Privacy and Access Fostered by CSISAC in the Digital Economy Outlook 2015

July 17, 2015

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released the Digital Economy Outlook 2015, one of the most influential reports in Internet policy-making worldwide. The Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (CSISAC) has actively contributed to the preparation of the Digital Economy Outlook 2015, emphasizing the right to privacy and a consumer rights perspective, together with the need to preserve an open Internet.

Privacy and Access from a Civil Society Perspective

The concerns of CSISAC can be found reflected in the Digital Economy Outlook 2015. For example, the report highlights the increasing concerns of the population about privacy, where 64% of respondents are more concerned about privacy than they were a year ago. The concerns of the citizens, now better informed about the existence of governmental mass surveillance programs thanks to the revelations of Edward Snowden and others, can also be found on the governmental side, where security and privacy are ranked 2nd and 3rd top priorities for governments. As a result, the Digital Economy Outlook supports the need to incorporate a whole-of-society perspective in the development of cyber-strategies, an increasingly relevant issue considering that 27 out of 34 countries now have a digital strategy.

For example, while a positive outlook is depicted for the ICT sector, with services growing at 30% per year and up to 95% of enterprises connected by broadband, the report also confirms the persistence of a digital divide, with 58% "broader" Internet activity by users with tertiary education than by those with less education. Also, while 82% of adults in the OECD area used the Internet, less than 49% of those over 55 years used it. Those divergences in use by education and age are a clear sign of the need to persist in the efforts made by CSISAC together with many organizations of Civil Society worldwide to foster a positive balance between economic growth and social prosperity.

The OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2015 also highlights new developments in policy and technology with impact on the digital economy. The emergence of the Internet of the Things or the convergence of telecom and broadcasting services into IP networks are reviewed in the report, including the introduction of legal measures to prohibit blocking and discrimination of services (net neutrality). The evolution of the infrastructures supporting digital activity is also reviewed, finding an increased share of optic fibre in total fixed broadband subscriptions, up to 16.5% in June 2014. Also important from a consumer perspective, the report shows how prices have registered a decrease for fixed broadband per Mpbs, down by 52% in the case of mobile broadband baskets for smartphones compared to 2012.

The OECD Digital Economy Outlook

The OECD Digital Economy Outlook is a biennial series reporting on the most relevant policy and technological developments with impact in the digital economy from a comparative evidence perspective. The importance of this work is reflected in its main audience, the political leaders and policy-makers with influence in shaping Internet policy worldwide.

The OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2015 was prepared under the guidance of the OECD Committee on Digital Economy (CDEP) with the input of the Working Parties on Communication Infrastructure and Services Policy (CISP), Measurement and Analysis in the Digital Economy (MADE), Security and Privacy in the Digital Economy (SPDE), together with expert groups and advisory panels. Thanks to the support of its funders and the voluntary contribution of its membership, the CSISAC has managed to extend Civil Society participation to the full set of policy assessment environments at the OECD CDEP.

The Digital Economy Outlook 2015 merges in one single document the contents previously provided by the OECD Communications Outlook and the Internet Economy Outlook (formerly OECD Information Technology Outlook). A copy of the report can be ordered at the OECD Library, which provides as well a link to access the Digital Economy Outlook 2015 online.