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Data Protection in the balance – EU Citizen Protection and Innovation

In the wake of the European Parliament elections, stakeholders and commentators have been reflecting on the likely impact on important dossiers they follow.  On data protection, we are pleased to welcome the reelection of the rapporteur, Jean-Philipp Albrecht, as well as key players Axel Voss and Timothy Kirkhope.  At the same time, we are sad to see Dimitrios Droutsas, Alexander Alvaro and Baroness Ludford leave the Parliament.

As the Parliament looks to organize itself following the election, work proceeds at full speed in the Council.  On Thursday and Friday this week, Justice and Home Affairs Ministers meet at the JHA Council to discuss the draft Data Protection Regulation.  Important topics on the table include the one-stop shop mechanism, international data transfer, profiling and the relationship between the data controller and processor.  All of these are essential issues to get right if we want to have a world-class framework that protects citizens and enables innovation.  In the video below, please see my perspective on the key issues in the draft Regulation.


Statement of Jeff Campbell on U.S. Federal Communications Commission Decision on Open Internet Proceeding

Today’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission marks an important milestone in the effort to develop appropriate rules for an open Internet.  We at Cisco strongly favor a balanced approach that at once protects end users and content providers from unwarranted blocking, as well as drives innovation inside the network by allowing new technology and business models to be deployed without onerous regulation.

We strongly oppose efforts to impose Title II telephone regulation on broadband.  The vibrant broadband market that we have today is the result of sound past decisions that have avoided placing the heavy hand of regulation on the Internet.

Cisco’s Visual Networking Index shows that the challenges of managing ever-growing amounts of Internet data traffic are just going to increase.  Our country needs policies that will drive new investment in broadband networks, not deter it.

It is important that the FCC recognizes the importance of all parts of the Internet ecosystem, helping to ensure that innovation will thrive.

Cisco stands ready to work with policymakers to achieve the right balance.

European Cybersecurity Policy Priorities

As an Internet society we are generating digital information at an exponential rate. It’s coming from more devices that are more connected than ever and getting smarter all the time.  Next year we will hit the zettabyte era – that’s 1000 exabytes of IP traffic each year, the equivalent of 36 million years of HD video.  By 2017, there will be almost three times as many devices as people on Earth.

As we increasingly rely on more and more elements of our world becoming connected, it is natural that there are growing concerns over keeping society safe and secure – it’s in the interest of both government and the private sector to make sure we can rely on these connections, that we trust them and can maximize the opportunities they present us.

Today will be the third plenary meeting of the NIS Platform – the EU’s public private partnership for cyber security.

It’s one of many ways that we can work together with other stakeholders to stay ahead of the game.  The European Commission has designed its own approach via the European Cybersecurity Strategy and by drafting the first pan-European legislation on cybersecurity, the Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive.  As the legislative discussion heats up in the Council, I have outlined Cisco’s perspective on this important issue in this short video:



Global IT Report Identifies Key Policies for the Internet of Everything

Note: The full report can be found here as well as chapter 1.2, “The Internet of Everything: How the Network Unleashes the Benefits of Big Data

The World Economic Forum launched the 2014 Global Information Technology Report (GITR) today, and the annual assessment provides insight into two questions: where will see the next evolution of the Internet take hold, and how can we as a society improve on Big Data?

The report includes the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), assessing 148 countries across 54 different indicators. Finland, Singapore and Sweden again top the NRI rankings, followed by the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland, with the US rising two spots to 7th. Hong Kong, the UK and Korea round out the top 10. Because the NRI comprehensively measures the level of information and communications technologies (ICTs) development in countries, it provides an early indication of where the next evolution of the Internet will first take hold: the Internet of Everything.

The Internet of Everything is the value from connecting devices, data, processes and people, underpinned by the ubiquity of Big Data applications. Countries leading in the NRI have the infrastructure and policy environment to facilitate the growth of the Internet of Everything. And the NRI also points to specific actions that countries need to take to improve their ICT infrastructure and business environment. While Big Data insights are creating tangible benefits for governments, businesses and citizens, there is more we can do to make Big Data even better by improving networks to facilitate Big Data, as well as addressing critical technology and policy challenges.

Big Data applications are all around us, improving the way we work, live, learn and play. In Spain for example, the municipal government of Barcelona is using data from connected devices and sensors to increase productivity and create jobs, improving the quality of life for all Barcelonés. Devices that remotely monitor water pressure and pipe leakage is saving $58 million per year; Internet Protocol (IP) controlled street lights are reducing annual maintenance costs by one-third; revenue from remotely monitored parking is increasing revenue by $50 million and the data-driven economy has created 47,000 jobs over the last seven years not withstanding the economic crisis. In the private sector, businesses that apply Big Data analytics have experienced 26% improvement in business performance, and harvesting big data for decision-making can increase global corporate profits by 21%.

The ubiquity of Big Data applications is fueled by the fact that IP networks are connecting billions of physical devices and this accelerating volume of data is driven by four major trends:

  1. IP is fast becoming the common language for most data communication particularly for proprietary industrial networks.
  2. Previously unconnected places, people, things, and processes are connecting to networks bringing billions of people and devices online over the next five years.
  3. Existing physically stored information is being digitized in order to record and share previously analogue material, and the digital share of the world’s stored information has increased from 25 percent to over 98 percent over the last decade.
  4. The introduction of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) now removes the technical limit on the number of devices that can connect to the Internet, theoretically allowing for trillions of trillions (1038).

Improving the ability of IP networks to transmit data for processing, as well as enabling networks to create, analyze and act on data insights can accelerate the positive impact from Big Data. Building this capability will require improving network infrastructure, enhancing analytical capabilities and ‘intelligence’ in the network with distributed computing.

