Internet needs no 'digital handcuffs', says Kroes

Open standards in procurement, less restrictive copyright regimes, and net neutrality can all play a part in freeing internet users from potential 'digital handcuffs', according European Commission digital agenda chief Neelie Kroes.Kroes reiterated a number of strands of European Commission thought on the 'open internet' at the W3C Conference in Lyon on Thursday.

Open standards in procurement, less restrictive copyright regimes, and net neutrality can all play a part in freeing internet users from potential 'digital handcuffs', according European Commission digital agenda chief Neelie Kroes.

Kroes reiterated a number of strands of European Commission thought on the 'open internet' at the W3C Conference in Lyon on Thursday. To illustrate her point, Kroes talked of a pair of handcuffs sent to her by the Free Software Foundation lobby group.

"Let me show you, these handcuffs are not closed, not locked," said Kroes. "I can open them if and when I want. That's what I mean by being open online, what it means to me to get rid of 'digital handcuffs'."

Open data from governments "could benefit consumers, inform voters, help policy-makers, stimulate web innovators, and boost the economy," said Kroes. The NAO called on the UK government to improve the quality of public sector open data in a report on Wednesday.

The European Commission is working on guidance for open standards for government procurement, said Kroes. In February the UK government denied that the influence of proprietary software lobbying had caused the government to rethink its definition of open standards.

Kroes called on pro-copyright organisations to rethink a reliance on "ancient, pre-digital rules" that the Commission needs to "cut back or make more flexible". People should be free to choose between different business models to consume content, said Kroes. TalkTalk was the most recent ISP in the UK to block Usenet content aggregator Newzbin2 following the UK court victory of a conglomerate of pro-copyright Hollywood studios.