The overarching goal must be to recognize the importance of the public sphere.
The European Union’s digital policy is today the second most important area of development for our continent, next to the Green Deal. ICTs have become general-purpose technologies, affecting all other sectors and fundamentally changing our societies. At the same time, such a dynamic pace of development of the digital economy has resulted in a profusion of problems – a lack of flexibility and appropriate enforcement, unintended negative social consequences, growing inequality, as well as the monopolization of markets and the privatization of digital public space.
In charting Europe’s digital future, we need to learn from these problems and propose principles and measures that will allow the socially beneficial development of new technologies on the continent.
The European Commission Communication: “Shaping Europe’s Digital Future” and its accompanying documents: “White Paper on Artificial Intelligence” and “European Data Strategy” are a good starting point, but it is extremely necessary to identify their strongest and weakest points.
The position paper we have published expresses the Instrat’s ambition to build public policies on a thorough, pragmatic analysis of concrete proposals. That is why this document is so detailed. At the strategic level, however, we propose that the Polish government adopt the following four main directions:
1. The overarching goal must be to recognize the importance of the public sphere, complementing a discussion focused today only on privacy and the reactive punishment of platforms for transgressions. A public interest logic can be used to create innovations, such as AI, geared towards the delivery of public services (e.g. health care), social control of major platforms, and the creation of a friendly and fair environment for consumers and citizens.
2. Digital platforms must be treated as part of existing law. Their status should be regulated in such a way as to recognize their obligations under labor law or sectoral regulations in the transportation, housing, and job placement industries. It is necessary to recognize the role of platforms as digital public utilities. It is therefore necessary to strengthen supervisory institutions, such as competition and consumer protection authorities, to uphold EU and Polish law.
3. Data should be managed in the public domain or directly for social purposes. The extraction of data and economic value weakens the competitiveness of European economies, especially in less innovative countries like Poland, and favors commercial interests over public and social ones.
4. Tax issues must be resolved immediately. Poland should work on its own to tighten taxes and impose a digital tax, while supporting the EU and OECD in reaching the most stringent regulations on the world’s largest technology companies.