James Waterworth  Europe’s Digital Reactionaries, IT crowd box Martin Deutsch/flickr

Europa moet het internet vrij laten

BRUSSEL – Veel Europese politici steken de loftrompet over het internet. Helaas klinkt hun verheven retoriek dikwijls nogal hol. Terwijl ze oproepen tot een krachtige digitale agenda pleiten dezelfde politici, gesteund door protectionistische belangen in eigen land, er vaak voor een halt toe te roepen aan de 'ontwrichting' die het internet veroorzaakt door strikte nieuwe regels in te voeren.

Zulke 'dubbelspraak' is misplaatst. Als Europa in de 21e eeuw wil bloeien, moeten de nieuw gekozen Europese leiders een positieve pro-internet-agenda omarmen. Dat betekent het ondertekenen van digitale vrijhandelsovereenkomsten en het creëren van een echte gemeenschappelijke Europese digitale markt uit de 28 afzonderlijke nationale jurisdicties die vandaag de dag de toon zetten. Reeds lang achterhaalde copyright- en licentiewetten zullen moeten worden herzien. Nieuwe privacyregels moeten de burgers beschermen en de innovatie bevorderen; oproepen voor verplichte 'datalocalisatie' (gegevensopslag op één bepaalde – nationale – plek) en lokale versies van het internet moeten worden weerstaan.

Als zij wordt uitgevoerd kan deze omvangrijke digitale agenda bieden wat Europa na de financiële crisis het hardst nodig heeft: economische groei. Volgens de OESO is het internet nu verantwoordelijk voor 13% van de economische productie in de VS. Ieder type bedrijvigheid hangt nu af van de digitale economie. Met een paar muisklikken zijn kleine bedrijfjes die Poolse antiek, traditionele Beierse klederdracht en Spaanse schoenen verkopen uit hun thuismarkt gebarsten om klanten over de hele wereld te bedienen.

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