The EU executive identified the following key topics to be addressed by 2009 in to prepare Europe to the new generation of the Internet: the early challenges of the Internet of Things, rolling out Next Generation Access Networks, opening radio spectrum to wireless services, broadband for all, security of critical communication infrastructure, privacy concerns related to the massive deployment of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and Internet governance.
Speaking at the Internet of Things conference organised by the French EU Presidency in Nice on 6-7 October, Commissioner Reding told EurActiv what she expected would be the main challenges ahead.
First of all, Brussels wants to pave the way for possibly the biggest revolution that the Web has ever seen: the emergence of an Internet of Things, whereby objects have a virtual identity and communicate between each other to provide services of every kind, from healthcare to transport security.
At the end of September, the Commission opened a public debate on the main issues related to the Internet of Things, publishing a position document. In November, a recommendation is expected on the privacy and security risks linked to the deployment of RFID tags, the technology at the core of the Internet of Things. Commissioner Reding wants to maintain a fair balance between the promotion of RFID and the new societal risks posed by society (EurActiv 06/10/08).
In early 2009, the EU executive is due to publish definitve guidelines for the roll-out of Next Generation Access Networks, the key infrastructure for a future Internet based on data-hungry services (EurActiv 19/09/08). A review of radio spectrum is also ongoing, so as to exploit the so-called 'digital dividend' which will result from the switch from analogue to digital TV by 2012. The target is to increase the provision of wireless and mobile Internet services and, as a result, broadband penetration in Europe.
Protection of critical online infrastructure, such as networks or key servers, is also high on the Commission's agenda. To avoid cyber-attacks such as that which hit Estonian public Internet services in 2007, the EU executive will propose concrete action at EU level in a document to be published in 2009 (EurActiv 09/04/08).
The global governance of the Internet and its next developments is also considered crucial by Brussels, with Reding explicitly aiming to challenge US control of many key elements of the Net.