European Commission Unveils Plans For Digital Single Market 06/05/2015 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Today, the European Commission released details about its plans to create a Digital Single Market, with a set of actions to be delivered by the end of next year. The plan includes a competition inquiry of the European e-commerce sector launched today, and a commitment to change the European copyright law starting this year. The announcement and details of the 16 initiatives are available here. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in the release: “Today, we lay the groundwork for Europe’s digital future. I want to see pan-continental telecoms networks, digital services that cross borders and a wave of innovative European start-ups. I want to see every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market – wherever they are in Europe. Exactly a year ago, I promised to make a fully Digital Single Market one of my top priorities. Today, we are making good on that promise. The 16 steps of our Digital Single Market Strategy will help make the Single Market fit for a digital age.” The planned actions fall under three pillars: “(1) better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe; (2) creating the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to flourish; (3) maximising the growth potential of the digital economy,” according to the release. Under pillar 1, the Commission said it will “identify potential competition concerns affecting European e-commerce markets.” Today it launched an antitrust competition inquiry into the e-commerce sector in the European Union (press release). It also includes a call for a “modern, more European copyright law.” By the end of 2015, legislative proposals will follow “to reduce the differences between national copyright regimes and allow for wider online access to works across the EU, including through further harmonisation measures,” it said. “The aim is to improve people’s access to cultural content online – thereby nurturing cultural diversity – while opening new opportunities for creators and the content industry,” the Commission said. “In particular, the Commission wants to ensure that users who buy films, music or articles at home can also enjoy them while travelling across Europe. The Commission will also look at the role of online intermediaries in relation to copyright-protected work. It will step up enforcement against commercial-scale infringements of intellectual property rights.” The second pillar includes the plan to “comprehensively analyse the role of online platforms (search engines, social media, app stores, etc.) in the market,” it said. “This will cover issues such as the non-transparency of search results and of pricing policies, how they use the information they acquire, relationships between platforms and suppliers and the promotion of their own services to the disadvantage of competitors – to the extent these are not already covered by competition law. It will also look into how to best tackle illegal content on the Internet.” It also includes goals on privacy, noting that EU data protection rules are due to be adopted this year, and announcing a Commission review of the e-Privacy Directive. The third pillar includes objectives for improving the free flow of data in the union, and for defining priorities on standards and interoperability across various sectors. Efforts will be led by the so-called Digital Single Market project team, and the issue will be on the agenda of the European Council meeting on 25-26 June. Initial Internet Industry Reaction The Computer & Communications Industry Association had a mixed reaction to the announcement. “Several measures in the draft strategy would promote growth by enabling citizens and companies to better use the Internet in a seamless single market,”CCIA Europe Vice President James Waterworth said in a release. “For example, e-commerce companies will be allowed to sell across 28 member states while following the laws of their home countries. Other initiatives enabling the free flow of data and copyright reforms will help to create a true digital single market for 500 million plus consumers.” “Unfortunately, other proposals contradict these stated goals,” he said. “The idea of regulating platforms is ill-conceived given that businesses from newspapers to e-commerce sites to cars are increasingly becoming digital platforms. Platform regulation would hit European platform companies hardest given they grow here. Large international platforms would only be bound by these rules once they already have big legal departments.” “A new ‘duty of care’ requiring Internet companies and telecoms firms to proactively monitor, judge and remove user or third party content on networks and hosting platforms could destabilise the delicate balance between freedom of speech, an open economy and security concerns,” Waterworth added. “Such measures should be approached with great caution.” [Update:] The European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) also published a statement welcoming the detailed plans. “With this Strategy paper, the European Commission sends a signal that network deployment and investment will be prioritised in future policy action. In addition to this, it recognises that European markets suffer from under-investment, as well as a lack of regulatory predictability and consistency,” ETNO said. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related William New may be reached at email@example.com."European Commission Unveils Plans For Digital Single Market" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.