Full on and full up: Digital agenda overflowing for the year ahead
TECHNOLOGY:From copyright to patents and from finance to visas there’s a lot to play for in the digital world
The new year promises no shortage of issues and concerns for the technology sector at home and abroad. Finance, patents, innovation environments, visas, copyright, data privacy: all sit high on the agenda internationally.
In Ireland, our presidency of the EU and a declared intent by the Government to focus on the “digital agenda” during its tenure means several of these difficult issues will get a working over on home territory, giving Ireland the opportunity to promote discussion and potentially, influence outcomes.
Of many items on the tech agenda, here are five to keep an eye on in 2013.
EU data protection
As Ireland steps into the EU presidency, it will have the opportunity of facilitating – or not – a significant shift in Europe’s data protection legislation that would have an expected international knock-on effect, probably influencing policies in the US and other jurisdictions.
A year ago, European justice commissioner Viviane Reding proposed fresh regulations that would create a “one stop shop” of consistent data regulation across all 27 European member states; allow citizens a unique “right to forget”, where they can ask companies to delete their data if they are no longer using a service such as a social media site; let citizens easily remove and port their data to a new site; and impose significant fines on companies guilty of data breaches.
The proposals have drawn much international attention, for and against, with Ireland already under a spotlight as so many technology companies have European headquarters here. Under the proposed regulations, these would all be regulated from here in future, including several of the big social media companies.
Last September on a visit to Dublin, Reding noted that the regulations, which would replace dated data protection legislation from 1995, “will come to a very crucial, a very sensitive moment during your presidency”. Ireland could give “a gift” of significantly advancing the proposals, she said. Will we, or won’t we?
Copyright will be another huge “digital agenda” issue during our stint at the helm of the EU. Europe is without a standard copyright law and a long-standing goal of many digital campaigners is to bring in a law that allows “fair use” of copyright material and also takes a clear stand on halting the trend to criminalising copyright violations, rather than viewing them, more sensibly, as a civil offence.
Having more flexible copyright law would – according to evidence from the US, which has more open copyright legislation – open up markets for existing companies and also trigger more entrepreneurship. Compelling statistics in this area encouraged Israel to adopt a more open copyright regime that includes “fair use” provisions.
But while the tech sector by and large strongly supports a liberal copyright environment, many powerful corporate interests in the film and music industries are arrayed against bringing in pan-European change.