The second Digital Day took place this week, a year after the Rome’s Digital Day.
What happened? A number of speeches by Commissioners (Gabriel, Ansip and Oettinger) supporting investment in digital in the next European multi-annual budget. VP Ansip called for “hard cash”. A number of panels with Ministries’ representatives that showed that governments are still very much made of MENisters. There were a number of declarations signed by many member states: on AI, on e-health, on blockchain, on 5G cross-border testing corridors and on the new Innovation Radar.
It was a digital High Mass for the Commission and Ministers. Let’s now see how their commitments and good intentions for Europe’s digital future translate into tangible results for citizens, businesses and governments. Rendez-vous next year?
Across the pond, this week saw Facebook turn into Facecongress. Something unprecedented happened: Mark Zuckerberg wore a tie. Likely the most noteworthy aspect of two unsurprising days during which a well briefed Zuckerberg faced angry Congress(wo)men – some willing but unable to regulate the social media giant.
Europe is lagging behind in the digital world economy – no doubt about it. But whether we like or not, if we look at citizens’ privacy and data protection, it looks like it’s not the worst place to live.
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Mr Zuckerberg, are you sure about that? [The Guardian]
The Facebook CEO’s strategy was to show remorse and deference. During his hearing with members of US Congress, Mark Zuckerberg also seemed sometimes amnesic when asked to explain the existence of shadow profiles or even to name the company’s competitors. When it comes to telling whether Facebook’s tools on external websites collected transaction data, he lost the plot. With European and US citizens being ever more concerned and cautious about the use of their data, policymakers on both side of the Atlantic are under scrutiny to come with legal solutions to protect people’s privacy.
The era of Silicon Valley and Washington ignoring each other is long gone, as tech companies are now spending millions per year to lobby policymakers and use think tanks to shape policy debates around their tech. Facebook’s PAC and employees made political contributions totaling $4.5 million in 2016, Google’s parent company Alphabet contributed $8 million. And as it has become increasingly obvious that many in US Congress do not fully understand the tech they are regulating, these tech giants clearly have the upper hand and will surely be major players in the legislation coming around the corner to prevent the next Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Hello Walkman, my old friend [TechCrunch]
What do the Sony Ericsson W810i, library stamps and the Opel Astra F have in common? They’re all dying tech, about to disappear from our daily lives – and with them the sound they make. Online museum ‘Conserve the sound’ stores “vanishing and endangered sounds”, for future generations and for the nostalgic ones. The project is not new, having been funded first in 2013, but the collection has grown bigger. You can even submit your own endangered sounds, like Nigel Farage’s monthly yapping in Strasbourg, compulsively disturbing the sound of silence.
A data-driven date night [WSJ]
The recent Facebook and Cambridge Analytica fallout has left many wondering, what data have they been sharing and where the heck has it been going? To set the scene – imagine you set a friend date with some mates. From the cross-platform messages you sent to arrange Netflix and (really) chill, where is your data being used? From catching an Uber to ordering that thin crust pizza on your Amex black (we wish!) and posting some pics to Insta, it’s highly likely that even modern nights-in leave a massive data trail. Perfectly tailored Netflix suggestions for the next movie don’t come free, and data is the currency of the day. We love this step-by-step walk through dissecting how data features in a night with friends, check it out!
In case you haven’t had enough:
- Palantir: the ‘special ops’ tech giant that wields as much real-world power as Google [The Guardian]
- A Long-Awaited IoT Crisis Is Here, and Many Devices Aren’t Ready [Wired]
- Why that photo of Zuck’s notes is more revealing than the entire Senate hearing [FastCompany]
- America should borrow from Europe’s data-privacy law [Economist]
- How Coders Are Fighting Bias in Facial Recognition Software [Wired]
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