USA/Europe: Seven Digital Challenges Potomac Paper, No. 42, July 2021
As a consequence of the positive momentum in Transatlantic relations brought about by the arrival of the Biden administration, significant progress is expected on a range of key digital issues.
New rules are emerging that are designed to level the playing field for economic actors and ensure the respect of civil liberties, while significant new investments into technological innovation are taking place amid a number of industrial reorganizations. This paper proposes to shed light on seven particularly central and topical issues for our societies in the digital age.
First, the European Union (EU), the Biden administration and the international community at large are converging in an attempt to regulate the tax optimization practices and monopolistic positions of Big Tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft (GAFAM). However, while there is clear momentum in this direction, the United States (US) government does not wish to undermine the strength of American tech giants.
A second trend is shaped by the US-China tech rivalry. The Biden team is following the Trump administration’s lead in trying to thwart Chinese efforts in terms of 5G technology and semiconductor development. US sanctions against China may have indirect benefits for European actors in these sectors, and the EU has not said its last word on industrial power.
Finally, these new technologies pose many ethical challenges that undermine the democratic values on which Western societies are based. As a result of the regulations Europe has already put in place or is currently developing, Europeans are in a good position to set global standards for the protection of private data, the development of an ethical artificial intelligence (AI) and the regulation of online content.