Trends in Regulating the Global Digital Economy

30 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2018

See all articles by Ewan Sutherland

Ewan Sutherland

University of the Witwatersrand, LINK Centre

Date Written: July 20, 2018


Digital technologies are being adopted at a faster pace than previous waves of innovation, and their use is re-shaping administration and business, consumer behaviour and social interactions. They are subject to widely varying regimes, from lightly regulated but heavily standardised global equipment markets, heavily regulated markets for wireless services, to barely regulated over the top (OTT) services. The regulation of aggregators and platforms is achieving greater attention. Leading governments encourage the creation of new technologies and the adoption of existing and emerging technologies, in pursuit of economic growth and improved productivity. They fund research and development (R&D), expansion of university courses, the creation and growth of technology hubs, the deployment of new networks (e.g., FTTH and 5G) and the extension of established networks in areas considered not commercially viable. Considerable attention has been given to the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), frameworks for connecting billions of objects, enabling smart buildings, homes, factories and cities. To secure economic and social gains, governments are updating cybersecurity strategies, to counter threats from criminals, hostile states and terrorists. The European Union (EU) has elevated data protection to be a right, alongside privacy, and enacted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), supported by a network of national supervisory authorities. Skills shortages are long-standing, despite some international movement of individuals, with growing demand in cybersecurity, and with growing demand for the skills required to work with artificial intelligence and robotics. There remain difficulties in measuring the digital economy and society.

Keywords: Competition, Economy, Globalisation, Governance, Privacy, Regulation

JEL Classification: E65, F68, K21, K23, L13, L38, L43, L51, L63, L78, L86, L96

Suggested Citation

Sutherland, Ewan, Trends in Regulating the Global Digital Economy (July 20, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Ewan Sutherland (Contact Author)

University of the Witwatersrand, LINK Centre ( email )

1 Jan Smuts Avenue
Johannesburg, Gauteng 2000
South Africa


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