimes we actually have to spend time implementing the Agenda, not serving it up in perfect bite-sized yet perfectly detailed communications pieces; so I am sorry if that is not good enough for you and others. But most people I work with online and in news organisations think it is quite useful.

        To suggest that Mr zu Guttenberg is against ‘free speech’ is without basis. That’s not an opinion, it’s just an obvious fact. Neelie Kroes has built a 50 year career out of her liberal values and belief in freedom of expression, I just don’t think anyone can dismiss that on any basis, never mind the fact that she repeatedly stated her desire and her actions to achieve these freedoms yesterday (for example on media freedom and pluralism, young entrepreneurship, cloud computing, media futures, and others)

        • Quote for the record: “To suggest that Mr zu Guttenberg is against ‘free speech’ is without basis. That’s not an opinion, it’s just an obvious fact.”

        • >To suggest that Mr zu Guttenberg is against ‘free >speech’ is without basis. That’s not an opinion, it’s
          >just an obvious fact.

          No, it’s just the other way round. When KTzG helped introduce the censorship law that claimed to fight child pornography (which it did _not_), he did not accept anyone having an opinion different from his own.

          Everyone who dared to utter a different opinion was slandered by the implied notion he/she could be a supporter of child porn. Yes, technically, KTzG did not ask for legal measures to make these people shut up, that is true. But libel and slander is just as bad.

          This was especially targetted at all the participants in the most successful epetition in the history of the German parliament, with 134.000 citizens protesting Internet censorship.

  14. @Ryan Heath
    /me wonders, why you strive to defend KTvG so intensely? Why not rather listen and try to understand where the uproar comes from before dismissing each of the details in criticism? Why do you need to defend the decision for him so aggressively?

    Up to this stage of comments I´ve read no statement dismissing any of Neelie Kroos´values and belief and I dont see there will be. The Agenda is highly appreciated, and some criticism on details wont be a big deal, right? Why do refer to non given criticism here?

    Just one thing that bothers me really:
    It is merely the neglect to admit his mistakes in an honest way that makes KTvG a problematic public figure. Instead of reflecting obvious mistakes, he always blames his critics. He has never asked for forgiveness, claiming it is either not true or was not really intentionally done. What to forgive him?

    So, if you dismiss the critics on this (dis)appointment as bluntly self-centric, would you even be willing to consider it may have been a decision to be questioned? Maybe (sorry) considered a mistake at a minimum for the Agendas´ PR?
    I cant help but find your reaction to KTvG critics pretty self-centric and sensitive, to be honest, and it leaves me even more sad – because it seems too much emotion to defend a self-centric KTvG.

    • I think you make a fair point S.K., i strive not to be hypocritical, so if my comments are / seem self-cetnric then I must apologise.

      It’s not my goal to defend KTzG agressively; he must answer his own critics. I merely want people to reflect on whether it is fair to turn these views on KTzG the man into outright condemnation of his (not yet made) contribution, onto Kroes, onto the Digital Agenda and the entire EU – and some people have indeed done that. Surely it is also important to judge on the results of this invitation, not merely one’s first reaction to the news.

      My effort is to keep people focussed on the real policy issue, and on the fact that the No Disconnect Strategy is part of a much wider effort. So debate and reject or condemn this invitation as you wish, but please don’t withdraw support for important work because of a single disagreement. That doesn’t help repressed bloggers, it doesn’t make the world more digital, and I argue that it isn’t a proportionate response.

      This is not directed at you S.K., it is more general, and i thank you for your overall support for the Digital Agenda. your support and ideas really do matter because it can’t happen without the involvement of individuals like you.

  15. hey #Activists, I can COPY and PASTE you right to the #CIA with #nodisconnect and #talent, Yours Truly #Guttenberg

  16. Ryan Bryan Michael Kylie Keating Gillard Murdoch Warne Jacob Creek Fosters Heath (to give his full name) is right: it isn’t really fair for people to condemn KTzG’s contribution before he’s delivered it, or to make their view of him the basis for judgements on Cssr Kroes, the Digital Agenda and the entire EU. Any guy who has had to live with 12 names (including a girl’s one) surely deserves a second chance.

  17. Why do you all even try to discuss this with that Neelie-fanboy Ryan Heath? He has already discredited himself by showing that he has not the faintest idea about that liar Guttenberg and about what’s going on in Germany. Someone who’s that ignorant isn’t worthy to be a debater. Just ignore him and call him what he really is: a typical internet troll.
    And it’s quite interesting that an incompetent and ignorant person like Ms Kroes has equally incompetent and ignorant fans. Very telling.

