For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

MAPPING Europe's future: a Roman convocation

MAPPING is the acronym of Managing Alternatives for Privacy, Property and Internet Governance [Merpel prefers MAPPIG], a project funded by the European Commission to draw together people from different strands of life within the information sectors and allow them to discuss their differences and points of common interest. For two whole days, 20 and 21 May, over 100 invitees participated in an Extraordinary General Assembly in Rome's lovely Casa dell'Aviatore (suits and ties mandatory!) -- this Kat being among the small number of IP folk among the privacy and data protectionists, surveillance experts, internetters, governance folk and so on. This Assembly was intended to be something of a kick-start to the project and, while invitation-only, is seen as a means of identifying and inviting others to participate in what will be a four-year project.

The list of invitees (excepting this blogger, who is not qualified to comment on himself) was pretty impressive. If the EU had four corners, they could all be said to be represented, as were Europe's non-terrestrial territories. Invitees were also spotted from points beyond the EU, not excluding the United States.

Chatham House: an effective silencer?
The opening session contained the usual welcomes and explanations as to what everyone was doing here. Several minutes into this session, we were told that the Assembly was to be conducted under the Chatham House Rule, which this Kat is increasingly coming to regard as an impertinence where public money is being spent on bringing together quantities of people for a meeting at which most if not all are either repeating the positions of their employers or saying things that they have already published in print or on the internet. Merpel for once agrees, since it seems to her that the Rule is often apparently invoked as a means of making people at meetings governed by it feel more important in that they are invited to believe that they are hearing things that are so sensitive that they can't be attributed.

Be that as it may, an unnamed speaker at the opening session observed that there are two Europes -- one of the 28 Member States and another, wider one that is the Council of Europe. The latter has taken a lead in setting norms for 48 nations, particularly in the field of human rights, internet governance and cyber-crime, where its positions, agreements and judicial law-making have proved highly influential both in Europe and in over 100 countries worldwide where it has assisted in capacity-building. Interesting -- and worth a closer look.

3 comments:

Eleonora Rosati said...

Thank goodness you did not take that Casa dell'Aviatore pic this morning :-) #chatham

Andy J said...

Jeremy, Surely one of the 'advantages' of the Chatham House Rule is that, contrary to your proposition that the delegates "are either repeating the positions of their employers or saying things that they have already published in print or on the internet", under the Rule, they can in fact take a position which is not that of their employer or any previous public utterances.
Unlikely I know, but useful for a devil's advocate (as opposed to devilish advocates).

Jeremy said...

Andy J -- if I thought there was a chance that anyone might speak out of turn and say something not sanctioned by their affiliation, I would have heartily agreed with you. In any event, when people do take a position that is contrary to their organisation, it is the fact that they have said it, rather than someone else, that is worth reporting!

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