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.
- 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