I have just done the biggest sacrifice you can in Brussels – I walked out of a lunch…
Brussels is filled with events organised by lobbying groups touting their interests. It isn’t a problem – what rile me is the stupidity you often come across. Even if the organiser is partisan to a standpoint, a certain ”smoothness” in the presentation is to be recommended if you want to be taken serious.
In addition, if you state in your invite that the event will treat a certain subject, please, please, please stick to that. It is what the audience came for.
Today I attended an event organised by ICOMP – the Initiative for Competitive Online Marketplace. It’s a lobby organisation managed by Auke Haugsmaa, former European Commission official with extensive experience from trade questions. The subject was ”Data protection and profiling – How ‘big data’ is used to create your online identity.” Which, when you work with the Pirate Party covering issues like e-commerce and cloud computing is right up your alley. The emails on this event came from Burson-Marsteller‘s Brussels branch, but its standard for PR agencies to run lobby organisations.
ICOMP is largely financed by Microsoft, still the level of Google bashing that took place surprised me. I don’t say there isn’t room to criticise Google, their privacy regulations are sweeping to put it mildly. However, this was preposterous. To hear Pamela Jones Harbour, a respected partner at Fulbright & Jaworski LLP seriously tell the audience that Google is Evil, their acts are Evil, their market share is Evil and above all their future plans are Evil. It gave a bad taste, in particular seeing that the sender doesn’t exactly have a clean slate when it comes to monopoly issues.
It might be that the ICMOP crowd considers the EU decision makers stupid and easy to manipulate. Still, it seems a wee bit impolite to be so obvious about it…
In the end, it was too much to take and all the Pirate Party representatives left. Followed by ICOMP:s legal counsel, David Wood. He tried to convince us to re-enter the event, without avail.
Google bashing is the latest ”in thing” in Brussels, and while there might be room to criticise the fact that a company has any type of monopoly, it takes energy away from the bigger picture: EU is creating a Big Brother society as we speak.