jueves, 7 de mayo de 2015

The positive impact of the #DigitalSingleMarket on the global digital economy (III)

Yestwerday was adopted by the European Commission the strategy for the completion of the Digital Single Market. Few surprises. After the outline of the main actions to be included that were approved by the College on march 25th and the draft documents leaked by Politico, everything expected is in the pot. The only doubt that appeared in the last moment was whether or not the new European Digital Agenda would include the creation of a brand new Internet Regulatory Authority. The source of the rumor was a document seen by The Wall Street Journal. By the moment, it doesn't seems it is going to be the case.

The jury is still outside the room. Nevertheless, there are strong signals that maybe it would not be such a bad idea to create a EU Regulatory Authority to deal with the cases of competition and protection of the consumers in the digital world. Let´s start with the case of the consumers. A couple of weeks ago E. Morozov describes crystal clear why we need an stronger protection in our usage of digital services. The need to establish and monitor obligations on the Internet Platforms for the portability of our digital life was masterly described by Morozov as "few of us expect our personal assistants to walk away with a copy of all our letters and files in order to make a buck off them". 

Besides the obligation of the authorities to protect the consumers, there is also a need to set the limits of the Internet Platforms unilateral decisions on their services. As in any economy sector, it should exist an space for competition in the digital economy, but the most powerful actors should not use the changes in their services to act as de facto regulators. That was what happened last month. With a mere change in its search algorithm Google is forcing the migration of web pages to responsive technology, a major change on web specifications. The purpose of the change may be good for the consumers, but the purpose does not justify the means. The same is the case for the changes done by Twitter on its enforcement rules on abuse on its network. Certainly the change will reduce the number of trolls, but setting this kind of limits to freedom of expression should not be the decision of a private company. We need more transparency on the Digital Platforms practices because, as Frank Pasquale wrote in an interesting article, "opacity creates ample opportunities to hide anti-competitive, discriminatory, or simply careless conduct behind a veil of technical inscrutability"

Of course, the establishment of an Internet Regulatory Authority is only possible for the bigger world markets, as EU, China or USA.  For different reasons, we can not expect from China or USA the establishment of this kind of authorities.  So after defining the rules for strengthening privacy and the example of opening an antitrust case against an Internet giant, in case it is really needed, establishing an Internet Regulatory Authority could be another contribution of Europe to the global digital economy

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