Leading nations and telecos urge Europe to tread carefully on its Google and IP crackdown

The UK and several major nations, plus a number of leading teleco providers, have urged the European Council to think twice about its recent crackdown on internet and e-commerce regulation, including its investigations into Google.

Britain, Ireland and Poland yesterday asked Brussels to only regulate tech giants like Google “where there is clear evidence to do so” in a letter seen by Reuters.

"There is no greater opportunity at our disposal to make a real difference for investment, growth and jobs, and deliver a vital boost to Europe’s future global competitiveness," the heads of state wrote in the letter.

"This also means getting the regulatory balance right...It is very clear that a successful Digital Single Market will not be one that stifles innovation, investment and entrepreneurship."

The European Commission unveiled a ‘single digital market’ reform manifesto that would break down barriers to e-commerce across European borders - stopping retailers pricing differently in different regions or sending customers to different websites dependant on their country of residence, for example. It would also crack down on streaming sites that allow different access dependant on geographical location, like Netflix.

Swisscom, Orange, T Mobile, Telefonica and several other leading telecos have queried Brussels' recent investigations into digital firms, sending a letter to EU heads of state and European Council president Donald Tusk last week.

It stated: “We ask for urgent reforms to remove regulatory barriers to more investment in digital infrastructure.

We are encouraged by the new Digital Single Market Strategy, which includes positive initiatives in this regard. We therefore ask the European Council to express support for a pro-investment policy approach that translates into fast and concrete actions, as robust infrastructures are the backbone of the digital economy and should be prioritised accordingly."

The letter made the following suggestions to ensure Europe’s digital industry could thrive:

  • “To ensure that the final rules enshrined in the Telecom Single Market regulation do not harm innovation and investment, e.g. by limiting innovation in networks and new business models;

  • To initiate a fast-track set of targeted regulatory reforms in the field of access regulation, spectrum management and asymmetries between traditional e-communication providers and internet players;

  • To significantly reduce the current regulatory burdens on the sector by applying existing rules in a way to improve the conditions for investment in high-speed networks;

  • To support a profound and sustainable overhaul of the current telecoms rules, providing for a future proof common framework for all digital services, taking into account dramatic changes in markets, consumers’ habits and new positions of market power in the digital economy**; the aim should be to support the global competitiveness of EU industry.”

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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