Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Merry.... merry .... merry

Digital Europe workshop on Cloud standards

Last week I had the honour and the pleasure of being a speaker at a workshop on Cloud standards organised and hosted by Digital Europe. We were three in the panel with Ken Ducatel from the European Commission (DG CONNECT), John Higgins (Director of Digital Europe) and myself.

This workshop was the first in a series of Cloud workshops organised by Digital Europe and triggered by the EU Communication on the Cloud Strategy for Europe.

I should say that as speakers we were pretty much aligned on one key topic: The work currently starting around ETSI of mapping the standardisation landscape in Cloud
  • is coordination work on ETSI's side only, 
  • should be totally open and transparent, 
  • and should not require signing any agreement that contributors agree to ETSI's IPR policy or so.
I had prepared a deck as guidance for my contribution and as handout to the audience. I just uploaded it on slideshare - all the major other points I made are in there so I save the typing here... 

There was a good discussion during the event which was all-in-all very good - a good start for the series. Congratulations to Digital Europe.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Digital Europe position on the ITU discussions around internet governance

Following up from my last blog post on the Dubai meeting of the ITU where the proposals are discussed that ITU should play a stronger role around regulating the internet and around internet standardisation, I would like to point at the statement from Digital Europe issued in a press release recently.

Digital Europe urges the governments - who are the members of ITU with voting rights - to refrain from taking, as it were, a grip at the internet and to support the distributed multi-stakeholder approach that has been successful for years, instead. Along these lines Digital Europe drew up 8 concrete recommendations for the governments to take into account:
  • "DIGITALEUROPE deems it critical to preserve the global multi-stakeholder, market-based and decentralized nature of internet governance. This will ensure that the substantial benefits already gained will be maintained and reinforced.
  • "DIGITALEUROPE believes the revision of the ITRs is an opportunity to enshrine high-level principles of international telecommunications which have underpinned the success of telecommunications liberalisation.
  • "The ITRs should emphasise policy approaches that promote telecommunications liberalisation by introducing competition overseen by independent regulators, focusing on private sector leadership and relying upon market based agreements for telecommunications services.
  • "DIGITALEUROPE believes the scope of the ITRs should not be expanded to cover more entities or organisations.
  • "DIGITALEUROPE believes the ITRs should not be revised in a way that grants the ITU authority over the internet or develops an international regulatory treaty for the internet.
  • "DIGITALEUROPE does not support mandating ITU Recommendations in the ITRs; rather ITRs should enshrine a commitment to open, voluntary industry standards.
  • "DIGITALEUROPE believes proposals or mandates that would effectively mean regulating internet interconnect should be rejected: they run the serious risk of fragmenting the internet, cutting off the developing world from internet content and thereby widening the digital divide.
  • "DIGITALEUROPE recognises that genuine concerns about online criminal activity are being raised within the ITU. However, DIGITALEUROPE believes it would be more effective for governments to take these concerns through more targeted actions and on-going initiatives to promote international cooperation on cyber-security, rather than through an international telecommunications treaty. "
  Meanwhile also the press is full of articles on the Dubai meeting of ITU and on the discussion around control of the internet. Just use your favourite search engine and type in "ITU Dubai internet" and you will get a long list of links for articles and comments available online. Not all of them are good and neutral - but I am sure all of you will be able to apply a text critical approach. Definitely an interesting discussion that deserves to be followed by all of us who use the internet on a daily basis - and who benefit from it in multiple ways.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Relevant Link of today: Cold war about the internet

There is an interesting article in the online edition of the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel titled  "Kalter Krieg ums Internet" (Cold War about the Internet). What may sound like a sexy title is, in fact, a report on the current ITU summit in Dubai where ITU's claims to be responsible for internet standardisation and administration and to go for a (hostile?) take over of work from IETF, ICANN, perhaps others like W3C, IEEE etc., are discussed.

According to the author of the article, the debate is about who controls the internet - about power with a threat to the openness and the freedom of the internet.

