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European Commission disgrace on IPv6

This entry was added to on 18 February 2006.
Full blog table of contents available at Contents | viewpoint: Franck.

In the course of writing my article about Countervailing buyer power in telecoms | viewpoint: Franck, I had to visit the website of DG Information Society and Media of the European Commission.

I expected it to be a painful experience — it has for a long time been a source of amazement that the part of the Commission with the closest connection to the Internet had one of the least usable websites around. But I can report that the site has improved, to the point that it is level pegging with Google for finding basic documents such as Council Directive 21/2002 (18 pages, PDF) on the 2003 regulatory framework for electronic communications.

What triggered this rant is not that long overdue improvement, but rather a consultation advertised on the eCommunications home page about IPv6, the possible next generation of the Internet Protocol, which seems to attract a lot of comment and speculation despite serving no useful purpose that I know of (see footnote).

Instead of the exciting consultation document I had expected, this was merely an online questionnaire.

I decided to contribute to the European Commission's Interactive Policy Making by responding. The questions are mostly straightforward (although it is sometimes difficult to see what useful information will be derived from the responses).

Anyway, I expressed my prejudice that this IPv6 thing was all talk and no user requirement, inasmuch as the form permitted that response, got a little bit frustrated and put the following message in the comment box at the bottom:

This questionnaire seems biased towards looking for reasons to force or incentivise ipv6 adoption even if there is no need for that technology.

Happy with my contribution to EU policy making, I clicked the submit button.

As is usual with these forms, the system did not accept my first answer, and highlighted questions that it thought had not been satisfactorily answered.

After correcting some accidental omissions, I got to the point where the system was refusing my form because of a "mandatory question not answered".

The question which I was being forced to provide an answer to read as follows:

What are the most important actions (max 3) the Commission and Member States should take for ensuring IPv6 uptake ? (multiple choices question – )
[checkbox] Specific financial support on the technology development
[checkbox] Specific financial support on standardisation
[checkbox] Specific financial support on test-beds
[checkbox] Specific financial support on infrastructure
[checkbox] Stimulate sectorial initiatives and applications
[checkbox] Stimulate IPv6 public procurement
[checkbox] Regulation enforcing IPv6 adoption
[checkbox] Requiring IPv6 for Commission's own procurements
[checkbox] Political Support
[checkbox] Tax incentive

I had considered that question, and I had taken the view that none of the suggested actions was remotely appropriate.

But the system would not allow that answer.

And by imposing a maximum of three answers it also prohibited the next best alternative: ticking everything.

So I tried to submit my form with the most meaningless of the listed actions ticked (I decided that this was probably "Stimulate sectorial initiatives and applications") and an additional message in the comments box saying:

My intended answer to the "most important actions" is none of the above. And the form won't allow it! This is disgraceful.

And that got rejected too. Reason? "max number of characters exceeded".

Summary: the Commission definitely wants to interfere with our lives so as to force us all to replace our trusty 32-bit IPv4 addresses with 128-bit IPv6 behemoths, but its interactive policy making system cannot handle a comment of a few lines (the limit is somewhere between 150 and 200 characters).

I did finally submit, leaving only the "disgraceful" comment, and regretting not to have used stronger language.

Can you think of a more strident form of words? Have a go.


I may be wrong on IPv6: it may be amazingly useful. Perhaps it even deserves Government support.

What I am certain about is that Government, even that peculiar form of it which is the European Commission, should not pretend to seek views and then impose the "right" answer on consultees.

Key links

Entry added by Franck Latrémolière on 18 February 2006

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Last changed by Franck at 7:39 PM on Sunday 19 February 2006.

Reference for this page:
Reckon Open "European Commission disgrace on IPv6 | viewpoint: Franck" 2006-02-19T19:39:55