Gästblogg: Europe – any thoughts of adopting a failed GDPR must go!

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Av Gästbloggare, 29 Sep 2015

Rene Summer, Director Government & Industry Relations på Ericsson, befarar att nya sätt att hantera personuppgifter försvårar investeringar i datadriven innovation. Sverige måste, tillsammans med likasinnade EU-länder, ta på sig ledartröjan och visa att integritet och innovation går att kombinera.

Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK embody the digital change that Brussels wants to see in other European Union (EU) member states

… but these top European ICT performers must lead and show Brussels the way forward in order to create a vibrant European digital and data driven innovation economy!

The EU Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy rightly aims “to make the EU’s single market fit for the digital age”. To begin with, the DSM strategy is centered on the Digital Economy and in particular some of its key ingredients – connectivity, big data and data-driven innovation. The European Commission, which is in charge of developing the DSM, has stated the following: “Data has become a key asset for the economy and our societies similar to the classic categories of human and financial resources.” The EC further states that big data will:

  • transform Europe’s service industries by generating a wide range of innovative information products and services;
  • increase the productivity of all sectors of the economy through improved business intelligence;
  • better address many of the challenges that face our societies;
  • improve research and speed up innovation;
  • achieve cost reductions through more personalized services
  • increase efficiency in the public sector.

Europe is already home to some of the best-connected and most innovation-driven economies in the world. In particular, Finland (2nd), Sweden (3rd), Netherlands (4th) and the UK (8th) are global leaders according to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Information Technology Report 2015. At the same time the US, which the EU likes to benchmark itself against, comes in 7th place. Seeing the large performance gap between these peak performers and the remaining EU member states makes me agree with Colin Blackman, the Director of the Digital Forum at the Centre for European Policy Studies, that DSM is the EU’s last chance in the digital saloon!

This is why the ICT leaders in the EU must vigilantly demonstrate policy leadership within the DSM project, as they are the living proof that European digital global leadership is possible. The leaders of these countries must work at all costs for adoption of a progressive DSM reform on par with their peak performance. This will also lift the other EU members closer to their level and advance EU as a whole. Above all these ICT leaders must help EC to resist any pressure to lower Europe’s digital ambitions.

This means that the DSM strategy must focus on harmonizing EU rules in line with the global position and ambitions of EU’s peak performers. Furthermore, development of a DSM must foster structural changes of the entire European economy and focus on increasing the productivity of European businesses, hereby stimulating long-term growth. Hence, the EC must use the DSM to remove barriers and create incentives for European businesses and citizens to embrace digital technologies.

Finally if we are to achieve EU-wide digital peak-performance, the digital economy that underpins the DSM must be allowed to flourish. As the digital economy is all about data and data-driven innovation, it is crucial that the soon-to-be-finalized EU regulation on personal data – AKA the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – must not fail.

Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK have all managed to balance innovation and adherence to high EU standards of privacy protection. Their success highlights what the EU needs from the GDPR: a progressive regulation that:

  1. creates incentives for investments in data driven innovations, making the EU the go-to market for product launches and new service;
  2. lays a secure and yet flexible foundation for open international data transfers that facilitates interaction with global markets and partners;
  3. maintains clear and separate roles and responsibilities in the data processing value chain
  4. provides a proportionate sanctions regime that punishes non-compliance but avoids draconian measures that would discourage investment in data driven innovations.

So, in my view, it comes down to two straight choices for the EU’s peak performers and other EU member states that want to thrive in the digital economy, or as we at Ericsson prefer to call it, the Networked Society. The first is to support the creation of an ambitious Digital Single Market strategy that promotes global digital peak performance underpinned by a progressive regulation of personal data (GDPR). A weak or inadequate DSM strategy is not an option for Europe. The second is to resist anything but an adoption of a progressive GDPR in the ongoing trilogue (EU lingua for negations between EU policymakers). And if a progressive GDPR cannot be negotiated – one that does not achieve the outcomes mentioned above – a failed GDPR will be a non-starter for an ambitious DSM strategy, as it will become weak link that will undermine any prospects of a successful DSM implementation.

Therefore, if EU member states want to substantially move up in the WEF ranking, any thoughts of adopting a failed GDPR must go!

/ Rene Summer

Director Government and Industry Relations, Ericsson


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