February 12, 2014
Vice President Neelie Kroes
(Reuters / Yves Herman)
The European Commission has said it is determined to "redraw the global map
of internet governance" as massive US surveillance has damaged public trust
in the web, and said it is ready to negotiate with Washington for control of
The commission, the EU's top executive body, on Wednesday proposed a key
reform to the way the internet is managed and run, saying that Europe will
"pursue a role as honest broker" in future global negotiations on the issue.
"The next two years will be critical in
redrawing the global map of Internet governance. Europe must contribute
to a credible way forward for global internet governance. Europe must
play a strong role in defining what the net of the future looks like,"
EC Vice President Neelie Kroes said in a statement.
Neelie Kroes directly connected her
demands of a "more transparent, accountable and inclusive governance" of the
web to the revelations on large-scale internet surveillance conducted by the
US government, which was exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
"have called into question the stewardship
of the US when it comes to Internet Governance" and pointed at the need
to switch to a "more global model," the EC statement said.
"Our fundamental freedoms and human rights are not negotiable. They must
be protected online," Kroes said.
Currently, some vital functions of internet
management are in the hands of US-based companies.
For instance, top-level domain names (as .com,
.net, .org) and IP address spaces are controlled and managed by the
California-based corporation ICANN, which operates under a contract with the
But according to the EC statement, ICANN and other key decision-making
internet institutions must be globalized to,
"safeguard the stability, security and
resilience of the Internet."
It also called for the creation of the Global
Internet Policy Observatory - an online platform for "creating transparency
on internet policies."
The "open and unfragmented nature" of the global web must be protected by a
special set of principles, the Commission said.
Previously, when a UN agency, the International Telecommunication Union,
came up with detailed proposals on more diversified global internet control,
...rejected the plan.
The four governments - allies under the
Five Eyes intelligence sharing group - claimed that
internationalization of internet governance would lead to internet
censorship in some countries.
Kroes also appeared to be skeptical of the UN's proposal, calling it a
A multi-polar internet should be the world's
aim, she believes.
"We must strengthen the multi-stakeholder
model to preserve the Internet as a fast engine for innovation," the EC
Kroes' words came as European Parliament
lawmakers were preparing a response to US snooping activities.
The MEPs are keen to demand that virtual data be
stored on computer servers in Europe to improve oversight, Reuters reported.
Before any concrete steps are taken by Europe, both the lawmakers and the EC
need to gather support of EU member states, some of which have been
reluctant to get tough with the US, despite vigorous rhetoric.