On Saturday night, I had a layover of about twelve hours on a trip from Budapest, where I was able to teach in an amazing media policy course at Central European University. That layover was through Charles de Gaulle Airport, in Paris.
Finding myself in Paris, I had the opportunity to go see the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre Coeur Basilica, or the Pont des Arts. But the greatest wonder in Paris is none of those things.
It’s the headquarters of La Quadrature du Net, one of the world’s great organizations working for Internet freedom. I popped over to see Jeremie Zimmermann, the organization’s fearless leader, and to see his team working away into the late evening. On Saturday night, Jeremie and his team were preparing for this week–the week that the European Parliament would vote on ACTA, the controversial copyright/censorship treaty opposed by proponents of an open Internet. We can think of it as the European/international version of SOPA/PIPA, with an increased dose of secrecy.
For those who haven’t followed ACTA closely (most of us Americans), here are some links to read: the Wikipedia entry, Quadrature’s activism, and a page for Europeans to call their representatives.
Here is a picture of Jeremie and me. (Yes, that’s a staircase behind the short white wall, and I’m a step or two down). And, yes, those posters all urge you say “No to ACTA”–in different languages.
Jeremie and many others were heading to Strasbourg for the vote.
As I bid adieu to Jeremie, I was reminded of this scene in The Princess Bride (minus the miracle): “Have fun storming the castle!” Good luck slaying ACTA, and burying it for good.