ICC gathering assesses digital economy business priorities

  • 11 April 2012
ICC Telecommunications

Over 40 digital economy experts from 14 countries gathered at ICC headquarters in Paris this week to discuss business priorities relating to the information and communication technologies (ICT) and Internet policy landscape.

The two-day meeting of the ICC Commission on the Digital Economy, included discussion on topics ranging from the development of new technologies and business models, to the full expanse of Internet-related policy matters.

Herbert Heitman, Executive Vice-President of External Communications at Royal Dutch Shell and Chair of the Digital Economy Commission led the meeting and stressed the importance of business engagement in ICT and Internet issues.

During a status report on ICC input to a European Commission communication on “a comprehensive approach to personal data protection in the European Union”, Christopher Kuner, Chair of the ICC Task Force on Privacy and the Protection of Personal Data, explained how the directive would extend beyond the boundaries of the EU to impact businesses around the world. Joe Alhadeff, Chief Privacy Strategist and Vice-President for Global Public Policy at Oracle Corporation supported Mr Kuner’s remarks and added: “Every industry one way or another will be affected by this regulation. ICC must make every effort to communicate to businesses worldwide how this regulation will impact them.”

In an afternoon session dedicated to the work of the ICC Task Force on Internet and Telecommunications, Eric Loeb, Vice-President, International External Affairs at AT&T, led discussions relating to the development of ICC policy recommendations on the modernization of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) – agreements between two countries for the purpose of exchanging information in an effort to enforce public or criminal laws. These agreements have not been updated to reflect the contemporary communications environment, and this creates legal uncertainty for industry and governments. ICC has recognized as a top priority the need for governments and the private sector both to establish a responsible balance of interests on law enforcement assistance requests, and to minimize situations where industry is in the middle of a conflict of laws between two countries. Modernized MLATs could support both goals.

“The ICC work on this would be an unprecedented effort by industry to identify specific best practices for both government and private sector, and aims to help avert the trend of government local infrastructure/storage mandates, and to preserve cross-border data flows,” Mr Loeb said.

Discussions of the ICC Task Force on Internet and Telecommunications later moved on to business priorities for the International Telecommunication Union World Conference on International Telecommunications 2012 (WCIT-12), during which the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) treaty will be re-negotiated. Previously negotiated by 178 countries in 1988, and applied around the world, the treaty defines the general principles for the provision and operation of international telecommunications. Meeting participants heard how proposed amendments to the treaty could have substantial consequences on the entire ICT sector, and that all companies active in the ICC Commission on the Digital Economy should be part of the WCIT-12 preparation process.

“This is not a time for business to sit on the sidelines,” said Mr Alhadeff. “As industry representatives and because business does not get a vote, we have an important role to play in providing constructive facts to the government representatives who will be doing the negotiating, and making the decisions that affect the industry and customers around the world.”

The commission meeting also included discussions on the work programme of the ICC Task Force on Security and Authentication, and coverage of the Internet governance landscape. It also featured a presentation by guest speaker Lee Hibbard, from the Media and Information Society Division of the Council of Europe.

Additional Information

ICC Commission on Digital Economy