FinancialGuy Writes!

It seems to your author that the digital policy landscape has been moving significantly in recent days and weeks, possibly for the better.

Firstly, and this is a biggie, Google has simplified and streamlined it’s privacy policy. It seems that there were seventy of them before, but now it is down to one that seems easier to understand. This ought to make life much easier inside the Commission. Regular followers of digital policy will have read about their internal disagreements. This ought to lay much of that to rest. Once a player the size of Google does something like this, it will make other companies that do not follow look very bad in time. This could almost be the kind of self-regulation that we are still awaiting from investment banking…

This ought to be another step towards the digital single market. As more companies follow Google’s lead – and follow they should – the ability to purchase goods or services online under the same fair terms and conditions in every member state may actually become a reality. This should be good for consumers and any company doing business online. It should, therefore, also be good for any member state that is committed to building a leading edge digital economy (that might favour some of the smaller members the most).

Separately, Commissioner Kroes announced a European Cloud Partnership in Davos this week (her speech is here). The announcement is a plan to create standards, regulations, competition and then to build a cloud computing infrastructure. This also seems like an excellent step forwards. If you aren’t a cloud computing expert, neither am I, it should be pointed out that much of what we do online today uses the technology. Your Gmail account and Google searches are enabled by it, online services that enable storage of data – such as dropbox and evernote – use it, and it helps to make the web fast and our own requirements available no matter where we may be.

For businesses, it offers the potential to access secure storage and remote use at an affordable cost – these are not words typically associated with having your own servers and infrastructure.

Both of these issues are important for many reasons, but clearly if European policymakers want Europe to grow out of the financial crisis and for their to be skilled, high value jobs and opportunities in the coming years, many more steps along this road will be necessary.

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