Microsoft’s innovation’s magazine FUTURES released an interview with ROBERT MADELIN, Director-general for Information Society and Media at the European Commission.
New rules and improved awareness will help protect consumers and build trust in the digital economy, says Robert Madelin.
Every day, more than 250 million Europeans connect to the Internet, to work, learn, communicate, play and socialise. But the digital economy which has rapidly grown up around all those activities poses new challenges to governments and regulators. How can data privacy be protected when pervasive software tracks one’s online movements and preferences? What is the most effective government approach to combating cybercrime?
Robert Madelin, director-general for information society and media at the European Commission, likens daily excursions on the Internet to driving a car. “You can’t give someone a Porsche and expect them to have fun and also be safe on the roads without any rules. There is a mixture of getting the infrastructure and the environment right.”
Madelin discussed the EU’s Digital Agenda with Futures, including the challenge of protecting consumers and building trust in a digital economy. Launched in 2010, the Digital Agenda lays out an action plan for a vibrant digital economy, including boosting skills, fighting cybercrime and investing in networks. “If you package all the vital elements in the Digital Agenda, it creates a safe and enjoyable driving experience,” says Madelin.
Trust and privacy in the digital arena is a moving target, he adds. “It depends on what you are doing. The Internet creates windows into your life. It’s partly about awareness-raising so children will be safer as they use the technology. We have to work with the whole value chain from applications on down, so everyone gets choice and protection.”
Another action the Commission is considering to shore up trust in the digital economy is the creation of EU “Trustmarks” for websites which are certified as safe and reliable. But the concept poses serious challenges, including who sets up the principles of a safe site and who polices it – which would be a very costly endeavour, Madelin says. “We want to do this if it is really useful.”
This article was originally published in the 8th edition of the Futures Magazine.