Regulation of the Internet in Europe

Regulation of the Internet in Europe

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Brings a smile the idea that the head of the German government, Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday unexpectedly discovered that a large part of the European network traffic physically passes through the United States.

It was also found that the giants of the Internet, based overseas, not completely conform to the rules of privacy applicable in the European Union. Indeed, is it possible that advisers never informed Merkel that for economic reasons advantageous to send e-mail through the U.S., even if you want to send it from Turin to Berlin? This is true for many years, and perhaps always has been. Is it possible that the Minister Chancellor engaged relevant problems, informed her that since 2000 there is an agreement between Europe and the United States, and Germany also approved, which is called “Safe Harbor» (Safe Harbor) and that actually allows network agencies of the United States act in Europe, while fully respecting the strict European standards of privacy?

Obviously, such an attentive politician as Angela Merkel can not be unaware of this fundamental agreement concerning the Internet and personal data of European citizens. However, in political terms, in such cases, the cost to pretend to be ignorant of the facts of the past, to avoid liability, own, their predecessors and their European counterparts and go forward.

But let’s talk about the intentions of Angela Merkel, who she suggested on the eve of his meeting with the French president.

The first intention is to network traffic, connecting users in Europe, did not go beyond the boundaries of Europe and, in particular, did not go through the United States. After a certified letter from Voghera in Lyon do not usually go through Dallas, and a phone call from Amsterdam to Barcelona is not passed through Moscow. Therefore, it would be nice if e-mail and other data streams transmitted within Europe, would not pass through New York or Beijing. At the moment it is not.

So, as I mentioned, basically banal economic reasons in order to reduce the cost of network traffic between the two European users are often routed through other non-European countries, in particular – across the United States, who invented the internet, and have a highly developed and competitive communications infrastructure data. Many would like to intra-flow of information did not extend beyond Europe. Countries such as the U.S., China and Russia will probably always attentive to their physical network data path. Europe and it is good to finally have thought of this problem. But to solve it will be anything but easy. Indeed, on the one hand, it is necessary to abandon the dogma that market relations always give the best solution. On the other hand, we must be careful to avoid “balkanization” of the Internet, that is not to break up the existing global network of national and macro-regional network. In my opinion, the problem should be approached very carefully, using a «moral suasion» (moral suasion), incentives and regulations. Require complex technical solutions and great insight to anticipate potential unexpected and undesirable consequences of their choice.

All competent people are well aware that in Europe there is a certain asymmetry between U.S. and European companies. In fact, U.S. firms can operate on the basis of the above-mentioned agreement “Safe Harbor”, which actually allows them to operate with greater freedom in the field of personal data. Their European competitors must comply with more stringent standards. But this disparity, giving benefits to the U.S. market for personal data, stems from European politics, which adheres to Germany.

It is very likely that this situation has arisen as a result of some long compromise between the U.S. and Europe. Maybe now Merkel wants to some extent, to renegotiate the “Safe Harbor” concerning privacy. Performing this goal will depend on the support that the Chancellor could have from other European countries. And this support, in turn, will depend largely on the price, which will inevitably have to pay in some sectors of exchange between the U.S. and Europe. In the coming months it will become clear whether they want our government, including the Italian, to sacrifice anything for the sake of a more strict observance of the privacy of European citizens.

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