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The European Commission's 'single digital market' would mean a free flow of data

Would you invest billions in hopes of recouping the cost the same year? That’s what the European Commission plans to do, according to The Belfast Telegraph. The plan is to have all EC members chip in to create a huge pool to invest in emerging technologies. The bet is that the estimated annual return will almost equal the initial joint investment.

The EC isn’t interested in just the Internet of Things, but any new technology breaking now or just on the horizon. In addition to IoT, current technologies in the EC sights include cloud storage, 5G, quantum computing, and likely AI and deep learning. The plan is to create a “digital single market” for the economic betterment of all members. Even if each country creates its own testbed “digital city,” it will be better to pool all the data in cloud storage. Drawing on this well of information, members can avoid duplication and can learn from and build on others’ results.

Related: Internet of Things spending will grow from $699 billion in 2015 to nearly $1.3 trillion in 2019

Two challenges must be overcome: national “localization requirements” and concerns about security.  The localization issue deals with who owns the data, who can see it or use it, and concerns about monetization, all of which make more sense when thinking about separate national entities. From the group perspective, though, the local concerns slow things down and stifle opportunity.

Security is the elephant-in-the-room issue. High-profile break-ins, massive leaks, and IoT vulnerability are top-line concerns. Tiny backdoors in any piece of the massively distributed Internet of Things’ conglomeration of sensors, receivers, software, storage, and communications methodologies are at risk. Are countries willing to entrust their treasured data to the weakest-link EC participant?

The potential economic benefit and security issues are mentioned in the EC Digital Single Market release. The economic benefits, in theory, make sense, but security based on a label of trust feels a little loose, in these difficult political times. In the release, the EC says the IoT in Europe should be based on Europe’s “notably high standards for the protection of personal data and security.” Using a Trusted IoT label could let consumers know about different levels of privacy and security and compliance with the EU’s Network and Information Security Directive.

As the issues of sovereignty, economics, and security are worked out and if this plan goes forward, the EC’s impact on the Internet of Things and other forward technologies could be significantly enhanced.