lunes, 30 de noviembre de 2015

#Copyright #TTIP Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (30/11/2015)

Policy Options for Improving the Functioning and Efficiency of the Digital Single Market in the Field of Copyright

This study explores the existing policy problems and the possible options for reforming the EU copyright framework as provided by EU Directive 29/2001 on Copyright in the Information Society (InfoSoc Directive) and related legislation, with a specific focus on the need to strengthen the Internal Market for creative content.

The Implementation, Application and Effects of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Information Society

This study provides an ex-post evaluation of the EU copyright framework as provided by EU Directive 29/2001 on Copyright in the Information Society (InfoSoc Directive) and related legislation, focusing on four key criteria: effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and relevance. The evaluation finds that the EU copyright framework scores poorly on all four accounts.

Uncovering the Hidden Value of Digital Trade

A paper published by The Lisbon Council compiling as an introduction for an event on digital trade and the TTIP negotiations. It contains interesting figures of the economic value of digital trade between US and EU. 

miércoles, 25 de noviembre de 2015

#Cybersecurity #Privacy Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (25/11/2015)

Cybersecurity in the European Union and Beyond: Exploring the Threats and Policy Responses

Upon request of the LIBE committee, RAND Europe conducted this study to develop a better understanding about the main cybersecurity threats, the existing cybersecurity capabilities in the European Union and the United States, the challenges and areas of improvement in the area of transnational cooperation as well as the effectiveness of the EU response.

The law enforcement challenges of cybercrime: are we really playing catch-up?

This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee. With a number of high-profile criminal cases, such as ‘Silk Road’, cybercrime has been very much in the spotlight in recent years, both in Europe and elsewhere. While this study shows that cybercrime poses significant challenges for law enforcement, it also argues that the key cybercrime concern for law enforcement is legal rather than technical and technological. The study further underlines that the European Parliament is largely excluded from policy development in the field of cybercrime, impeding public scrutiny and accountability.

The data protection regime in China

This in-depth analysis was commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee. One cannot talk of a proper data protection regime in China, at least not as it is perceived in the EU. The international data protection fundamentals that may be derived from all relevant regulatory instruments in force today, namely the personal data processing principles and the individual rights to information, access and rectification, are not unequivocally granted under Chinese law. This analysis provides a perspective of privacy Chinese laws and ends up with list of realistic policy recommendations that has been drawn up in order to establish whether China’s recent data protection effort is part of a persistent, yet concise, policy

lunes, 23 de noviembre de 2015

Taxes, ethics and inequaility in the #digital world

One of the many fronts of the digital dispute between UE and US is the taxing issue. To cut a long story short, the US digital giants are accused of not not paying its fair share of taxes according with their economic importance. Although it has been one of the "well-known secrets", the tax engineering by multinationals came to the front page of papers and news channel with the Luxleaks, which uncovered tax rulings between Luxembourg Government and companies worldwide aiming at reducing tax payments. Among the companies was some of the GAFA club.

After some debates in the European Parliament, decided in february 2015 to set a special committee on tax rulings. The mission of the committee (TAXE) is to look  "tax rulings and other measures similar in nature and effect" going back to 1 January 1991 and make recommendations for the future. The initial mandate of the committee is for six months. However, it looks that the mandate will be extended for some more time

Although tax engineering practices are not an exclusive practice of the GAFA, their economic importance have made them one of the focus of the investigation. This fact has been reflected in the two-days session maintained by TAXE this week. 3 of the 13 multinational companies (MNC) invited to the session are members of the GAFA club. The minutes and news on the debate is a outstanding reflection of the differences and sometimes blurry frontier between legality and ethics in modern taxation.

