Big tech accountability? Read how we got here in  The Closing of the Net 

Viviane Reding, European  Commissioner-designate for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship has promised to protect the rights of individual citizens.


Mrs Reding made it clear  that following ratification of the Lisbon Treaty,  all new EU laws will have to be checked for compliance with the Charter of Fundamental rights. It will be her role to ensure that it happens.

She was answering questions from Members of the European Parliament, as part of a vetting process before she can be appointed to her new role. Given that the large number of MEPs in attendance, this was, if you like, a very  public job interview.  


In answer to a question from

MEP Stavros Lambrinidis on the requirement for the need for consent before companies can use data obtained from  Internet users, Mrs Reding responded that action will be taken when the right to privacy is not observed. She highlighted the case of the UK company, Phorm, which was using users data for advertising purposes, and against which she took action in her previous role as Information Society Commissioner.

 On the matter of sanctions, (of any sort) she said they will have to be proportionate o the policy goal. Policy, she said, should be driven not by fear, but by values.

On another question regarding privacy from MEP Sophia InT'Veld,  Mrs Reding  noted that the Data Retention Directive was pushed through by the Council of Interior Ministers (sic) against the will of the Commission and the responsible committee in the Parliament. She said she hoped the Parliament would think first before taking such a decision in the future.

In response to a suggestion that she is too cosy with industry, she said that the telecoms industry were ‘not very happy with me on the basis of the roaming regulation' - which reduced the cost of roamed mobile phone calls to consumers.


Interestingly, she said that fundamental rights will have to be implemented in both contract and consumer law. 


She did not say so, but it's worth pointing out that this has implications for graduated response measures which are implemented via contract law.


One other  matter will give her an interesting conundrum - Article 17.2 of the Charter is the right to intellectual property. She did not comment on that.

The video of the  full  session with Mrs Reding in the European Parliament will be re-run tomorrow. The questioning was much wider than just the Internet, and she answered questions on a range of issues across the full spectrum of rights. 


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) Viviane Reding: new EU laws must pass rights test  , 12 January 2010 .

Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.


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