The Digital Trust Economy

The 38th annual DigiWorld Summit took place from 15-17 November in Montpellier and was dedicated to a very relevant subject: “ The Digital Trust Economy ”. Over 120 senior executives from the...

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Patrick Lopez
Responsable de Innovación en Redes en Telefónica I + D


The 38th annual DigiWorld Summit took place from 15-17 November in Montpellier and was dedicated to a very relevant subject: “The Digital Trust Economy”. Over 120 senior executives from the sector and regulatory authorities presented their views on the role Trust play in the digital economy and how to reach it. A great number of representatives from the ICT sector attended the event: telecom operators, suppliers, application providers, developers, content providers, regulatory and institutional authorities…

Among the pillars to reach Trust in the digital environment many speakers underlined security, privacy and data protection as key elements. And therefore the regulatory framework should be appropriate and applicable to all players to ensure that those elements are put in place and fulfilled by all actors in the digital market. However in this regard, it was also highlighted that there is a regulatory asymmetry between telecom operators and other players, especially in relation to privacy, data protection and security that makes it more difficult to compete under fair conditions and guarantee those elements. Additionally it was raised that security is not an option and has to be in all layers of the provision of services, from infrastructures to digital services in order to provide trust. Collaboration among all players on these topics are key. The quality of networks is very relevant to provide trust and security, which implies strong effort on investment and regulation should promote it.

Some talked about the privacy paradox: usage is high, although trust is low. Some examples on the risks and vulnerability of current services were presented together with the way users are utilizing the digital services nowadays. Digital identity was presented as the foundation of digital trust, using biometrics to increase security, not only authentication. Bearing in mind that the use of digital services will increase exponentially in the near future with video services, connected devices, automotive, mobile apps, 5G… it was emphasized the need to improve security, privacy and data protection.

Several speakers mentioned that a way to increase trust in the digital world is to empower customers by giving them the control of their data, especially taking into account that some companies build their business models using customer’s data. Therefore some said that the consumers should have the possibility to control what third parties can do with their data. The regulatory framework intends to provide consumer confidence and equal competitive rules should apply to all actors. EU and non-EU companies providing services to EU customers must respect EU rules.

Many speakers talked about the digital revolution we are living and the disrupting business models that are appearing. This brings opportunities, but also challenges, among them: personal privacy, access to data, cross-border data flows, secure and reliable cloud services, international cybersecurity norms, cybercrime prevention. Several presentations on these topics were showed and discussed.

Carlos López Blanco, Global Head Public and Regulatory Affairs at Telefónica participated in the plenary session “What role will telcos play? Monetize data or serve as trusted third parties?” In his intervention, he brought the role of trust as an opportunity for telcos, and the need to provide a safe environment in the digital world. He pointed out that Telefónica wants to Give the Data Back to Customers, which means to keep the customer at the center: Telefónica wants customer to keep the control over his digital life, with the biggest trust, privacy and security (More info in the specific post on this session).

In the panel of regulation, ARCEP talked about if internet platforms should and can be regulated. An overview of the different types of platforms and the current regulatory framework already in place that must be respected by them was presented. It was mentioned the Communication on platforms launched by the European Commission last May and a new Communication on platforms that is expected by 2017.

Ignacio Fernández-Vega, Director of Audiovisual Strategy of Telefónica intervened in the session “TV & Video: Geoblocking and copyright: a question of trust?“ In this session it was highlighted by most speakers the uneven regulatory framework applicable to the different players in the content market. This should be balanced and be applicable to all players acting in the content market in order to avoid market distortions that would make it more difficult for some players to compete with others that do not have the same obligations.

In relation to the availability of a content, it was pointed out that piracy exists not because the content is not available in that country, but because the user does not want to pay for it. The value of a content is different depending on how relevant that content is for a specific country. Providing a content at EU level even if there is no demand for it in some of the EU countries, increases costs very much and can end destroying the EU content market. It is very important to maintain the right balance. The regulatory framework should take into account consumers, but also companies providing services.

Additionally it was raised the point that the content has a clear local component, due to the different languages, culture, the way it is presented to audiences in the market… and they should not be forced to be provided at European level if there is not a clear demand for them. When there is demand, the service is provided. Some content providers insisted that they never have received any company interested in buying the rights for those contents at European level, but only specifically for concrete countries where there is demand for that. Furthermore European culture diversity was stressed as a relevant asset of the European countries.

Another crucial point that was discussed and agreed by all participants was that business models must be sustainable for the future and the regulatory framework should promote conditions to support it.

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