Neelie Kroes – Internet essentials – Speech at the OECD High Level Meeting on the Internet Economy

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Ladies and Gentlemen, It is a pleasure to open, together with such distinguished colleagues, the High Level Meeting on the Internet Economy. First I want to recall that, as you all know very well, over the last decade the Internet has transformed society and become a pillar of the economy. The Internet is essential for our vision of smart, green and inclusive growth in the years and decades to come. And so it is also essential to make it safe, open and accessible to all citizens. Given the importance of the subject, I have no doubt that the coming two days will give us plenty of “food for thought”. But it should not be fast food; it should be a leisurely and balanced meal. We should take time to think and find the right solutions. First things first. As the Roman philosopher Seneca said: “if you do not know to which port you are sailing, no wind is favourable”. I find this just as true in the seas of modern cyberspace. We must understand where we came from; where we stand at the moment; and especially where we want to get to. Only then can we make the most of the opportunities the Internet offers, and best manage the risks. This reflection is a collective responsibility. Academia, the private sector and civil society have contributed enormously to the success of the Internet. Politicians like me should be mindful of that. But public authorities neither can nor should take a back seat. The fact is that the Internet is of relevance and benefit for citizens, for the economy, and for society. For that reason alone it is of interest to public policy makers. One of the challenges is to respond to that legitimate interest, without damaging the very features of the Internet which make it such a success story: its vibrancy, dynamism, innovation. Here to read more.

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