G7 ICT Ministers: Free Data Flows, More Access To Data, But IP Protection Nevertheless 26/09/2017 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a 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)Openness, security and the support for innovation through the empowerment of small and medium companies are the three core points of the joint statement of the G7 ICT Ministers after their two-day meeting in Turin, Italy ending today. While the host, Italian Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda, heavily underlined the need to avoid in digitalisation policies the mistakes made in globalisation, many topics of the final statement point to highly familiar commitments, with better protection of intellectual property being one. The final statement of the G7 ICT Ministers is available here [pdf]. Calenda warned last night, after a daylong multi-stakeholder conference, that digitalisation in a similar way to globalisation by its mere speed and disruptiveness would “create winners and losers.” Citizens could expect politicians to govern and manage digitalisation and be open about the challenges, he said. If governments fail to include people in discussions and developments, Calenda added, “a very strong backlash, similar to the one on globalisation policies, could be the result.” More Multi-Stakeholderism Necessary It is therefore “very important that we have this multi-stakeholder conference, because we policy makers know that we don‘t know,” he said. In another attempt to tap expert knowledge, the Turin meeting saw the first get-together of non-governmental experts from the G7 countries in innovation and technology, the so-called “I7 Innovators’s Strategic Advisory Team” (I7). The 38 I7 experts yesterday talked about the areas of AI, datafication and innovation, and came up with recommendations to “educate politicians, faith leaders, opinion leaders, journalists and the media about the new fields,” summarised Diego Piacentini, commissioner for the digital agenda of the Italian government. It is not just about teaching the young, he said. Technology-wise, one point included in the I7 Chair report included the statement that applications as the nervous system of the new world should be promoted to be open. Also, open access to the vast collections of data should be promoted, according to Piacentini’s summary. For Oxford Professor Victor Mayer Schönberger, regulating access to the evermore aggregated data collections is the key issue to avoid “empowering only the powerful.” “To me, data localization, IP protection, privacy protection are all important issues,” he said, but regulating access and creating mechanisms for sharing data is much more important. “If we continue to say that people should control their data, we are kidding ourselves,” he said. “We need to be much more worried about our ability to take the insights we can gain from data and have an inspired and fact-based debate.” Echoing the data monopoly issue was Matthias Machnig, secretary of state in the German Ministry of Economics, who said, “We have to look on how competition 4.0 should look like. Otherwise new monopolies are dictating were we are going.” IP Protection Essential Contrary to these calls for openness, the commitments to better cooperation of intellectual property protection look a little awkward. But the ICT ministers, who will be followed later this week by the G7 Science and Education and then the Labour Ministers, supported a whole paragraph on future cooperation to better protect intellectual property. “We acknowledge the role of intellectual property rights for promoting innovation, contributing to industry‘s productivity, growth and competitiveness in the digital economy and that IPR-intensive industries contribute more than other industries to increase GDP, employment and trade. IP assets play a crucial role in companies’ business strategies and governments support IP asset development and the use of IPRs among companies as part of their proactive industrial policies,” the statement reads. In four areas, the G7 governments committed to cooperate more, mainly on information sharing about how to curb illicit trade and practical approaches to enforce IP rights. A major concern for IP holders acknowledged by the governments are 3D printing technologies, and they agreed to jointly strengthen enforcement vis-à-vis such technologies. Finally, they also wrote they would “support right holders’ ability to protect their IP rights by enhancing multistakeholder international collaboration and public-private partnerships, also taking into account mechanisms to help SMEs to protect their IPRs.” More cooperation and harmonisation also is sought with regard to the development of standards for digital technology. “Industry-led voluntary technical standards, developed in an open, transparent and consensus-based manner and in market-led approaches, are critical for the progress toward the digitally connected world,” the ministers announced. They referenced the World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Code of Good Practice and the TBT Committee Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards as guidelines for standards development. Free Flow of Data One of the strongest commitments in the final communiqué is to the free flow of information. Underlined as an essential for the digital economy by representatives of Microsoft, Facebook and others, governments declared themselves strongly in favour of free cross-border data flows and opposed to forced data localization. EU Vice President Andrus Ansip, responsible for the Digital Agenda of the EU, pointed to the agreement of the G7 last year, which said “that we will create an environment where free data flows will be possible between al G7 countries.” The EU already has started to work towards this, but has to face “56 different laws in 28 countries dealing with forced data localization,” said Ansip. With work still to be done in the EU and between G7, he said that “at the same time we have to trust in the cyber security in the various countries.” A special event on cybersecurity was underway this afternoon. The debate over assurances on privacy amidst the commitments to free flow of data was not discussed during the open sessions and was touched on very lightly in the final communiqué, with the issue of AI, SMEs and innovation and cybersecurity given broader attention in dedicated documents. Image Credits: Italian G7 Presidency 2017 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 Monika Ermert may be reached at email@example.com."G7 ICT Ministers: Free Data Flows, More Access To Data, But IP Protection Nevertheless" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.