It’s the Maltese Presidency’s turn to roll out the red carpet for the tech sector at the Digital Assembly. The Brussels tech bubble has decamped to Valletta for two days to discuss the European Commission’s progress on everything from copyright to building the data economy.
The big bang? It’s the end of roaming, folks. You can now ‘roam like you’re at home.’ Celebrated with fireworks and champagne over Valletta’s harbour, policy insiders said not so fast. In their view, a slog of more that 10 years is not the speedy policy-making that the tech sector wants. Fast, future-proof and light–handed regulation is the clear preference of the #DA17eu crowd.
Let’s see if that’s what they get back in Brussels…
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A success story ‘à la Française’ [The Guardian]
He’s only 33 and already France’s state secretary for digital. Mounir Mahjoubi, with his youthful zest, fresh perspectives and immigrant background, embodies a new political generation. A social media whizz, he reinvigorated France’s presidential election campaign by live-streaming videos of Emmanuel Macron’s trips and meetings, all while fighting off hackers’ attacks. Now that he’s in office, his first goals are internet access for all, the creation of digital state administration and the improvement of business tech. Will Mahjoubi’s energy shake up the EU’s digital agenda?
Digital investments on the ground [TechCrunch]
It’s no secret that Europe can be a tough market for many big US tech firms. How do you combat a bad reputation? For many, the answer is to up investment in EU-based campaigns and projects. While nothing compares to the $450 million Google has earmarked for European campaigns from 2015 to 2017, Airbnb has announced a new €5 million fund, called the Community Tourism Program, to give cash to projects in cities across Europe that foster local customs and traditions. As Europe is one of the most important regions in the world for digital consumers, a little spending on reputation here can go a long way.
Traditional media and official police reports are out of reach for the families of refugees wanting updates from far-flung family members. Angelo Milazzo, a police investigator in Syracuse, Sicily, is trying to bridge this gap using social media. Importantly, his process respects the privacy and dignity of the missing people, never publishing personal details or faces of the dead. It’s always heartening to see such an innovative, technology-based approaches to solving Europe’s problems.
Facebook needs to be more open about its effect on democracy [The Guardian]
Donald Trump’s notorious use of Twitter makes him the most prominent political figure using social media But, social media’s impact on politics goes far beyond the US president. According to Oxford University researchers, the influence of Twitter and Facebook on recent elections is massive. While Twitter gives 1% of its daily data for free, Facebook remains secretive about how political parties are able to use controversial techniques to micro-target voters. When will that change? Only when Facebook acknowledges its role as a news provider, according to the research team. Some EU policymakers would like to see that happen sooner than later.
A new digital divide? [Quartz]
Private networks (also known as content delivery networks or CDNs) are starting to dominate internet traffic flows. CDNs are used to improve user experience for some types of online media, especially video streams. Over the next five years their use is set to jump to over 70% of global internet traffic, according to Cisco’s annual forecast. Tech giants like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google are increasingly investing in their own CDNs to ship bits to their users. Cisco estimates that 91% of all internet traffic in North America and 87% in Europe will flow over a CDN by 2021, compared to just 31% in the Middle East and Africa. Could we see a new digital divide?
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