Legal and Environment: Beyond the emergency

The Big Picture provides you with a PESTLE analysis for innovation based on articles shared on WAI social networks. These articles are meant to drive a high level innovation thinking for you to re-use as part of your daily innovation job. If you want to participate to the discussion, you can join us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and SlideShare. This article ends this new series of Big Pictures, covering Legal and Environment. You can also read Politics and Economics, and Society and Technology.

Legal: Adapting frameworks

In this new report for France Stratégie, Lionel Janin explains how a new fiscal framework could be created on an international level in order to lower the risks generated by the very specific needs of the digital economy. As the author points out, “such a fiscal system, based on an ad valorem tax generated by advertising and data collection, which are easier to locate, could potentially include dramatic risks.” The author suggests that a low tax level as well as a threshold would limit the privacy, inequality and social risks that could result of such a policy.

Resolving inequality issues also necessitates an industrial support. If the business models are changing, may be the framework also needs to adapt. As Balaji T S explains for Tech Mahindra, “A change in Regulatory setup is needed; one that looks comprehensively at the Digital Service Ecosystem rather than in narrow silo of telecom only. I feel that there is an urgent need to set up a Digital Services Regulatory authority.

On top of adapting financial and legal frameworks, experts also highlight the need for technological innovation that protects individuals. As Emma LLanso highlights for the Centre for Democracy and Technology, “Encrypted services provide human rights advocates, journalists, lawyers, doctors, clergy, and many others the type of confidentiality and integrity of communications that are essential to the work they do.  Encryption can also help individuals to circumvent network-level content filters that inspect traffic and block access based on keywords in the text”. On the same line, according to Matthew Heller from CFO, U.S. technology giants have written to Barack Obama so the administration better considers encryption for citizens data security. “Encryption “protects billions of people every day against countless threats,” according to the letter, and the Obama administration, faces a critical choice: Will it adopt policies that foster a global digital ecosystem that is more secure, or less? That choice may well define the future of the Internet in the 21st century.

In Europe, authorities worry about a French legal project opening secret services surveillance scope for using more “intrusive” technologies. As LCP explains, they fear that these new laws “especially endanger journalists protection to access information and therefore threatens their freedom of speech“.

For security, privacy, intellectual property issue, there seem a to be a key pre-requisite legal authorities around the world are still struggling with. This is about considering technology, society and business dynamics as a whole reshaping the entire system their laws need to protect. Open innovation in an open world requires a new approach that WE-Open Innovation describes for Intellectual Property Rights: “Finally, the exact answers to the parties’ concerns depend on: the nature of the Open Innovation project, the situation of the seeking company on IPRs, the nature of the end product and market, and on the technology provider’s situation.

Environment: Too late ?

James Dyke for the World Economic Forum sets the scene: “it is possible to have our cake and eat it: a decarbonising economy and recovery of biodiversity. Unfortunately all current indications are that humanity is closely following the trajectory of MESSAGE 8.5 (the worst case scenario for climate evolution): eat as much cake as you possibly can and to hell with the consequences.” Adario Strange from Mashable further enhances Barack Obama’s concern for global climate with below video where the U.S. President mentions “There’s no greater threat to our planet than climate change. Climate change can no longer be denied or ignored.”

We may be running out of time, but we’re not running out of ideas yet. Although distant, although at the idea stage, they prove we have plenty of solutions at hand to help indicators of climate change reach a more acceptable level than “MESSAGE8.5” scenario. For example, Adele Peters from FastCoExist mentions a vertical farm that is about to be built in Jackson, Wyoming. As she concludes, “It’s a feel-good story, which is why so many people were partnering with us from the beginning,” says Yehia. The team plans to open the farm early next year and will harvest the first crops a few months later.” Some companies have spotted an opportunity to use Big Data as a tool to improve buildings energy efficiency. As Lauren Browning found out for UK Business Insider, “FirstFuel’s team of building engineers then examined that data, along with precise details on the power surge, pinpointing two large exhaust fans in the garage that were unnecessarily operating at full speed. Adjusting the fans’ setpoints to their original design levels contributed to the Reagan building saving $800,000 in one year. GSA’s overall savings, much of it in eliminating manpower auditing and monitoring costs, is $13 million, roughly 90% just in evaluation costs, across its 180 sites.

Yet the challenge is alarming. Joanna Roberts from HORIZON explains how “Extreme weather and a changing climate are presenting new threats to the safety of our fish, seafood and vegetables, according to European scientists who are working out how to keep our food safe to eat.”

In her poetic yet alarming report for M Le Monde, Corine Lesnes highlights California’s concerns as the states enters its fourth year without rain. The photographs she showcases visually translate both the physical and political droughts that have lead to this dramatic situation.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency summarizes the situation. As Ben Schiller from FastCoExist outlines, “The embattled federal agency makes the case that meeting climate change reduction targets isn’t so difficult at all—if states can truly embrace energy-efficiency programs.” In his article for The Guardian, Brandon Keim reminds that the U.S. administration is already taking action, that is putting money on the table. As he writes, “Most news reports focused on the money, and so did the White House. But arguably more important than the $4bn raised was the fine print: a new federal information source and new financing options for would-be investors.”


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