Economic - other issues

Updates

According to a report, Jamaica’s Universal Service Fund (USF) has as its target in 2019 to set up more community Access Points (CAP) to a broaden access to internet services to citizens and businesses across the island states. This year’s deployment will complement efforts over the years which has seen the establishment of over 300 CAP sites through the USF.

According to Kwan Wilson, director of projects at the agency, the fund will also focus on increasing the number of free Wi-Fi zones on top of the already implemented secured public hotspots currently in the high traffic areas of the country. This according to him will facilitate greater access.

According to a report, a federal appeals court on 1 February overturned the decision by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to take broadband subsidies away from tribal residents. The broadband subsidies allow residents to obtain a US$25-per-month lifeline subsidy that reduces the cost of Internet or phone service. The FCC’s decision reached by a vote of 3 to 2 in November 2017, could not be implemented due to a stay order issued by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in August 2018. The follow-up ruling by the same court has now effectively halted FCC’s plans.

The top reasons why UK residents switched their broadband Internet Service Provider (ISP) in 2018, were to save money (29.9%) or get access to faster speeds (25.4%), while 18.3% simply sought better internet quality. This was discovered from the results of an online survey of 1,380 ISPreview.com.co.uk readers, which was conducted between 16 November 2018 and 2 January 2019.

The outcome of the survey according to the report is not different from those of previous years, with broadband speed, price and service quality continuing predictably to be the motivator for people changing their ISP.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published a report on how new technologies open up opportunities for leapfrogging in developing countries. Leapfrogging is the concept of ‘bypassing intermediate stages of technology through which countries have historically passed during the development process’. However, it necessitates innovation policies to uphold the deployment of frontier technologies and their adaptation to meet their needs and promote sustainable development. The report notes that rapid technological advances and cost reductions in ICT have enabled some developing countries, particularly in Asia and Africa, to skip the development of landline infrastructure by moving directly to mobile telecommunications. According to the report, countries need strategic innovation policies, sound infrastructure and institutions, and appropriate technological standards to promote leapfrogging.

UK court of appeal supports tribunal decision that Uber drivers are limb (b) workers’. The core issue on the appeal was that if any driver who works as an Uber driver, has license to work, and is able to take a ride is considered to be in a working contract with the ride-hailing company. Uber was claiming that drivers are in a contract with customers and not Uber. However, the appellate court supported the stand of the employment tribunal and stated that drivers were in a working relation with Uber at least when they accept the ride. On the other hand, there was the question of whether the same analogy applies before a driver accepts a ride, and the appellate court stated that the employment tribunal is entitled to decide that it does.  Even though a majority of the tribunal reached this decision, Judge Underhill LJ gave an dissenting opinion, that was not in line with this reasoning. In the end, the appellate court made an unusual move by granting Uber leave to appeal to the supreme court.

Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has published a new research report titled Improving Mobile Broadband Quality of Service in Low Middle Income Countries, which examines the quality of internet service on offer across the Global South.The report provides the first set of public available data on upload and download speeds in low-and-middle-income countries.

The report finds that significant disparities exist between the broadband speeds found in the Global North and the Global South, with the median download speed for a user in Africa less than a seventh of the speed available to a user in Western Europe. Featuring insights from Bangladesh, Colombia, Mozambique and Peru, the report outlines a set of recommendations for improving quality of service. Further analysis of the report can be found here.

The impact of the Internet on businesses and the global economy has been crucial in shaping new economic models, and at the same time, raising new concerns.

The Internet is one of the primary drivers of economic growth, which is visible in many countries that have placed the development of ICT as one of the primary tools for boosting the economy.

This is even more evident on a regional and global level. For instance, the European Union directed a substantial amount of financial support to Horizon 2020, one of its largest programmes dedicated to financing research, development, and innovation, especially in the field of commerce, and particularly to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The impact on the Internet economy

The impact of e-commerce - which in its broad term encompasses e-money, digital signatures, and online advertising and marketing - on individuals and businesses is far-reaching. E-commerce has brought about numerous advantages for consumers, such as the convenience of online shopping, flexibility and ease-of-access to different markets, more information and choice, and - perhaps more significantly - access to online banking and e-payments. Read more on e-money and digital signatures.

From a business perspective, e-commerce has influenced the supply chain management of  businesses by integrating inter-company and intra-company functions, optimising the flow of information, facilitating the payment process, affecting the delivery channels, reducing overall costs (especially the cost of promotion), and enabling companies to reach customers more easily through online advertising and marketing.

However, now that businesses have access to the global market, competition - together with the pressure this brings on businesses - has also increased exponentially, while shipping and delivery-related issues are more complex when serving a global market without the traditional borders.

