“All services are welcome but must follow European rules” Netopia goes to DLD Europe

BRUSSELS What do Turkey, Brexit and EU Copyright reform have in common? They are all current topics in EU policy, of course, and they were all covered at Monday’s Digital Life Design seminar in Brussels. DLD is a German event that makes visits overseas, Netopia has been most influenced by Scott Galloway’s speeches in the past. It’s mix and match, but some of it can be of interest to Netopia’s readers.

“The Digital Single Market is too big a phrase”, offered MEP Marietje Schaake (ALDE) on one panel. “The Commission is slower than technology and the proposals are weighed down by slower member states, end up watered down rather than ambitious.” This quote captures not only the European policy-making process (far beyond digital issues), but also an idea that is popular in tech summits in general and at DLD Europe in particular: that tech moves faster than government. Of course that is true in particular cases when markets change and new regulation put in place (such as the financial technologies). But the bigger picture is that government investment funded most of that technology in the first place. Without the US military, no internet. Without CERN, no world wide web. Without the space programs, no telecom satellites. Et cetera. The European Union spends hundreds of millions of Euros every year on research into things like 5G-communication and additive manufacturing through its various programs, so it’s not a thing of the past. The question may be not so much how government can catch up, but how it can better include impact perspectives upstream, when the research funding is greenlit.

No one can survive globally without being active in the European market

Digital Society Commissioner Günther Öttinger contributed in an unexpected way: a fireside chat in English with the German TV-profile Cherno Jobatey. That’s right, Commissioner Öttinger spoke English with another German, he also made jokes about his difficulties with the language. We’re not used to seeing the Commissioner’s soft side. Perhaps he was relieved that the telecoms package is almost done and that the leaked copyright reform proposal has left everybody equally disappointed (a success indicator for Commission proposals by any standard). Speculations on the Commissioner’s mood aside, the most frequently asked question was why the “Google tax” on news snippets should work this time, when both Spain and Germany tried and failed.

“No one can survive globally without being active in the European market”, Öttinger said. “Spain was not big enough. Even Germany is not big enough. All services are welcome but must follow European rules.”

This writer wanted to ask about services that use the global internet from overseas to access the European consumers, but no luck. Several speakers made the point that the EU leads in digital policy-making, like it or not. Places like India and Brazil take more from the European legislation than from the US. Except if you would believe Harvard-professor Larry Lessig, code is law, so the real legislation takes place in Silicon Valley.

Video feeds from the DLD event available here:http://dld-conference.com/