• For decades, the social and economic role of cities has steadily increased. Cities are financial hubs, accounting for at least 70% of the world’s GDP, while also being responsible for 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Over the last few years, their political ambition —on both the national and international level – has also grown. Cities have been hailed as our best hope to save democracy in the 21st century and as laboratories to rethink the EU as a bottom-up network of functional cooperation, with them at its centre. They command the trust of Europeans better than national governments do, but increasingly display political preferences at odds with those of rural areas, often supporting liberal, progressive, and green forces.

    How can cities contribute to solving the many challenges our societies face, starting with climate change? Should they have a more prominent role in EU institutions and policies, and how can they achieve it? How can the growing political gap between urban and rural areas be bridged and what is the role of centre-right parties? To mark the publication of its new policy brief by Konrad Niklewicz, the Martens Centre has the pleasure to invite you to a public discussion among two successful centre-right mayors of important European capital cities.

    Federico Ottavio Reho Rafał Trzaskowski Environment Greece Green Deal Technology

    An Urban Renewal: The Role of European Cities in our Future

    Live-streams - Multimedia

    17 Feb 2021

  • Our colleague Dimitar Lilkov was the surprise guest this week and discussed fake news on social media, Covid-19 vaccines, Europe’s digital sovereignty, China’s digital authoritarianism, and many other key topics.

    Roland Freudenstein Dimitar Lilkov China COVID-19 Digital Technology

    The Week in 7 Questions with Dimitar Lilkov

    Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions

    12 Feb 2021

  • The suspension of former President Trump from major social media platforms was celebrated by many with a sigh of relief. Others saw it as a clear affront against free speech and yet another victory of online cancel culture. One thing is certain, the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Snapchat have the final say on what is considered hateful or dangerous on their platforms. This has a huge impact on online political discourse and contributes to further polarisation within our democratic societies.

    This Martens Centre webinar aims to address these issues and discuss the future of online free speech in the EU and the US. Should private companies continue to be the ultimate arbiters of truth even as we discuss politics or elections? Will European regulations, such as the Digital Services Act, provide much-needed solutions? Should automatic algorithms separate right from wrong in the online domain and would a more transparent design of these algorithms make any difference?

    Žiga Turk Roland Freudenstein Digital Technology

    Big Tech and Free Speech

    Live-streams - Multimedia

    12 Feb 2021

  • Digital Transformation as a Geopolitical Challenge for Europe with Konstantinos Karamanlis Institute for Democracy (Greece).

    Discussants:

    – Leonidas Christopoulos, Secretary-General of Digital Governance and Simplification of Procedures, Ministry of Digital Governance of Greece

    – Ray Pinto, Director for Digital Transformation, DIGITALEUROPE

    – Axel Voss, MEP, EPP, Member of AIDA Special Committee

    – Panagiotis Kakolyris, Head of International Affairs, KKID – Moderator

    Digital Technology

    NET@WORK Day 1 – Panel 3

    Live-streams - Multimedia

    25 Nov 2020

  • The Digital Markets Act is due to be presented soon and aims extending the existing ruleset for online platforms and to existing competition laws. New rules are expected to fulfil the potential to open up markets to new entrants, including SMEs and start-­ups, to promote consumer choice and to drive innovation. The current pandemic and recurring lockdowns across Europe are increasing the stakes for the European Commission and the European Parliament to ensure consumers and businesses can continue to rely on digital tools that allowed them to be resilient and to continue to grow.

    What does this mean for the upcoming Digital Markets Act and how can policymakers avoid pitfalls of seemingly easy solutions to complex challenges?

    Dimitar Lilkov Digital Technology

    Is the Digital Markets Act giving the European Economy and Consumers what they need right now?

    Live-streams - Multimedia

    17 Nov 2020

  • Dimitar Lilkov Technology

    The Digital Services Act and digital fundamental rights with Eliška Pírková

    Brussels Bytes - Multimedia

    05 Nov 2020

  • Roland Freudenstein Anna Nalyvayko Žiga Turk China Technology

    EIF 2020 – Panel 4: Artificial Intelligence

    Live-streams - Multimedia

    28 Oct 2020

  • Anna van Oeveren Anna Nalyvayko Michał Boni Konstantinos Kyranakis Technology

    EIF 2020 – Panel 3: Digital Europe

    Live-streams - Multimedia

    28 Oct 2020

  • In a time of global uncertainty, digital technology has enabled continuity and resilience for society as a whole. Europe has the ambition of creating the digital champions of tomorrow and being a leader of the digital transformation. To do so, it must formulate a clear set of policies that promote innovation, attract investment, and strengthen the digital ecosystem, by ensuring a level playing field. Only through building a robust digital ecosystem of start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises can we ensure a competitive marketplace.

    What is needed to complete the digital single market? Which policies should we enact to ensure a level playing field? Do we have a robust protection mechanism in place for consumers and start-ups to ensure a strong competitive digital ecosystem?

    Anna van Oeveren Technology

    Online Event ‘EU Ambitions for a Competitive Digital Marketplace: a Toolkit’

    Live-streams - Multimedia

    23 Sep 2020

  • Regulating autonomous vehicles is not only a question of finding solutions in connection with the technical aspects of the legal framework. Rather, it involves making preliminary policy-based decisions that take all stakeholders into consideration. This article makes the case that efforts must focus on how to incentivise the use of autonomous vehicles without putting the burden on the shoulders of those who will ultimately make use of them. In that respect, the existing regulation (implemented on the basis of the Product Liability Directive and the Motor Insurance Directive) is insufficient, as there is a considerable mismatch between the current framework and the challenges posed by autonomous vehicles. There is a need to act urgently on the regulatory level.

    Read the full article of the June 2020 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.

