The Commission shapes the Internet: A study of the European Commission’s proposals for Directives and their impact on Internet rights and Internet governance in the European Union

    Research output: ThesisMaster's thesisTheses

    Abstract

    This master’s thesis examines how the European Commission has aimed to influence Internet governance in Europe. The study was conducted on the premises that there is a conflict of interests regarding how the Internet should be governed, and that the Commission’s goal to strengthen the single market might mean that the ommission’s proposed regulatory output is tipped in favour of industry interests rather than a more general, public interest.

    To test this hypothesis, five proposals for Directives, the e-Commerce Proposal, the ePrivacy Proposal, the IPR Enforcement Proposal, the second IPR Enforcement Proposal, the EU Data Retention Proposal and one international agreement, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, were examined through document analysis.

    This thesis suggests that the Commission’s regulatory efforts can be divided into three time periods of Internet governance: the age of ICT competitiveness, the age of data protection and the age of intellectual property rights enforcement. The age of ICT competitiveness was labelled by an aspiration to enable European ICT companies to be able to compete with their American counterparts. The age of data protection was initiated to hinder private ompanies from abusing the privacy of citizens and consumers. The age of IPR enforcement started with a growing concern for copyright infringing file-sharing which is yet to subside. Additionally, the results show that the public interest coincides with different, sometimes competing, industry sectors’ interests in different policy areas.

    Two conclusions can be made. First, the public interest is protected by the fact that ICT companies, the audio-visual industry and telecommunications companies have divergent interests. If interests of the private sector converge as aresult of increased industry convergence, however, the public interest could be affected negatively. For example, self-regulation and informal co-operation between telecommunications companies and the audio-visual industry with the aim of enforcing intellectual property rights could mean increased surveillance of private communications. Industry interests should thus be mapped more closely, for example by examining consultations and impact assessments conducted by the European Commission. Second, the regulatory output of the Commission is highly dependent on whether the primary drafting responsibility lies with DG Connect (formerly DG Information Society and Media) or DG Internal Market and Services (formerly DG XV). Exactly how that responsibility is determined is unclear and merits further study.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationHelsinki
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    MoE publication typeG2 Master's thesis, polytechnic Master's thesis

    Fields of Science

    • 518 Media and communications
    • Internet regulation
    • EU regulation
    • media policy

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