The digital economy is transforming the way we do business and in fact how we live. All across the world people are using digital tools and technologies in all aspects of their lives. The digital market is one of the fastest expanding sectors in any economy and it is at the heart of the EU’s plan for the single market.
The European Union had a plan for the digital economy which mirrored it’s goal for trade between the member states. Despite being based around the internet there are still many barriers and restrictions for both people and businesses. The goal is to create a digital single market where restrictions and regulations are removed to encourage the development of the digital economy.
One of the goals is to improve access to digital goods and services. The problem is that this is not a seamless market, digital goods can be bought in one country and simply not accessible in another. Take for example the situation with media and online subscriptions, your Netflix subscription will vary in content depending on which physical location you happen to be.
Another relevant example is that of the BBC, all license fee payers are supposed to be able to access the online service run by the BBC. However if you read this article – How Do I Get the BBC iPlayer in France you’ll discover that in fact it is not accessible over the internet when you connect in France. It’s the same in any other European country, and perhaps best illustrates the problem. The fact that a digital product is only available depending on which country you’re in makes something of a mockery of the concept of a free market and movement.
The irony is that access to digital goods and services should be the least restrictive yet in facts it’s entirely the opposite. These restrictive rules and practices will only harm the development of the digital economy in the long run and they need rules and regulations which match the technology.
The hope is that there will be a new portability introduced into the single market. So you’ll be able to subscribe to a French subscription service and be able to access that content anywhere in Europe. At the moment it’s likely you’d have to pay for the initial subscription and then pay extra to access from another location or to use a change IP address service to get a French IP address when you were travelling.