Other issues which have been brought to the forefront are the liability of intermediaries for third party content, and human rights considerations. Since businesses are increasingly handling personal data of consumers, they also have to adhere to stricter rules concerning privacy and data protection, which requires a shift from traditional business processes.

Additionally, concerns over security are among the biggest issues that affect the development of the Internet economy.

Read more on IntermediariesHuman Rights, and Cybersecurity.

Emerging trends: Internet of Things, sharing economy, e-gambling

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging trend which is having a major impact on the Internet economy. The integration of the IoT into business models reduces costs and increases efficiency. Many new businesses are now utilising ‘smart buildings’ to optimise energy costs and preserve the environment. The application of ICT solutions into business processes provides businesses with a competitive advantage, which helps them develop faster than in traditional surroundings. Businesses are therefore demanding new tailor-made and innovative approaches from the IT industry, which is contributing significantly to the general economic welfare. Read more on IoT.

The latest model in e-commerce is the so-called sharing economy, which catapulted new players - such as Uber and AirBnB - into the global market. Such businesses have taken full advantage of e-commerce, such as through the integration of ICT solutions, by leveraging reduced business costs, and through more direct access to consumers. At the same time, such models have found opposition from traditional professions such as taxi drivers and businesses in the rental market. The regulation of the shared economy, still in its embryonic phase, is controversial.

A by-product of e-commerce is the emerging freelance market. On one hand, this has given rise to a vibrant startup community of freelancers and has contributed to strengthening SMEs and to reducing unemployment. On the other, this requires a new approach to labour, not least due to the treatment of income arising from online freelance work.

Another area that has significantly contributed to the Internet economy - and at the same time raised numerous debates - is e-gambling. Different regulatory approaches have been applied to e-gambling, due to its unique characteristics. The EU, for example, extracts this area from the regulatory framework for e-commerce, taxation, and e-money, and leaves it up to member states to regulate it. The sensitivity of this area and its interrelation with public policy, morals, the protection of minors, and cybersecurity criminal matters made an argument that regulation of e-gambling is more suitable to be conducted on national level according to each country’s political and social background. However, the interest of the global community for this issue is growing from year to year and even the EU has started to intervene on soft manner with various broad policy documents.

The economic aspects of Internet and electronic communications, broadly speaking, have pushed the liberalisation forces in these markets and have represented the foundations for the concept of a new market specific to the digital world. Even though a digital market is an excellent opportunity for economic growth, it brings with itself a number of regulatory challenges, especially with regard to competition issues. One of the current debates that is strongly related to the area of competition law, but in the same time net neutrality, entrepreneurship, content diversity, and freedom of expression is the ‘zero-rating’ pricing mechanism offered by some mobile telecom providers. Read more on Network neutrality and zero-rating.

Finally, according to the UNCTAD Information Economy Report 2015, the global business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce is valued at about US $1.2 trillion, while the business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce is estimated at more than US $15 trillion. The report also notes that B2B electronic commerce is growing faster, especially in Asia and Africa.

Events

Actors

(UNCTAD)

UNCTAD is very active in the field of e-commerce.

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UNCTAD is very active in the field of e-commerce. It assists developing countries in developing e-commerce legislation, through its e-Commerce and Law Reform Programme. The entity has launched the eTrade for All initiative, aimed to improving the ability of developing countries to use and benefit from e-commerce.  As part of its ICT Policy Review Programme, UNCTAD undertakes reviews, research, and analysis on e-commerce-related issues. It also reviews national policies and provides policy advice to countries on areas such as developing e-commerce strategies and devising measures to strengthen e-commerce. UNCTAD holds an annual E-Commerce Week, featuring events focusing on specific policy areas of e-commerce.

(OECD)

Convergence is one of the digital policy issues that the OECD is paying attention to, especially in relation t

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Convergence is one of the digital policy issues that the OECD is paying attention to, especially in relation to the challenges this phenomenon brings on traditional markets, and the need for adequate policy and regulatory frameworks to address them. In 2008, the organisation issued a set of policy guidelines for regulators to take into account when addressing challenges posed by convergence. In 2016, a report issued in preparation for the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy included new recommendations for policy-makers. Digital convergence issues have been on the agenda of OECD Ministerial meetings since 2008, and are also tackled in the regular OECD Digital Economy Outlook report.

(WTO)

The WTO has played a key role in the liberalisation of the telecommunications markets worldwide, thr

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The WTO has played a key role in the liberalisation of the telecommunications markets worldwide, through the Fourth Protocol to the General Agreement on Trade in ServicesIssued related to trade in telecommunications services are tackled in the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which, in addition to principles applicable to trade in all services, also contains an Annex on telecommunications. The organisation has also elaborated a Reference Paper which includes a set of regulatory principles that are legally binding for WTO members which commit to it. Telecommunications are also included in the WTO services negotiations. Many WTO members have made commitments to facilitate such trade and to extend competition in basic telecommunications.

