miércoles, 23 de diciembre de 2015

The transition of job marketplace

The gates of the dam are now widely opened. ICTs have accelerated the commoditization and mobility of a growing different kinds of jobs. At the same time, the digital technologies underpinned by free trade have created real global value chains for the production of goods and services in highly deterritorialized manner. The outcome of the combination of both trends is a radical change in the nature and organisation of labour, where ancient jobs are decomposed in a long chain of discrete tasks. As a result, a new job marketplace based on an infinite pool of low-skilled workers has been created. Furthermore, this infinite pool of workers face a growing competition of robots that would produce the same good or service at a lower price.

Governments should be worried about this change of the job marketplace. The cornerstone of the welfare state has been a job marketplace based on an employee-employer relationship, which now it is being substituted by a world of self-employment. Furthermore, it looks the job marketplace would be smaller due to the disappearance of posts due to automatisation.

Although digital technologies have created the problem of the jibarization of the former job marketplace, they could be also the key for the solution. While enabling more efficient value chains, ICTs are boosting  the creation of new goods and services spurred by innovation. A new set of tools should be included in policy-making drawer in order to overcome this apparent contradiction. 

At least, the following ideas should be considered:
  1. Accelerating the emergence of new production activities. A required step in this direction is to foster the digital transformation of existing firms and the promotion of digital entrepreneurship. Without the production of new goods and services, there will not be new jobs to be filled.
  2. Facilitating the transition of workers of declining activities. The digital transformation could bring a whole set of new tasks to be performed. However, it  would not be possible to develop them unless an important number of workers are re-trained. It will be needed to pool resources both from public and private sector to face this capacity building challenge.
  3. Renewing the education system. There is a lack of education on digital skills in schools and universities. Beyond the creation of a new and bigger generation of ICT specialists, there is a need to provide any future employee with a basic set of digital skills. This implies a complete reorientation of university degrees to take advantage of all the digital era facilities.
  4. Changing the culture of the whole society. A new job marketplace required a new culture of labour. A new kind of labour relationships, where there will be a growing number of self-employees and self-management activities, will demand new competences to avoid stress and strike the right balance between personal and working life
The nature of labor is at a crossroad for the first time in many generations. The rebuild of the job market place before it finally crashes should be one of the main priorities of a generation of politicians and government officials.

lunes, 21 de diciembre de 2015

#OTT #Audiovisual Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (21/12/2015)

Over the Top Players (OTTs)

The report explores current/emerging business models for OTT services (including Voice over IP, instant messaging services, streaming video and music services); identify costs and barriers to European online service development including OTT; describe the regulatory environment for online services in Europe, contrasting it with the environment for traditional telecom/media services, as well as the environment in some of Europe’s major trading partners; and make recommendations to achieve a DSM.

A study on Audiovisual Media Services - Review of Regulatory Bodies Independence

The study provides an updated analysis of the institutional, legal and regulatory framework governing the regulatory bodies competent for audiovisual media services in EU Member States and candidate countries. It identifies differences and common traces of the different national legal systems governing regulatory authorities. It also comprises the analysis of the implementation of the said framework in practice and its effectiveness.

miércoles, 16 de diciembre de 2015

#Privacy in EU : the growing legal uncertainty

Some weeks have passed since the ECJ published its decision on the case Max Schrems vs Irish Data Commissioner. Although it is still soon to feel the full impact of the decision on the EU and US economies, we begin to see some of the dark consequences.   

The invalidation of the Safe Harbor agreement has open the floodgates of legal uncertainty of the data flows between EU and US. The uncertainty is extended beyond the data transfers done under the Safe Harbor agreement, other mechanisms as the model contract clauses or the binding corporate rules are also stained by the doubt. It is not an overstatement to affirm that we are living in a period of quarantine over US-EU data flows.

After the publication by the Article 29 Working Party of its guidances for the interpretation of the ECJ ruling, everybody expects a period of grace until January 31th of 2016. Nevertheless, the German Data Protection Watchdogs announced that they would not allow any data transfers to the US on the basis of binding corporate rules or data transfer contracts. Or what is the same, only the explicit consent remains as a valid mechanism for the authorisation of data transfers. However, in spite of all the anger from the industry the decision of the German Data Protection Watchdogs looks quite difficult to enforce.

