lunes, 29 de febrero de 2016

#112 #UK #tdigitalisation Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (29/2/2016)

Implementation of the European emergency number 112

This report presents an overview of the latest updates regarding the implementation of 112, the European emergency number, in the different Member States. The data for this report were collected in 2015 throughout the European Union.

TechNation 2016

UK is among the most dynamic digital countries in the European Union. For the second year in a row, NESTA publishs a report describing the state of the art of the digital sector in Britain. Full of interesting figures.

Declaration on the digital transformation of European industry and enterprises

On feberuary 16th a High Level Conference on the digital transformation of European industry and enterprises was held in Brussels. On of the outcomes of the conference is this declaration asking policy makers to take measures to promote the difital transformation of Europe.

miércoles, 24 de febrero de 2016

Steps towards a EU #DigitalSkills strategy

The European Union performed every year the European Semester of economic policy coordination. As a part of this work, the European Commission assesses the relevant policy areas to boost growth and jobs in Europe. Among the areas analysed in the last years have been digital jobs and skills. The last assessment reveals again a worrisome panorama for Europe with 30% of the working population with no or low digital skills and 40% of the EU companies reporting hard-to-fill vacancies for ICT specialist. All the signs point to a lack of the needed human capital for the digital transformation of the EU economy and society.

Taking into account the above context, it is difficult to understand the European Union policy to promote digital skills adoption. Although the Digital Single Market Strategy contained a similar analysis as the one done in the European Semester, it does not contain any concrete measure for boosting digital skills and jobs. You will not find in the Digital Single Market Strategy nothing more than the ambiguous commitment of the European Commission "will address digital skills and expertise as a key component of its future initiatives on skills and training" and the intention to build this actions on past initiatives like the "Grand Coalition" or "EU code week" (initiatives that have not provided any significant advance). We will have to wait until the presentation of the "EU skill strategy" promised by the European Commission for 2016 during the last EU Telecom Council.

While the European Commission prepares the skills strategy, some interesting inputs have been published. Among the Member States, it deserves a read the report "Work, employment, digital: new directions" published by the French Digital Council. This paper contains 20 policy recommendations for the development of a skill strategy for the digital era. The recommendations are classified in six groups that deal with the need to foster the transition from analogue to digital jobs, tackle the change in labour relationships bring by internet platforms, promote an adoption of technology as a complement and not as a substitute of human jobs, the diversification of the learning contexts and the exploration of new models of solidarity and distribution of welfare.

Another interesting input for the EU digital skills strategy has been provided by the European Parliament. In January the Parliament approved its opinion on the Digital Single Market Strategy called "Towards a Digital Single Market Act". The whole document deserves a read because it is more than a simple opinion of the strategy proposed by the European Commission, the document contains a whole set of concrete measures that the Parliament encourages to be taken in order to recover the European leadership in the digital arena. Among these measures we can find some interesting proposal in the field of digital skills. The Parliament calls among others initiatives to the introduction of digital training in lifelong learning, the developing of a e-Learning curriculum, promoting digital skills among teachers, investing in the establshment of European networks for the teaching of media literacy and  the creation of an European Certification model for digital skills simlar to the European common framework of reference for language learning. 

The human capital is the only real critical input for the digital transformation of Europe. The sooner Europe takes step in order to bridge this deficit the easier will be to change the trend of digital decay in Europe. Besides this economic need, the dissemination of digital skills is a cornerstone for a more inclusive society. Europe will not be anymore the mirror for a welfare state if digital skills are not widely extend among all its population.

lunes, 22 de febrero de 2016

#Skills #IoT #economy Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (22/2/2016)

Accenture Technology Vision 2016

A new vision on how organisations should work in the digital world. The report investigates five trends behind a ‘people-first’ approach: Intelligent automation, liquid workforces, the platform economy, predictable disruption and digital trust.

Harnessing the Internet of Things for Global Development

A report from ITU and Cisco that aims to identify the Internet of Things (IoT) as a major global development opportunity. The report provides a basic vision of the technology and illustrates its application with examples of projects deployed in developing countries.

Digital Disruption: the Growth Multiplier

A report that aims to size the digital economy around the world and forecasts its growth in the forthcoming years

miércoles, 17 de febrero de 2016

A European approach to "on demand economy" policies

Among the hot debate regarding the role of digital platforms in EU, one the hottest topic is the definition of a European policy towards the so-called "sharing economy". What started as new social model for sharing unused resources between individuals, has evolved and it is now a complete set of companies based on a new business model that aims to connect in a more efficient manner supply and demand. Departing from the sharing economy we have arrived to the "on demand economy".