(ITC)

ITC’s activities in the area of

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ITC’s activities in the area of e-commerce are focused on assisting enterprises, in particular small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in acquiring the necessary skills and capabilities to trade on e-commerce channels. It has developed an e-Solutions Programme, which provides enterprises with access to a platform of shared technologies and services, including access to international payment solutions and logistics. A Virtual Market Place project aims to strengthen the skills of SMEs in the Middle East and North Africa region to effectively use new technologies to enhance their visibility on international markets. The Centre also offers e-learning programmes and produces publications related to e-commerce.

(EC)

The

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The Digital Single Market is a Commission strategy to remove barriers to online trade within the European market. The strategy aims at boosting the digital industry by creating an enabling environment for innovation. Other aspects of the strategy are advancing research, investing in networks and technology, building the European data economy, and improving connectivity and access. Other digital economy issues that the Commission focuses on, through policies and guidance, include the collaborative economy, online gambling, and the next generation Internet. The Commission also publishes the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), evaluating the performance of the EU and its member states in digital competitiveness.

(World Bank)

As part of its World Development Report series, the World Bank published the 

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As part of its World Development Report series, the World Bank published the Digital Dividends Report in 2016, arguing that the Internet does not automatically bring about benefits for society. Policy, education, and much more are needed in order to ensure that the Internet has a positive impact on society. The Bank has done further work on the link between broadband and economic growth in different countries. It has also launched country-specific initiatives aimed at fostering the evolution of the digital economy at a national level, one example being the Developing the Digital Economy in Russia initiative.

Instruments

Conventions

Resolutions & Declarations

Wuzhen World Internet Conference Declaration (2015)

Other Instruments

Resources

Africa goes digital: Leaving no one behind (2018)

Articles

How the Sharing Economy can Make its Case (2015)
Taxation and Today's Digital Economy (2015)

Publications

Internet Governance Acronym Glossary (2015)
The Economics of Zero Rating (2015)
An Introduction to Internet Governance (2014)

Papers

The Sharing Economy: Reports from Stage One (2015)
Personal Data Storage in Russia (2015)
Zero-Rating: Kick-Starting Internet Ecosystems in Developing Countries (2015)
In Search of a Competition Doctrine for Information Technology Markets: Recent Antitrust Developments in the Online Sector (2014)
Communications and Competition Law: Key Issues in the Telecoms, Media and Technology Sectors (2014)
Comparative Analysis on National Approaches to the Liability of Internet Intermediaries for Infringement of Copyright and Related Rights (2014)
Cloud computing from EU Competition Law Perspective (2013)
Is EU Competition Policy an Obstacle to Innovation and Growth? (2011)
Antitrust Issues In Network Industries (2008)
Study on the Economic Impact of the Electronic Commerce Directive (2007)
Competition in the Software Industry: the Interface between Antitrust and Intellectual Property Law (1999)

Reports

Global Information Technology Report 2016 (2016)
Enabling Growth and Innovation in the Digital Economy (2016)
One Internet (2016)
The 2016 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (2016)
The Economic Impact of Rural Broadband (2016)
World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends (2016)
Addressing the Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy (2015)
The Sharing Economy and the Competition and Consumer Act (2015)
OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2015 (2015)
Country Factsheets for the Digital Single Market (2015)
Information Economy Report 2015 - Unlocking the Potential of E-commerce for Developing Countries (2015)
The Global Information Technology Report 2015: ICTs for Inclusive Growth (2015)
Commission Expert Group on Taxation of the Digital Economy (2014)
Consumer Market Study on the Functioning of E-commerce and Internet Marketing and Selling Techniques in the Retail of Goods (2011)
Summary of the Results of the Public Consultation on the Future of Electronic Commerce in the Internal Market and the Implementation of the Directive on Electronic Commerce (2000/31/EC)
Cyberlaws and Regulations for Enhancing E-commerce: Case studies and Lessons Learned

