lunes, 28 de julio de 2014

#Audiovisual #SmartCar #Skills #RightToBeForgotten Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (28/7/2014)

Fragmentation of the Single Market for on-line video-on-demand services

Through interviews with 20 key Video on Demand (VoD) service providers, this study aims to clarify the importance of different legal, political, cultural, economic and other factors for the development of a European cross border VoD market.


Connected Car Industry Report 2014

This is second annual study of buying behaviour and intentions towards connected cars published by Telefonica. It also gives a perspective of the demand of services in this area.


THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT: HOW SUSCEPTIBLE ARE JOBS TO COMPUTERISATION?

A study on the probability of job automation across occupations across Europe



26 Questions on Right To Be Forgotten implementation


The 26 questions on the implementation of the right to be forgotten that the European Data Protection Authorities have done to Google


miércoles, 23 de julio de 2014

#TTIP and the #digital economy

What is the TTIP?
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a trade agreement that is presently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States. It aims at removing trade barriers in a wide range of economic sectors to make it easier to buy and sell goods and services between the EU and the US. The rationales behind this eventual agreement are the following figures:
·        European Union (EU) and the United States (US) account for nearly half of world GDP and 30 percent of world trade
·        Each day, goods and services worth $2.7 billion/€2.0 billion are traded bilaterally between US and EU

The idea of the TTIP has its roots in the work of the United States-European Union High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth (HLWG). The Working Group was tasked in November 2011 to identify policies and measures to increase EU-US trade and investment to support mutually beneficial job creation, economic growth, and international competitiveness. The HLWG analysed during more than a year different options to strengthen the trade relationship between the US and the EU. In its final report dated on February 2013, the HLWG concluded that a comprehensive agreement that addresses a broad range of bilateral trade and investment issues, including regulatory issues, and contributes to the development of global rules, would provide the most significant mutual benefit for the US and the EU. The HLWG proposed to explore three broad areas to be tackled in the negotiations:
a)   market access
b)   regulatory issues and non-tariff barriers
c)    rules, principles, and new modes of cooperation to address shared global trade challenges and opportunities

The expectations of the European leaders, according with the Conclusions of the European Council held June 26th, is to end-up the negotiations by 2015.  

The negotiation of the TTIP

The negotiations of the TTIP started in February 2013, just after the HLWG released its final report. In a joined statement, the EU and US leaders declared that each part would initiate the internal procedures necessary to launch negotiations. The Council gave the European Commission (EC) a mandate to to enter into formal bilateral trade negotiations with the  US on behalf of the EU in June 2013. This mandate is not publicly available for the sake of protecting the EU interest. Nevertheless there is a public commitment of transparency in the negotiations of the European Commission.

On behalf of the EU, the negotiations are chaired by the EC Trade Commissioner[1] with the support of the DG TRADE. There have been five rounds of negotiation until May 2014.

The EC has set up and Special Advisory Group in order to maintain a continuous dialogue with the main stakeholders. The group held its first meeting in March 2014 and has had two more meetings in May and June 2014[2].

In the eventual case an agreement is reached, both the European Parliament and the Council will need to approve the outcome of the negotiations before the agreement becomes binding for the EU. Even a movement has started in some national Parliaments demanding a explicit approval of the treaty in each Member State before it enters into force.


ICTs and the digital economy in the TTIP

There is not yet a public and comprehensive position of the EU regarding the digital economy within the TTIP. The EC has published two packages of position papers. Neither in the first package nor in the second package have been published an specific paper with the EU position on ICT or digital economy issues. Nevertheless, as we it is highlighted later, the position papers on regulation and TBT include important provisions for the digital economy. It is worthy also to highlight the absent of experts on digital issues in the EC Special Advisory Group.

There could be several explanations to the absence of an EU position paper on ICT within the TTIP on spite of the growing importance of digital issues on our daily life. One plausible explanation is that ICT is not among the top five product or services in the perceived NTB index, as it is shown in the table below taken from an study of “BBVA research”.