Against the background of this discussion and the claims from ITU, a number of global standards development organisations had published some principles under the name of OpenStand as the paradigm for "mondern standards development".

Monday, 26 November 2012

Final version of the EU Regulation on Standardisation published in OJ as Multi-Stakeholder work progresses

I am awfully late with this post. My excuse: it all happened when I was travelling two weeks ago and when I was simply too busy and distracted for typing blog posts...

Nonetheless, it's great news: The final version of the EU Regulation as approved by the European Parliament and the Council has now formally been published by the European Commission in the Official Journal (OJ). It is openly available and can freely be downloaded from the OJ.

Again, congratulations to the Commission and to Parliament and Council for this wise final version. It is marks an evolutionary progress in Europe in the area of standardisation. Its major novelty is the way how to deal with and integrate global ICT specifications into the European standardisation system in order to make best use of them.

Meanwhile also the second meeting of the ICT Multi-Stakeholder platform took place - already four weeks ago. It was the first meeting after agreement on the final version of the Regulation was reached. Hence the first meeting when the opportunity of identifying global ICT specifications from fora/consortia is given.

Consequently, the Platform discussed the procedure for identifying fora/consortia specs and for assessing them against the requirements and criteria in Annex II. Before fixing a clear process for doing the assessment the Platform agreed to start a test balloon with four specifications: XML (W3C); Ecma script (Ecma international); 802.11 (IEEE); and IPv6 (IETF); the specifications from Ecma and IEEE are looked at with extensions and updates, respectively, that are not part of the version approved by ISO. As a first step four sub-groups of the Platform have been formed to gather the basic information and, in a second step, to produce a draft statement of advice for the Platform to debate and reach consensus on.

There had been a debate in the Platform on how to best structure and organise the work of making an assessment, i.e. of gathering information and producing a draft statement of advice. One or two organisations present in the Platform seemed, at least judging from their line of argumentation and from the phrases they used, to propose that single, ad-hoc groups are responsible for doing an entire assessment. This would be an inacceptable way of "divide and conquer" and would reduce transparency and the ability of the entire Platform to raise issues and participate in the consensus building on the final statement of advice.

To me it is unnegotiable that
  • the process of identifying and assessing fora/consortia specifications needs to be highly transparent at all times; 
  • each Platform member needs to have a fair chance to provide input on candidate specifications under review;
  •  time-lines need not be too long because we are serving a public interest, but long enough for comprehensive feedback gathering and for doing the piece of research that needs to be done; 
  • proper mechanism, preferably web based, need to be set up for giving the interested public a chance to submit comments, as well.
Regarding workload, I am not sure whether either the Commission or the Platform will be able to perform all required work on their own. I could imagine - and from OFE we said so already two years ago - that the Commission needs to hire a person for gathering the required input and for producing a draft statement of advice for further discussion in the entire Platform.

But let's first see how the test balloon goes, how high the required work load is - and on this basis look at possible steps for optimising.

For the time being, it is great news that the Regulation is final and that the Platform work on fora/consortia specs, which is, after all, just one of many tasks of the Platform, has started with four common and globally relevant specifications.

Very good workshop last Thursday on Open Source and standardisation

Last Thursday I was speaking at a Commission workshop about standardisation and open source. The workshop was titled “FRAND and Open Source – Business as usual or mission impossible?”. And right in the welcoming sessin the Commission clarified that the intention was not to drive some regulatory activity but to facilitate the dialogue on what is a complex and – I would add – sometimes heated topic and debate.

In my opinion the workshop was excellent. It was one in a longer sequence of workshops organised by the Commission on standardisation and IPR. And while at previous occasions open source had been on the agenda with just one speaker representing an open source community this time there were real experts in the filed on stage. The result was a highly informative workshop with very clear analyses of the situation and the issues. All speakers in the morning and all panel discussions in the afternoon provided great insights and were extremely good. The presentations and a meeting summary produced by an independent rapporteur will be available soon on the Commission website of the workshop.