GIP event reports

Protecting human rights in public policy: What role for business? (2018)
Blockchains for Sustainable Development (2018)
The Global i-Guides Meeting: How the Online Investment Guides Can Help Promote and Facilitate Investment (2018)
Investment and the Digital Economy (2018)
Global Leaders Investment Summit I: Investment in a new era of globalization (2018)
Sustainable technology-enabled trade and a more inclusive trading system - Small state, ACP States, LDC and SSA perspective (2018)
Inclusive trade and new technologies: Challanges for African countries (2018)
The rise of digital: tech and the changing nature of value added (2018)
The digitisation of SMEs and their role in shaping future trade (2018)
Leveraging technology to support SMEs in LDCs: Opportunities and challenges (2018)
Digital Trade and Cyber Security: Catalysts for Development? (2018)
Digital trade - Global anarchy or revival of rule-based world order? (2018)
Data localisation: Balancing trade disciplines and national policy objectives (2018)
Blockchain and the future of trade: fostering sustainability and inclusiveness through innovative distributed ledger technologies (2018)
Will technology help developing countries have easier access to trade finance (2018)
The great connector: Digital trade policy as a path to a comprehensive framework for multilateral regulations of trade and socio-economic development (2018)
Shaping an intelligent tech & trade initiative – ITTI Driving AI-trade interactions to boost global prosperity (2018)
How e-commerce will drive inclusivity and become a profitable reality for SMEs & MSMEs by 2030 (2018)
How can WTO contribute to ensure that technology enables trade in goods and services in 2030 and beyond? Is the e-commerce multilateral initiative the right solution? (2018)
A workers' agenda for e-commerce (2018)
Technology for trade and agriculture: Unleashing agriculture global value chains' (GVCs) potential in OIC member countries (2018)
Opening Plenary Debate (2018)
Report on the Forum of Business and Human Rights (2018)
Platform and Data Neutrality – Access to Content (2018)
Competition in a Data-driven World: How to Ensure Sustainable Growth? (2018)
EBU Big Data Conference: The discussions during Day 2 (2018)
EBU Big Data Conference: The discussions during Day 1 (2018)
The Future of Work (2017)
E-Caravan for Peace: Promoting E-commerce in Conflict and Post-conflict Situations’ (2017)
Launch of the Information Economy Report 2017 (2017)
Key-note Speech of Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg (2017)
International Trade Agreements and Internet Governance (2017)
How the Digital Revolution Changes Our Work Life (2017)
Domain Names Innovation and Competition (2017)
Can E-commerce Trade Rules Help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Developing Countries? (2017)
Supporting the Involvement of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in E-Commerce (2017)
Youth Employment in the Digital Economy (2017)
Special Session on Assessing eTrade Readiness of the Least Developed Countries (2017)
Global Survey of Internet User Perceptions (2017)
The Organization of Work and Production (2017)
The Governance of Work (2017)
ICANN58: Joint Meeting ICANN Board & Customer Standing Committee (2017)
Report for Briefing for Heads of Missions: Digital Policy in South Eastern Europe (2017)
Report for Think Tank Talk - The Uberisation of the Labour Market (2017)
Report for World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017 (2017)

Other resources

Internet of Things: Antitrust Concerns in the Pipeline? (2016)
Uber and the economic impact of sharing economy platforms (2016)
Zero-rated Internet Services: What is to be Done? (2015)
Policy Brief: Access’ position on zero rating schemes (2015)
The Real Threat to the Open Internet is Zero-Rated Content (2014)
New Rules and Regulations on IT and Fair Competition (2011)

Processes

Click on the ( + ) sign to expand each day.

UNCTAD 2018

WSIS Forum 2018

12th IGF 2017

WTO Public Forum 2017

WSIS Forum 2017

IGF 2016

WTO Public Forum 2016

WSIS Forum 2016

WSIS10HL

IGF 2015

IGF 2016 Report

 

Discussions at IGF 2016 brought into focus recently agreed trade agreements. One aspect was that negotiations were criticised due to their lack of transparency and openness. At the same time, some speakers argued that although some negotiations were secretive, this does not make evil (Main session on Trade Agreements and the Internet).

Recent e-commerce trends were also discussed in the context of other areas, most notably development. The app economy, overt-the-top services (OTT) services (Internet Fragmentation: Getting Next 4 Billion Online - WS37), new industry requirements (Digital Economy and the Future of Work - WS34), and high costs of access are posing challenges for developing countries. Despite the challenges, many developments carry a strong potential for developing countries, including the Internet of Things, the creation of new (skilled) jobs, and new revenue streams. Stronger protection for human rights, improved policies for affordability and access, and better access to scientific knowledge (The Internet and ESCRs: Working From Experience to Policy - WS90), are some of the developments that can help countries reap the benefits of the Internet economy.

WSIS Forum 2016 Report

 

Several sessions at the WSIS Forum underlined the fact that ICTs are an effective tool for raising productivity, improving access to consumers and suppliers, and connecting least developed countries (LDCs) to the global value chain.  How the Internet Enables Sustainable Development: Incorporating Data-Driven Policies to Measure Impact (session 149) referred to the mobile revolution, the importance of accountability at governmental level, and the need to foster private-public partnerships at national and international levels. ICT4SDG: Digital Economy for Development (session 179) shared best practices for economic development and inclusion, and highlighted the potential opportunities for engagement mainly through advertising and marketing, education, and entertainment. In a session dedicated to the postal network - Putting Public Assets to Work (session 159 ) - panellists discussed the role that the postal network can play in linking the physical world with the digital world, and in addressing issues such as financial inclusion. 

 

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