Sept. 1, 2017

Sectorial Analysis

July 4, 2016

Breaking news

On 30 June 2016, Sébastien Soriano, President of the French Telecommunications Authority (Autorité de Régulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes - ARCEP) gave an interview to the French magazine L’Usine digitale (in French).

Speaking to the press is a way for the Regulator to reach everyone, including policymakers, European institutions, and fellow Regulators who also seek to compete for space in the digital area.

As he reported: "Nous arrivons aujourd’hui, avec l'irruption du numérique, à un acte 2 de la régulation. Il y a 20 ans, on est passé du modèle PTT où l’Etat produisait le service public, au modèle d’État-régulateur qui a permis l’ouverture à la concurrence. Ce modèle vise à une bonne organisation du marché avec des outils de pilotage efficaces, mais parfois très intrusifs : les licences mobiles, qui sont des contrats assortis de sanctions administratives en cas de non-respect des obligations, ou le dégroupage, qui est une intervention sur la propriété privée… Aujourd’hui il nous faut franchir une étape nouvelle et nous projeter dans la suite, repenser nos outils pour permettre, en complément, une régulation plus focalisée, plus humble et plus agile". We can translate this passage as it follows : As of today, considering the onset of digital, we are getting to a second phase for Regulation. Over the past 20 years, we went from the ‘PTT model’, where the State provided for public service, to a new Regulatory State model that enabled competition to thrive. This model aims for good market organization with effective management tools, which may be sometimes very intrusive: e.g., mobile licenses, which are agreements that include administrative penalties in the event of failure to comply with its provisions, or unbundled access, which relates to a State intervention on private ownership… Today, we need to take it another step further and plan for the future, reconsider our tools to allow for a Regulation that would be better focused, humbler and nimbler”.

Whatever “Phase 1” was would thus be already outpaced. Farewell stringent public service, so long market openings to competition. Such an understanding of Regulation was certainly consistent with the idea that Regulation was only meant to be temporary, namely considering the everlasting protection of personal data by the dedicated supervisory authority (Commission Nationale Informatique et Libertés, CNIL)…

We would then need to implement “Phase 2” and, as Sébastien Soriano advises, to “Regulate by the multitude”, which is "a concept that includes consumers, but also users, observers, and the civil society as a whole. The key question is how to use the power of information to get the greatest possible leverage on the market while relying on the multitude. The answer is clear: Regulation by data" ("La multitude, ce sont les utilisateurs, les observateurs, la société civile. Cela inclut les consommateurs, mais pas uniquement. Et la question centrale, c’est comment utiliser le pouvoir de l’information pour avoir un maximum d'effet de levier sur le marché et grâce à la multitude. La réponse, c’est la régulation par la data.").

Like all the others, the Telecom Regulator introduces himself as a sort of ‘natural’ Regulator for digital activities, as he relies on the key notion that is information. In doing so, he is seeking allies that are just as natural as he is— that is to say, consumers. Consumers fall indeed into the scope of the Regulator insofar as they provide him with the information he needs to Regulate the digital sector and space.

The Regulator thus does not define himself anymore as the one that protects consumers against the market, but as the one that binds the two together, transforming the complaint into a civic act: “There’s a problem. As a consumer, I am alerting you as a Regulator who has the means to regulate market failures and whom I shall let operate”.

In such a statement, the ARCEP not only becomes the ‘natural’ digital Regulator, but it also become the one that operates on the grounds of information brought by the web-user, who is protected by and who somehow benefits in return from the action of the Regulator.

Two concluding thoughts:

  • What a nimble reasoning indeed from the Regulator, who had initially been created to be the ‘container Regulator’, and who is now becoming, since Phase 2 is on its way, a kind of ‘overall’ Regulator that regulates both the container and the content.
  • This is a salient example that rationales and frameworks that were developed by the Banking and Financial Regulation are modelling Regulation in general: see whistleblowers, information, obsolescence of the ‘public service’.

April 16, 2015

Thesaurus : Doctrine

Jan. 12, 2015

Breaking news

France Stratégie is the French public body that advises the French Government on economic and social policies.

In January 2015, one of its researchers, Medhi Nemri, published an analytical note: "Demain, l'Internet des objets (Tomorrow, the Internet of Things)".

The release sees the Internet as a "essential facility" whose development capabilities will allow interaction between objects: the "Internet of Things". This world of "connected devices" would be a "tipping".

Indeed, the objects are connected in the industrial system (smart manufacturing) and the municipal utilities are beginning to organize themselves in the same way. The note stresses the importance of fostering an open platform for all public services. Private space is organized in the same way, for example health, but individuals often see these connected objects as gadgets. Yet by the technology platforms, interconnection allows a general improvement of services. The more traditional companies may depend on Internet companies developing these platforms.

The issue of power of this economy are standardization and standard naming of objects. In this ecosystem, data are the creation of economic value.

The author of the paper proposes the idea of a "right to experiment" way to foster innovation. This would in mobility, health management, insurance. The note doesn't specify the consequences of such a "right to experiment": Does this mean a decline in sectoral regulations?

In any case, the note stresses the need to reaffirm the rights of persons and to protect privacy.

Feb. 20, 2014

Thesaurus : Doctrine