Europe’s Digital Strategy Must Enable Internet Innovation

BY Heather Greenfield
May 6, 2015

Brussels – The European Commission today announced its determination to achieve the bold and necessary goal of creating a single European-wide digital market by stripping away unnecessary national rules.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA Europe) applauds the European Commission’s stated intention of growing Europe’s economy and embracing the Internet opportunity. However, it cautions that some of the measures in the Digital Single Market strategy risk detracting from the overall goal by limiting the Internet’s potential. The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe Vice President James Waterworth:

“The European Commission is pursuing the right strategy. However, the strategy contains both measures that will enable Internet services and technologies and some that will constrain. This shows how Europe is divided on the Internet. While many European leaders, primarily in the Nordics, the Baltics, the Benelux and the British Isles see the Internet as the best hope for reviving Europe’s faltering growth engine, others from Germany and France are promoting measures that would impose new regulatory burdens that put the brakes on Internet innovation.”

“The Commission’s digital single market plan reflects these tensions. Several measures in the draft strategy would promote growth by enabling citizens and companies to better use the Internet in a seamless single market. For example, e-commerce companies will be allowed to sell across 28 member states while following the laws of their home countries. Other initiatives enabling the free flow of data and copyright reforms will help to create a true digital single market for 500 million plus consumers.”

“Unfortunately, other proposals contradict these stated goals. The idea of regulating platforms is ill-conceived given that businesses from newspapers to e-commerce sites to cars are increasingly becoming digital platforms. Platform regulation would hit European platform companies hardest given they grow here. Large international platforms would only be bound by these rules once they already have big legal departments.”

“A new ‘duty of care’ requiring Internet companies and telecoms firms to proactively monitor, judge and remove user or third party content on networks and hosting platforms could destabilise the delicate balance between freedom of speech, an open economy and security concerns. Such measures should be approached with great caution.”

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