The not so new phenomenon has economic and social advantages, but also drawbacks. Among the economic advantages, it is not difficult to find studies highlighting the unleashed potential of this business model. McKinsey estimates that platforms oriented to connect supply and demand for jobs could add 2,5% of new job posts in Europe. A recent study of the European Parliament valued in €572 billion the underused resources in Europe. Beyond this figures, the on demand economy model certainly would have a positive effect for consumers (more choice and better prices), unemployed (new job opportunities) and the environment (a boost for the circular economy).

Besides the above described advantages, the on demand economy brings new challenges to solve that would not be solved with a laissez-faire approach. Even those who support the model recognises the difficulties we will face in order to reign over it. For instance, the European Parliament calls "to ensure that employment and social policies are fit for purpose for digital innovation" and the UK government highlights the need to make "people participating in the collaborative economy to understand their tax obligations". 

The general feeling that has been made obvious in the first results published of the EU public consultations on platforms is the existence of an "uncertainty over the rights and obligations of users and providers". This uncertainty would be difficult to solve with a model that fits for all the cases. But although I am generally in favour of a sector-by-sector approach and the update of the sectoral rules or the enforcement of its fulfilment, there are aspects that should be tackled horizontally. Some horizontal measures to be analysed could be:
  • Clarification of the status of online intermediaries, in particular when they are exempted of responsibility due to its "neutral", "passive" and "automatic" role
  • Mitigation of the social exclusion due to lack of digital skills
  • Update of the competition tools and capabilities to deal with the "net effect" and "winner takes it all" consequences of internet business models
  • Overhaul of the labour market rules to take into account the new kind of platform employees
  • Decoupling of social benefits from the employment relationship
  • Moving from the tax return model towards a tax account model

The soft approach towards the definition of the "on demand economy" EU policy looks to be the option taken by the European Commission. It could be a right way to start to provide “more guidance and better information on the application of existing rules as a policy response” as it is stated in the Internal Market Strategy, however it should be not taken as the final point of the journey. Being continuously aware and vigilant to disruption in order to quickly act is the only option for policy makers. But would be EU ready for that? 

lunes, 15 de febrero de 2016

#Spectrum #Broadband #DigitalSingleMarket Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (15/2/2016)

Comments by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany on the European Commission‘s „Strategy for a Digital Single Market for Europe“

Within the scope of the Digital Agenda for Germany, the German Government has published its document of comments for the Digital Single Market Strategy. It is a comprehensive document containing the German Government vision of each of the 16 measures proposed by the European Commission. If you are short of time, you could read only the executive summary of comments for each measure.

Proposal for a DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the use of the 470-790 MHz frequency band in the Union

Spectrum is an scarce and critical resource for the development of a connected society. The European commission has set as one of its objectives in the Digital Single market Strategy an overhaul of the telecommunications sector which includes the provision of more spectrum for mobile services. This proposal aims to reach a quick agreement on the future usage of the 470-790 MHz frequency band, taking as its base previous agreements between Member States in the RPSG and the umbrella of international agreements.

Broadband Infrastructure. Supporting the digital economy in the European Union

This publication of the European Parliament provides a brief overview of broadband technology and the benefits that broadband infrastructure can provide in terms of employment and economic growth. It also provides a summary of progress in providing fast network access in the EU and describes the main policies and actions at the European level that affect the deployment of broadband infrastructure.

miércoles, 10 de febrero de 2016

After #NetNeutrality , it is time for updating the #MereConduit principle

One of the principles that inspires online services regulation is the "mere conduit" principle. This principle is enshrined in the EU legal framework in the E-Commerce Directive. Since the approval of this piece of regulation in the year 2000, network operators have no legal liability for the consequences of traffic delivered via their networks and hosting providers are not liable of the storage of an illegal content as long as they do not have knowledge of its illegality. The "mere conduit" principle has an implication the non-liability of any kind of intermediary in the piracy value chain.

The modernisation of the copyright rules was among the 16 measures announced by the European Commission in the Digital Single Market Strategy. One of the elements of this modernisation effort was "clarifying the rules on the activities of intermediaries in relation to copyright-protected content". The European Commission has taken an step-by-step approach in updating the EU copyright regime. According with the recently published roadmap, the proposal for the clarification of the intermediaries role will not be on the table until (at least) mid 2016. Following the better regulation principles, a public consultation will be open until April 2016.

