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[Interview] MEP Marietje Schaake Says We Need Global Collaboration to Keep the Internet Open

BY Antonella Napolitano | Friday, June 13 2014

MEP Marietje Schaake at PDF14 (Photo: Esty Stein/Personal Democracy)

At Personal Democracy Forum 2014, Member of European Parliament Marietje Schaake had the not-so-easy task of speaking after the conversation between Edward Snowden and John Perry Barlow.

MEP Schaake started by remembering the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway that claimed 77 lives, and the first declaration of (then) Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg: “We are still shocked by what has happened, but we will never give up our values. “Our response is more democracy, more openness, and more humanity.”

Schaake, who has been recently re-elected as Member of the European Parliament, pointed out that advocating for openness does not mean being naive about legitimate security concerns. Security and rights are intertwined, not a zero-sum game, she said.

A longtime critic of how surveillance technologies are exported overseas by Western companies, Schaake is also involved in a campaign that she started called Stop Digital Arms Trade during her first term in the European Parliament.

"We need licensing requirements to make sure that we control the appropriate technologies and the relevant transactions," she had told techPresident earlier in April.

“The EU at least needs to update its dual-use regulation to include surveillance and intrusive technologies," she told the PDF audience last week.

Her talk was a call to responsibility and collaboration between political forces from across the Atlantic: “Our answer to threats to our open society should not result in an erosion from within,” she said. “Strong user laws to protect user rights might have an exponential effect if they were enabled by the United States."

But working with their U.S. counterparts is not easy for European representatives: they don't have jurisdiction to challenge decisions that are made in the U.S. even if the laws actually affect many other countries outside of the U.S.

Earlier this year, European Commission VP and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding admitted that Snowden's revelations had proved to be an accidental ally in her talks with the U.S. government in pushing for an umbrella agreement on data protection, techPresident reported.

In a similar way, an event in the U.S. again helped Europe push forward an important Internet law. The end of net neutrality in the U.S. helped politicians in the European Parliament to enact a legislation that protected net neutrality.

"Change never comes easy," Schaake said. But leadership should be about resilience, not erosion, she later added.

Below are a few clips from an interview with MEP Schaake after the conference.

On talking in front of the PDF14 audience and on working together on digital rights issues:

On citizens feeling powerless and wanting to take action and on what politicians can do to better inform them:

On the work of the next European Parliament on digital rights:

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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