Happy Friday, dear TechAways readers,
It’s Lauren Clark, and before you get sick of me always popping into the role of TechAways editor, I’m sad to be telling you that this is my last edition. After over three years at Cambre, I’m moving on to a new job. Last week’s edition looking back at the last 20 years in tech had me thinking about what has changed in the Brussels policy landscape since I joined Cambre.
When you think back to 2018 the first thing that probably jumps to mind is the implementation of GDPR and the momentary havoc it caused for various websites worldwide. Also big on the policy agenda were the heated debates around the Copyright Directive (which was supposed to be transposed by Member States by last month and is already leading to Big Tech fines). But by now Google is used to being fined in Europe. 2018 saw the conclusion of the Google vs Android competition case that resulted in Google’s recording breaking €4.34 billion fine (although it’s still being disputed).
Since then, we’ve all learned to live with GDPR, and the policy spotlight has continued to focus on Big Tech. Due to Covid-19 we’ve all been relying on technology more than ever, but that doesn’t mean regulators are easing up. It seems that some of the goodwill that tech companies got at the beginning of the pandemic is starting to wear off. The DSA/DMA debate has been raging since last year, and debates are ongoing. Mis/disinformation are still major problems and concerns about biased or discriminatory technology are at the forefront of the AI debate. What will the next three years bring to the European tech sector? Hopefully a conclusion of the DSA/DMA file, clearer AI rules, and a set of revamped antitrust tools. Only time will tell, but I have a feeling that some issues, such as digital tax and cybersecurity, will still be at the forefront for years to come.
And to help lead you through all the ups and downs of the tech sector I’m pleased to announce a few new hires. Giovanni Bazzoli joined Cambre this week, Carlota Alonso Hernandez is starting next Monday, and Derya Fikret impressed us so much during her student internship that we asked her to stick around for a traineeship. You’re in good hands! TechAways will be taking a summer break until September. And while I won’t be at the helm of TechAways any more, I’ll be an avid reader and would love to keep in touch.
The needle, the swab… and the breathalyser [The New York Times]
Tired of picking between vaccine jabs and nose swabs? There’s a new kid on the block for COVID testing: a breathalyser test. A “breathprint” for COVID can help detect at least 98 percent of infections, according to Dutch company SpiroNose, even with asymptomatic patients. This is thanks to a unique set of chemical patterns present in the breath of infected patients, linked to cell or tissue inflammation, pancreas damage and gastrointestinal inflammation. While the technology requires finetuning – it still presents high rates of false positives – it has already been used for major events such as our beloved Eurovision song contest. Inhale, exhale: the times of painful PCR tests may soon be behind us.
Protecting the people who protect us [The Verge]
In the age of cyberattacks and hacks it might seem like a miracle that the numerous companies involved in creating the coveted Covid-19 vaccines weren’t also hacked. Well, it’s less of a miracle and more of a concerted effort from the United States’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Covid-19 taskforce. The taskforce wasn’t concerned with the likes of Pfizer or Moderna, but more the small players that are still integral to vaccine manufacturing yet might not have the people power or knowledge to properly protect themselves from cyberattacks. And while there were attempted hacks, cyberattacks thankfully did not slow down the vaccine rollout. Hopefully this cybersecurity taskforce model can be replicated in the future to protect other valuable value chains to keep us healthy and safe!
The price of not bringing it home ⚽ [The Verge]
The UEFA Euro 2020 final between Italy and England was worth keeping viewers off their phones… for no longer than 90 minutes. After the penalty shots in extra time, three of the English players were flooded with racist comments and messages on social media for failing to bring the win home. The outrageous reactions of “football fans” overwhelmed platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram who rushed to remove content and suspend accounts violating their rules against harassment. Despite the effort of the major platforms other channels like Telegram became hosts of extreme abuse and threats against the players. This situation caused a lot of friction in the English football community, but England’s Football Association took an honourable position by condemning anyone who took part in this act of hate. We hope that in the future, fans remember that a loss is no excuse for racist harassment.
The real Euro 2020 football championships may be over, but a virtual contest in France is still going strong. Sorare, a blockchain-based fantasy football platform, is tipped to become France’s 11th unicorn this year if an expected fundraising round goes ahead. That would bring the national total of start-ups valued at €1bn or more to 28 from just nine in 2018. This trebling compares with a rise of just 69 per cent in the UK and 44 per cent in Germany. While the UK and the UK still attract substantially more venture capital investment than France on an absolute basis, Yoram Wijngaarde, Dealroom founder, said, “Within Europe’s big tech hubs — London, Paris, then Berlin — Paris is the fastest growing.” This vindicates President Emmanuel Macron’s aim to make France a “nation of unicorns”. Winning the “soon-icorn” race may help France get over any lingering Euro 2020 blues!
About this week’s editor, Lauren Clark:
I started at Cambre in February 2018 as a trainee and I like to say I’ve worked on almost every sector that Cambre has clients in. Thankfully I was able to eventually focus on my two main interests, tech (obviously) and energy policy. I’m definitely sad to be leaving such an amazing team at Cambre, but a new adventure (okay it’s not that adventurous, I’ll still be a consultant in Brussels) awaits. As always, if you’re interested in updates on the Battery Regulation 🔋, the latest tech news 🤖, or cute dog pics 🐶 shoot me a message!
In case you haven’t had enough:
Richard Branson just flew to the edge of space. Here’s what it means for space travel. [MIT Technology Review]
Humanoid Robot Keeps Getting Fired From His Jobs [Wall Street Journal]
The world’s biggest ransomware gang just disappeared from the internet [MIT Technology Review]