Speculation on Digital Champion Commissioner

A leaked draft of the new European Commission suggests that there will not be one, but two new commissioners concerned with digital issues. One is the “Digital Champion” that the tech industry has demanded, so no big surprise – this looks very much like an extension of Neelie Kroes’s work as the current Digital Commissioner (sometimes called “Silicon Valley’s Third Senator”), except there is pressure from the tech businesses to expand the remit, by applying an “innovation principle” to all decision-making (as opposed to a precautionary principle). Which of course is the complete opposite of the thought of a “building standard” for software that was suggested in Netopia’s report Can We Make the Digital World Ethical?

The second speculation is more intriguing: a commissioner tasked with “internet and culture”. Netopia’s question is not so much who will take the job, but the contents of that portfolio: is this just another way to make more content available for Silicon Valley to monetise without sharing revenue with its creators (a k a “copyright reform”). Or is it a real attempt to strike a balance between the interests of the culture and entertainment sector on the one hand, and the digital middle men on the other? Netopia has split personalities over this: the Pessimist is betting on the former, while the Optimist hopes for the latter.