New information and communication technologies (ICTs) thoroughly revolutionize the way we do government, health care, education, business and social relationships. Promoted by governments across the globe ICT strategies and policies for digital societies embrace new and emerging ICTs in order to address societal challenges such as sustainability and climate protection, growing senior populations, rising unemployment numbers and economic crisis.
At the same time new ICTs are often envisioned as key to productivity across industries and sectors. Smart networking through modern ICTs in sectors such as energy, transport, health, education, employment and administration affords new opportunities but also poses new challenges, especially in terms of data protection and privacy.
Global accessibility and applicability
New and emerging ICTs encompass developments in ubiquitous and ambient computing, future internet, assistive robotics and personal health systems for disease management and elder care, biometrics for surveillance, mobility control and security identification, GIS applications and smart grids for harnessing energy resources more efficiently and effectively and for handling transport and urban development. Progress in computing power, sensors and em-bedded devices, smart phones, the convergence of wireless technologies, advanced electron-ics and the internet combined with emerging data mining techniques, cloud computing and social networking paradigms enable these developments and continously create new ICT applications, products, services and business models with global accessibility and applicability.
Across the globe new ICTs are highlighted as potential tools and enablers of economic growth, competitiveness and inclusive societies. However, the question arises as to what are the ethical, social, environmental and economic risks and rewards of incorporating these technologies into daily life and societal vital infrastructures? New ICTs and associated technologies engender challenges, public debates and controversies with regard to the global governance of ICTs, network neutrality, internet freedom, digital censorship, security of personal data exchange and privacy concerns. For instance, many national legislations and EC directives are struggling to keep pace with the implications of new ICT developments and deployments.
Challenges traditional regulation
The governance of new ICTs challenges traditional conceptions of regulation. Technical standards, bottom-up self-regulation of the internet and network neutrality are critical compo-nents of a network architecture enforcing new partnerships and alliances among stakeholders spanning iNGOs, CSOs, transnational governance actors and corporate powers. Thus, the rules and governance processes that shape the development and operation of the internet and new ICTs necessitates a broader concept of regulation. Security and privacy regulations in the context of e.g cloud computing and the future of network architecture all hold implications for innovations to the internet and ICTs.
Emerging ICTs have been subject to numerous different assessments over time, each highlighting various issues given the fact that the ICT advisory landscape is very broad composed of EC and international institutions such as ENISA, United Nations and OECD as well as national data protection agencies and standards organizations, ICT security advisory boards and commissions, professional associations, NGOs and telecom companies.