There are however, several critical challenges that need to be addressed because these technical and policy issues can either accelerate, or impede, the positive impact of big data analysis as part of the Internet of Everything.

Policy and Technical Issues

For example, robust industry standards are needed for interoperability and economies of scale.  While there are different requirements for critical networks, such as utilities that are closed, and networks connected to the open Internet (for example, those that monitor parking space availability), common standards will allow information to be exchanged within, and among, these networks as needed and appropriate.

Similarly, policymakers must also identify the appropriate balance between protecting the privacy of individuals’ data and allowing for innovation in service delivery and product development. And robust security is needed to reliably prevent hacking and access by unauthorized and unwanted users. In order to ensure a healthy ecosystem where users, consumers, and businesses feel safe in engaging in Big Data activities, network security is essential.

Careful radio spectrum planning is needed to enable wireless machine-to-machine (M2M), as well as people-to-people (P2P) and people-to-machine (P2M), connectivity. Spectrum requirements are going to be heterogeneous and will include narrowband and broadband; short haul and long haul; continuous data transmission and short bursts of data; and licensed spectrum as well as license-exempt spectrum.

These and other technical and policy issues require careful consideration and are discussed further in chapter 1.2, of the 2014 GITR. How the global community tackles these challenges will go far in determining Big Data’s impact on countries, businesses and individuals.

Roadmap for Additional Discussion on Net Neutrality in Europe

As consideration of the Net Neutrality legislation in Europe moves to the next phase, it is important that policymakers reflect on two real-world issues that were not fully resolved in the debate in the European Parliament.  These include whether networks under the currently proposed framework can handle the projected growth in fixed and mobile network traffic; and whether the proposal will hinder or help innovation, particularly as it relates to specialized services.  These are critical issues given the technology and traffic trends that exist today.

The simple truth is that the ICT industry is fast-paced and ever changing, with new technologies and innovations brought to market every day.  Just think:  in less than a decade, smartphones, tablets and apps have gone from nowhere to being nearly ubiquitous.  Where will we be five years from now, when a new generation of technology unfolds?

One thing that we’re confident about of is that network traffic is going to increase dramatically over  time, placing strains on fixed and mobile networks alike. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, IP traffic in Western Europe will increase from 7.7 exabytes per month in 2012 to 16.8 exabytes per month by 2017, at a compound annual growth rate of 17 percent  (16.8 exabytes is the equivalent of 4 billion DVDs’ worth of traffic.).  Mobile traffic alone will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 50% every year for the next five years – to an astounding 1.9 million terabytes a month.

Given this dramatic growth, it’s imperative that policymakers put rules in place that encourage innovation and job creation, as well as reasonable resource management functionality to prevent traffic jams that will degrade the quality that consumers have come to expect.  However, we are concerned that the Net Neutrality proposal voted today raises significant technical and implementation issues, and risks hampering the very innovation that we would all like to see encouraged.

To be sure, Cisco is supportive of the European Commission’s efforts to provide legislative safeguards for an open, global Internet, as part of its broader “Connected Continent” package.  No doubt content and services should reach users without being blocked, throttled or degraded by internet service providers (ISPs) managing internet traffic on their networks. Cisco supports this wholeheartedly, in Europe and elsewhere.

Moreover, we share the Commission’s view that it is better to anchor these safeguards in European-wide legislation, avoiding a patchwork quilt of different, and potentially contradictory, national laws.

But at the same time, we believe the current proposal needs additional discussion in two key areas:First, the proposal does not do enough to distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable forms of network traffic management.  With the growth of network traffic described above, and the coming avalanche of video, real-time communications and other next-generation applications that consumers are demanding, it should be clear that traffic management is an essential set of tools that are vital for a fully functioning internet. The ‘all bits are created equal’ approach oversimplifies the realities of modern networks.  Therefore, policymakers should do more to draw a bright line between the unreasonable blocking that no one wants, and the necessary traffic management techniques that ensure the fast, reliable and scalable networks that we all rely on, and need as consumers.

Second, there is also a need to clarify which tailored services can be offered alongside the open Internet, what the Commission’s proposal categorizes as ‘specialized services’.  A new wave of technological innovation is coming, with the advent of the Internet of Everything (IoE) that connects people, process, data and things.  Cisco estimates that the IoE holds some $19 trillion of value over the next ten years.  This includes consumer products as small as Fitbits and Nest Thermostats to industrial applications as large as connected grids, improved transportation management, and technologies that prevent oil and gas pollution from pipelines.   The common thread is that there will be increased need for network resource management tools to handle the anticipated 50 billion connected devices, with all the data they produce.But here is the challenge:  the definition of ‘specialized’ services voted in the European Parliament today attempts to define this category in a very narrow and technology prescriptive way. This limited definition introduces additional complexity and cost burden for no clear benefit, and will soon be obsolete as innovation drives technology forward.

In contrast, we believe that any definition for specialized services should open up, rather than close off, potential paths to future digital innovation.  We need to ask ourselves a simple question:  will the current proposal have the unintended consequence of rolling back services that internet users have come to expect and rely on? If a consumer or a business chooses a video conference or TelePresence service with a guarantee of quality because they need to connect with the highest quality resolution, will this still be allowed? Is the definition sufficiently flexible and future proof to make sure there is room for future innovation –from IPTV to e-health, from Software Defined Networking (SDN) to the Internet of Everything?

So as this legislation moves closer to final adoption, we urge policymakers to take another look at these issues, and take into account the very real trends in network traffic and technological innovation.

We all want an open Internet, and the issues at stake are of crucial importance for the future digital economy of Europe. Let’s address the prevention of potential bad behavior, while making sure the remedy we put in place does not produce unforeseen and unintended effects on consumers and innovation down the road.

Pastora Valero is Director Governments Affairs EMEAR based in Brussels