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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The European Commission released long-awaited position papers Wednesday on several key digital issues, including how to treat the continent's digital data and how best to regulate artificial intelligence.

Why it matters: Europe has traditionally trailed the U.S. in creating giant tech companies that gobble up consumer data, but it has led in issuing rules and policies to govern such practices.

The European Data Strategy and the AI recommendations have themes will be familiar.

  • As has long been the case, the EU is hoping to offer broader protection to its citizens while also fostering a more competitive European tech ecosystem.

What they're saying: Not surprisingly, many trade groups released statements praising the goals of the proposals, while urging restraint in regulation.

  • Guido Lobrano, ITI's VP for European policy: "For Europe to fully realize its tech leadership potential, it should take a collaborative approach to regulation and avoid prescriptive policies that could stifle innovation in emerging areas like artificial intelligence."
  • Thomas Boué, director general of BSA — The Software Alliance: "Today's strategies help set a clear path forward for companies, governments, and citizens to benefit from responsible, software-powered technologies across Europe. ... The upcoming broad consultations will be key to building trust and ensuring that new rules on data-driven technologies are transparent, fair, and fit for purpose."

Meanwhile: Cornell business professor Thomas Jungbauer argues the proposals aren't what's needed to help Europe catch up.

  • "Network effects and technological factors are responsible for many of the markets in the tech and sharing economy to be 'winner-takes-most' scenarios, that is markets in which a big firm dominates with other smaller players serving niche needs."

What's next: The tech giants all have a new decision to make: How to treat the data of users in the U.K., post-Brexit. Reuters reports that Google is likely to move U.K. customers to U.S. rules, thereby avoiding Europe's stricter data protections and heavier consequences for violations.

Go deeper: An international push for AI ethics

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

9 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.

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