The Commission has proposed today an ambitious reform of the European digital space, a comprehensive set of new rules for all digital services that operate in the European Union: the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act., a signature move looking to improve competition and our strategic independence.
As much as wealth may be intertwined with data, the current situation is unsustainable. The ever increasing concentration of power and wealth in a limited number of tech companies is allowing them to strengthen the hold they have over the very fabric of our democracy, as well as their hold over our personal identities and economic sovereignty.
We often talk about sovereignty, but instead, we should be talking about a lack of European sovereignty and our relative inability to participate in shaping tomorrow’s European infrastructure, and perhaps worse yet, our lack of meaningful contribution to the debate anchored in the Sino-American economic trade war.
Our incessant reliance on the internet, and, naturally, a distributed cloud computing infrastructure has yet to falter, but today’s multilateralism, and the internet alike, are under tremendous pressure and stress, with geopolitical forces each grasping for their fair share of the blanket. Call it nationalism, protectionism, lobbying, disguised monopolies, dumping… all these forces are at play and are attacking the internet around its neutrality, aiming to capture an asset of exponential value: data. The result is that we ended up with a steep power law curve where 90% of the value is captured by less than 10% of the players, and where Europeans are supplying just around 10% of the demand.
Europe is a battlefield upon which an uneven race is taking place. The rules are dictated by large platforms allowing them to capture extra market share, but most importantly when it comes to the cloud, to control data processing, storage and exponential derivative value. Over recent years, they have promoted a win-win narrative around behavioral advertising, claiming that it is the only sustainable way to fund the web, but by doing so they made sure that no alternatives can flourish -- in fact, it's been a lose-lose for Europe at large. Up until now, that is.
While the cloud is still in its first stages of development, and 80% of the global IT are yet to migrate to the cloud, it is time—now more than ever—to make forward-thinking decisions in order for the benefits of the new digital economy to trump the harmful economical, social and environmental consequences.
This new regulation aims to change the paradigm which has governed the internet in the EU for some twenty years. It could have a transformative impact, geared towards creating a trustworthy, inter-operable, digital economy while improving competition and our strategic independence. By shifting the balance in the digital sphere, it creates room for the development of privacy-by-design and sustainable models, a signature move from and for Europe.