European Internet Foundation and Software Patents
European Internet Foundation (EIF) should not be confused with real Internet organisations such as IETF. EIF's main field of activity seems to be hosting dinners for members of the European Parliament (!MEPs) at which the representatives of large corporations in Brussels can get access to the !MEPs. The organisation is mainly financed by these corporations. The current patent legislation has inevitably been one of the leading subjects in these talks, and EIF has previously been used as one of the main channels for pro-software-patent activism in Brussels.
News & Chronology
2005-02-01 Meeting EIF/Bill Gates
Later a danish newspaper confirms that software patents were discussed and Bill Gates made it clear that failure to leaglise them in Europe would entail removal of R&D investments in Denmark): "Last week she (remark: i.e. Jorgensen) participated in a closed meeting in the European Internet Foundation, where Bill Gates spoke. According to Karin Riss Jørgensen the message from the Microsoft founder was just as clear last week as it was in the meeting with the Danish ministers in November. More precisely, Microsoft will discontinue investments in EU countries, if it is not possible to patent software.
- 2004-10-00 EDRI withdraws from EIF after its protests against pro-patent lobbying by EIF had been ignored
2002-11-07 Hartmut Pilch was invited to a EIF event after Europarl Hearings: report A glipse to EU lobbying structures
2004-11-10 EIF organised a complementary event to the FFII/MERIT conference.
2004-11-11 James Heald (FFII UK) reports:
EIF organised an excellent event on 2004-11-10, which provided an enormously useful opportunity for all parties in the CII discussion - MEPs, EU commission, EU presidency, patent holders, and ourselves - to meet and discuss the directive, first in a well structured more formal session, and then more informally over drinks and then a buffet dinner.
In the process I believe that all sides gained a much deeper face-to-face understanding of what the other players were really trying to achieve, and I can only hope that a number of misunderstandings were reduced.
In the end, such an organisation can becomes an avenue for a one-sided corporate entertaining/informercials; or it can create an almost unique inclusive, welcoming and balanced forum for raising the whole information quality of the deabte, and the level of understanding of all the participants. Which path it takes is determined by the integrity and vision of the MEPs on its board. In this case I was well impressed.
The rather suspicious and paranoid concerns related on the remainder of this page, written before the meeting by I don't know who, should not be read without considering how the meeting actually went.
Backgrounds about Structure of EIF
Upon closer reading, it becomes clear that EIF is a platform for Big Business Lobbying on topics like IPR. Its main field of activity seems to be hosting lunches and dinners for MEPs at which the industry members of EIF can purchase time to present their topics before MEP dine. The organisation is mainly financed by large companies. A few small organisations also use EIF to get access to contacts.
The disinfopedia wiki says: "This organisation is an offsping of the United States Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN) (an US organisation dedicated to influencing EU policy, whose Members include Microsoft, IBM, Siemens, Phillips) and Internet Education Foundation". German announcement also cites good relation with the "Global Business Dialogue" A.
Key !MEPs are awarded the title of "governor" - For example: Arlene McCarthy, Elly Plooj Van Gorsel, Erika Mann. Erika Mann distributed the invitation to the obvious EIF-FFII counter lobbying event to all !MEPs.
German only: European Internet Foundation (EIF) Angaben von Erika Mann ueber ihr Mitwirken bei EIF - she also presents EIF as lobby host of big industry, as one of the governors of EIF - seemingly with an active role - she ought to know.
- EICTA, Siemens etc have been using EIF for patent lobbying
The BSA paid money for a lobbying event about ENISA. Quote: On June 11, 2003, BSA co-sponsored a public forum on the proposed EU Regulation establishing a Network and Information Security Agency. Government/industry partnership and international cooperation on network and information security were key themes. The Public Forum was followed by dinner under the auspices of the European Internet Foundation.
EIF on membership, FFII highlighting
Membership & funding The European Internet Foundation is led and governed by our Political Members, all of whom are elected
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in Germany couldn't receive tax-exempted gemeinnützig state, AR. We are independent, not-for-profit and non-partisan. Membership in the European Internet Foundation is open to all current MEPs whether Elly Plooij-van Gorsel is still in, AR. The Foundation is financed primarily through the membership fees of our Business and Associate Members. Our membership includes a core of leading European e-companies, and will be expanded to encompass a broad range of interests and actors in the vanguard of internet-driven change across Europe. Our Membership is open on a progressive, non-discriminatory fee basis to any duly-constituted commercial entity or interest group pledging support for our founding principles. The Foundation invites active cooperation with other political, academic and governmental institutions and networks, including notably the European Commission. Policy dialogue with the United States political community is
assured through the Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN) Goodlatte etc., AR. Through this EIF website and via web-based and traditional media, we also correspond more broadly with Europe's citizens on important network society issues and policy developments.
- restricted membership to MEPs who don't pay membership fees
- membership to business organisations who fund the organisation
- big board of MEPs
---> lobbying insourcing organisation
" Die EIF erstrebt, prinzipiell, eine ständige Zusammenarbeit mit anderen Networks und Instutitionen aus einflussreichen wirtschaftlichen und politischen Sektoren der europäischen Zivilgesellschaft. Durch die Gründer aus Wirtschaft und Politik bestehen bereits konstruktive Beziehungen mit dem "Transatlantic Policy Network" (TPN). Das gleiche gilt für den" Global Business Dialogue" und den, gerade neu entstandenen, "Global Cities Dialogue"."