To introduce the first #TechAways of the year – and our first as SEC Newgate EU – we’re looking ahead at what might happen in the world of tech policy in the next 12 months. On the regulatory front, two big pillars of the emerging tech framework will be put in place: the  Digital Service Act and Digital Markets Act. The more worrying for the tech sector is the DMA. We will have to wait a few years to see its true impact, as competition enforcement is slow. Its power to look at companies in the tech sector and their behaviour has some big, and some smaller, tech firms very worried. The DSA will be a cost.  

AI rules  will soon be in place with another piece of law expected towards the end of the year on AI and product liability. Interesting work is being done around the world on AI. Its huge potential is not yet known and maybe the big question this year will be whether the EU has moved too quickly  to regulate AI. It could be that regulation stifles innovation in the sector and that these AI products and services will be made elsewhere and then be exported back to the EU. 

The issue of data flows will have to be resolved this year. This is a constant problem for transatlantic relations and the digital economy. Sometimes it seems strange that we can’t simply transfer data to the US. Even the European Parliament has violated the rules in this area. It’s unclear whether  the US government can or will make the changes needed to get this issue finally off the table. 

Interference in elections through social media will again become a problem. The first test will doubtless be the tensions in Ukraine, but then the French elections and finally the US mid-terms. The European Commission already has rules coming on political advertising but expect more and more scrutiny on this issue.  

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#TechAways is brought to you by SEC Newgate EU’s … team featuring Adrian Blazquez, Alice Antoine-Grégoire, Jarek Oleszczynski, Katarina Oja, and Will Parker. 

  • How much can we cut?🌴 [Gizmodo

The Amazon rainforest has been under attack from loggers (aka lumberjack), forest fires, cattle ranching and more, for years. But its deforestation has picked up the speed since President Bolsonaro came into office in 2019. According to satellite imagery data from Brazil’s space research agency (INPE), the number of trees cut down in the Brazilian section of the Amazon rainforest in January was FIVE times greater than in January last year! In 2020 alone, the Brazilian Amazon lost more than 3 million acres, roughly the size of Connecticut. The deforestation of the Amazon not only hurts many species, but also has the potential to weaken the forest’s ability to absorb carbon. It is making the soil even more unhealthy, causing it to produce more nitrous oxide. When the forests are left bare, they absorb more heat from the sun, which further dries the soil and trees, causing both to emit even more warming gases!  

  • The love story between you and social media 📱 [The NextWeb

At this point it is obvious that social media is here to stay, and the love story will continue. However, like any relationship, if social media is no longer making you happy – and if curating your online persona is exhausting instead of fun – it might be time to say goodbye.The first step to understanding if this love affair needs to end is spotting the red flags. A 2021 meta-analysis of 55 studies, with a combined sample size of 80,533 people, found a strong link between depressive symptoms and social media use. Therefore, think about how it makes you feel..If you feel like you need a break, there are simple steps to take: start with a trail separation and try taking a break. You can also reduce the number of platforms you engage with, choose the apps that serve a genuine purpose to you. If these seem too extreme, you can also reduce the time you spend on social media. The key is to turn this love affair into a long-term happy and healthy marriage! 

The Lord of the Rings fans are in luck. Following the release of The Rings of Power teaser trailer, Amazon’s series, a standalone anime movie called The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim has been announced. However, Tolkien’s enthusiasts will have to be patient as the premiere is scheduled for 2024. That being said, this long wait might be necessary. The film will have to recreate the scenarios of Middle-earth, including Helm’s Deep, which is a major feat. Therefore, the production will have to live up to the expectations of the spectators, accustomed to the spectacular scenes shot in the New Zealand wilderness. This film will undoubtedly be a showcase for  computer animation technologies. 

You might think about bikes, cheese and stroopwaffles when you hear of the Netherlands. But it is time to broaden your Dutch-stereotype horizons and think about data. The Dutch are masters of using data in keeping their country afloat. With 27% of the country below the sea level the Netherlands has developed an extensive water management network, coordinated by an institution known as Rijkswaterstaat. Even though Rijkswaterstaat is quite old (founded in late 1700s), it caught up with the tech revolution and opted in using data to manage the 5000km of waterways and all the bridges, locks and dykes that come with them. One of the ways data helps keeping the system efficient is by calculating the traffic in the waterways, so that we know when the rush hour hits the canal. Next time you hit that boat ride in Amsterdam make sure you think about Rijkswaterstaat.

About this week’s edito: Will Parker. 

I am a public affair professional with lots of experience in the tech sector, as well as sustainability. I come from a now unfashionable, former EU member state. I oversee the public affairs team at SEC Newgate EU working with a stellar team on a range of issues around trade, tech, energy, chemicals and the broad sustainability agenda. When not thinking about policy, I am a keen cyclist. 

In case you haven’t had enough.  

  • YouTube Reveals Songs That Get Played More on Valentine’s Day [CNET
  • Opera Now Supports Emoji URLs [Gizmodo
  • Virgin Galactic Opens Space Ticket Reservations to General Public [CNET
  • Founder of She Matters developed an app for Black women with postpartum depression [Yahoo
  • What Is Wi-Fi 7? [Gizmodo
  • How Job Applicants Try to Hack Résumé-Reading Software [WIRED