    Anastas Punev Industry Innovation Technology

    Anastas Punev

    Autonomous Vehicles: The Need for a Separate European Legal Framework

    Blog

    18 Sep 2020

  • On 22 June, Amnesty International, a non-governmental organisation, published a story on Moroccan journalist and human rights defender Omar Radi, whose smartphone was reportedly bugged. Amnesty’s investigation of the case found traces of so-called ‘network injection’—a cyberattack in which an outside actor inserts a program in the target’s device in order to gain access to its content, including email and browsing history.

    Network injection attacks are usually carried out by tricking the target into opening malicious links, often sent via SMS and WhatsApp, which then infect the target’s device with malware. According to Amnesty, the spyware program used in the Radi case was Pegasus, developed by an Israeli firm to track COVID-19 cases in Israel.

    In Israel, this technique is used with full transparency, and amidst a healthy debate on its benefits and drawbacks. However, it’s worth mentioning that the technique itself can, of course, also be used to track and monitor political opponents. This creates a clear and present danger of authoritarian overreach, as witnessed in China and Russia, for example.

    Amnesty accused Moroccan authorities of the attack, a charge which Morocco denied, asking Amnesty for material evidence. As presented by Amnesty, the case itself is a human rights violation due to the use of spyware against a journalist doing his job, since the journalist’s smartphone was tapered with and infected with malware in order to track and survey him.

    But the Omar Radi case also reveals a more significant issue, which deserves to be discussed. And yet, for obvious reasons, it is often hidden and avoided in public. Cybersecurity has become more and more relevant in the past 20 years. This is directly related to the growing combined threats of international terrorism, trafficking, and smuggling, which bedevil relations between Europe and its neighbours.

    The technology at the core of the Radi case (i.e., spyware used to penetrate phones and other forms of electronic communication) is, by nature, multi-faceted. It can (and is) used by friends and foes alike: terrorists, traffickers, and the agencies trying to combat them. Over the years, this technology has progressed and become much more sophisticated, as well as much harder to trace.

    Electronic surveillance is, of course, taking place inside the EU as well, mostly used by state actors. But since the technology has developed and become more user-friendly, it’s also accessible to non-state actors (such as criminal organisations and terrorists). Network injection itself is, in a sense, a ‘tip of the spear technology’ when it comes to tracking technologies. Also, in order to be effective, direct contact with a phone (or some other device) and the network used is necessary.

    It’s hardly a surprise that authorities across the board are keen to embrace such ready-to-use technology that can help keep track of what they consider hostile or politically disruptive individuals and organisations. The line between what constitutes genuinely nefarious and dangerous cases, and what does not, should be easy to draw. However, it sometimes isn’t. Accessibility makes various types of spyware tempting to use, even when it’s not necessary. However, when their use by authorities crosses the line, they often create individual casualties in the process.

    Simultaneously, the very nature of cyber technology such as spyware makes it ripe for clandestine applications, and therefore not necessarily open to a more public debate.

    So, when a case like the Radi one appears, even if it takes place outside the EU, it should be seen as a chance for the Union. It is a chance to discuss and learn from the issue of how cybersecurity, and the technology used to enhance it, ought to be managed, protecting individuals and societies alike, as well as avoiding abuse and malicious overreach.

    The issues at stake are critical for the EU as well, since we do have similar technology (oftentimes purchasing the same software), and the balancing act of individual integrity and societal security is linked across borders. There is to date no common EU policy towards these issues. That needs to change, and a way to start is to address the difficult problems tied to integrity and security on an EU-wide level.

    Credits: Image by geralt on Pixabay

    Magnus Norell Innovation Internet Security Technology

    Magnus Norell

    Cybersecurity technology roams unsupervised. Here’s why that needs to change

    Blog

    20 Jul 2020

  • Watch our surprise guest of the week answering Roland Freudenstein’s questions on teleworking, digital Education, robotics, Artificial Intelligence, tourism and China.

    Žiga Turk Roland Freudenstein China COVID-19 Education Technology

    The Week in 7 Questions with Žiga Turk

    Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions

    05 Jun 2020

  • Digital contact tracing is the new buzzword in Europe. Many national governments are going forward with their plans for the roll-out of phone applications which can potentially help in identifying people who might have been exposed to Covid-19. Silicon Valley digital companies are also planning to integrate similar features in the operating systems of smartphones globally. Serious questions remain about the design and overall rationale of these digital tools. There are already calls that we should reconsider our commitment to safeguarding individual privacy in the fight against the virus.

    Is there a trade-off between privacy and human health? How important is digital contact tracing for the resumption of everyday life in Europe after lockdown? Or perhaps these tools will have a limited impact and European policy-makers should think bigger than phone apps? Join us online where we will discuss these important issues with our guest experts

    Bruno Maçães Dimitar Lilkov COVID-19 Technology

    Online Event ‘Privacy and Public Health: Thinking Bigger Than Apps’

    Live-streams - Multimedia

    28 May 2020

  • During the lockdown, citizens were compelled to practice social distancing and work from home. In circumstances such as these, digital technologies became more crucial than ever before. As a result, an increasing number of individuals and companies are stepping up their digital game and are using digital technologies to keep their business running. Whether or not this trend will continue in the post-Covid era is yet to be determined.

    Sandra Pasarić Žiga Turk Gonçalo Carriço COVID-19 Technology

    Online Event ‘Crisis and Opportunity: Can the pandemic push technology forward?’

    Live-streams - Multimedia

    20 May 2020

  • One of the most pertinent questions posed during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak is whether technology can be successfully utilised to mitigate the spread of the virus or otherwise limit its impact on everyday life. This In Brief takes stock of the technological measures taken in several Asian countries as a reaction to the outbreak and examines the recent response of European Union member states. The text also maps out workable solutions and important future considerations on the digital front for the EU. 

