Tal vid seminarium i Bryssel om behovet av en digital inre marknad

Den 25 januari medverkade förbundsdirektör Anne-Marie Fransson vid ett seminarium i EU-parlamentet. Arrangörer var Telenor och deltog gjorde även IT-minister Anna-Karin Hatt. Seminariet, som riktade sig till parlamentsledamöterna, handlade om laglig nedladdning och behovet av en digital inre marknad.

Ta del av Anne-Marie Franssons tal här. Anna-Karin Hatts tal återfinns på regeringen.se.


European Parliament 25 januari 2011
Anne-Marie Fransson, förbundsdirektör, IT&Telekomföretagen inom Almega

The digital climate in Sweden

Check against delivery.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Several developments have initiated the need of new business models: The possibilities created by digitization, the Internet and its increased spreading around the world, a never ending development of new services, new technology such as hand held devices, a consumer interest of acquiring access to content. Old business models, built upon physical delivery and presence, analogue rather than digital storage and presentation, and deteriorating quality when storing or copying content are increasingly not accepted by consumers. That is why the subject of this meeting is important. I am grateful to the organizers for giving me the opportunity to discuss some of the important issues on this topic from a Swedish point of view.

Sweden has been, and is, acclaimed for being early adopters of new technology and services. Nine out of ten families have Internet access at home. The Ipad and smartphones have quickly reached a high level of usage; every second mobile bought in Sweden is a smartphone. And the technology is limitless. TV, music, films can all be viewed in these terminals. Consumers, specifically the front runners, have less respect for technical or commercial problems. The demand for new and better services is increasing continuously. And if the possibility is there, there will be providers.

But there are two market segments that are moving slower than others: the public sector and the cultural sector. The first, being unused to think in terms of customers, has major cultural and regulative obstacles to overcome. The latter is reluctant to move because major commercial forces are challenged.

Nevertheless, the Swedish digital climate is perhaps hotter than ever. Let me give some examples.

• All the major operators are investing heavily in IP-TV, 4G technology and fiber.
• Skype, Spotify and Voddler are Swedish innovations, and the somewhat notorious Pirate Bay, is – or was – a Swedish business innovation.
• Several legislative issues have created a hot and intense debate, even creating the Pirate party. Although in the last election it failed to get into parliament, it has been a force to put information technology on the political agenda, and has also succeeded in getting two members into the European Parliament.
• Sweden was very early in moving to digital TV and submitting the 800 megaherz band to electronic communication services. And there is pressure to have more spectrum available for commercial use, primarily military frequencies where some 40 % are planned to be moved to civil usage, but also the 700 megaherz band is discussed.
• The Swedish Film Institute, often cosponsoring Swedish commercial films, is discussing to allow parallel first showings in traditional cinemas and on Internet; something that the commercial film business and cinema owners are opposed to.

To take full advantage of this development, I consider it crucial that agreements and regulations on content are modernized. It implies that we must meet, discuss and find solutions to the challenges. This does not imply that content providers should give up their rights; it does not imply that usage should be free; but it does imply that the content owners should get a fair piece of the cake, and it does imply that status quo will not survive in the long run. I am convinced that the absolute majority of users are law abiding citizens. Most people realize that without payment, the content providers will stop provide content.

In these discussions, aiming at modernizing the environment for content based digital services, some issues must be on the table.

• Copyright levies. The method for paying royalty to rights owners by having an extra charge on digital technology products is outdated. For one, the methodology and regulation is different in every EU country, forcing the companies to negotiate in 27 different countries. Secondly, it is somewhat strange that this taxation is outsourced to a private agency, in Sweden Copyswede. Thirdly, more confusing is the interpretation of what type of products that can be taxed. Previously, products intended for storing music, film etc where the target. This has now been expanded by the content owners organization to include external disc drives and USB memories- even mobile phones are sometimes discussed. And fourthly, today legally accessed content has already been payed for by the consumer, so the levy creates a double taxation. Finally andfifthly, Copyswede intends to enforce the levy on these products without an agreement, but unilaterally. This is not acceptable.
• Basic principles on court trials must apply, and it must be realized that access to the Internet in today´s society is as crucial as freedom of speech. Ideas such as “three strikes and out” are not acceptable.
• “Mere conduit”, or the principle of “messenger neutrality”. Strong forces on the content proving side are pressing for regulation, making the internet service providers and operators responsible for the content transported in their networks. Network providers are thus asked to check everything transmitted to certify that it is not illegal in a commercial sense.How this should be done in practice, that is one issue, highly unclear. The effects on operator competition, specifically the requirements put upon smaller newcomers competing with the incumbents, is another controversial issue.
• Privacy. The digital society provides several ways of intruding on the privacy of individuals and households. This is, and even more has been, a major question. By demand of court, operators are obliged to provide content owners with IP addresses when illegal filesharing is suspected. The Ministry of Justice is considering to ease the requirements for police to get access to privacy sensitive information from ISP:s and telcos. There are several more examples of privacy intruding. In Germany, research has shown that users are getting more reluctant to use electronic communications for this reason. If this expands, it will be contra productive for society as a whole.

We believe in open, neutral networks. But we would like to have more discussions on the subject. What does an open and neutral network actually mean? For quality of service reasons, operators must be given the right to give certain services priority. Under what circumstances is it acceptable to prohibit IP telephony?

Let me summarize the position of the Swedish IT and telecom industry in the ongoing process of changing the conditions for content based services:

1. Privacy must be held high. Before compromising privacy, much thought must be given to long run consequences and that it does not erode the overall position of privacy.
2. Content owners must have the right to fair and commercially reasonable compensation. But the meaning of this is, and must of course be, open to discussions with service providers and developers.
3. Basic regulations, such as IPR and copyright levies, must be modernized, with compensation for the actual content rather than by means of taxing various hardware, and reasonable time frames for IPR.
4. The basic principles of modern society, having courts of justice and police responsible for legal matters (and not private and/or commercial organizations) must be the base.
5. The “eSociety” must be looked upon as a possibility, not a problem, in order to provide more access to content and more freedom for consumers.

Thank you for your attention.