Ahead of the first round of negotiations (June 2013) the EC (DG CONNECT and DG TRADE) invited stakeholders to share in a meeting their views and expectations on what the TTIP could deliver for the ICT sector[3]. The report of the meeting published by the EC revealed a number of issues which raise questions and concerns in stakeholders. Among the list of concerns raised in the meeting are:

  • Difficulties in accessing the US market due to existing rules and legislation
  • The importance of ensuring the TTIP is as technologically neutral as posible regarding  the audiovisual sector
  • The need for creating a set of cybersecurity principles to which both parties in the TTIP could sign up to
  • A support of the European Commission position in favour of prohibiting data localisation requirements for servers


The meeting between the EC and the stakeholders was held just after the first revelations of the Snowden case were published. The report reflects some debate on this issue. Since then, the Snowden case has been one of the axis of the public debate on the treatment of the digital economy issues within the TTIP.

In spite that has not been published an oficial EU Position on ICT within the scope of the TTIP, there are signals that the digital issues has been part of the negotiations rounds. To be concrete, ICT has been on the table at least in the second and fourth round of negotiations according with the information released by the EC press office. The debate has been on regulatory issues regarding ICTs and the respective approaches on telecommunication and e-commerce services.

The mention of ICTs in connection with the regulatory issues under negotiation on the TTIP is coherent with the EU position paper on regulatory issues. This paper announces that the horizontal chapter of the TTIP covering regulation would include commitments regarding ICTs. The objective of the horizontal chapter regarding regulation is to eliminate, reduce or prevent unnecessary “behind the border” obstacles to trade and investment. For achieving this long-term goal the TTIP will include mechanisms for
  • Promoting cooperation between regulators
  • Promoting the adoption of compatible regulations
  • Achieving increased compatibility/convergence in specific sectors, including through the recognition of equivalence and mutual recognition
  • Affirming the particular importance and role of international disciplines (regulations, standards, guidelines and recommendations) as a means to achieve increased compatibility

Regarding the ICT part in the regulatory component of the future treaty, the last piece of new we have is inside a note published on July 11th by the European Commission. According with this note, "the two sides have so far exchanged analysis on some specific topics, such as e-health, encryption, e-accessibility, enforcement and e-labelling". 




Other EU position papers published include provisions of great importance to ICTs and digital issues. An example is EU position paper on technical barriers to trade (TBT). Following the recommendations of the HLWG, it looks that the TTIP would include an ambitious TBT chapter to
  • Yield greater openness, transparency, and convergence in regulatory approaches and requirements and related standards development processes
  • Reduce redundant and burdensome testing and certification requirements
  • Promote confidence in our respective conformity assessment bodies
  • Enhance cooperation on conformity assessment and standarisation issues globally

Due to central role of standards in the digital economy, this chapter would define the future of the European ICT industry.


Conclusions


Scattered information on digital economy issues under negotiation in the TTIP appeared from time to time in the media. A non-exhaustive collection of examples are:

ICTs will be the fabric of our future society. In this future, it looks US and EU will form the biggest area of free trade in the world. The strength of the ICT industry in the USA (7,1% of US GNP) is far bigger than the strength of ICT industry in the EU (4,1% of GNP). The TTIP will open a new world of opportunities and risks for the European digital players. It looks as an all or nothing game where European ICT industry plays the role of David against Goliath. It is worrisome the lack of information of the EU position on the digital economy within the TTIP in comparison with the situation in other sectors. Let us hope this absent of information  is a consequence of the confidentiality of the TTIP talks and not a neglection of a sector critical for a sustainable Europe. Specialy worrisome is this lack of a known EU position when it looks that there is the possibility to have a complete digital chapter in the treaty.






[1] Karel De Gucht was the EC Trade Commissioner when the negotiations were launched
[3] It hs not been found a public list of the stakeholders that atended this meeting

lunes, 21 de julio de 2014

#GreenComputing #Digital #AudioVisual Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (21/7/2014)

Report from Workshop on Green Data Centres : Policy measures, metrics and methodologies


On 1 April 2014 a technical workshop on “Green Data Centres: policy measures, methodologies and metrics” was hosted by the European Commission premises in Brussels. The work and the outcome of the workshop were summarised in a report by an independent rapporteur.


Accelerating Europe’s Comeback—Digital Opportunities for Competitiveness and Growth

A joint research initiative conducted by Accenture in collaboration with BUSINESSEUROPE and the European Business Summit, explores the ongoing economic challenges Europe faces, and proposes tangible steps leaders can take to address critical drivers of competitiveness and growth.


