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June 5, 2020

EU Policy Paper Calls for “European Internet” that Can, “Like the Chinese Firewall”, Block Services

"An action plan for a digital cloud"

By CBR Staff Writer

A policy paper for the European Parliament calls on Europe to build a “European Internet” that “like the Chinese firewall… would block off services that condone or support unlawful conduct from third party countries.”

The startlingly illiberal and clumsy proposal comes in a paper [pdf] written by Hamburg-based consultancy Future Candy for the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (stay with us).

It recommends actions for the parliament ahead of the Digital Services Act (DSA); proposed legislation intended to “reinforce the single market for digital services”. (In short, the DSA takes aim at the dominance of “large online platforms acting as gatekeepers”. Learn more about it here).

The paper was published in May and spotted this week by Cloudflare’s head of policy, who Tweeted the proposal with a “wow”. (A consultation on the DSA is open until 8 September 2020. Our readers can share their views here.)

A European Firewall, A European Cloud

The paper also calls for a European “digital cloud” [sic].

“The EU should include an action plan for a digital cloud – a European Internet – in the DSA”, the policy paper suggests to the Parliament.

“This European Cloud would foster a European digital ecosystem based on data and innovation. It would drive competition and set standards.

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“Foreign web services could become part of such a digital ecosystem but must adhere to the rules and standards of the EU – such as democratic values, data protection, data accessibility, transparency and user-friendliness.

“Technologically”, the policy paper says vaguely, “it would require a top-level infrastructure, high-speed 5G or a 6G data network and a firewall.

“Like the Chinese firewall, this European internet would block off services that condone or support unlawful conduct from third party countries.”

As the FT’s Beijing correspondent Yuan Yang puts it, China operates “the world’s most sophisticated censorship and surveillance system…

“The Great Firewall blocks website names, misdirects traffic and can even shut off encrypted communications by figuring out to what kind of service the user is trying to connect.”

What are your thoughts on the proposal. Email ed dot targett at cbronline dot com


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