EU’s Digital Single Market

The European Union have a dream to expand the single market to the digital world or the DSM for short. It’s a very laudable goal, despite the success of dropping trade barriers for physical trade doing business in the digital world is pretty complicated at least n any scale. The problem is that in cyberspace Europe is still pretty fragmented with most companies trading through 28 sets of national laws concerning digital transactions.

This is probably one of the reasons why there are so few large technology businesses based here – only 26 of the world’s 176 biggest tech companies. Having to deal with all these different digital laws adds an estimated 5-9 billion dollars to their costs, although this is difficult to gauge accurately.

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The EU is very aware of these problems which do in fact affect other countries too and their plan to bring down digital boundaries is expected to bring technology companies back to Europe. At the center of their plans is a series of aims and one of the most important is to enable people to access digital content across Europe in whatever country they are in.

The idea is that if they purchase something like a Netflix subscription in the UK then exactly the same subscription should be accessible from another European country say France. Currently this is not the case and you can’t access Netflix across boundaries without using something like a VPN to access like this.

It’s not an easy task especially as archaic copyright rules are the underlying issue in this scenario. In years gone by licensing access rights to content based on physical location seemed a sensible thing to do, unfortunately nowadays this looks increasingly inappropriate. What’s worth it causes all sorts of hidden costs and problems for both the suppliers and the consumers. In the world of digital entertainment a virtual war is under way with consumers needing to hide their physical locations and IP addresses whilst companies like Netflix block VPNs. This can cause other concerns as well because the use of this software helps keep internet connections secure and are used as a standard in the corporate world to secure their information.

There are proposed rules currently being circulated however this is a complex issue and is likely to take some time. There are concerns that these changes may be driven by corporate interests rather than creating a fair and open digital market. For example News publishers want publishers like Google to pay for the snippets they use, which would require more copyright powers not less – it is expected that these will be created in some way.

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