    COVID-19 Crisis European Union Innovation Technology

    COVID-19 and Technology in the EU: Think Bigger than Apps

    IN BRIEF

    07 May 2020

  • Tsvetelina Kuzmanova Dimitar Lilkov Economy Technology

    Fintech – disrupting the world of finance, with Tsvetelina Kuzmanova

    Brussels Bytes - Multimedia

    07 May 2020

  • Watch here the 7 answers that Lidia Pereira gives to our host Roland Freudenstein on topics such as the new way of work of the MEPs, changing traveling to books, Digital Technology, or China, among others.

    Roland Freudenstein China COVID-19 European People's Party Technology

    The Week In 7 Questions with Lídia Pereira

    Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions

    24 Apr 2020

  • In some years, I will probably see the current period of COVID-19 outbreak as an era, which has changed nearly everything. From the patterns of my work (very productive online cooperation, which, however, may give some employers additional tools for surveillance) to social life (offline limitations and online chances). From education (the new architecture of my remote classes with students, which requires the proper quality of the network), to the new schemes of digital cultural participation. Think of the excellent online performances enjoyed by all of us, such as the concert of Andrea Bocelli from the empty cathedral in Milano.

    Paradoxically, this completely unpredictable disease has become the global game-changer, influencing both the current times and the future. The COVID-19 experience clearly shows what was, and is, most important: a substantial increase in the significance of digital opportunities. The new, post-Corona world will become more digital than we could ever have imagined.

    One part of me is afraid of this digital breakthrough. The other is full of hope.

    Firstly, use the data efficiently and adequately!

    Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can predict the trajectories of COVID-19’s dissemination (through modelling) and prepare warning policies, including for the second and possible third wave of the outbreak.

    These predictions depend on the massive delivery of the data needed. How to collect it? As it was done one month ago by Deutsche Telecom, without the possibility of identifying individuals (the data was provided to the Robert Koch Institute in aggregated form). We can also follow the experiment of South Korea with the possibility of identifying individuals, legally introduced to know more about human contacts (tracing): the new algorithmic solution with full automation of all processes reduced contact-tracing time from 24 hours to 10 minutes.

    The special apps and data will be a crucial instrument for health crisis management, or rather the e-management of the health crisis.

    Such applications should be voluntary (but 60% of participation is needed for efficiency) for us, citizens, as the European Commission suggests; they should also be based on privacy protection (proportionate and targeted use) with a growing awareness of the need for consent given by an individual. Clearly, these apps should use anonymised data. Additionally, they could use the decentralised model of collecting data by Bluetooth instruments, which is currently offered by Google and Apple. Of course, it should be known what kind of data retention rules ought to be implemented, for what period of time, and how to include the terms of the “sunset clause” into some solutions. In some cases, we need to consider how to make legitimate use of the GDPR. In all cases, we should check what the impact of those digital tools on civil rights is. This is the only way to avoid tensions and redundant controversies.

    All those principles must function as a European approach, with a full agreement between the European Commission, the Member States, and the European Data Protection Supervisor.

    Secondly, be connected!

    The question is whether the parameters of connectivity are sufficient. The current experience shows deficits and the necessity for improvement. For example, the lack of accessibility to the Internet in rural areas (it turns out this is a major issue in the US). On a global level, there is a deficit of the possibilities to use networks in developing countries (low level of quality and access). And this is to say nothing of the enormous lack of digital literacy among many groups, especially elderly people. Additionally, we see a lack of full semantic interoperability of operational systems or software in Europe, which hinders cooperation in many areas, including in healthcare, which is now proving crucial. 

    Digital opportunities revealed, at the same time, the growing threat of the digital divide. Hence, we need to accelerate the works on 5G implementation, fully taking into account the challenge of cybersecurity and the need to build a European system of certificates and skills for risk analysis and management. My view is clear, and often in contradiction to those of experts and governments. We should not postpone these works.

    Thirdly, build trust!

    Trust is essential for two reasons: cybersecurity and privacy. The more digital we are, the more threats we face.

    On the cybersecurity front, we are seeing a new context. The massive scale of mobile devices and communication channels used is already provoking cybercrime organisations to expand their activities. These actors range from mafia groups to the completely out of control Darknet, to some states conducting digital industrial espionage or disinformation campaigns. There are many reports demonstrating Chinese and Russian involvement in disinformation measures. There are also many instances of new forms of digital espionage and hacking activities.

    Necessary resilience should be guaranteed by the proper institutions, such as ENISA, Europol, as well as the member states and tech companies, but also by all of us, ready to use the “cyber hygiene” tools. The key challenge is to convince citizens in all member states that data is like the air (not only like oil): we need it to be able to breathe and to function.

    Also, the significance of artificial intelligence is undeniable. It is high time to discuss the European Strategy on AI (White Paper), and clearly and publicly show why we need AI and how it should be governed (by law and by oversight, with what kind of partners, based on ethical norms and standards). We must also avoid mistakes by creating potential discriminatory schemes.

    This is the opportunity to make a giant leap, combining new digital tools and AI, and changing the paradigm of the healthcare model. We need to speed up clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine, work on biotechnologies useful for new medicines, have better diagnostic instruments, as well as personalised recognition and therapies.

    Sitting at home, seeing the coming of spring outside the window, I cannot stop thinking about the growing digital opportunities during the outbreak. The conclusion is simple: we must seize these opportunities. This is the digital game-changer momentum.

    Michał Boni COVID-19 Technology

    Michał Boni

    COVID-19 and the digital game-changer momentum

    Blog

    20 Apr 2020

  • Digital authoritarianism is no future prospect. It is already here. The People’s Republic of China has institutionalised draconian measures for citizen surveillance and censorship, as well as gaining almost full control of online political discourse.

    Download the Research Paper here.

