1 - A Europe Fit for the Digital Age
The European Union has recently been active in terms of legislative developments relating to technology and digitalisation. News about Digital Services Act, Digital Markets Act, European Union's new Artificial Intelligence Act, Data Act and Data Governance Act are emerging frequently and there is a new development almost every week.
In an article series titled "A Europe Fit for the Digital Age", a slogan used by the European Commission, Wikborg Rein will be looking at the key legislative developments in the EU with a focus on their potential impact on existing laws and practices. This first article of the series will set out the scene by providing the contextual background in which these developments have been taking place.
What is "A Europe Fit for the Digital Age"?
A Europe Fit for the Digital Age is one of the European Commission's (EC) six priorities for the 5-year period between 2019-2024 relating to issues ranging from climate and economy to rule of law and democracy.
The European Commission calls attention to that digital technology is changing people’s lives and EU's aim is to make this digital transition work for all by putting people first and opening new opportunities for businesses.
What are the European Commission's goals?
With the overarching aim of making Europe fit for the digital age by securing a sustainable digital future and a technological development based on fundamental rights, the European Commission has set a number of goals, which include:
- protecting people and entities from cyber threats,
- ensuring that artificial intelligence is developed in ways that respect people’s rights and earn their trust,
- facilitating the growth of start-ups and small businesses,
- strengthening the responsibility of online platforms and clarifying the rules for online services,
- ensuring fair competition of all companies in Europe and
- enabling access to data and giving citizens control over their data.
How will the European Commission achieve these goals?
The legislative developments we have been seeing are results of the European Commission's initiatives to achieve these goals.
To name a few, the European Commission proposed the first comprehensive regulation on artificial intelligence in the world, Artificial Intelligence Act, in line with its goal to ensure that artificial intelligence is developed in ways that respect rights. NIS2 Directive and the Cyber Resilience Act are aiming to strengthen protection and resilience against cyber threats. Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act regulate online platforms and serve the European Commission's goals of strengthening the responsibility of online platforms and ensuring fair competition in Europe. Data Governance Act and Data Act focus on data sharing and the European Commission states that data sharing will enable start-ups and small businesses to grow, and individuals to have control over their data.
How will these developments affect businesses? Why should businesses pay attention?
The legislative initiatives by the European Commission relate to a wide range of areas, including cybersecurity, data, online platforms and artificial intelligence. All companies, including start-ups and tech-giants are covered within the scope of the new rules in one way or another.
In that respect, all businesses, small or big, developing, working with or otherwise using data or digital tools and solutions are potentially within the scope of these new rules.
In addition to affecting an extensive group of businesses, the new initiatives are also worth following because they aim to bring fundamental changes to the way technology and data are regulated today. While implementing new rules, these proposals also pose significant challenges in terms of their interaction with existing regulations.
Since these new rules might have significant impact on the practices of a wide range of businesses, it is of utmost importance for businesses to follow the developments closely and start considering the steps that should be taken to comply with the new rules before they come into effect in the not too distant future.
Wikborg Rein's "A Europe Fit for the Digital Age" article series
In the following articles, we will be focusing on the specific legislative proposals such as Digital Services Act, Digital Markets Act, Data Act, Artificial Intelligence Act and NIS2 Directive. Each article will outline the key provisions in the relevant piece of legislation and highlight their potential impact on existing laws, in particular in the fields of data protection and intellectual property.
Wikborg Rein's Technology and Digitalization team follows the developments closely and has extensive experience and expertise in the areas of technology and digitalisation, as well as competence to assist businesses on a wide range of issues including data protection, intellectual property and information security. Our team are ready to provide assistance on the new rules, and our partners Hanna Beyer Olaussen and Gry Hvidsten are happy to answer questions you might have.