Collaboration needed to identify a framework for digital society regulation

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Next week the local leg of the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo takes place in Cape Town, and the annual event aims to tackle a number of issues and trends that are top of mind for many CIOs.

The theme for the event this year is Leading the Digital Society, and as such the issue of regulation as it pertains to society and increased digitalisation will be addressed.

To that end Gartner confirms that a host of analysts will be in attendance at the Symposium to discuss the subject, with the research firm noting that collaborative efforts are required in order to create a framework for this growing concern in the industry.

Trust in digital institutions such as social media has declined, concerns about data protection and privacy are increasing, and employee and company activism is increasing,” says Mark McDonald, research vice president at Gartner.

“These and other concerns point to disruption of the current self-regulatory-based system of digital regulation and the need for new approaches,” he stresses. 

This task is far from easy though, Gartner warns, with regulation in the digital world in particular difficult to iron out.

Rather than a few all-encompassing laws, it is more likely that regulation would be a blend of different rules, rule makers and subject areas. This creates the need for a framework to organise, evaluate and develop regulations with clear outcomes, focus and scope,” the firm points out. 

The structure of said framework has been identified by Gartner, with the firm outlining four main levels of digital society that sit atop a substructure of commercial, communications and technologies capabilities.

These layers as identified by Gartner are:

Digital Society – The sum of the interactions, information, value and priorities generated between people, organisations and things in a digital and physical connected world.

Digital Platforms – Collections of digital businesses that form global value chain systems. Platforms attract buyers and sellers to transact on a specific collection of digital services.

Digital Business – New business models and designs connecting people, businesses and things to drive revenue, greater efficiency, improved safety and higher quality.

Digital Society Infrastructure – The institutions and foundational elements of the physical and digital worlds, including critical physical infrastructure and cyberinfrastructure.

“Recognising these layers within digital society gives regulators and society a framework to place new tools and options. Rules can be specific to each layer. For example, the EU’s GDPR legislation, an example of the Digital Society Infrastructure level, is very specific regarding the handling of personal information and people’s rights to that information. It is a rule that is foundational and applies to every level above it,” notes McDonald.

“Alternatively, rules related to digital marketing practices exist at the Digital Business level. In this way, the levels provide a structure for organising, evaluating, identifying gaps and developing regulation and rules in a cohesive manner,” he concludes. 

Establishing effective rules involves employing new ways of working in terms of different styles of regulation and different regulatory mechanisms, according to Gartner. The goal, the firm adds, is having rules that are based on and consistent with the structure and dynamics of digital society.

Hopefully this process can begin to be hashed out following the discussions held at next week’s Symposium.

[Image – Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Editor of Hypertext. Covers smartphones, IoT, 5G, cloud computing and a few things in between. Also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games when not taking the hatchet to stories.