Europe’s Digital Reactionaries

BRUSSELS – Many European politicians praise the Internet. Unfortunately, their lofty rhetoric often rings hollow. While calling for a strong digital agenda in one breath, the same politicians, supported by protectionist interests at home, often argue for putting a brake on the Internet’s “disruption” by imposing strict new regulation.

Such double-talk is misguided. If Europe is to prosper in the twenty-first century, its newly elected leaders need to embrace a positive, concrete pro-Internet agenda. That means signing digital free-trade agreements and creating a true European digital single market out of today’s fragmented 28 national jurisdictions. Long-outdated copyright and licensing laws must be overhauled. New privacy rules must protect citizens and allow innovation; calls for mandatory data localization and local versions of the “Internet” must be resisted.