February 4, 2008 | By Danny O'Brien

Fighting for Digital Rights in Europe: Our Next Year

It's been almost a year since EFF opened an office in Brussels and focused our attention on political lobbying in the heart of the European Union. In that time, we've learned a great deal about how policies become EC law and how decisions get made in the EU.

We certainly hit the ground running: together with the support of over 10,000 Europeans and other groups, we immediately found ourselves explaining in the European Parliament and Council the collateral damage to consumers, libraries, and the technology sector that would have been caused by criminalizing all IP infringement via IPRED2. We shined a bright light on the (so far unsuccessful) entertainment industry efforts to force through a copyright term extension on sound recordings by slipping it into a committee report. And we articulated the detrimental consequences for European citizens’ privacy, creativity and freedom of expression of mandating ISPs to filter Internet communications, as proposed by the major music and film industries’ lobbyists.

But after a year in Europe concentrating on direct lobbying of MEPs in Brussels, we’ve realized that it's not enough to catch bad policy as it enters the final stages of becoming European Community law. Protecting digital rights requires both well-informed policy-makers and informed and empowered citizens. Defending privacy, and preserving space for the full possibilities of innovation, requires policy debates in a wide range of public spaces.

So this year we’ll be moving away from a focus on Brussels lawmaking and broadening the focus of our European work. We'll concentrate on what EFF does best: grassroots advocacy and activism with our European members, working with like-minded groups on policy campaigns and submissions on common agendas, and offering activism assistance and tech policy analysis and resources for the consumers, artists and innovators who regularly contact us asking for help or advice.

With this shift of emphasis come some personnel changes. Erik Josefsson, EFF European Affairs Coordinator in our Brussels office, will be leaving us at the end of April, and we'll be closing our office in Brussels. Joining our international team is Eddan Katz, formerly the Executive Director of the Yale Information Society Project, whose tremendous work has provided unprecedented insights into the impact of intellectual property policy in developing countries and advanced the global Access to Knowledge (A2K) movement.

If you'd like to know more about our 2008 plans - or give us suggestions as to how EFF's international team can work best in Europe and around the world - Eddan and Erik will be available at FOSDEM in Brussels, where they will talk about EFF's active campaigns in Europe and discuss upcoming policy issues. EFF invites you to join us for a pre-conference party early on Friday February 22nd at our Brussels Office for food, drinks and good company. Please RSVP to fosdem2008@eff.org.

EFF remains committed to our international program and looks forward to continuing our important work with NGOs on the ground in Europe and elsewhere.

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