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EU IT Openness

Author: Glyn Moody
Published Date: 29 September 2011

By Glyn Moody

Last week I went along to OpenForum Europe, where I had been invited to give a short talk as part of a panel on “Tackling “Societal Challenges” through Openness”. Despite my attendance, the conference had some impressive speakers, including the European Commission's Neelie Kroes and Google's Hal Varian.

Unfortunately, I missed both of these because I was still travelling then, but fortunately, the ever-efficient European Commission machine has put Kroes' speech online.

This began with some comments about standards:

In all sectors, standards and standardisation drive competitiveness, promote innovation, and benefit consumers through competition. Standards are indispensable for openness, freedom and choice.

Likewise in the ICT sector, having the right standard-setting procedures and interoperability rules creates the level playing field needed for all parts of the machine to fit together: devices, applications, data repositories, services and networks.

Remember that the ICT revolution would not be what it is without the standards and protocols which underpin the Internet. In principle every node on the Internet can communicate with every other, using the same language; and without that, the Internet wouldn't much resemble the phenomenal engine of innovation that it is. We need to bear that in mind when thinking about the many new possibilities out there - public services from e-government to e-identification, applications from health to transport, innovations from the Internet of Things to cloud computing. Because if we are to unlock the power of any of these new developments, then we need to ensure that these technologies too are built on the philosophy of shared standards, so that within these new systems there is co-operation and interaction, just as there is between nodes on the Internet.

At first sight, that sounds like good stuff: “Standards are indispensable for openness, freedom and choice”,“level playing field” etc. But, of course, this begs the question of what is meant by “standards”. Unfortunately, the European Commission answered that question with the atrocious European Interoperability Framework 2.0, which I've written about in detail before. Even more unfortunately, Kroes trivialises what was at stake there. 

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This item was originally posted on ComputerWorldUK.