This article originally appeared in Computing 9th June 2020

A policy paper requested by the European Parliament’s committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection recommends the European Union to develop a “European Internet” which, like the “Great Firewall of China”, would block services supporting unlawful activities in other countries.

Many governments and human rights groups in Europe currently criticise the Chinese government for its use of a firewall that denies Chinese people open access to Internet for free exchange of information and ideas. Critics argue that this “Great Firewall of China” helps the Chinese government to suppress opposition to its one party system.

But, it appears now that policy makers in the EU have also started noticing some advantages of this approach.

“The EU should include an action plan for a digital cloud – a European Internet – in the DSA”, suggests the policy document [pdf] which is authored by experts from Hamburg-based consultancy Future Candy.

According to these experts, EU’s own firewall/cloud/ internet would help foster a digital ecosystem based on data and innovation in the European region. Unlike Chinese approach that enables Beijing to suppress democratic movements in the country, EU’s firewall would be founded on the pillars of democratic values, transparency, user friendliness, data protection and data accessibility. Moreover, it would also help in setting standards and driving competition in the region.

Foreign web services would be allowed to join EU’s digital ecosystem, but for that, they would need to adhere to the rules and standards set by the European Parliament.

The document further advises the parliament to take various measures ahead of the proposed Digital Services Act (DSA) that will eventually a directive introduced nearly 20 years back to govern online services in the EU.

The policy document recommends starting a funding programme for European firms to help build state-of-the-art eGovernment services. This funding project would invest money in start-ups and other firms that demonstrate a strong desire to create infrastructure and digital services to enable a digital world of government.

The policy paper also recommends building a Visionary Communication Programme that would include regular legislative updates of the DSA and would also inspire European citizens about digital developments going on the region.