As our society has become more digital and the online world has become more pervasive, a host of challenges have emerged. Concerns about privacy, the inability of businesses to fully secure and protect customer data, and a distrust of social media are just some of the issues that have occurred as a result of our cyber society.

Regulations have arisen to try to better protect personal data and ensure user privacy. But right now we have a hodgepodge of such rules, creating a confusing environment that’s difficult for individuals and businesses to follow. In response, Gartner announced on Tuesday that it has proposed a framework to try to better organize the myriad rules and regulations.

“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,” Mark McDonald, research vice president at Gartner, said in a press release. “These and other concerns point to disruption of the current self-regulatory-based system of digital regulation and the need for new approaches.”

The current rules and regulations for our digital society are likely to continue to be a diverse blend set up by different regulators and focusing on different subjects. CEOs, CIOs, and other business executives should collaborate on new rules that can protect individuals but still foster an innovative and growing economy. But rather than just try to create a few laws that attempt to be all-inclusive, Gartner sees the need for a framework designed to “organize, evaluate, and develop regulations with clear outcomes, focus, and scope.”

Establishing new rules requires diverse opinions, contributions, and debates as well as new ways to incorporate the different regulatory styles and mechanisms. “Constructive contribution requires starting with a sharing understanding; in this case, a framework for digital regulation,” McDonald said in the release.

In analyzing our digital society, Gartner has broken down the structure into four main layers, thus creating its proposed framework:

  • Digital Society. The sum of the interactions, information, value, and priorities generated between people, organizations 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 cyber-infrastructure.

These layers gives regulators a framework in which to place new rules and other options, and rules can be specific to each layer, according to McDonald.

“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,” McDonald said. “It is a rule that is foundational and applies to every level above it. Alternatively, rules related to digital marketing practices exist at the Digital Business level. In this way, the levels provide a structure for organizing, evaluating, identifying gaps and developing regulation and rules in a cohesive manner.”

Business clients of Gartner can find more information in the reports: “Framing the Need for Regulating Digital Society” and “Defining a New Framework for Regulating Digital Society,” and “Last Call for #DigitalSociety … All Aboard!”

Gartner said it would offer additional analysis on ways to lead the digital society during its Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2019 throughout the rest of this year. The symposiums will take place on the following dates and in the following locations:

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