It is important to remember, and the MNCs underlined it many times during the session that they have just follow the rules and, as the Luxleak revealed, with some governments as special advisors. However, perhaps not all the MNCs leaders are in peace of mind when the appearance on the committee has been under the threat to to revoke the accreditation of the lobbyists representing these companies in Brussels. Among the highlights of the session that reveals a lax ethic is the explicit recognition that some of their practices although "they do not erase any tax liability, it defers US tax" and that has any impact on the amount of taxes paid in the EU. Another interesting moment was when one MEP asked another company "why are you operating in the UK when according to your accounts you create no value there?”. Obviously, there is not a satisfactory answer to why they operate in countries where they lost money according with their tax declaration.

The OECD estimate conservatively the revenue losses due to tax engineering at USD 100-240 billion annually. That amount of money means a huge direct transfer from public welfare to private welfare, and therefore another (great) brick in the wall of inequality. One of the OECD reports of the BEPS project shows that this is not a problem of digital companies but of the digital world. Unethical tax practices have existed since the dawn of tax systems, but it looks it could be the common rule in the digital world. Either we force the application of ethical standards in tax practices or inequality will be the common rule in the XXI century.

miércoles, 18 de noviembre de 2015

How to cut the Gordian knot of the US-EU #digital dispute

Even before the ECJ decision on the Safe Harbour agreement, there was a growing anger in the US about the the EU digital policy. The pinnacle of this annoyance so far has been the Obama's interview for Re/Code. The complete interview is worthy to be watch, but one of its more interesting moments is when the US President accused the EU of developing a protectionist digital policy. Few days after the interview, VP Ansip marked the charge as not based on evidences.

The central point of the digital quarrel between US and EU are the so-called Internet Platforms and its regulation. The field of the dispute is hard to be defined as there is not a widely accepted definition for an Internet Platform. The services that are included under the term covers from the GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) to Netflix without leaving aside the shared economy applications (Uber, Airbnb, ...). The complexity of the definition of the term and the related issues can be appreciated in the consultation on internet platforms published by the European Commission, which includes questions on cloud, data handling, shared economy and many more topics.

As times goes by, perhaps a growing consensus will appear: It does not exist such an animal as an Internet Platform. As the online and offline world gets more intermixed this consensus looks as the only way ahead. The acceptance of this fact would have implications on both sides of the Atlantic. The EU and its Member states would need to leave aside the idea of having an specific regulation on Internet Platforms. While the US would need to accept the extension to the digital arena of the regulations that are usual in the offline world.

From the above perspective, we should expect in the forthcoming years more regulations as the Networks and Information Security Directive now under debate in the European Institutions. It looks quite logical that the Internet firms have to comply with the same cybersecurity obligations that energy, telecom, finances or transport companies. An equal rationale could be applied within other regulation areas such as consumer protection or competition rules. 

As the last year Nobel Prize states, we need to regulate the Internet Platforms but the question is how to do it. The recognition of the first part of this statement by the US is key to ease the relationship between US and EU. A non-holistic answer to the second question by the EU should be the other side of the equation. A win-win solution to the online platforms'  Gordian knot.

lunes, 16 de noviembre de 2015

#Telco Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (16/11/2015)

Fixed broadband prices per country

This study presents a very comprehensive assessment of retail fixed broadband access prices for a variety of broadband offerings including standalone and bundled services for eight speed categories.

Broadband coverage per country

This study monitors the progress on the broadband coverage objectives of the Digital Agenda (basic broadband access for all by 2013 and high speed broadband access with at least 30 Mbps download speed for all by 2020), i.e. the household coverage of different fixed and wireless broadband technologies with a special focus on Next Generation Access technologies

Study on broadband coverage in Europe

This study monitors the progress on the broadband coverage objectives of the Digital Agenda (basic broadband access for all by 2013 and high speed broadband access with at least 30 Mbps download speed for all by 2020), i.e. the household coverage of different fixed and wireless broadband technologies with a special focus on Next Generation Access technologies.

miércoles, 11 de noviembre de 2015

Is the shared economy menacing the existance of governments?

