Version 1.5b Castle in the Sky

lecture: Avoiding kernel panic: Europe’s biggest fails in digital policy-making

How the institutions fuck up, and how we fuck it up as well

32c3 talk

In recent years, NGOs have been struggling to defend civil rights in Brussels. As human rights defenders, it is part of our job to detect failures in the EU’s digital policy-making. But we rarely have the opportunity to explore the underlying reasons and to debug Europe’s kernel package.

In this talk, we want to analyse the EU’s biggest fails and explore the following questions: Where and why is the European Union failing? Can the EU learn from its failures? Where and what is the European digital rights movement? How do we make our advocacy more successful?

In recent months, these fails have received a great deal of attention in the press – Oettinger’s Taliban attacks, Schroedinger’s net neutrality, the cybercybercyber war and the repeated repackaging of ACTA.

It is reasonable to say that in a complex system like the European Union, system failure is a perpetual risk. However, for the defence of human rights and, indeed, many other policy issues, limiting those risks is absolutely essential. This is why we want to explore how we can gain insights and use valuable information from recent fails to fix the EU’s vulnerabilities. Most importantly, if we wish to prevent the more serious failures in the future, we need to examine how and where our advocacy fails.

Access and European Digital Rights fight for digital rights at the EU level. Although we’re detecting and fighting a large number of failures that the European Union produces with regard to digital policy-making, we’re still very far from preventing the big fails.

For instance, instead of proposing real solutions to the migration crisis, the EU’s shortsighted vision focuses on border surveillance. Instead of an urgently needed reform of Europe’s privacy rules, its governments water down the protections for their citizens. Instead of safeguarding the open and neutral internet, the EU paves the way for discrimination by the big telcos. Instead of proposing evidence-based policies, the EU is trying to justify its proposals with evidence-making surveys.

Certainly, Brussels is obscure, opaque, complicated and far away – but the decisions made there affect us all. Unfortunately, among the many reasons for a failing defense of human rights at EU-level is the political indifference and resignation in our community™, a lack of understanding of the Brussels maze, a lack of awareness of the extent to which our national governments are directly involved in the policy-making process and a lack of communication about what happens in Brussels. During our talk, we therefore want to explore the following questions: Where and why is the European Union failing? Can the EU learn from its failures? Where and what is the European digital rights movement? How do we make our advocacy more successful?