CC BY-SA curated by other

The Future of internet regulation - Aral Balkan at the European Parliament


Aral Balkan, a self-styled 'cyborg rights activist, designer, and developer' at the Small Technology Foundation talks at a European Parliament meeting organised by the greens in November, 2019. He concisely describes Mastodon and the Fediverse using plain language which will be as comprehensible and useful to average users as it ought to have been to the MEPs in the room. In doing so, he eviscerates the tech-lobby-influenced European Union policy on technology telling them that they are pursuing a failed strategy of apeing the Sillicon valley approach of hyperscaling, centralisation, and growth for growth's sake and, what is worse, putting R&D money into surveillance-based start-ups which will only then be swallowed up by Californian giants. He makes the case that alternatives to this model already exist, that some of them are being developed by European free and open source software developers who are being overlooked by the EU, and that regulation of big tech must be much more pro-active than it is now.

Can we expect things to change soon? If by that we mean are to mean change from the top down with the technocrats in Brussels suddenly paying attention to what happens in fringe meetings, don't hold your breath: as Balkan points out, the very first company they heard from even in this meeting to find out how European companies benefitted from a liability exemption was Facebook, a company that whose CEO has shown nothing but contempt for the European parliament and which fulfilled not one of its written criteria!1 Rather, it will likely be up to individual users to begin to inform themselves about the dangers of surveillance capitalism or what Balkan himself calls people farming.

Further reading

Lobby Facts keeps an eye on lobby spending and influence in the European Union.
Today, Europe Lost the Internet. Now, We Fight Back. Cory Doctorow on the EU Copyright Directive


  1. The second at least was Seznam, a Czech company that has done well to stave off competition from Google, if only because Google did not enter this relatively small market with a rebarbative language until much later than was the case elsewhere. According to Wikipedia, "The EU believes Google overtook around 2011 in the Czech Republic"; as elsewhere, Google is now commonly used as a verb even in Czech.