    Dimitar Lilkov China Technology

    Teaser Video ‘Made in China: Tackling Digital Authoritarianism’

    Multimedia - Other videos

    26 Mar 2020

  • Dimitar Lilkov Technology

    Nietzsche, nihilism and technology with Dr. Nolen Gertz

    Brussels Bytes - Multimedia

    24 Feb 2020

  • The term ‘financial technology’ (FinTech) refers to technology-enabled innovation in the financial sector. FinTech could result in new business models, products and services. It has been rapidly developing around the world, offering innovative products and services that are quickly gaining traction with consumers and investors. Different countries and regions around the world are finding themselves caught up in this fast-paced ecosystem, where their competitiveness depends on a variety of factors, including the interaction of different market players, access to funding and talent, and regulatory measures. This paper examines the latest developments in specific financial technologies, major financial services and product providers. It also looks at the conditions which are shaping financial centres’ competitive significance in FinTech on a global scale.


    Recent trends suggest that the US and China are emerging as key hubs for unlocking the disruptive potential of financial innovation in terms of the scale of their FinTech businesses and investments compared to Europe. For the comparatively smaller and younger European FinTech companies it would be challenging to compete with them without favourable government initiatives and support. The EU has already undertaken certain measures and initiatives in order to nurture its FinTech firms, but at the moment it lacks a targeted, EU-wide approach to FinTech. The policy landscape remains rather fragmented with different national approaches to legislation and regulation. The paper examines the current EU policies, initiatives and frameworks for the purpose of providing forward-looking policy recommendations for a more competitive and innovative single European market in the financial sector.

    European Union Industry Innovation Technology

    Fine-Tuning Europe: How to Win the Global FinTech Race?

    Research Papers

    18 Feb 2020

  • Digital authoritarianism is no future prospect. It is already here. The People’s Republic of China has institutionalised draconian measures for citizen surveillance and censorship, as well as gaining almost full control of online political discourse. The Chinese Social Credit System is an intricate extension of this tactic. A coordinated administrative system which feeds on data from different governmental sources and has the ability to sanction and publicly shame individuals would be a powerful tool in the hands of the Chinese Politburo. In parallel, China is pursuing an aggressive agenda of techno-nationalism which aims to move the country closer to technological self-sufficiency and to maximise the penetration of its technological giants on the global stage. The majority of these digital champions have been nurtured by generous public subsidies and successfully shielded from international competition.

    This research paper analyses the unique features of the Chinese model of digital authoritarianism and its international spill-overs. China’s oppressive model is no longer just applied domestically but is successfully being exported to other countries across different continents. As a new decade begins, the EU must make sure that its citizens have the necessary institutional and legal protection from abuses of modern technology such as facial-recognition software and the advanced application of AI. Europe must remain a global influence when it comes to ensuring a coherent regulatory approach to technology and stand ready to oppose the spread of digital authoritarianism.

    China Democracy Economy European Union Innovation Technology

    Made in China: Tackling Digital Authoritarianism

    Research Papers

    11 Feb 2020

  • Dimitar Lilkov Technology

    The European society at a technological juncture with John Frank, Microsoft

    Brussels Bytes - Multimedia

    15 Jan 2020

  • Dimitar Lilkov Technology

    The European audiovisual sector and the future of digital platforms with David Wheeldon, Sky

    Brussels Bytes - Multimedia

    21 Nov 2019

  • Dimitar Lilkov Technology

    GDPR, privacy and data governance with Valentina Pavel

    Brussels Bytes - Multimedia

    30 Sep 2019

  • Roslyn Layton Dimitar Lilkov Technology

    5G and the future of the European telecom sector with Roslyn Layton

    Brussels Bytes - Multimedia

    25 Jul 2019

  • Dimitar Lilkov Centre-Right Technology

    Is regulating tech beyond left-right politics with Svetoslav Malinov

    Brussels Bytes - Multimedia

    25 Jun 2019

  • Dimitar Lilkov Technology

    Democracy in the Age of AI with Paul Nemitz

    Brussels Bytes - Multimedia

    29 May 2019

  • The aim of the current In Brief is to explore the possible disinformation threats in view of the European elections in May 2019. European voters are exposed to similar negative narratives and strategic disinformation campaigns which managed to influence a large number of citizens in the run-up of the US Presidential election and UK European Union membership referendum in 2016. The analysis also explores ways to tackle future malign information operations by proposing  specific  policy  recommendations  for strengthening the European and national institutional capacity and also obliging digital companies  to  improve  their  efforts  in  the  fight against disinformation. 

    Elections EU Institutions EU Member States Internet Technology

    European Parliament Elections: the Disinformation Challenge

    IN BRIEF

    24 May 2019

  • The concept of political warfare is not new. Today, however, with the emergence of cyberspace as the fifth domain of war, the scope of political warfare, its diversity and its level of sophistication signify a break from past experience. What early ideas about political warfare identified as propaganda, psychological operations, or a race for the hearts and minds of the population can now be applied on a scale  never  seen  before. 

    This  article  offers  a  new  frame  of  reference  for  an old problem. In order to assess and adapt to the complex nature of inter-state competition in the cyber era, we need to understand how information technology is raising the relative importance of political warfare by transforming the social environment and its instruments of operation.

    Furthermore, although information technology is a neutral variable, the openness of Western societies increases the vulnerability of liberal democracies to political warfare. As a result, authoritarian regimes, terrorist groups and other revisionary forces of the twenty-first century are  undermining  democracy  and  freedom  around  the  world  by  targeting  the network society and by establishing new, virtual spheres of influence.

    Defence Security Technology

    Political Warfare: Competition in the Cyber Era

    Policy Briefs

    09 Apr 2019

  • The information space that is used by voters, politicians and interest groups in Western nations is being contested and challenged by new risks and threats, both from within and from without. The aim of this report is to identify some of the main vulnerabilities with respect to current forms of political subversion, and to propose a set of policy principles to guide ongoing reflections on how best to respond to that challenge.

    Four areas of vulnerability are identified, namely individualised political messaging, group dynamics and political polarisation, platform algorithms and self-radicalisation, and falsehood dissemination dynamics. This leads to the formulation of four proposed policy principles, followed by a discussion of the extent to which recent measures, in selected Western nations and at EU level, are sufficient to address the challenge at hand.

