In these two years of pandemic, the adoption of digital technologies and services has accelerated in vectors as diverse as mobility, the acquisition of goods, Public Administration, finance, health or work. Public and private technology-based organizations have increased their activity and those that were not prepared have accelerated the use and development of technologies so as not to fall into irrelevance.
The social and economic transformation due to the use of technology has been accompanied by successive cycles of governance and regulation. And it is now that we find ourselves in a new stage of dialogue and public negotiation in the European Union or countries such as the United States or China where the model of market regulation, sovereignty and citizen rights in clearly technical societies will be determined.
The involvement and collaboration of multinational public institutions with the actors of the technological and digital sector in the global governance of technology is an essential model of action. Its connected, distributed and extraterritorial nature requires a global prism.
These very difficult and dramatic days for millions of people due to the invasion of Ukraine show a practical approach to this approach: the unprecedented response through sanctions by the United States, the European Union and the G7 has a marked technological character. What analysts have called “decoupling Western economies from Russia” (a kind of decoupling of our economies with said country) is being forged with actions in cybersecurity, electronic commerce, disinformation and payment methods.
Actions where corporate mobilization has a clear purpose of protecting civil society and in which the large digital platforms such as Google, Apple or Meta have a participatory role in a heterogeneous coalition against Putin. These actions are illustrated by the partial cessation of the Visa, American Express and Mastercard service in Russia, which represent 74% of payment transactions in that country, according to the Wall Street Journal. At the same time, Russia is experiencing an exodus of technology professionals that is already around 70,000 people; We must not forget that Moscow (also Minsk) have been technological hubs for many companies and that the competitiveness and prosperity of a territory are also measured by the attraction and retention of its talent.
This difficult situation coincides at a time when Europe and Spain are leading the plan ‘Digital Decade‘ that will define the development and market of technologies such as artificial intelligence, microchips, 5G -and progress to 6G- or cloud infrastructures. A process that will influence other regions and countries (as has happened with European legislation on data), and that has a decided plan to promote European technological champions. Two weeks ago significant progress was made with the political agreement on the proposal of the ‘Digital Markets Act‘, a regulation on markets and competition that will be applied to those technology companies with a capitalization of more than 75,000 million euros or an annual turnover of more than 7,500 million euros within the EU in the last three years, among other requirements.
As Irene Blázquez, Director of the Center for the Governance of Change at Instituto de Empresa, points out, at a general level, global economic regulation can hardly go beyond a “soft” approach, in which organizations assume commitments to good practices. However, what is being defined by institutions such as the European Commission or the OECD is the advancing deep ordination standards for technology and digitization. An approach that finds previous examples in the regulation of the “first” Internet, finances, CO2 emissions or, also in the case of the OECD, actions in international tax matters.
For this reason, the multilateral, public and private collaboration that we are seeing these days between governments and technology companies can guide us towards a future model of governance based on a more open dialogue and a better design of standards between these actors. As I pointed out earlier, technology and digital environments exemplify a change where an international order in which states were preponderant has passed to a distributed and connected plural order of actors.
This exciting and necessary topic is part of the series of dialogues on the governance of technology and the role of Spain that Adigital has started in March. Our territory has a strategic position in terms of connectivity, attractive to large technology companies and leading local companies in technology and digitization that operate globally. To this is added a “soft power” that makes us attractive so that people from all over the world want to work for and from Spain.
As an organization representing innovative companies, we see it as a priority to contribute to the projection of our country and our business fabric in this global debate.
*** Michael Ferrer He is director of strategy and public agenda of Adigital.