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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Europe unveils new digital strategy to 2020

I realize this has been announced a few days ago on 19th May in COM(2010) 245, but I am digging into the Digital Strategy to see what it offers that is different to the pre-planned version that Commissioner Kroes announced and which the Parliament supported with its eu2015 motion.
It appears that its 'Three Strikes' policy against copyright infringement will be put on the backburner for now:
'report by 2012 on the need for additional measures to reinforce the protection against persistent violations of intellectual property rights in the online environment, consistent with the guarantees provided in the Telecoms Framework and fundamental rights on data protection and privacy.' (p10)
DG MARKT will finally make some kind of long overdue decision about the E-Commerce Directive later this year: 'Evaluate by end 2010 the impact of the e-Commerce Directive on online markets and make concrete proposals' (p11).
On Viviane Reding's portfolio, citizens' rights, more is proposed: 'Review the EU data protection regulatory framework with a view to enhancing individuals' confidence and strengthening their rights, by the end of 2010; Issue a Code of EU Online Rights by 2012 that summarises existing digital user rights in the EU in a clear and accessible way, complemented by an annual sweep of breaches of online consumer protection law and appropriate enforcement measures'.
On interoperability, there appears to be a proposal to require monopolists to release their standards info (maybe including Skype's codec?): 'Examine the feasibility of measures that could lead significant market players to license interoperability information to report by 2012.'
On net neutrality, the language used is impenetrable: 'The Commission will launch a public consultation before
summer 2010 on whether additional guidance is required, in order to secure the basic objectives of freedom of expression, transparency, the need for investment in efficient and open networks, fair competition and openness to innovative business models.' Huh?
The rest is all good stuff about research, greener grids, e-government etc.
We get to discuss it all at annual Digital Assemblies held each June just after name-and-shame Digital Agenda scorecards are issued each May by issue area and member State! They helpfully list targets:
Broadband targets: Basic coverage for 100% of EU citizens in 2013 (93% in December 2008) Fast broadband 30 Mbps or more for 100% of EU citizens by 202 (Baseline: 23% of broadband subscriptions were with at least 10 Mbps in January 2010) Ultra-fast : 50% of European households should have subscriptions above 100Mbps by 2020. The latter will be 'tricky'!


Ian Brown said...

Skype's codec is the least of the problems for potential competitors. Their entire system is closed and heavily protected, including through code obfuscation in their client software.

Ultra-fast target might not be so hard to reach if nextgen WiMax is standardised soon, and business models develop to fund its widespread deployment.

TJ McIntyre said...

It was interesting that the Digital Agenda didn't explicitly mention ISP level blocking as a strategy for dealing with illegal content. Was this dropped after the strong criticism of the proposed Directive by the EDPS?