It was especially the two excellent presentations from Malcolm Bain and Ian Mitchell QC, both legal experts with deep knowledge on open source, which provided a fantastic introduction into the issues and the topic overall. This was further deepened in the panel sessions of the afternoon, especially in the last panel with three representatives from open source companies or implementers, respectively.

My handfull of key take-aways from the workshop are:
  1. Open source is used and integrated everywhere for the high degree of innovation it contributes to the IT market.

  2. From all of the open source licenses it is the GPL license family with its copyleft requirements which creates and issue for implementing open source in FRAND technologies. But it is not impossible to integrated GPL licensed open source software into an overall technology portfolio if done in the appropriate way. 

  3. The major issue is for open source communities to implement FRAND based standards. FRAND as it stands today – i.e. including royalty-payment and other licensing conditions – is not compatible with open source. 

  4. For implementing standards in open source they need to be available on Royalty-free (or, as it was sometimes coined, “Restriction-free”) terms. 

  5. This effects software interoperability standards because this is where Open Source is actually active and concerned.
In my session – which was only a five minutes slot in one of the panels – I took a plea for a nuanced approach towards promoting openness and open source in ICT standardisation. There are areas where open source is a major contributor to innovation and where standards, therefore, need to be available for open source communities to implement and make use of. These are, in fact, the software interoperability standards mentioned earlier. And these standards should be available Royalty-free – here I full concur with the open source community requests.

Looking at the market place this has actually been accepted by the market players. The respective standards bodies like W3C, OASIS and others have adopted either Royalty-free IPR policies or options for Royalty-free. In my personal opinion this route is one that more standards bodies need to explore: allowing for a clear RF option in their policy so that in the areas concerned, i.e. about software interoperability, every standards body can develop a standard that is available for implementation in open source. After all, open source help tremendously in improving the quality of technologies (which was also demonstrated in the workshop, by the way) and in promulgating respective standards. 

So to sum it up in a nutshell: Congrats to the Commission for a great workshop with an excellent agenda.  Finally, Open Source got the attention at a level which it deserves.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

OpenForum Europe - summit and academy conference

A clear highlight of all the travels I recently had to do was the OpenForum Europe (OFE) summit end of September - together with the OpenForum Academy (OFA) Fellows' workshop the preceding day. The topic discussed on both days was open innovation - a key paradigm for collaborative innovation and growth these days.

 There were great speakers providing some very, very good and thought provoking ideas and perspectives on the topic. And it all took place in the wonderful atmosphere of the Bibliotheque Solvay in the centre of Brussel's political district. Congratulations to the OFE team for getting this summit set up. It clearly has become an institution in Brussels to which people look forward to every year.

For those who missed the event or who wish to review the speeches and presentations I recommend the OFE channels - on the OFE website and the youtube channel. The links - plus some pictures - are given on the OFE website.

For a deeper dive into the topic of Open Innovation I'd like to particularly recommend the Proceedings from the OFA conference. They contain a number of papers produced by some of the OFA Fellows - all addressing different aspects of open innovation.

I was given the honour of summing up the discussion the OFA Fellow's had and presenting it at the OFE summit. Both the presentation and my talk are now available to look at and watch online - the presentation on the OFE summit website, the talk on OFE's youtube channel.

Friday, 12 October 2012

EU gets Nobel Peace Prize 2012

Interesting news... The EU is this years winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. See the announcement on the Nobel Prize committee web site.

As a European I feel a bit proud about that, I dare to admit. Indeed, the EU is a highly successful project for bringing peace, common understanding and wealth to the people in Europe.

It is true that the EU currently undergoes quite a stress test given the difficult financial situation. The Nobe Prize may also be an encouragement for European, for politicians and the people, not to give up but move on solving the issues.

Does the EU have some potential beyond Europe. Perhaps yes, perhaps it can be a model for other regions in the world for bringing peoples and different cultures together within a common framework. Who knows....