The Russian government seriously undertook the regulation of digital technology. The resonant initiative of the Deputy from the EP Anton Gorelkin, designed to increase state control over key Russian IT-companies, brought the discussion to a whole new level. In October in the State Duma it is planned an extended meeting of the Committee on information technology, which will involve representatives of the business community.
Many commentators fear that now the government starts to tighten the screws, and technological industry of Russia will only suffer. However, at this stage the attention of the state to industry, rather, should be interpreted as a hope that in the sphere of information technologies will finally have a coherent policy. However, it is unclear which way can go to Russia.
At the moment, can be divided into three dominant policy approach in the field of information technology: American, European and Chinese. Of course, they are not static — especially given that technology policy includes many related areas — data protection, cyber security, an it-monopolists, the degree of access foreign companies, the involvement of the state in market regulation, taxation, etc. However, it is possible to say that certain regions tend to established rules of the game, and they are unlikely to change radically in the near future.
As a technology leader, until recently, the United States has been the main trendsetters in technology regulation.
The biggest economy in the world, has an advanced factory for the production of innovation in Silicon Valley, until recently, USA had total legitimacy in the sphere of regulation of information technology. Why regulate something that is working well? The last time large-scale technology policy codified in 1997, when the Clinton administration just summed up the current rules of the game in its programme the foundations for a global e-Commerce. The document stresses the importance of Internet technologies in the development of the US economy, and argues that the private sector should be the key engine of progress in the industry.
Within the designated policy, the state effectively withdrew from the regulation of the sector, saying that excessive intervention could have a negative impact on the technological development of the country. This policy remained virtually unchanged until 2018, at the outbreak of a major PR scandal with Facebook and Google, and gradually growing claim of the Antimonopoly structures to technological stars have led to lawsuits. Such developments quickly enough turned us digital giants of the favorites of the public in the permanent object of attacks by the public and government agencies.
The idea of strengthening supervision over the activities of the tech giants is one of the few political issues that is supported by Democrats and Republicans.
Voters are also not lagging behind the trend. According to the latest polls analysts from YouGov, more than 60% of Americans in favour of fragmentation of the technological corporations to smaller (and powerful) components. Remarkably, the idea resonates with American voters regardless of their political preferences. All of this suggests that now the US is in the process of building a new political consensus in the regulation of activities of IT companies, in which the independence of the tech giants will be significantly reduced with the aim of protecting the interests of society and the state.
The European Union
If the American approach until recently was another variation of laissezfaire, the European Supervisory authorities has always distinguished more readily be involved in the regulation of the technology market. So, being developed in 2012 and entered into force in 2018, the General rules on data protection (GDPR) is considered a reference example of legislation aimed at protecting the rights of citizens.
In the framework of the legislative initiatives of the European Union the dominant focus are basic human rights that come before the interests of the state and business. Remarkably, further legislative experiments rely on the same basic principles. Thus, under the April Digital of the Day the EU was presented to the ethical standards for artificial intelligence, which tied for first place individual rights and security of citizens.
The size of the EU economy, its technological development, as well as competent and involved, the regulator — all these factors keep the value of the EU as a trendsetter for the regulation of information technology. High competence of the Central office of the European Union in lawmaking the EU has provided early head start and the ability to be proactive. Problems of management of the IT-sphere that in 2018 the American caught parliamentarians by surprise, persistently worked in the EU in 2012, and the principles of personal data security, the EU is now being actively implemented in all technologically developed countries. While slowing the rate of technological development of the EU, which is increasingly difficult to compete with the US and China, in the long run will work on reducing the influence of the EU in the digital regulation.
China is a unique case, given the explosive development of technological environment of China. For the Chinese authorities the development of the market of innovations is a matter of national security. This echoes a century of humiliation, when the technological gap of China has led China to total devastation and dependence on Western imperialist powers. China today is a huge base of innovation, which aims to catch up with and leave it far behind Western competitors.
To ensure and maintain the explosive economic growth the Chinese authorities are ready to go to almost any measure. In addition to the active infusion of substantial resources into the development of the internal market innovation, China is actively involved in the technological cyber espionage, theft of intellectual property and the poaching of the world’s leading scientists.
Chinese authorities are building a strict policy of protectionism, which limits the foreign players in the market of China. Given the size and potential of the market, Western companies have to put up with the tough legal restrictions and theft of intellectual property, in order to preserve access to this attractive market.
In parallel with the explosive technological growth, China is building the legislative apparatus governing the industry. In 2017 entered into force on the cybersecurity act, which establishes requirements for the registration of Internet users and establishes rules for the storage of personal citizens. As the European GDPR, Chinese law declares inalienable right of citizens to security of personal data, however, clearly affirms the right of state interference in the data that affect national security. In fact, the Chinese approach puts at the forefront the interests of the state, and suggests that personal interests can be neglected, if we are talking about social stability. So the Chinese authorities are introducing quite a Confucian principles in technological agenda.
Where would we go?
Indigenous economic turning point makes the question of the formation of integrated technology policy is particularly relevant for the major powers.
A radical transition is particularly clear if you look at the market capitalization of the largest companies. If in the 90s a significant portion of the top lines held oil giants, ExxonMobil today is only the last effort clinging to tenth place in the ranking, hopelessly behind Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Alibaba.
The unique position of Russia makes the formation of state technology policies, the critical factor which is necessary for innovative development of the state. On the one hand, we retain a significant intellectual potential in the field of programming and creating digital projects. With another — the Russian economy could boast the demand for digital products, quite capable to compete with American and Chinese counterparts. Thus, the Russian Yandex is successfully competing with Google on a number of fronts, and our software is in demand and the Western user. Technology already occupy a significant place in our economy and in future this segment will only grow.
The presence of a coherent national technology policy will lead to the creation of clear for participants rules of the game. The private sector will no longer compete with government on a number of fronts, and the competence of a major Russian digital players will help improve the efficiency of the Russian state apparatus. It is important to understand that the chosen technology policy will largely determine the set of innovation that Russia will develop and which will succeed. It is not surprising that the American digital giants, the situation in the absence of regulation, focused on achieving profits through media platforms, and China is its permanent fixation on social stability and control — has become a world leader in the production of systems of recognition of persons, monitoring, evaluation of social ranking.
Today, the question of the regulation of the digital environment, Russia is among the catch-up and it can benefit us. The experience of American, European and Chinese technological regulation gives us a good idea of the benefits and potential problems, with which is associated each of the existing approaches. Theoretically, based on international experience, we will be able to make informed decisions and adapt best practices, successfully avoiding the mistakes of other countries.
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