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St. Petersburg forum participants address digital economy issues on first day

The Russian authorities should streamline and oversee the use of this valuable resource in order to prevent uncontrolled sales, participants said

ST. PETERSBURG, June 2. /TASS/. The problems of digital economy and the concept of Big Data were among the issues that dominated the agenda of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on its first day on Thursday.

Big Data is a term that describes large volumes of personal data, collected, processed and stored by governments and businesses. According to experts and officials, who took part in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum’s discussions on the issue, Big Data serves as "new oil" for the digital economy.

The Russian authorities should streamline and oversee the use of this valuable resource in order to prevent uncontrolled sales, St. Petersburg forum participants said.


New laws for "new oil"


Currently, experts are debating on whether Big Data, described as "new oil" for the digital economy, should be viewed as a part of the public domain and treated as such.

According to Alexander Zharov, the head of Russia’s communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, Big Data has already become a commodity of high demand. The issue of state regulation in the area, however, remains unsolved. According to Zharov, a special regulatory body should be set up for the purpose.

The official said that state regulation needs to cover three aspects: the inviolability of personal life and information, legislation on Big Data processing, and state control over this information.

"Today, a vast amount of Internet companies offer software for free, but collect Big Data on users in return. Currently, the Russian legislation and international laws do not mention the notion of Big Data," Zharov said at a conference, headlined "Big Data in the digital economy: commodity or national asset." "We need to codify approaches toward the processing of Big Data, terms of its storage, transfer and secondary use."

According to the official, a bill on the issue may be passed in late 2018 or early 2019.

"My forecast is that a law on the issue will inevitably appear," he told reporters on the sidelines of the forum.

Last November, Zharov told reporters that the presidential administration’s working group on internet has already started developing the Big Data bill.


Moral aspect


Presidential aide Igor Shchegolev also spoke in favor of state control in this domain, adding that it was the government’s duty to ensure the inviolability of personal life, guaranteed to every citizen by the Russian Constitution.

"Right now we are undergoing a major revolutionary upheaval in the society, not only a technological revolution, but a revolution of moral standards as well," Shchegolev said, adding that ordinary users often fail to understand the true value of personal information, which they give away so easily.

"Maybe some of the users will do what Native Americans did, when they traded their land for glass beads, unaware of its true value," he added.


Future of digital economy


Protection of intellectual property became another important issue raised on the first day of the forum. According to Igor Drozdov, the board chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation, new technologies will allow more people "to earn real money using intellectual property institutions."

According to the official, the use of advanced artificial intelligence technologies for expert evaluation of copyrighted materials may speed up the process.

"Currently, works of authorship are analyzed by humans, but as artificial intelligence technologies become more and more sophisticated, they can at one point analyze texts just like humans, making AI expert evaluation possible," he said.


About the forum

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is the most important annual economic conference held in Russia. Since 1997, heads of state, ministers, CEOs of Russian and foreign companies have been meeting to discuss economic issues that Russia and the developing countries are facing. Since 2005, Russia’s president has been taking part in the forum.

The SPIEF platform is a place where big contracts are made. At the 2016 forum, more than 330 agreements totaling one trillion rubles (roughly $17.6 bln) were signed, while 12,000 people from 130 countries participated in the event.

The 2017 the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is taking place in Russia’s second largest city on June 1-3. The forum is dubbed Achieving a New Balance in the Global Economic Arena.

TASS news agency is the general information partner and the official photohost agency of the event. The agency is also the operator of the forum’s presentation zone.