    Democracy Elections Internet Technology

    Political Subversion in the Age of Social Media

    Policy Briefs

    22 Oct 2018

  • The rapid technological progress in automation, robotisation and artificial intelligence is raising fears, but also hopes, that in the future the nature of work will change significantly. There will be changes in what we do, how we form workplace relations, how we find work and the role of work in a society. Some believe that these changes will be for the better: we will need to work less and thus will have more free time. Others think that the changes will be for the worse: there will be fewer ways to earn a living.

    The central question of this paper is this: will adages such as ‘By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food’ and ‘No bees, no honey, no work, no money’ become obsolete? Will work disappear and with it the societal relations and inequalities that result from differing success in work? If this is going to happen, what policy options do we have to address the issue? 

    Economy Innovation Jobs Society Technology

    The Future of Work: Robots Cooking Free Lunches?

    Research Papers

    11 Jul 2018

  • Itʹs official. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has started to apply directly in all member states with the aim of safeguarding the processing of personal data of all natural persons within the European Union. The Regulation is seen as the most comprehensive ‘upgrade’ of data protection rules over the last two decades as it repeals Directive 95/46/EC enacted in the distant 1995. GDPR standardises and strengthens citizensʹ rights when it comes to collecting and  processing  personal  data  while  also  empowering national data protection authorities to supervise this new ambitious framework, by enhancing  their  responsibilities  and  ensuring  the possibility of heavy fines at their disposal. European and global businesses (big and small) had two years to adapt to the new onerous requirements  which  demanded  administrative,  technical and even strategic changes in the way they operate. The following In Brief aims to highlight the essence of the Regulationʹs 99 Articles and analyse the potential impact of GDPR on both users and business.

    Business Ethics Internet Technology

    The Impact of GDPR on Users and Business: The Good, The Bad and the Uncertain

    IN BRIEF

    05 Jun 2018

  • This week Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress in Washington D.C. to testify over two consecutive days in relation to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The CEO of Facebook addressed a series of allegations, previously assumed but before now, never fully proven or confirmed at such high-level by a company representative. This personal blog briefly highlights the most important political takeaways which could have significant policy implications and are likely to remain matters for growing public concern within the EU.

    Facebook is a monopoly. Facebook faces competition from other social media platforms or rival apps, but only in overlapping areas. The company does not have actual competition in today`s market and there is no single competing entity offering a similar bundle of services.

    The company can`t cope. The narrative that a social network with so many users can self-regulate and monitor content independently and successfully remains untrue. The CEO of the company admitted that tracing hate speech and monitoring disturbing video content posted in an array of different languages, fast and effectively, is a persistent and insurmountable challenge. The copious number of languages and linguistic nuances employed and the millions of posts every day, means that there is no fully efficient ‘check’ against dangerous content or misleading/untrue facts which can distort markets and impact democracies.

    Journalistic investigations have also questioned the actual amount of fake profiles engaged in fraudulent activities or phony accounts which are part of businesses seeking to sell online influence and artificial social engagement. Facebook has regularly pledged to address this issue, but the company has thus far refrained from admitting how much of its 2 billion user base has in fact been corrupted. 

    Facebook is at war with Russian operatorsMark Zuckerberg openly confirmed that the company has not fulfilled its responsibilities in terms of data privacy, fake news and foreign interference in elections. He further commented that his company is engaged in a persistent battle with Russian operators, attempting to exploit the social network.

    In his words: ‘This is an arms race. They’re going to keep getting better’. This statement is nothing new but is a stark reminder that the upcoming 2019 European Parliament elections might be a target for the disinformation warfare lead by Moscow.  

    Personal data costs money. Prior to the recent scandal, the majority of Facebook users had little or no idea that their data was used for side purposes and also by third parties. Data costs money and Facebook provides a free service for the users by running ads. That is how Zuckerberg explained the business model of the social media in a nutshell.

    However, this free service is supported by users ‘selling’ their own data at an unset price and by ‘signing’ a flawed contract with an abundance of fine print.

    On Facebook ‘consent’ is an empty concept. Prior to 2015 Facebook`s Application Programme Interface (API) allowed third-party applications (after receiving user consent with a single click) to gather the data of the respective user, as well as the data of their Facebook connections. Granted, this was done after the original users had given their ‘consent’ to the third-party app but most users did not  make an informed choice to share such a wealth of personal data and also expose their online friends.

    Most importantly, users were not properly informed that in giving their consent with a click, they were delegating their personal information (and their friends’ data) to a third party, outside of Facebook`s platform and servers.

    Facebook applies certain standards of accountability, respect of privacy and transparency when it comes to storing personal data within its servers. However, the company has been negligent in its handling of personal information and has de facto given it to third parties, without having created or implemented the necessary mechanisms for controlling these third parties.

    Cambridge Analytica is a case in point. Even after the infamous company assured that it had deleted the personal data it had accumulated, Facebook had no instrument to verify this and only years later was it confirmed that Cambridge Analytica had lied. Again, it should be reiterated that most users have never given their full and informed consent and do not have comprehensive knowledge that third parties have been using, storing, studying and even archiving their personal data, away from the Facebook servers completely unchecked by private or public scrutiny.

    The European Union should set the global standard on data protection. The CEO of Facebook recently hinted that parts of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in late May 2018, could be applied by the company not only in Europe but on a global scale. During the recent public testimony, he stated that the company may implement a different set of parameters given the `different sensibilities in the U.S.` but Facebook remains committed to installing necessary controls and tools for affirmative consent.

    This remains only a promise. The current gaping legislative hole in the U.S. is likely to be addressed soon and it is probable that GDPR will serve as a template. The EU should acknowledge this and further increase its effort to set a global standard for data protection and privacy in terms of trade and the conducting of business with third countries.  

