The world’s leading digital media and regulatory policy journal

Recent stories and upcoming IIC events

A round up of news compiled with policymakers in mind. In this issue, the EU’s white paper on digital infrastructure, AI’s impact on jobs, an FTC inquiry into cloud providers and Apple’s gargantuan fine. Plus all the upcoming IIC events.
Draft policy for ‘future Digital Networks Act’
EU Commissioners Margarethe Vestager and Thierry Breton

The EU has published its long-awaited white paper on networks and infrastructure, How to master Europe’s digital infrastructure needs. The paper consists of a set of proposals designed to accelerate gigabit network deployment, coordinate spectrum allocation, create a single telecoms market and create a ‘level playing field’ between the telco and cloud sectors. The paper acknowledges the need for greater investment and identifies the fragmented European telecoms market as a ‘missed opportunity’. It envisages consolidation of networks across markets rather than in-market as preferred by telcos. Nonetheless, the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) broadly welcomed the paper, which focuses on increased infrastructure investment. There are also recommendations on the security of submarine cable infrastructure. The policy document is thought to be preparing the ground for a future Digital Networks Act and the European Commission is inviting comments via a consultation

The white paper, How to master Europe’s digital infrastructure needs can be downloaded here. The consultation closes on 30 June 2024.

Artificial intelligence
AI could exacerbate digital divide

Nearly 40 per cent of global employment is exposed to AI, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), rising to 60 per cent in developed economies. Using a new methodology, the analysis predicts that about half of these jobs will be affected negatively while the remainder could benefit from enhanced productivity through AI integration. The research suggests that, while many emerging and developing economies will be less exposed to immediate disruptions from AI, they are also in a weaker position to seize its advantages. This, says the IMF, could exacerbate the digital divide and cross-country income disparity. The full report can be downloaded here

OpenAI has claimed that a ban on the use of news and books to train models would doom the development of artificial intelligence. In a submission to the UK House of Lords the creator of Chat GPT said that ‘because copyright today covers virtually every sort of human expression – including blog posts, photographs, forum posts, scraps of software code and government documents – it would be impossible to train today’s leading AI models without using copyrighted materials.’ OpenAI is currently fighting legal action in the US over claims that it has illegally used content from book and news publishers.

New rules in Italy after influencer’s errors

Italy’s communications authority, AGCOM, has brought in stringent new rules to improve transparency on social media posts made by ‘influencers’. The decision follows a fine handed to Chiara Ferragni, a celebrity with nearly 30 million Instagram followers, by Italy’s competition agency over the lack of clarity in a Christmas charity initiative. Any advertising content posted will now need to be clearly labelled and recognisable as such. AGCOM said the rules will apply initially to influencers posting in Italian and working with Italian brands who have more than 1 million followers. Full story here.

FTC to investigate cloud providers

The US Federal Trade Commission has launched an inquiry into the partnerships between the Big Tech cloud providers and generative AI companies. The FTC is ‘seeking to build a better internal understanding’ of the networks of partnerships and investment that have emerged between the three big cloud providers – Google, Microsoft and Amazon – and AI start-ups OpenAI and Anthropic. The aim, said the Commission, is to establish whether or not the relationships pose a competitive risk. The UK’s  and EU’s competition regulators are also examining Microsoft’s investment into OpenAI.

‘Deterrent’ fine for Apple

Apple shares fell 3 per cent in a single day following news of the EU’s 1.84 billion euro fine on the company for restrictions on its App Store that disadvantaged music streaming rivals. The fine includes a deterrent lump sum that dwarfs the basic penalty of 40 million euros. The European Commission said that the restrictions constituted unfair trading conditions, an unusual argument in an antitrust case. It said that the 1.8 billion euro penalty amounted to 0.5 per cent of Apple’s annual turnover. The company is appealing the decision, with a ruling of the General Court in Luxembourg not expected for several years.

Mongolia satellite to expand high speed internet

The Mongolian government is in talks with SpaceX to launch the country’s first national telecommunications satellite, designed to improve connectivity and develop Mongolia’s ‘domestic space economy’. The satellite is being constructed by Thales Alenia Space and is expected to increase broadband internet access and improve Mongolia’s disaster management and emergency response. Last year the Mongolian government approved two licences for SpaceX to operate as an internet service provider for Starlink. The provider’s new services are expected to enable millions of users to access high speed internet services.

IIC Events

2 April 2024

IIC France Chapter inaugural meeting, Paris

23 April 2024

IIC MENA Chapter meeting, Manama, Bahrain

15-17 May 2024

Annual Latin America and Caribbean Forum, Panama City, Panama

21-22 October 2024

IIC Canada Chapter meeting, Ottawa

4-7 November 2024

Communications Policy and Regulation Week, Bangkok, Thailand

Details of all IIC events can be found here.

In brief

The governments of the UK and Australia have signed a memorandum of understanding designed to improve cooperation on online safety and security. The agreement commits the countries to work together on issues including illegal content, child safety and age assurance. It also envisages coordinated regulatory engagement, shared research projects and work with industry.

The AI boom is raising concerns over the water consumed by data centres. Researchers from the University of California suggest that demand for services powered by artificial intelligence would drive up water withdrawal to between 4.2 and 6.6 billion cubic metres by 2027.

Marsha Alleyne, Lynn Robinson and Allyson Leacock OR

Barbados Minister of Industry, Innovation Science and Technology Marsha Caddle gave the keynote speech at the inaugural IIC Caribbean Chapter meeting, held in Barbados on 4 March. The minister used the occasion to promise that the Barbadian public would be given a greater say on the country’s cybercrime bill. The event brought together policymakers from across the Caribbean with broadcasting, telecommunications, AI and data governance on the agenda.

Apple and Microsoft have won exemptions from new rules under the Digital Markets Act after appealing to competition regulators. Following a five-month investigation the European Commission found that iMessage, Bing, Edge and Microsoft Advertising ‘did not qualify as gatekeeper services’.

Apple will open up its tap-and-go mobile payment system to rivals, allowing third party providers to access the contactless function on its iOS operating system. The company is seeking a resolution to a case first brought in 2022, in which the European Commission had accused it of abusing its dominant position by blocking developers of rival payment apps from accessing the iPhone’s near-field communication technology.

The latest in a series of country reports from the Global Media and Internet Concentration Project have been published. The reports cover communications, media and internet concentration from 2019 to 2021 in France, Italy and South Korea. They can be downloaded at