Less than a week after EU digital commissioner Andrus Ansip announced he wants to end geo-blocking, his fellow commissioner Gunther Oettinger indicated he was in no rush to abolish the practice of restricting online content based on someone's location.
Speaking at Midem yesterday, Andrus Ansip of the European Commission shared his vision for the Digital Single Market. Noting that geo-blocking is bad for business, Ansip said that opening up content across borders and providing good legal options is the best way to tackle piracy. "Our legislation is pushing people to steal," he said.
EU leaders discussed a European Commission plan for a digital single market at the second day of their summit on Friday (26 June), but there are already signs that member states prefer to pick and choose from the list of initiatives which was supposed to be a package deal.
If national governments do end up stripping down the strategy, presented by commissioners Andrus Ansip and Guenther Oettinger last month, it will be a repetition of what happened to the previous commission's digital action plan.
Despite the fast pace of the digital developments, the member states have not been able to match that pace when it comes to finding agreement with the European Parliament on a previous commission plan called Connected Continent, also known as the Telecoms Single Market package. The plan was introduced by then digital commissioner Neelie Kroes in September 2013. It aimed to introduce EU-wide rules for telecoms operators, increase consumer rights, and coordinate the assignment of radio spectrum at an EU level.
At a meeting of the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) on 19 June, European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip made a statement that was both shocking and shockingly honest. He advertised the content filtering product of the US company Audible Magic as an affordable alternative to Google’s Content ID filtering technology for filtering European citizens’ uploads to the internet.
Andrus Ansip speech at the Digital Assembly 2017 in Valletta on 15 June 2017.