    Tread lightly but regulate. The question of regulating social media companies is becoming ever more pertinent. This is a considerable challenge given the growing ecosystem of start-ups and innovative companies which should not be stifled by cumbersome legislation. Zuckerberg himself confirmed during the hearing that regulating social media companies is inevitable and he is open to providing support for such an idea. The U.S. and EU legislators will have to make decisions fast and walk into the unknown land of tougher social media regulatory oversight.

    Facebook is currently acting as an intermediary in news spreading, financial transactions and broadcasting live content, but it is far from being classified as a media, financial service or broadcasting company in the strict legal sense. Facebook is one of the global brands which are redefining classical concepts of competition and have used this opportunity to grow their business on a massive scale.

    Such innovative companies are welcome as they provide new services, improve lives and create employment opportunities. However, they remain mostly unchecked and recent developments have proven that users are in a vulnerable position, particularly exposed to data breaches, and in some instances, platforms can be used for nefarious purposes with detrimental global impact. Legislation 2.0 is urgently needed

    Dimitar Lilkov EU-US Innovation Technology

    Dimitar Lilkov

    The Zuckerberg takeaways and what they mean for the EU

    Blog

    12 Apr 2018

  • Looking back over time, we can see that the Information Age has made our economies and our society knowledge-driven; our main drivers of growth have become based on pushing bits up and down (digital services) and on connectivity improvements which have made delivering those bits quicker, and ubiquitous, all throughout the world. In sum, we are assembling the “space shuttle” for globalisation.

    In today’s world, the biggest transport company doesn’t own a single car. The foremost house rental company doesn’t own a single house or apartment. The space race is being carried out not by state agencies but by energy, automotive and online payment companies (SpaceX founded by Elon Musk), by a company that started as a record shop (Virgin Galactic, founded by Sir Richard Branson) and even by the world’s biggest retail company (Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos).

    The car industry is being challenged by Internet companies which have yet to produce a single car. Recently, an Internet/TV company went global, disrupting the TV industry’s decades-long reign. Trade is global, companies are going global; the workforce and talent pool are becoming more and more global as well.

    In the time since we have unleashed the information society, our economies have undergone incredible transformation, causing me to wonder, “Are we taking this transformation seriously?” I don’t think so.

    Our so-called modern societies, democracies, governments and institutions are still not organised with an agile mindset that will enable them to engage in decision-making and policy-making that is able to cope with such transformation and speed. The way we think and govern this transformation is still rooted in a sectoral approach, not focused or centred on the citizen.

    Governments, politicians and institutions should give to digital policies the same weight, the same holistic approach which they do for those dealing with education, health, social issues, the economy and even foreign affairs and defence.

    We fail to consider how the digital transformation is being disseminated horizontally, economically and across sectors (e.g. in education, health, manufacturing, farming, etc.) and how vertically it is impacting our society.

    The Internet has become the veins of the modern economy and of modern society — and data the lifeblood within, rendering cyberspace analogous to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for every middle-aged or older politician.

    The Good, because it has brought about increases in productivity and therefore growth; the Bad, because it has increased inequality and has apparently led to lower incomes and to the erosion of low-skilled jobs; and the Ugly, because it has been regarded as an unruly space facilitating cyberattacks, fake news and terrorism.

    We must then prepare our society and institutions for the radical change that is underway. Governments, politicians and institutions should give to digital policies the same weight, the same holistic approach which they do for those dealing with education, health, social issues, the economy and even foreign affairs and defence.

    At EU level, this Commission (EC) has built a political structure to underpin the Digital Single Market (DSM) for concentrating efforts on the market dimension horizontally. Still lacking, however, is proper coordination or structure on cyber-diplomacy in order to address and promote a values-based and a rules-based global cyberspace — an EU Digital Ambassador is needed.

    In the European Parliament (EP), digital affairs are done either in the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee or in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO). But due to the cross-sector nature of the digital files, some files end up having five committees involved. This brings slowness and lack of agility on delivering pieces of legislation: a Digital Affairs Committee is badly needed!

    In the Council of the EU (Council), whilst digital files are discussed in the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council configuration (TTE) and in the Competitiveness Council configuration (COMPET), most of these files end up being dealt with in more than just one Council configuration, within the framework of a particular sector, thus losing the horizontal vision needed in the digital transformation. Here, and again, it’s about time to devise a Digital Affairs Council.

    A Digital Affairs Council would bring together a specially designated digital minister from every Member State, who would address the “digital present” but also devise a borderless and human-centred digital future. A digital minister would enable its Member State to no longer regard the digital realm merely as a sector, framed within his country’s own borders.

    As a matter of fact, with digitalisation taking place in every sector, citizens will also be equally demanding toward their respective Member States, either in terms of “public” services or public policies: soon, domestic policies will have to deal with algorithms and the virtual world as well. 

    Concerns over privacy must be addressed, as do other recent phenomena, such as cyberbullying and online behaviour. We should be looking at how new digital technologies are re-shaping the family structure as we have traditionally conceived it, at how they are affecting our sense of time, our critical-thinking capacity to evaluate information and our standards of knowledge themselves — which are fundamentally changing our perceptions of the world. Before long, we should be questioning which values we want to preserve and nurture in a society that is turning digital.

    New generations born in a hyper-connected world will hardly understand the concepts of borders or sovereignty — even the languages which are seen by today’s generations as barriers will be transformed by technology into enablers. We need to cope with their aim for flexibility — working from anywhere to reach everyone in the world.

    It’s being said that globalisation and digitalisation are destroying jobs — or at least destroying more than they create. I’m not fully convinced of this; I believe there will be changes in jobs rather than losses: changes, for example, from low-skilled to high-skilled work.

    Governments should thus be preparing society for a massive movement of workers from one profession to another, putting the right employment and social policies in place to incentivise workers, and encouraging the private sector to invest more in skilling, up-skilling and re-skilling human capital.