On-demand Audiovisual Markets in the European Union

The report provides information and statistics, for the year 2013, on on-demand audiovisual services established and available in the 28 Member States, with a number of details about their genre, exact place of establishment, origin of controlling company, content and distribution mode, etc . The new report covers about 3000 services.

miércoles, 16 de julio de 2014

The risk to be the losers of the #digital revolution

One of the focuses of my personal observatory on digital issues are the surveys and statistical reports about the topic from public and private organisations. In particular, I like to read the international reports in order to compare the performance of country and regions in different issues. The more number of nations covered by the report, the more valuable are the conclusions of it. Nevertheless, an isolated report is valueless in comparison with the combination of a number of interconected reports. An example of the value of this kind of combination is the case of a group of three reports that appeared some weeks ago: 

  • Global flows in the Digital Age, a report from McKinsey Global Institute that aims to identify the connectedness of nations in relation with five different kind of flows: Goods, Services, People, Finance and Data & Communications.
  • European ICT Poles of Excellence, a report from the European Commission (EC) that aims to identify the EU regions that have jointly some kind of excellency in ICT R&D and  innovation  and the ability to take this knowledge to market
  • Global Information Technology Report, a yearly report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) which provides a comprehensive assessment of networked readiness, or how prepared an economy is to apply the benefits of information and communications technology (ICT) to promote economic growth and well-being.

The first report provides us with the picture of the trade flows over the world. Among the top 20 there are only three emerging countries, the rest are developed countries. If we take only the EU countries we will discover the importance of the role that digital technologies play to shape these flows. There is a clear correlation of the post that a EU country achieves in the McKinsey ranking and the number of ICT Poles of Excellence presented in the EC report. What is more, there is also a correlation of the number of inhabitants that live in an ICT Pole of Excellence and the post of the country in the MacKinsey ranking. Therefore, the combination of these two reports is a proof of the importance of a ICT to promote growth and well-being, because it is obvious that both depend on the connection to the global flows .

The conclusion obtained from the combination of the first and second reports should raise concerns in some developed countries. According with this conclusion, the WEF report could be taken as a forecast of their future post in an eventual future ranking of global flows, a certainly gloomy forecast for some countries. Therefore, the WEF report may be an accurate forecast of the currently developed countries that are going to be the losers of the digital revolution.

lunes, 14 de julio de 2014

#BigData #GreenComputing Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (14/07/2014)

Towards a thriving data-driven economy

This Communication from the European Commission sketchs the features of the data-driven economy of the future and setting out some operational conclusions to support and accelerate the transition towards it. It also sets out current and future activities in the field of cloud computing.



Big Data Analytics - An assessment of demand for labour and skills, 2012-2017

This report seeks to aid those undertaking/supporting big data projects in the UK by providing a detailed analysis of current/projected demand for big data skills based on a) an analysis of recruitment advertising data and b) bespoke forecasts of IT&T employment and big data demand for the coming five years.


More Data, Less Energy: Making Network Standby More Efficient in Billions of Connected Devices

The electricity demand of our increasingly digital economies is growing at an alarming rate. While data centre energy demand has received much attention, of greater cause for concern is the growing energy demand of billions of networked devices. This publication from the International Energy Agency probes their hidden energy costs. Being connected 24/7 means these devices draw energy all the time even when in standby.

miércoles, 9 de julio de 2014

Beyond #NetNeutrality (II): The winding road towards #DigitalNeutrality


Some weeks ago I wrote about the concept of "Digital Neutrality". In that post, I put forward the need to go beyond the concept of "Net Neutrality" on the Internet and define other kind of neutralities for the digital world, like "search neutrality" or "app neutrality". Behind that need, there is the requirement of establishing some basic principles for the algorithms that should respect the digital service providers.

The importance of establishing principles for the algorithms behind the digital service providers has been highlighted last week with the case of the facebook experiment called "emotional contagion". We have few knowledge of the news feed algorithm behind facebook. We can set up some parameters on it for our facebook page, but the possible controls are the alms that facebook gives us. But in the end, facebook is not going to provide us never total control, to begin with the social network does not allow us to receive an unfiltered feed. The same lack of knowledge about the facebook news feed algorithm could be extended to other cases, as the twitter "who to follow" recommendations algorithm.

