Europe warms to globalisation

Europe ‘should not look at globalisation in the way the rabbit looks to the snake’ and should embrace the changes to media and information wrought by technologies like the Internet. The remarks were made by Viviane Reding, the European Commission commissioner responsible for Information Society and Media at yesterday’s European Forum.

In her speech, Reding admitted that the freedom afforded by the Internet can be abused to distribute child pornography around the world and that satellite TV can be abused to circulate hate speech and terrorist propaganda. At the same time, electronic commerce can be abused for financial transactions promoting criminal activities around the globe, or for illegal ‘phishing’ activities on online bank accounts.

‘We have to understand that a policy to prevent abuses of global media must never, lead to calling into question the enormous freedoms offered by globalised media,’ she declared. ‘For instance by ‘filtering out’ certain types of content, as we see it happening in some parts of the world. Freedom of expression and of the media are the pillars of our European democracies.’

As with the recent discussion on outlawing extremely violent pornography on the Internet, this does not mean that everything can and should be permitted. ‘The prohibition of content can therefore take place in extreme cases, as a response of last resort, and under the control of our courts. In most cases, self regulation and co-regulation will be much more efficient and proportionate tools.’

As an example she pointed out the case where European regulators agreed to stop the transmissions of the satellite programme of Al-Manar, which had been qualified as an extreme case of incitement to racial hatred by the French Highest Administrative Court.

Reding concluded by saying that Europe should create a regulatory environment that allows European media companies to be successful with their products in Europe and around the globe.

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