    In the same way, discussions have started to appear regarding what some call “the negative effects of automation”. The ideas range from Universal Basic Income to taxing robots, although the point remains valid that “there is no single magic bullet for poverty” and inequality. But these tools can be valuable instruments when contextualised within a broader strategy — such as an education, fiscal and social reform — and targeted such as to maximise effectiveness.

    We need to prepare future generations for jobs that don’t yet exist. For this, deep reform of our educational systems is of the utmost importance. Kids should master creativity, critical thinking, communications and adaptability. Throughout their lives, they will have to face a world in rapid and constant change, in which their ability to adapt to this change will be key to surviving. We must nurture a natural process of learning, unlearning and relearning.

    Quick adaptability to change, therefore, is key to success, be it at EU level or Member State level, in the public or the private sector, or even at the level of the individual. 

    Gonçalo Carriço Business Economy Innovation Internet Technology

    Gonçalo Carriço

    Are we prepared for the digital transformation?

    Blog

    22 Jul 2017

  • While most attention over the past few years has been centred on Russia’s aggression and the critical situation in the Middle East, very few analysts notice a security emergency on the EU’s south-eastern border. 

    Only in 2016, the Greek General Staff recorded 1,671 national airspace violations by Turkish aircraft. The size of this breach can be easier understood if one considers that, during the same period, NATO jets scrambled to intercept Russian military planes 780 times, which is the highest recorded number since the Cold War.

    The root of tensions in the Aegean is Ankara’s efforts to question the existing status quo in the area, both in the air and at sea. This antagonism has led the two countries three times (1976, 1987 and 1996) to the brink of war. According to international norms, the national airspace should correspond to territorial waters. However, Greece, since 1931, established its airspace to 10nm, while its territorial waters remain at 6nm. This international paradox was never challenged by Turkey before its invasion in Cyprus.

    The reasoning behind the Turkish stance derives from its claims that the 4nm difference between Greek airspace and its territorial waters should be considered as international space over which Greece has no authority. The situation became more complex when, in 1995, the Turkish Parliament declared that any possible extension of the Greek territorial waters up to a limit of 12nm – and subsequently the national airspace – would automatically result in an act of war (casus belli).

    Over the space of the past seventeen years, Turkish fighter jets – many of them equipped with combat arms – have been violating Greek airspace (see below), resulting in interception attempts by Greek forces and, in many cases, dangerous air engagements and dogfights, even over inhabited islands of the Eastern Aegean.

    Photo source: Global Military Review

    In reality, Turkey’s revisionism in the Aegean can be traced to its existential fear of possible geopolitical, economic and military isolation. Taking into consideration the political instability and security threats that the country is facing over the space of the past five years, one could easily understand how fragile peace on NATO’s Eastern flank is. In that frame, Erdogan’s rhetoric on possible change and renegotiation of the Lausanne Treaty – which defined, in 1923, the boundaries of the modern state of Turkey – endangers not only Greco-Turkish relations, but the entire South-East Mediterranean region.

    The frequency of Turkish violations and infringements also dramatically affects and puts in harm’s way civil aviation in the area. The concentration of the Greek islands, coupled with the intensity and the heights that the warplanes can reach, increase the probability of another fatal accident in the Aegean, as has happened in the past.  

    Another important aspect of this secret war is the financial cost. According to Greek officials, every time a Greek fighter jet scrambles, the cost rises to €8,000 – €12,000 per hour. Of course, in the case of collision, this cost exceeds the €50,000,000 per plane without counting the loss of human lives. As it is easily understood, these numbers for a country in deep recession are onerous and deprive other sectors more vital for the daily life of the Greek citizen of important resources.  

    Unfortunately, during the last four decades, the EU and especially NATO, have not paid the necessary attention to Turkish bellicosity. It is evident that the Turkish political and diplomatic fluctuations should alert the West. Impartiality and apathy with regards to Turkish hostile behaviour towards its neighbours should not be the norm.

    Erdogan and Putin’s recent marriage of convenience has raised many analysts’ doubt over Turkey’s intentions. Therefore, NATO should not underestimate the fact that Greece remains the oldest member of both NATO and the EU in the region, committing – even under the current horrendous financial situation – 2.38% of her GDP to defence, and thus to the Western alliance.

    In fact, the Aegean dispute has not been adequately debated. It is not solely a Greco-Turkish problem. It should be perceived as an EU problem, as Greece is called upon to protect the Union’s external borders in the vital region of the Eastern Mediterranean. The EU should finally define, in the clearest terms, its current land, sea and air borders, in order to be prepared to protect them against any external threat.

    An idea would be the creation of a common European airspace, by establishing territorial sea and airspace 12nm, throughout the EU. This decision might discourage further provocations and hostile acts by third countries, as well as defusing tensions between the two bitter friends in the Aegean.   

    Panos Tasiopoulos Defence EU Member States Technology

    Panos Tasiopoulos

    The untold war: dogfights in the Aegean

    Blog

    19 Jul 2017

  • Social media are becoming the dominant source of information for significant parts of our societies. There are numerous positive aspects of these media, such as their ability to mobilise for a political cause and how they enable greater and quicker flows of ideas across societies.

    This paper focuses on those aspects of social media that negatively affect the public debate, such as the spreading of fake news and the creation of ‘echo chambers’ of like-minded users who become isolated from alternative opinions. The paper proposes that social media platforms should be considered media companies and that they should be regulated by modified versions of existing press laws, adapted to suit the new technology.

    The creation of a ‘notice and correct’ procedure, as it is tentatively called, would provide an effective tool to stop lies from spreading, allowing affected parties, public or private, to protect their rights. By making the social media platforms jointly responsible for the content they publish, governments would create the right incentives for companies to adapt their business models and modify the construction of their algorithms and policies.

