In this period, the European Union seems to be imbued with a kind of regulatory frenzy on digital matters that, in fact, exceeds all expectations.
Consider some measures that have been approved or are in the process of being approved such as:
- the Data Governance Act, which aims to promote the availability of data for cross-sectoral and cross-border re-use and should play a central role in enabling and guiding the creation of common interoperable data spaces at EU level in strategic areas such as energy , mobility and health;
- The Digital Services Act which focuses on creating a safer online environment for digital users and businesses and protecting fundamental rights in the digital space;
- The Digital Market Law which sets clear rules for major platforms and aims to ensure that no major online platform acts as a “gatekeeper”, i.e. a private actor that can set the rules in digital markets by controlling at least one of the so-called “central platform services”?
- the next Regulation of artificial intelligence which aims to harmonize rules on artificial intelligence and will be part of a coordinated plan including a series of joint actions for the Commission and Member States to increase trust in artificial intelligence and promote the development and dissemination of artificial intelligence technologies ·
- European Commission proposal for a regulation under discussion in the Council on European digital identity with the clear aim of developing a pan-European framework for public and secure electronic identification (e-ID), including interoperable digital signatures, guaranteeing control of people’s identity and data on the internet and enables access to public, private and cross-border digital services.
In fact, to complete all these initiatives, it should be added that in March 2021 the Commission presented the Digital Compass, which defines a vision and sets goals for the promotion of digitalization in the EU until 2030. The strategy includes a proposal for a decision that establishes the strategic program “Roadmap to the Digital Decade”, with the aim of creating the governance framework to achieve the digital goals for 2030. The Commission’s proposal is currently under consideration by the Council. The Commission, under the scope of the Digital Compass, has started the process of adopting a European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles. The aim of the declaration is to define citizens’ rights in the digital space and to draw up a framework of principles that the EU and Member States agree to uphold in the digital transformation process.
However, in the light of what is happening in the European context, we have to ask ourselves whether this is really the right approach to favor a full and effective digitization process in the Community context, or whether we are running a little too fast.
The development of digitization, new technologies and artificial intelligence itself inevitably creates many problems both ethically and legally, as overly rigid regulations can stifle innovation, but a lack of legal clarity would leave all operators in the darkness.
A transparent regulatory environment is considered a key element in the development of advanced market-level information systems in which products and services can be distributed smoothly. There is, however, a strong fear on the part of many that premature and intrusive legislation could hinder scientific progress and nullify potential advantages, or worse, cause financial or other inefficiencies. At the same time, somewhat paradoxically, it is recognized that the lack of a reliable and secure legal environment can equally hinder technological innovation. This predicament certainly undermines legal certainty and motivates people to act in an unclear domain in which rights and responsibilities cannot be determined in advance.
Undoubtedly, regulatory interventions will be needed at least to obtain a legal framework that will be able to support continuous scientific progress without ever acting as a barrier to technological development, but to what extent?
Laws and regulations in these areas will also be fundamental to enable the effective development of a competitive market. The ambition of the European Union to promote innovation in the internal market, as we have seen, makes digitization a strategic area, to which the European institutions pay great attention. At the same time, research and industrial production in the field of new technologies must be developed in accordance with the complementary objective, enshrined in European policy, of establishing itself as an area of freedom, security and justice.
The competing objectives of protecting consumers and end-users in general from harmful effects while promoting innovation must therefore become the legislator’s. In this regard, the most effective regulatory system must combine several tools: legal rules, technical rules and standards, codes of conduct and best practices. In this way it will be possible to ensure certainty, flexibility, accuracy and also the most correct interpretation in the face of certain doubts.
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