  18. @Barney Unfortunately Ryan Heath is the ECs spokesperson of the Commissioner in charge of the Digital Agenda and #NoDisconnect Ms Kroes.

  19. Perfect timing!

    As netzpolitik.org reports (http://netzpolitik.org/2011/acta-passiert-den-eu-rat/), there is an undergoing vote on ACTA happening now.

    So now, all parts fit together:
    – ACTA
    – NoDisconnect
    – Guttenberg
    – CSIS

    This coup was planned carefully.

  20. Just got sent an article from 2011
    ‘Regulatory authorities in the EU information and communications technology sectors: The role of trust and transparency in watching the watchdog’
    You can find it here:
    http://econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/52192/1/672579952.pdf
    It’s by David Stevens and here is a resume:
    Our research starts from the general observation that everywhere around the globe, an increasing number of regulatory tasks, traditionally falling under the responsibility of government, are being transferred to so-called independent regulatory authorities (i.e. independent from market actors, but quite often, also from political actors). This is, for instance, the case in the recently liberalized network industries (e.g. energy, railways), but also in the financial or the audiovisual media sector. In some cases (e.g. the electronic communications sector in the European Union), powers attributed to these regulatory authorities even prevent other, more democratically legitimate, institutions, like governments or parliaments, to interfere with the regulatory policy (cf. Judgment 424/07 of the Court of Justice in the German regulatory holidays case of December 3rd, 2009). Especially in that case, the question becomes: who’s watching the watchdog?

  21. First class introduction into ACTA, really a must-watch. 1 hour 35 minutes, enjoy!

    http://gruen-digital.de/2011/11/video-zum-actalunch-in-der-heinrich-boell-stiftung-28-10-2011/

  22. Upcoming likely additional efforts to compromise free speech on the internet by Neelie Kroes’ Office, preparations for ACTA:

    http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=AGENDA/11/41&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

    Wednesday 11 January 2012: Action plan to double the share of the Internet economy in Europe by 2015
    The news:
    […]
    … the Commission proposes actions to achieve:

    […]

    better information and protection against abuses on the internet.

    The initiatives complement existing legislation on e-commerce in Europe, in particular the E-commerce Directive. One of the actions to be announced is an initiative on procedures for “notifying-and-action” on illegal content which in particular should contribute to combating online illegality and enhancing legal certainty for online intermediaries.

    The background:
    The E-commerce Directive, adopted in 2000, sets up an Internal Market framework for electronic commerce, which provides legal certainty for business and consumers alike. It establishes harmonised rules on issues such as the transparency and information requirements for online service providers, commercial communications, electronic contracts and limitations of liability of intermediary service providers.

    Examples of services covered by the Directive include online information services (such as online newspapers), online selling of products and services (books, financial services and travel services), online advertising, professional services (lawyers, doctors, estate agents), entertainment services and basic intermediary services (access to the Internet and transmission and hosting of information).

    The event:

    Press conference by Vice-President Kroes, Commissioner Barnier and Commissioner Dalli at in Berlaymont press room (time to be confirmed).

    Press material will be available on the day.

    The sources:
    Vice-Président Kroes’ web site:

    http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kroes/index_en.htm

    Commissioner Barnier’s web site:

    http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/barnier/index_en.htm

    Commissioner John Dalli’s web site:

    http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/dalli/index_en.htm

    Commission’s web site:

    http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/e-commerce/index_en.htm

    The contacts:
    Chantal Hughes: +32 2 296 44 50 Chantal.Hughes@ec.europa.eu

    Carmel Dunne: +32 2 299 88 94 Carmel.Dunne@ec.europa.eu

    Ryan Heath +32 2 296 17 16 ryan.heath@ec.europa.eu

    Linda Cain +32 2 299 90 19 linda.cain@ec.europa.eu

    Frédéric Vincent +32 2 298 71 66 frederic.vincent@ec.europa.eu

    Aikaterini Apostola +32 2 298 76 24 aikaterini.apostola@ec.europa.eu

  23. NETZPOLITIK IN EUROPA
    Pflicht zur Überwachung
    http://www.taz.de/Netzpolitik-in-Europa/!83912/

  24. Petition zu Guttenberg must leave the European Commission

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