The digital era waits for no one. However, sometimes it looks that governments thinks otherwise and they seems that they see themselves as capable to dictate the rhythm of the digital transformation of the society. As digital disruptions appear more frequently, the society are growingly embracing digital technologies as a more efficient and effective manner of doing things. On its side, the digital transformation of governments looks limited to the facade. Few things more that the digitalisation of the  point of contact through eGovernment services have been changed. Perhaps, the "lack of pressure to digital transformation" feeling in governments is a consequence of their privilege situation in the society organisation, without the possibility of being displaced by a competitor smarter in the usage of digital means (e.g. Blockbuster vs Netflix).

The situation could have changed with the emerge of the shared economy. Perhaps, there will not be a sole competitor capable to substitute completely the governments, but there will be thousands of them that could grab different government activities to develop in a more efficient manner. That is the case with Uber. A good question to make is "Why didn't governments invent Uber?". There are few doubts that the uber concept could have driven a more efficient transport in urban areas if it would have been adequately deployed by local governments. Nevertheless, the fear of failure and the pressure of actors with vested privileges have worked (and works) as a brake for this kind of innovations. 

Another missed opportunity is related with the usage of technologies for an efficient management of the job market. All started with platforms as Linkedin for sharing CVs between workers and employers, but other services like Mechanical Turk goes a step beyond and will be refined with the creation of a Uber for jobs. Again, the question is why this approach has not been taken before by government employment services. It is time for governments to discover the job-saving side from technology.

The digital pace of changes should be embraced by governments. Otherwise, as in the case described above, they risk to be displaced little by little from different spaces of the organisation of the society. "They will not succeed unless they become more open to creative destruction, allowing not only tools and procedures, but also mindsets, to be revamped and upgraded." 

lunes, 9 de noviembre de 2015

"The Girl in the Spider´s Web" - David Lagercrantz

The Girl in the Spider's Web (Millennium, #4)The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although I was a bit sceptical when I started reading the book, I should recognise that D.Langercrantz has done an excellent work with his continuation of the Millenium saga. First of all, he has done a superb imitation of Stieg Larsson style. Secondly, he has made a plausible continuation of the story of the Salander family. Last but not least, he has found an extraordinary background for the novel connected with the revelations of the Snowden case.

The centre of the plot is the connection between state surveillance and industrial espionage in the digital era. This link, that is suspected by the majority of us, has a disastrous consequence which is the existence of communication alleys between the sewers of the state and the organised crime. The connection has existed always but the digital transformation of the society has reinforced it and make it more invisible. After finishing the book you will feel more worry about the issue than before.

Among the things I have liked more in the book is the explanation for the pseudonym "Wasp" used by Salander. I'm not going to spoil this part of the book but it is going to be loved by a majority of the people involved with the computer world and born in the 60´s. Langercratz has been imaginative and realistic at the same time in this extreme.

In spite of having enjoyed the book, I really don't know if i will read another sequel of the saga. There is a clear possibility for it but i think the characters should be complemented with new features and new companions in order to maintain the tension and the thrill.

View all my reviews

#Privacy #OpenInnovaion #Jobs Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (9/11/2015)

A comparison between US and EU data protection legislation for law enforcement purposes

This study was commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee. The study compares US and the EU legal frameworks on data protection in the field of law enforcement.

Open Innovation in Industry, Including 3D Printing

New technologies and innovation concepts are important pathways for growth and competitiveness. Open innovation can strengthen innovation ecosystems. 3D printing has the potential to significantly impact the way production and innovation takes place. It is still hard to predict where and how exactly 3D printing will transform our economy and society. This study, provided by Policy Department A at the request of the ITRE committee, describes the mutual reinforcement of open innovation and additive manufacturing and addresses recommendations for different policy levels.

Digital workers by design? 