But the ECJ decision has actually opened the doors for a further balkanization of the EU digital market. The ECJ has ruled that the all the national privacy watchdogs has the obligation to investigate a possible unlawful behaviour regarding the data protection rules. This decision has established an scenario where more than one Data Protection Regulator could investigate the same case. The first and expected consequence has been the investigation of the Facebook case by the Austrian Data Protection Regulator, at the same tome the case is under investigation in Ireland. The chances of contradictory decisions in such a scenario are bigger than previously to the ECJ ruling.

On its side, the European Commission (EC) has published its own guidances for the interpretation of the ECJ ruling. The EC insists in the validity of the other forms of permissions for data transfer to the US (BCR, Contractual Templates and Derogations). However, the EC underlines that this is the situation "currently" and it is far from offer complete legal certainty.  Furthermore, although the EC express its will to conclude the agreement before the end of January 2016, it looks that the US have few intentions to make new concessions and changes on its surveillance methods of digital servicesIt seems that a huge divide on what guarantees are needed to be included in the future agreement still exists between US and the UE.

In spite of the guidances given by the EC, it looks the companies prefer more legally certain options. Both Amazon and Microsoft have preferred to establish more data centers in Europe in order to avoid data transfers to the US.

So all the worst expectations after the ECJ ruling are taking shape. A possible invalidation of all the data transfers between US and EU, different privacy regulators investigating the same case and rules difficult (if not impossible) to be enforced. We need sooner than later to clarify the privacy scenario in the EU and its connection with the rest of the world. Not finding a new agreement is not a solution. Neither it is time of a blaming game about which side has been responsible of no enforcing Safe Harbour.

martes, 15 de diciembre de 2015

"Los besos en el pan" - Almudena Grandes

Los besos en el panLos besos en el pan by Almudena Grandes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Aún están frescas en nuestras mentes las imágenes de la gran recesión, el reguero de dolor que ha sembrado en nuestra sociedad. Están frescas porque las heridas siguen abiertas, el relato aún inconcluso. Almudena Grandes siembra las páginas de su último libro de lo que ha sido nuestra cotidianidad más reciente, de nuestros amigos en paro, de esos familiares desahuciados, de los hijos que hemos visto marchar al exilio económico. También nos recuerda los recortes, los centros de salud que se cerraron, los niños cercanos cuyo único alimento lo reciben en el horario lectivo. En la sombra, asoman de tanto en tanto quienes se enriquecieron, y también las secuelas de la desesperación en la forma de los captados para intolerancias de distinto signo. Pero el resplandor de la solidaridad nos cura del dolor, las mareas de todos los colores nos impulsan hacia una playa que se avista cercana.

Relatos deslabazados, zarpazos de realidad que entrelazan los personajes recordándonos que somos tan débil como el eslabón más débil, que somos tan fuertes como queramos serlo juntos. Contra mucho siempre es arriesgado, relatar lo reciente nos reduce el paisaje, las novelas corales necesitan de más reposo. Quedará como una obra literaria menor de Almudena Grandes, pero como la más oportuna. Es el momento, de leerla rápido, de recordar, de no olvidar.

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miércoles, 9 de diciembre de 2015

"Labor in the Global Digital Economy: The Cybertariat Comes of Age" - by Ursula Huws

Labor in the Global Digital Economy: The Cybertariat Comes of AgeLabor in the Global Digital Economy: The Cybertariat Comes of Age by Ursula Huws
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes, I decide to read books without any additional reason that a catchy word in the title. This book is one of those cases. I discovered it by chance reading an article about the gig economy. I do not remember the article, but the usage of the term "Cybertariat" immediately captured my curiosity. It is difficult to imagine a better word to define the emerging class of digital workers. As you can imagine, I felt an imminent urgency to read the book that was mentioned in the footnote as the first book where the term appeared (according with the version of the author of the article, of course). That book was "Labor in the global digital economy. The Cybertariat comes of age".

The books has an excellent title, but also quite valuable contents. It is composed of seven essays that explores the impact of the introduction of technology on the labour relationships. One appealing thing of the book style is that the approach of the analysis is mainly based on the classical definitions of labour, the creation of value, surplus, commoditization and other elements that can be found in the books of Marx, Ricardo, Adam Smith and other XIX century economists.

