EU


In the little regulatory teaching I do, I have now shifted from deriving regulatory priorities from conventional industrial organization and administrative law principles to business models now prevalent in our countries. The below quotation from Business Insider shows ignorance of business models is not a problem limited to developing countries: Buried in pages of amendments to the European Union’s latest privacy proposal, the ePrivacy Regulation, members of the European Parliament recently recommended language that would strip European publishers of the right to monetize their content through advertising, eviscerating the basic business model that has supported journalism for more than 200 years. The new directive would require publishers to grant everyone access to their digital sites, even to users who block their ads, effectively creating a shoplifting entitlement for consumers of news, social media, email services, or entertainment. The language may seem confusing to the uninitiated. “No user shall be denied access to any [online service] or functionality,” the proposed amendment says, “regardless of whether this service is remunerated or not, on grounds that he or she has not given his or her consent […] to the processing of personal information and/or the use of storage capabilities of his or her […]
I resisted the notion that we should start our work on guidelines for”big data” from the settled law of other jurisdictions. I did not do that in 1987 when I did one of the earliest policy studies on ICTs and the law in Sri Lanka, and I was not about to start in 2013. I had reservations about both the chaotic and piecemeal nature of US privacy law and the over-bureaucratic nature of European law that made even a simple list of course attendees a subject of “data protection” enforced by a Data Protection Commissioner. In addition, I sensed that big data was a qualitative jump from what existed before and it was wrong to simply extrapolate from the existing law. Looks like I was right.
I have little sympathy for whinging about roaming regulation by operators, because I’ve heard it all before, in relation to reforms in international telephony. The sky was predicted to fall and rural areas deprived of needed investment. Yet we took away their cash cow and investment actually increased. But I had not psycho-analyzed their grief this well: Kroes also suggested that mobile operators will react to the loss of roaming revenue via various stages of grief. “They say that when faced with loss there are several stages of grief – from denial to anger to bargaining to acceptance.
The European Union was the only regional grouping taking concerted action to curb the exploitation of the customers of others by operators. But all this time, their actions had effects only within Europe. Now they’re capping roaming costs overall. This will cause European operators to actually negotiate for lower rates from those from whom they purchase roaming services. According to the waterbed theory (which has no foundation in fact, but is trotted out every time operators see some monopoly niche being attacked), this should result in higher roaming costs for the rest of us, non-Europeans.
We got into roaming because TRAI asked us to. This was just after the SAARC Summit in Colombo in 2008. I thought there’d be more talk about roaming since another SAARC talkfest just ended. But looks like TRAI has decided the neighborhood is not worth the trouble. They want cheap roaming in Europe.