We can expect an increase of the lobbying activities regarding copyright in the first half of 2016. This activities started even before the publication of the Digital Single Market Strategy. In march 2016, digital rights advocates and civil society groups gathered together in Manila and approved the Intermediary Liability Principles (Manila Principles). The first of this principles is that "Intermediaries should be shielded from liability for third-party content". Although not formal support of any GAFA has been formalised yet, we can imagine they are sympathetic with this effort. The reverse could be said of copyright management organisations.

Once again, sadly, it looks that this effort will not be agile enough. The European Court of Justice has on the table a case where they have to analyse the liability of WiFi providers in a case of illegal content downloading. The decision on the case is expected to be taken before the publication of the EC proposal. It is alarming how the digital economy legal framework is increasingly defined by the courts instead of the legislative power.

Whatever the final result of the reinterpretation of the "mere conduit" principle in the future updated regulation, we can expect changes. This has recently happened also with other foundations of the digital economy as the net neutrality principle. The updating of this basic rules that has framed the development of the Internet services and contributed to growth of global economy should not be feared. It is the sign of the new reality of the XXI century: We do not live in a world with some digital islands any more, software has eaten the physical world.

lunes, 8 de febrero de 2016

#DigitalSingleMarket #Telecom Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (8/2/2016)

Towards a Digital Single Market Act

On 19 January 2016, the European Parliament voted to adopt its report “Towards a Digital Single Market Act”. This Resolution is a non-legislative statement, prepared by the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), in response to the European Commission’s Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy presented on 6 May 2015.

BEREC Opinion on the review of the EU Telecom Framework

The opinion issued in mid-December by Berec, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication. Berec’s opinions are not binding but must be taken in “utmost account” by the European Commission, according to the EU law.

miércoles, 3 de febrero de 2016

Digital transformation: It is not enough with denying the risks

"The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings"
Pope Francis I

For some years, it has seemed that few people have a pessimistic view on digital transformation. With few exceptions, the opinions on the growing usage of Internet services in newspaper and other media have been positive in the last decades. It has been difficult to give the name of any digital dissenter with the exception of Evgeny Morozov. Internet has been a synonym of a space where freedom of expression reigns, a virtual territory for good beyond the limits of states sovereignty. The independence of cyberspace looked reinforced by each technological advance, as the birth of Web 2.0.

However, it looks that the trends are changing. A growing number of voices are beginning to alert about the risk of an unleashed digitalisation. Some of these voices find easy echo in the media as Elton Musk, Stephen Hawking or Bill Gates. It is also easy to find in the web some sites that are a hub of pieces of news that highlight the negative side of technology pervasiveness. The warnings are undeniable:

Up to today, it looks that the above warnings have not had yet a reflection as a mainstream. The average consumer does not look worry by the unconsented usage of his personal data and still buy the new models of smartphones appealed by the last feature. Nevertheless, the seeds for making techno skepticism a mainstream trend could be sown. The digital divide might be fueling the feeling of increasing inequality and the immediacy of the singularity. Both feelings have the appeal to reverse the vision of a glossy future based on the advance of technology.

Technology brings us more benefits than drawbacks, therefore it is time to think about how to disseminate this benefits. But it is also time to establish barriers to its potential dangers and it looks that we have dedicated few time to this aim. Labelling the digital dissenters as neoludittes is not enough, in the same manner that it was not enough during the industrial revolution to deny the existence of a growing enslavement of workers. After the creation of a new reality it is the time to create the framework for its exploitation for the benefit of all.

lunes, 1 de febrero de 2016

#SharingEconomy #DigitalDivide #Cybersecurity Somewhere in #digital Europe .... (1/2/2016)

World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends

An analysis of the dividends brought by the digital economy worldwide and its distribution among different countries and social groups. The study also includes a policy framework recommendation to bridge the digital divides that are appearing between and within countries.

The Cost of Non-Europe in the Sharing Economy

The study, coordinated by the Parliament's EAVA unit, set out to provide an overview of the sharing economy model in the EU, its economic potential and the main challenges to be addressed in order to promote a flexible environment for innovation whilst at the same time ensuring adequate levels of protection.

Recommendations on Cybersecurity for Europe

A set of recommendations on Cyber Security for European citizens and businesses, and on a Cyber Security industrial policy, for consideration by the European Commission. The report has been publisshed by the European Cybersecurity Industry Leaders (ECIL) workgroup.

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