A case study from the gig eonomy. The authors compare how profitable are crowdworking in Italy and Serbia. 

miércoles, 4 de noviembre de 2015

The #Digital #TTIP : the unworkable but compulsory agreement

The European Union is currently involved in the completion of the Digital Single Market. Overcoming the barriers to build up the digital version of the Single Market through the consolidation of the 28 national digital markets is a must in a global economy underpinned on information technology. To add some complexity to the Digital Single Market project, it should be developed at the same time that the projects that aim to connect the Digital Single Market with the digital global economy. US is at the same time main trade partner of the EU and the first producer of digital products and services, so it is crystal clear the prioritisation of linking the Digital Single Market with the US digital market. Therefore, the TTIP presents apparently a unique opportunity to set up the link between EU and US digital markets

Besides the complexity of building at the same time the Digital Single Market,  it should be asked the feasibility of developing the digital chapter of the TTIP. This is the aim of the more comprehensive analysis about the digital chapter of the TTIP that  I have read so far, "Telecommunications and Internet Services: The digital side of the TTIP". The report summarises the different positions of the US and EU in the most controversial digital issues: Net neutrality, competition policy applied to digital services, standardisation of digital products and personal data protection.

The author defends that while it could be possible an agreement on digital products, it could be more difficult an agreement on digital services. Without spoiling the deserved reading of the report, we can resume the differences in the following points:

  • Net neutrality: a more flexible approach in Europe towards the existence of prioritisation mechanisms in order to permit specialised services over the Internet infrastructure.
  • Competition policy: a more interventionist approach in Europe to solve the competition cases raised up by mergers and acquisitions and the existence of single-firm market.
  • Digital Platforms: a growing trend in Europe to abandon the "mere conduit" approach in the dealing with digital platforms that it is seen in US as a protectionist attitude.
  • Personal data protection: a European vision of personal data protection as a civil right while the US vision is closer to see personal data protection as a consumer right. 
In another interesting paper published by the CEPS, they analysed the possible consequences of the TTIP for consumer protection framework. As ICT and digital product and services are a growing part of our daily life as consumers, the document includes a small specific study of the impact on the protection of the digital consumer. While we can expect some benefits regarding the protection of the consumer of digital products (e.g. reduction of manufacturing costs, better interoperability of products, ...), it is not the shame story regarding digital services. The differences on the approach towards personal data protection on both sides of the Atlantic poses challenges to the free flow of data which is the cornerstone of digital trade.

The question is if all these differences make impossible an agreement and which would the consequences of not reaching an agreement on the digital side of the TTIP. Perhaps, the best way to answer both questions is starting by the second one. With a growing Asian digital market which have its size limits still so far away to be reached and beyond the size of the sum EU and US markets, not reaching an agreement on the digital chapter of TTIP may mean the future irrelevance of the separate EU and US digital markets. And, therefore, the answer to the first question is also obvious: the agreement on the digital side of the TTIP is a question of survival for US and EU digital market, not a question of feasibility. Perhaps, this is the reason why there are some dramatic calls for an agreement on the digital TTIP

lunes, 2 de noviembre de 2015

#Privacy #Telco #BigData Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (2/11/2015)

Big Data and smart devices and their impact on privacy

The numerous debates triggered by the increased collection and processing of personal data for various – and often unaccountable - purposes are particularly vivid at the EU level. This Study argues that the promotion of a data-driven economy should not underestimate the challenges raised for privacy and personal data protection and that strengthening the rights of digital citizens should be the main focus of the current debates around the GDPR.

Why is Europe lagging on next generation access networks?

Fibre-based next generation access (NGA) roll-out across the European Union is one of the goals of the European Commission’s Digital Agenda strategy, however, there remains considerable uncertainty about how the roll-out goal can best be achieved. This Bruegel report explores the causes for this lag.

Data-Driven Innovation

A new OECD report on data-driven innovation finds that countries could be getting much more out of data analytics in terms of economic and social gains if governments did more to encourage investment in “Big Data” and promote data sharing and reuse

palyginti kainas