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La Quadrature's response to the EU 2020 consultation

La Quadrature du Net submitted its response to the EU 2020 consultation launched by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.

To make the knowledge society a reality, La Quadrature calls on the Commission to focus on Internet users' rights regarding access to information commons, particularly by mandating Net neutrality and reforming the European copyright regime.

Executive Summary

In the EU 2020 communication, the European Commission calls for "a new sustainable social market economy, a smarter, greener economy where our prosperity will result from innovation and from using resources better, and where knowledge will be the key input." After the relative failure of the Lisbon Strategy, the European Union must learn from past mistakes and embrace the promises of the networked society.

We believe that the principles embedded in the Internet – an open communications infrastructure that foster the free flow of information along the network – are key to the construction of a thriving knowledge society. But for our societies to reap the full benefits of the Internet, the EU needs to adopt public policies that encourage rather than deter the circulation of knowledge. First, this means that the free and open nature of the Internet must be preserved. This is why La Quadrature du Net is a strong proponent of an EU wide legislation that would mandate the principle of Net neutrality to both fixed and wireless Internet providers. This will guarantee the “common good” nature of the Internet by ensuring that users can keep on engaging in a wide variety of market and non-market activities on the network, creating and sharing information, thus contributing to the whole knowledge economy. Second, while Net neutrality rules would eliminate discriminatory practices aimed at blocking or limiting certain information flows, other regulatory regimes - such as the scope of exclusive rights over information - should be revised. For instance, copyright, must be adapted to the digital age to support the development of innovative ways of distributing and using content online.

There is no time to loose. Clearly, European policy has a choice between protecting existing rent-seekers and encouraging the development and new products, services and uses that serve its stated objectives : an inclusive knowledge society, a sustainable economy, and the promotion of more global justice in dealing with the transformations we face. If European policy-makers unequivocally choose the latter approach, they will pave the road for Europe's lasting prosperity and gain strong endorsement from citizens.

Adjusting EU legislation to the free circulation of knowledge across the Internet – as opposed to moving towards an increased control of the information flow – will benefit society as a whole, protecting the value of the Internet for enhanced citizenship and intense innovation. Such a path will keep our societies away from the temptation of securitarian and repressive policies, which are not only technically ineffective and economically inefficient in the intangible cyberspace, but also harm civil liberties by ignoring the importance of the Internet for the practical exercise of freedom in the twenty-first century.

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