The facebook case shows clearly the case of a clash of principles in the algorithms used by digital service providers. On one hand, the right of the service provider to make the research for improving its product. On the other hand, the ethics of an experiment with human feelings. It seems that facebook has no regrets about the experiment. What is more, they think it is enough with the inclusion of their right to research in the "Terms and Conditions" of the service. Taking into consideration the facebook approach, it is clear that there is a need to set up principles and limits for the inclusion of research rights in the  "Terms and Conditions" of the digital services providers. Only regulations could solve this kind clash of principles.

But the regulation of digital services is an slippy issue. We do not have the same experience as with the regulation of the physical world and this is being proved in many new laws on the information society. The last case is the EU Court sentence on the "right-to-be-forgotten". On one hand, after giving Google the power to decide on the cases there is a general complaint on its decisions. On the other hand, Google outsmarts the rule of the EU Court by providing an unfiltered search through "google.com". So in the end, the new regulation has little added value but its failure show as well the need to establishing principles for the algorithms behind the digital service providers.

Both cases, the facebook experiment and the implementation of the "right-to-be-forgotten", give us more reasons for "Digital Neutrality". There is a clear need to ensure that the competition and consumer rights principles (among others) will have the same prominent role in the digital economy. The question is how we tackle this need.

lunes, 7 de julio de 2014

#Broadband #eGovernment #ITRE Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (7/7/2014)

Access Network Speed Tests

This report examines the approaches being taken to measure broadband performance by reviewing information on official speed tests to date as well as their strengths and drawbacks in methodologies, emerging good practices and the challenges in undertaking a harmonised approach across OECD countries.


UN eGovernment Survey 2014

The United Nations E-Government Survey 2014: E-Government for the Future We Want was completed in January 2014 and launched in June 2014. The theme of the 2014 is particularly relevant to addressing the multi-faceted and complex challenges that our societies face today. The publication addresses critical aspects of e-government for sustainable development articulated along eight chapters.


Activity report of the ITRE Commitee (2009-2014)

The Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) is one of the committees of the European Parliament that deals with the highest number of legislative files. Among these files are the Telco and Digital files. Therefore, the activity report of ITRE contains a good summary of the actions in the last five years in digital Europe.

miércoles, 2 de julio de 2014

The great disruption of #InternetOfTheThings is over the legal sector


Our life is establishing a relationship of growing dependence from automatisation. Every day we take more than one decision as a consequence of the information provided as a result of an algorithm. The obvious example is our intimate relationship with google. Google rules our purchases or the routes we take for our appointments, but it is not the only case of a machine-based influence of our life. Algorithms dominate the world and our life.  

But Google maps or Amazon recommendations are just the begining. The Google Self-Driving car (again Google) is the tip of the iceberg of our future.  Internet of the things is enabling a new age of manufacturing, where the all products will be nearly perfect at a lower price. And not only the industry will be transformed by the algorithmical soul of the machines, even government will be driven to a more efficient enforcement of the laws based on the decisions of machines. 

And in the top of each disruption new disruptions will be build up. Returning to the case of the self-driving car, the real disruption will not be for our personal life. The real disruption will be for the community with its application to the public transport. It is not difficult to envisage a more efficient and personalised public transport based on self-driving cars. The taxi drivers worried about the competency of the Uber of the present should be more worried by the Uber of the future. Even the car manufactures should be worried, because the long-term vision is the car as a service rather than the car as a product.

Probably, there will not be nothing impossible to be automated in the future and there will not be any of your dreams (or nigthmares) that will not be possible to make real. Each disruption will have serious implications in every sphere of our life, but perhaps one of the more complex will be the new scenario for legal liability in case of failures. On one hand, we have the question of establish a division of responsibilities between an extremely automatised machine and its owner. For example, in the case of a fine on a self-driving car. On the other hand, as the machines and algorithms will collaborate in a distributed manner, searching the responsible of any failure in a chain/network of collaborators could be a messy issue. 

Regarding the relationship between the legal framework and digital world, some people defends that theres is no need for new laws, that we only need to apply the existence rules in the digital world. I´m afraid this will not be possible to be maintained for a long time. Either the legal experts face its responsibility of a quick evolution of laws or they will be another collective swept by the digital revolution. And that will be a disgrace for all.






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