We recently commented that five EU data centre industry bodies had come together to try to shape and drive the development of the data centre industry. We take a look at the value eco brings to its members.

eco is the largest Internet industry association in Europe. – It has more than 800 members, and has been in operation for 20 years, since its formation in 1995. It suggests that its Competence Network includes all the important specialists and decision-makers in the Internet industry, and its operations are managed by a large team of more than 60 staff.

eco’s topics and Competence Groups are designed to ‘shape the internet’ – Topic areas cover applications, infrastructure, content, e-business, policy and law, security and new work, including e-recruiting. From email through games and streaming media, data centres, e-commerce and online marketing, to policy, law and internet governance, eco really does have a finger in every pie.

Its expertise is valued at high levels of policy-making – eco could be described as a lobby group, and a very effective one, but it is much more than that. By making itself an effective and expert spokesman for the internet industry, it has ensured that it is the first port of call for German law- and policy-makers working on internet issues. It has an office in Berlin, and also operates in Brussels, working with EU policy-makers.

eco produces in-depth and expert reports and papers – Part of the reason that eco’s voice is heard at high levels is its level of expertise as well as the fact that it has such a wide membership. It uses surveys to gather members’ views and experiences and translate those into heavyweight reports. Recent reports have included six years’ worth on internet security.

eco operates an audit system for data centres, the eco Datacenter Star Audit, and a linked system for cloud providers, EuroCloud Star Audit – Setting, managing and maintaining standards is often one of the most important functions of industry bodies, particularly in relatively new industries, as it promotes high quality provision of services.  eco offers certification for data centres and cloud service providers, following an assessment by two independent auditors against fixed criteria and assessment measures.

eco services also include support for cyber security, safety and anti-malware, to improve protection against attacks – The European Advanced Cyber Defence Centre is creating a community of stakeholders against botnets. It provides solutions for ongoing attacks, available to both end-users and network operators, and is open to business, public sector and academic stakeholders across Europe. Botfrei.de  is an anti-botnet advisory service run by eco, and Initiative-S provides checks of websites, to protect them against malware.

Legal and business advice on internet issues is available to eco members – CEBRA, or counsellor for e-business-related assignments, is an initiative to improve e-business skills, available to eco members, leading to a qualification and certificate. It is aimed at both companies and schools. eco’s legal advice service provides an annual allocation of legal advice to all members free of charge. Its lawyers focus on questions relating to internet use and the law, covering both German and EU law.

eco runs an Internet Complaints Hotline for complaints about illegal internet content – One of the biggest complaints about the internet is that there is nobody to manage and remove illegal content, apart from the police, who cannot always act effectively. eco’s Complaints Office has been operating for more than 15 years as part of self-regulation, working closely with German police against child pornography and other illegal content.

  Member events include the eco Gala 2015 and also seminars and conferences – Seminars include updates on new European laws and standards, such as a recent series on the new European data centre standard EN 50600: Information Technology – Data Centre Facilities and Infrastructures. The eco Gala 2015 was a celebration of all things internet, surrounding the eco Internet Awards.

As well as being a membership organisation, eco is also a member of various umbrella groups – It is a founding member of EuroISPA, the umbrella group for European internet associations, and also sits on the Council of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) and the Internet Governance Forum. This is important because it shows that eco is looking outwards as well as to its members, and looking to be a key driving force in the way the internet develops.

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