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Advancing the digital future: Shaping a path for global cooperation?

22 Oct 2018
All Committees
Digital Economy

AmCham EU hosted its 6th Annual Transatlantic Digital Economy Conference on Wednesday, 17 October 2018. Under the motto ‘Advancing the digital future: Shaping a path for global cooperation?’, the event was attended by some 120 participants.

Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, stressed in his opening remarks that despite different approaches on privacy, the EU and US continue to work together to strengthen the Privacy Shield Agreement, have a long standing cooperation on cybersecurity, and face similar objectives and challenges on emerging technologies.

The importance of technology-neutral and principle-based regulation to foster digital modernisation was emphasised during the fireside chat on global policy frameworks featuring Goran Marby, ICANN and Margaret Peterlin, AT&T. We must move towards more coherence in regulation in order to maintain the global functionality of the internet and achieve 5G deployment.

A thriving digital economy requires a healthy ecosystem. This was a key message highlighted during the first panel featuring Claire Bury, European Commission, Peter Davidson, US Department of Commerce, Małgorzata Wenerska-Craps, Polish Permanent Representation to the EU, Maher Chebbo, GE and Marius Basting, Caterpillar. Speakers agreed on the importance of addressing the skills challenge, as employers in Europe struggle to find the right talent. Furthermore, the wider population must be prepared to successfully harness new technologies such as AI.

The digital economy rests on the successful balancing of privacy, trust and prosperity. While some third countries look to the GDPR to build their privacy laws, other countries such as the US are looking towards a more principle-based and flexible approach. Therefore initiatives like Privacy Shield and APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules are needed to enable international data flows. This was a key message during the conversation on data flows featuring James Sullivan, US Department of Commerce, and Steve Wood, UK Information Commissioner’s Office. 

Building trust is a pre-requisite to enable the uptake of artificial intelligence, as stressed by speakers Eva Maydell MEP, Lucilla Sioli, European Commission, Andreas Hartl, German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Stuart McGuigan, J&J, and Gerard Smit, IBM. Speakers also highlighted the importance of building knowledge of the technology and a common understanding of ethics. A challenge for policy-makers is to understand how to create conducive regulatory framework such as ‘sandboxes’ to foster the application of AI. 

The conference revealed alignment between policy agendas around the globe, notably EU, US and Japan. In their closing remarks, David J. Redl, US national technology agency (NTIA), and Mabito Yoshida, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan, stressed the importance of privacy and cybersecurity in their respective national policy agendas.

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See the full programme