Europe Faces Tough Digital Single Market Choices

BY Heather Greenfield
May 4, 2015

Brussels – When the European Commission announces its new Digital Single Market Strategy on 6th May, it faces a decisive choice between a forward-looking enabling strategy for the Internet or an insular and constraining one.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA Europe) looks forward to the strategy. In communications ahead of its release, Europe’s leaders have noted that the Internet will be key to modernising the continent’s industrial and social fabric.

Early information about the strategy suggests the report contains measures that support European leaders’ stated goals of growing Europe’s economy and embracing the Internet opportunity. However, other measures risk constraining it. The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe Vice President James Waterworth:

“We support the overall recognition by European leaders that the Internet is the way forward for Europe’s economy and society. Several measures in the draft strategy would promote growth by enabling citizens and companies to better use the Internet, for example, by improving digital skills, improving e-government and ensuring that data can flow freely around the EU. These are excellent steps that bring information to those seeking it and productivity gains for businesses and government across a truly ‘single’ market.”

“However there are several measures that threaten to undermine the stated goal of the Digital Single Market to grow Europe’s economy, replacing it with a re-regulation agenda. The idea of regulating platforms is ill-conceived given that businesses from newspapers to ecommerce sites to cars are increasingly becoming digital platforms. Platform regulation would hit European platform companies hardest given they grow here.”

“We would also strongly oppose any new ‘duty of care’ for Internet companies to proactively monitor, judge and remove user or third party content on networks and hosting platforms. Existing measures to respond to problems online strike a balance between freedom of speech, commercial freedom and controlling infringing material. Extending a ‘duty of care’ could severely affect these freedoms.”

“Revisions of the copyright, audiovisual and telecommunications rules should recognise the speed of technological change and resist calls to apply old rules to new services. Smart regulation for the Internet-era should look at whether there are any bottlenecks before deciding what rules might apply, particularly in the domain of the sharing economy.”

Waterworth will host a call for reporters at 10:30am CET Tuesday. For Brussels, please dial + 32 (0) 24040305 or toll free 080040305 and the code is PIN: 87658002# Please contact jkucharczyk@ccianet.org for dial in info for other cities.

 

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