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EU

Transatlantic Digital Cooperation Will Require Hard Debates

As the global Internet economy evolves and becomes more interconnected, cross-border policy tensions are rising, as is the need to resolve these tensions and conflicts in ways that continue to spur growth and innovation. To that end, I was honored to be a member of the Atlantic Council’s Task Force on Advancing a Transatlantic Digital Agenda. However, I was one of five members who, at the end of the day, could not have my name listed as endorsing the Task Force report.

First, it’s important to recognize the hard work of the commission members and staff and the significant parts of the report that will make a real contribution to better resolving transatlantic digital tensions. The report comes up with a number of creative and useful proposals, such as creating a new US-EU Digital Council, increasing cooperation with regulators on both sides of the Atlantic, lifting foreign investment caps in the telecom sector, and others. And its broad based support for transatlantic data flows and multi-stakeholderism for Internet governance is needed and welcome.

But there were other proposals and language I cannot support. The report’s discussion of net neutrality

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Debunking the EU Broadband Utopia

As an American academic in Europe, I find the claims by some American media about an EU broadband utopia curious.  Europeans roundly complain about the quality of their broadband, and, there is no European who would say that the US is falling behind Europe. In fact some of the biggest critics of the EU are the EU leaders themselves.  Consider EU Commissioner for Digital Life Neelie Kroes:

The world envied Europe as we pioneered the global mobile industry in the early 1990s (GSM), but [because] our industry often has no home market to sell to (for example, 4G) consumers miss out on latest improvements or their devices lack the networks needed to be enjoyed fully. These problems hurt all sectors and rob Europe of jobs it badly needs. EU companies are not global internet players. . . . 4G/LTE reaches only 26% of the European population. In the US one company alone (Verizon) reaches 90%!

Kroes praises the success of the American broadband mode, noting its ability to drive private investment and innovation. She is increasingly joined by other European leaders who recognize that the European approach is not working. 

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G8 Charter Puts Open Data on International Agenda

Last month’s international G8 summit produced a declaration with new guidelines for a broad range of policy issues. Included in this declaration was a set of recommendations for open data initiatives, known as the Open Data Charter. The charter represents the first time open data principles have been agreed to in an international forum—not to mention possibly the highest-level declaration of any kind to mention the open source code repository website GitHub—and will likely help shape the future role of government in data. Here are the key facts.

The summit

The Group of Eight is a policy forum for the governments of eight of the world’s largest economies (previously with six and seven member states) held annually since 1975. Although the summit will be gradually supplanted by the larger G20, which includes developing economies and non-Western states, G8 remains a bellwether of international policy. This year’s event was held June 17-18 at the Lough Erne Resort in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, and focused on tax policy as well as the ongoing Syrian civil war.

The participants

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron played host to President Barack Obama, German

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Cookies

The European War on Cookies

On May 26, the new EU-mandated “Cookie Law” will go into effect in the UK.  This law requires that websites give users the ability to opt-out of all tracking. The UK and Ireland took this a step further and require users to opt-in.  Website owners in the UK that fail to comply with the law will face fines up to £500,000.

What does this mean for Internet users? In practical terms, it means users will now start seeing pop-ups or splash screens that require them to give consent to receiving cookies before they can access a website that uses cookies (which is the vast majority of websites on the Internet).  Not only will this annoy users and slow them down from visiting sites, but after seeing this on every single website they visit, users will likely grow accustomed to these notices and click “Accept” without giving it a second thought.  After clicking a few thousand of these, the law will likely have conditioned most users to accept any privacy notice they receive. So much for the strategy of teaching users to be more privacy aware…

Over time, I also

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