According to a 2021 study by Fedesarrollo, digital platforms have become increasingly important in the Colombian economy. And in a conservative scenario, it is estimated that its activity represents close to 0.2 percent of GDP.
The investigation showed that between the digital messaging platforms, addresses and mobility generate income opportunities for nearly 150,000 peoplewhich constitutes 0.7 percent of the employed population of the country.
(Also read: Would fines of $10 million come to citizens who use mobility 'apps'?)
In addition, according to the perception of those surveyed, if these platforms did not operate in Colombia, 44 percent would be unemployed, 32 percent would have another independent job, and 14 percent would have formal employment.
This scenario, added to digitization, extra income and the ease that they have presented for the well-being of Colombians, contrasts with a limbo that companies in the sector have faced due to a lack of clear rules.
José Daniel López, executive director of Alianza In, a union that brings together applications, has been clear that the country lacks legislation on the market realities of the 21st century.
In no serious democracy, governments can block Internet content, since the principle of neutrality expresses freedom in this channel.
Even with the changes that are estimated for the labor reform, it seeks to provide a regulatory framework that explains why digital issues are the future and the present in the country and the world.
In Colombia, all kinds of services are provided through applications, from domiciliary to transportwhich is why the Government wants to have control over these and the working conditions they offer for people.
The discussion recently drew attention to the block internet platformswhich clearly violates the principle of network neutrality, which is understood as the freedom that providers and users have to use technologies to provide services or access them without restriction other than possible harmful interference and efficient use of the resources.
(Also read: Mobility Apps: who works on them and how much the market moves)
"In no serious democracy, governments can block Internet contentsince the principle of neutrality expresses the freedom in this channel", explained López.
According to the director, in 2022 the apps were consolidated in the consumption habits of Colombians and as a source of income, "but the contradiction that exists in the speed with which technological changes have advanced in the country continues to be evident. , digital consumption, the replacements that have been made and the delays that remain in regulatory matters. This is surmountable, that is the great debt; we are facing a new Government and Congress, the idea is that adjustments and steps are taken that are required to change and fundamentally modify the uncertainties".
In her turn, for the executive director of the Colombian Chamber of Electronic Commerce (CCCE), María Fernanda Quiñones, going against the new economic realities can even affect access to basic services such as the Internet.
"These are new business models that need to be regulated from new paradigms. And it is that a country that allows the possibility of blocking the Internet gets into very dangerous areas, "says Quiñones.
What must be done?
Likewise, the director of the CCCE suggests a regulatory path that allows harmonizing these great achievements with these new approaches to the business model.
"There must be a premise for discussion and it must be accepted that the platforms exist and who make an important contribution to the country," he said.
Former congressman Mauricio Toro explained that attempts have been made, for example, in the case of transportation applications, to resolve once and for all projects that have been postponed more than three times.
(Also read: 'We are going to mobilize by taking over airports': taxi drivers on apps like Uber)
"The regulation has to remain within the framework of the projects and ideas that have already been brought to Congress, even in the past or like mine, which takes four important points: one of balancing the field between taxi drivers and drivers; special vigilance to avoid abuses by the parties; that the freedom of citizens be defended; same licenses, same policies and insurance; sales taxes, like any business; Also, the dynamic rate for both parties and that the benefits exist. This must happen because it is a story of more than 12 years that is still unresolved and that other countries, including in the region, have already resolved and call us to become aware and prevent it from continuing like this," he said.
The ICT Minister, Sandra Urrutia, stated that the country must generate, from a technical point of view, agreement and dialogue, a legal framework that harmonizes the new needs of the digital transformation.
"Technology is productive, new sources of wealth and quality of life; hence the importance of generating legal certainty in such a way that these services have a legal framework that allows them to grow and develop for the benefit of the citizen and the ecosystem," Urrutia explained.
LAURA LESMES DIAZ
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