The US and EU face many similar challenges in the digital age. We perceive this as a chance to shift the focus of their relationship toward more collaboration and proactive problem-solving which also addresses domestic issues on both sides of the Atlantic. Both parties can benefit if their cooperation embraces learning-based collaboration and a realization that their goals, values, and societies are more intertwined than ever.
1. How to balance data/privacy protection and innovation?
1.1. Transatlantic digital city partnership program
The US and EU share many common values. However, while the US embraces new technologies with excitement, German concerns, particularly on privacy issues, prevail. These sentiments do not apply universally to the entirety of either population. Our observations are rooted in developments of the past, such as the difficult adaption of disrupting platforms like Uber or Airbnb in Germany, which should be used for future guidance. Therefore, in order to help regulators and companies alike, the transatlantic digital city partnership will allow new technologies to be tested in real, societal structures on both sides of the Atlantic.
This program will build upon two existing models: 1) The city partnership model (one the states called sister cities) which is expanded to foster innovative exchange; and 2) The trial tech cities, which are extra built to test new technologies, however do not allow for real life infrastructure and people’s reactions.
During the trials, social scientists, entrepreneurs, and engineers will observe new technologies, through which they will address problems such as data security in a controlled and safe environment. The aforementioned test runs will create best practices and regulations that do not restrict benefits for the user. This model presents a great way for companies on both sides of the Atlantic to test their innovations and operate within both markets without regulatory disruptions as well as establish relationships with their users and accounting for differences in the two trial cities. This model also provides huge societal benefits as well because it relies on real-life tests, fostering trust among collective citizenries in their assessment of products and services. This model also promises great opportunities for tourism.
When this is implemented, one can think of extra means which allow less regulations than in the rest of the country, making policy testing easier, such as: (1) Allowing for easier work visa acquisition or by (2) Allowing an auditing committee to study algorithms.
This program is by no means compulsory but rather a voluntary step where companies, regulators, scientists and citizens can come together. Citizens would have to approve democratically this city status.
1.2. Independent review agency for consumer protection.
This agency would guarantee the transparency of corporate data collection. This independent review agency should also have more transparent proceedings and certification criterion.
2. How can we regulate digital inventions proactively?
2.1. Decide on a list of universal principles.
New technologies, which disturb current ways of living and doing business, are coming out at greater speeds. As they do, we need to ensure we have policies in place that guarantee these technologies do not harm civil liberties as they disseminate. Therefore, we must decide on a list of universal principles, which determine if a new technology should be allowed widespread adoption and if so, specifies the parameters of their use. These principles can be large in scope to encapsulate a large variety of new inventions and promote innovation.
3. How to facilitate digital trade?
3.1. Building on the proposed eVat package plan of the EU.
We recommend putting similar simplifications for vat regulations in place for transatlantic trade relations (e.g. using one stop shop as standard); the easier vat regulations are, the easier it is for entrepreneurs to profit from e-commerce chances.
4. How to harmonize data protection between the EU and the US?
4.1. The new US administration presents an opportunity to resume a substantive dialogue with the EU regarding the privacy versus security debate.
The EU, which boasts the world’s most progressive regulations on data protection, may need to re-examine existing policy in the wake of the refugee crisis and increased threat of terrorist attacks. Timely intelligence sharing is a critical enabler in combating this phenomenon, particularly in identifying networks via communications analysis. However, the increased prevalence of internet-based communication on a global scale presupposes a shift in antiquated legislation on both sides of the Atlantic. We propose a joint US-EU data summit, in which government and private-sector entities can examine a future agreement through a security-based lens.
5. How to address online hate speech?
5.1. Develop common standards for censoring hate speech.
If such standards are impossible to achieve, set barriers along the lines of country of usage. This could be the basis for a digital constitution. Where such regulation already exists, it should be investigated why these standards are not enforced.
Jill Beytin is originally from San Francisco and studies Public Policy at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. She has a passion for radio and worked as an intern at NPR Berlin and Deutsche Welle in Washington, D.C.
Caleb Larson is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy with a specialization in Conflict Studies and Management at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy in Erfurt Germany. He holds a BA in History from UCLA.
Nina Maturu is a business strategist, who holds an MBA and Master in Public Policy from the University of Michigan.
Julia Schuetze is a Euromaster Transatlantic Track student and a working student at Wikimedia Deutschland e.V.
Major Jake Sotiriadis, USAF, is pursuing a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. He holds a M.A. in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a M.Phil. in Military Strategy from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies.
Ingmar Sturm is a graduate student of international relations at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. Next to his studies he teaches refugees in math and works for his NGO “Island Ark Project” to help climate refugees.
Inga Trauthig is working as a political consultant in Berlin after earning her Mlitt in Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Caucasus Security Studies from the University of St. Andrews.