The Role of Culture in Communications Policy

As I begin my review of European internet policy, I wonder to what extent culture is a precursor to the technical and legal aspects to internet governance in Europe. It is generally thought that European’s tend to be more statist in their public policy, while the United States is more hostile to regulation.   This is not just a matter of public policy, but as previous polling has shown, it is also a reflection of cultural attitudes. Post-2012 US Election polling shows divergent views on the role of the individual freedom and an active state:

Individualism also continues to differentiate Americans and Europeans. Most Americans believe individuals largely control their own fate – just 36% agree with the statement “Success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control.” However, half or more in Germany, France, and Spain agree with this statement.

Europeans also believe in a very different relationship between the individual and the state. When asked which is more important, that everyone be free to pursue life’s goals without interference from the state, or that the state play an active role in society to guarantee that no one is in need, 58% of Americans choose the former. Majorities across Western and Eastern Europe, on the other hand, say making sure no one is in need should be a bigger priority.

Given the global nature of  the telecommunications industry, and with Silicon Valley is the Mecca of new media corporations, this is a potential flash point between US based tech companies, and European courts.

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