No-Three-Strikes, Yes to Net Neutrality: Distributed Campaigning and Digital Rights in the European Union
34 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2011
Date Written: September 13, 2011
The paper focuses on the distributed campaigning techniques of an ad hoc coalition of digital rights activists intervening in the European Union’s Telecoms Package Reform from 2007 to 2009. It examines how technically skilled actors take advantage of networked collaboration and information production, as they discover, learn about, challenge and attempt to modify European policy-making. Activists do not only question the status quo but advance new alternatives and models built on innovative distribution systems of knowledge goods, such as free software and open access initiatives.
Second, the campaign’s effectiveness is assessed through policy-makers perception in the analysis of three interrelated questions: a) did the campaign generate awareness among representatives? b) were protest actors perceived as credible and legitimate interlocutors? c) did the campaign trigger concrete political and/or legal changes? The evaluation of the effectiveness of the campaign allows to draw nuanced conclusions as to the concrete impact of internet-based campaigning targeting European institutions and processes, and constitutes a major contribution to the literature on internet-based collective action.
The analysis shows how resource-poor, internet-grounded actors can substantially affect policy-making by disrupting the course of parliamentary lawmaking at the European level. We provide an analytical framework to study these processes, and carry out a detailed confrontation between oppositional strategies and actual legislative and political outputs, with reference to the literature on internet-based collective action, and the politics of intellectual property in particular. Technical skills and control of the informational environment emerge as key elements in successful campaigning, posing new challenges to political institutions that rely on extra-institutional expertise.
Keywords: Internet-Based Campaigning, European Union, Information, Effectiveness
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