The Technology Practice at Cambre Associates, which is full of voracious readers, is happy to share #TechAways.
#TechAways is our very own selection of the top stories we’ve read in the week to be delivered to you every Friday, helping you keep up with the hottest developments in the tech world.
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Simply a must read. For most of us, the Vestager vs. Silicon Valley is a familiar trope. Finally we can see behind the curtain – the worries, fears and tech-driven hopes of one of Europe’s foremost politicians. As she focusses on issues ranging from tax to data-driven dominance, her voice is just one in a pack of European politicians pushing back against the dominance of online platforms in citizens’ lives. If the US begins to see this as a threat, is internet fragmentation a risk? It’s difficult to imagine the ramifications of a Great Firewall of the Atlantic and what it would mean for the many efficiencies that technology currently delivers.
Speaking of Great Firewalls, it’s feedback time in China. The Cyberspace Administration of China has given the public until 11 May to comment on a new draft law requiring any business transferring substantial amounts of data abroad to undergo an annual assessment on their security measures and on the potential of the data to harm national interests. The law would also force firms to obtain the consent of users before transmitting data abroad. EU discussions about data protection clauses in trade agreements are heating up. This draft law is yet another sign of the increasing importance of data in the global regulatory context for trade.
"If I was setting up TransferWise today, I probably would not choose London." Wow. Coming from Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder one of the very few European FinTech “unicorns”, that kind of hurts– especially when uttered before the crème de la crème of FinTech investors at a conference with the headline "Invest in Great Britain and Northern Ireland." London is without a doubt the world’s FinTech capital, but Hinrikus' honesty serves as wake-up call to UK politicians. If they want it to stay on top in a post-Brexit world, they should not underestimate the charm offensive coming from Brussels, Frankfurt and beyond.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you could recode someone’s DNA? Thanks to early trials of a biotech company, this is closer to reality than you think. Spark Therapeutics has developed an innovative one-off treatment for haemophilia, a condition which stops blood from clotting and consequently makes every injury life-threatening. Consisting of merely a single intravenous drip, this “cure” corrects the genetic mutation that causes the disorder. Gene therapies like this one, targeting tiny abnormalities in people’s DNA, could change thousands of lives worldwide and become a way to tackle diseases at their source.
Social media is becoming ever more politicised. On Tuesday Facebook launched its new tool “Perspectives” in France, giving users easy access to the positions of each candidate in the presidential election – including listing positions under articles on specific topics. After being accused of not addressing the fake news blitz that propelled Donald Trump’s campaign, Facebook is rolling out countermeasures to fight misinformation and to drive informed political engagement across markets. As big elections are coming up across Europe this year, it will be interesting to see how the tech giant replicates and adapts the initiatives after each ballot is cast.
One topic emerging in the candidates' platforms is the gig economy. In 2016, Deliveroo’s sales in France grew 650%. In the first half of 2016, one in four jobs created were thanks to car services like Uber. So, is the gig economy bringing new opportunities for France’s economy? It depends on who you ask. Centrist Emmanuel Macron sees the gig economy as an opportunity to stop “protecting the insiders on iron clad permanent contacts.” Far-right Marine Le Pen, not so much. She thinks it creates unfair competition and precarious working conditions. Like any disruptive innovation, regulators have to decide if they see more opportunities or risks - this time, though, it looks like the French voters will be weighing in too.
Before passing away, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs imagined a ground-breaking way to treat diabetes by using wearable devices to monitor vital signs. Now the initiative, which uses non-invasive sensors to continuously monitor blood sugar levels, is conducting feasibility trials. If the project is successful, this development would improve the lives of millions of people with diabetes. This would create a potential market for tracking blood sugars for health and wellness purposes and turn the Apple Watch into a “must-have” device. Keep an eye out as more tech companies move into new territories.
#TechAways is brought to you by Cambre’s Technology Practice led by Victoria Main and featuring François Barry, Zachery Bishop, Svenja Mai, Anne-Claude Martin, Efthymia Ntivi, Teodora Raychinova, and Theresa - Sophie Stiegler.
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