Although all the chapters deserve a reading, I would like to recommend particularly the first essay and the essay before the last. Both of them are about different topics so can give you an idea of the multifaceting of the book. The article called "What will we do?" explores the reasons why ICTs provoke a continuous pressure towards the dissapearance of jobs characterised by stability and the demand of high skils. The essay "Crisis as a capitalist opportunity" describes why ICTs serve as a support for the commoditisation and privatisation of Public Services.

Maybe you have alredy reached the conclusion that the book is a luddite pamphlet. If that is the case you would be in an error. The book is quite neutral and descriptive about what is happening and even put forward in some essays some solutions for a more social-friendly adoption of ICT in the working environment. It doesn´t mean that the book does not reflects a concrete ideology. However, whatever are your political ideas, this is a book you should read if you are interested in digital economy policy making.

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lunes, 7 de diciembre de 2015

#IoT #Indusrtry #SmartHomes #Security Somewhere in #Digital Europe .... (7/12/2015)

Security and Resilience of Smart Home Environments

This study published by ENISA aims at securing Smart Home Environments from cyber threats by highlighting good practices that apply to every step of a product lifecycle: its development, its integration in Smart Home Environments, and its usage and maintenance until end-of-life. The study also highlights the applicability of the security measures to different types of devices. The good practices apply to manufacturers, vendors, solution providers for hardware and software, and developers. It can be used to assess their current security level, and evaluate the implementation of new security measures. European citizens, standardisation bodies, researchers and policy makers could also find an interest in this study.

Digitising European Industry - Synthesis of Stakeholder Inputs

This report and presentation is a synthesis of the results of European Commission consultation of how to boost the digitalisation of European Industry. The EC asked leaders of national initiatives and business leaders with the objective to identify specific actions to implement the European strategy for digitising industry.

miércoles, 2 de diciembre de 2015

2016: Year zero for #digital Europe

2015 has been a busy year in Europe regarding digital policy making. Several key communications have been presented by the European Commission containing (sometimes) overlapping roadmaps of future legislative and non-legislative proposals. The result will be a completely overhaul of the legal framework for digital networks and services in Europe, hopefully with a dramatic reduction of the market fragmentation.

Although the key document for establishing the foundations of digital Europe is the communication “A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe”, the visión would be partial without consulting at least two other pieces produced by the Brussels policy-making factory. Firstly, the strategy for updating the European trade policy, “Trade for all: Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy". Secondly, the set of actions planned to achieve a deeper and fairer Single Market, “Upgrading the Single Market: More opportunities for people and business”. Both documents are transversal policy-making papers, the fact that both of them have a strong digital flavour reflects the fact that digitalisation is over flooding the whole economic activity. This is particularly true in the second document: Half of the measures proposed for the Commission to complete the Single Market are oriented to develop the digital economy (5 of 11) and the majority of them (4 of 5) are nothing more that a different development of actions already proposed in "A strategy for a Digital Single Market for Europe".

A policy without a development is only a letter of intentions. Fortunately, it looks the European Commission will begin to present its proposals in 2016. The work program for 2016, "No time for business as usual" contains the intention to present all the legislative proposals relevant for the completion of the Digital Single Market before the end of 2016. Starting with the presentation of the new approach to copyright for the digital era, it looks that we will see next year the begin of the negotiations of several key legislative initiatives between the European Institutions. Furthermore, besides the review of the telecom and audiovisual frameworks, the development of a regulation for free data flows and a VAT Action Plan, the European Commission aims to provide guidance for development of the collaborative economy or hopes to conclude the negotiations of the TTIP with the USA. Perhaps, the only piece we miss is an intention to develop a new Safe Harbor agreement.

2016 is the time for great ambitions. The obscure bureaucracy mechanisms and the interests of the Member States will water down the initial proposals. Some of the ideas will be justly discarded as mere grabbing-power trials from the European Commission. The powerful lobbies will play its role and obtain some business advantages for their represented. But in the end, hopefully, it will be some advances towards a more digitised Europe. We badly need it to compete in the digital era.

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