    The paper outlines how such a procedure could function without constricting the freedom of speech. Finally, the paper stresses the improvement of e-literacy as an additional, viable and long-term solution to the problem of fake news.

    Ethics Industry Internet Technology Values

    Weeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation

    Research Papers

    11 Jul 2017

  • In the EU we have the luxury of reflecting upon if we would rather have a one-speed or two-speed Europe, we complain that governments do not do this and the EU does not do that. We take our democratic rights seriously every four years when we go to elections.

    If we are really pissed off, we vote for someone who appears to be fresh and critical of the non-performing political mainstream. Someone like a populist, for example. And then we go back to our day-to-day lives.

    Maybe lash out some discontent on Facebook, Twitter or, exceptionally, in a critical blog post. You could call this hamster-wheel democracy: it takes some steam out of the system, but nothing much changes. There are places in Europe that do not have this luxury.

    Say you want a revolution?

    Ukraine is the only former communist country that had not one, not two, but three major civil uprisings, in 1990, 2004 and 2013. What people have learned from these repetitive revolutions is that it does not suffice to go on the streets and achieve political change.

    They have found out – the hard way – that things also need to happen after revolutions. There needs to be a follow-up after each revolution: improvements, modernization, reforms. In a word, real change.

    The revolution taking place in Ukraine today is not on the streets. It takes place on the internet and on the social networks (real and digital) that civil society is weaving.

    Ukrainians have been seeing failure in the running of the country top-down, both during communism and during post-communist democracy. The first failed spectacularly, the second only had mixed success.

    Ukraine is the only former communist country that had not one, not two, but three major civil uprisings, in 1990, 2004 and 2013. 

    The long legacy of communism left the country with poorly performing public services – education, healthcare, public administration, justice, police, and the list can go on. Corruption – small and big – has always been a way to get things done.

    Democracy made corruption worse. Communists had privileges without having to resort to corruption. Corruption of others in communist times was suppressed by secret and non-secret police.

    After 1991, communist institutions failed to be transformed into inclusive institutions at the service of the citizen. Instead, extractive elements on every level were preserved, institutions and monopolies extracting profit enabled by their position of power.

    Ukraine was failing to create an inclusive “infrastructure of opportunity” for all. This is why nations fail, Darren Acemoglu argues.

    After Euromaidan, people are determined to change that; citizens even more so than the government. Coming from Slovenia where we are tired and depressed from not seeing reform, it was so refreshing to see many young people who were literally taking matters into their own hands. Not by becoming politicians, but by facilitating bottom-up policymaking and bottom-up state-building.

    Reanimation of reform

    An example of the first is the “Reanimation package of reform” movement that is basically doing the job of a reform ministry. It is similar to what I had in Slovenia in 2007-2008, or what the prime minister of Slovenia Mr. Pahor had in 2010, the “reform scoreboard”. They – civil society – are pushing for reforms and overseeing their progress: speaking to the Rada, lobbying the MPs, talking to the ministers.

    This includes more than 80 NGOs, such as the Ukrainian Center for European Policy, Institute of World Policy, Europe without barriers, Civil society Institute, Anti-corruption Action Center and others.

    Examples of bottom-up state-building are the numerous on-line services that civil society is developing on top of government open data. Some match and exceed the quality of similar services that are being created by bureaucracies in the West.

    For example, the online service that makes spending from national budgets totally transparent, or applications which allow citizens to decide how to use parts of the city budget.

    In some respects, Ukraine is a huge living lab of participatory democracy. 

    The first fights corruption, the second improves the management of local communities and makes sure that public money is invested where citizens consider it important.

    But more importantly, such online services create commitment, a sense of belonging, ownership and improve the web of trust in a society. The thousands who participate in creating those services and the hundreds of thousands who are taking an active part in using them form a resilient social network, independent of potential hacking, control or censorship on mainstream social networks. These are the people who will go to the streets again if needs be to protect Ukrainian independence and democracy.

    In some respects, Ukraine is a huge living lab of participatory democracy. And more: it is an example of participatory state-building. As should be the case after revolutions, the people are taking power.

    From what I have seen it is not so much about taking power in Ukraine, but about doing the work for the country and building it again with the expertise of NGOs such as Center for Innovations Development of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Center for Democracy and Rule of Law and Easy Business and Center for Economic Strategy.

    Quiet revolution

    I find the very idea that people, freely collaborating on the internet, can come in and deliver where the state and its bureaucracy are failing, fascinating. It is not another Facebook or Twitter revolution. It is not the “click-tivism” of likes and retweets. It has serious elements of online bottom-up state-building.

    If it succeeds, Ukraine will be a textbook case of what the Internet can do for democracy. As a believer in the positive effects of technology on society and as a believer in Ukraine, I do hope it succeeds.

    It also puts Ukraine on the world map, not as a country that has the Сrimea and “coal and steel” problems with its big neighbor, but as a hub of technology for participatory democracy and know-how of civil-society-driven reforms.

    This technology and the related social know-how is something we could use in the West as well – to take some wind out of the sail of the populists, for example.

    Žiga Turk Democracy Eastern Europe EU-Russia Technology

    Žiga Turk

    Ukraine’s quiet revolution

    Blog

    20 Apr 2017

  • The free movement of persons, goods, services and capital is the basis of the European Single Market. It is one of the most successful achievements of European Union, bringing jobs to the European citizens and growth to the European economy.

    The four freedoms were enshrined in the 1957 Treaty of Rome, laying the groundwork for a functioning single market, since then, however, technological progress has changed our economies.  How can the European Single Market adapt and keep pace?  With a 5th freedom: the free movement of data.

    A fifth freedom?

    The concept of a 5th freedom was coined by, Janez Potočnik, former European Commissioner for Science and Research,  in April 2007  by calling for the ‘freedom of knowledge’. He aimed to improve Europe’s ability to remain competitive in terms of knowledge and innovation, as ’the cornerstones of prosperity’, he argued.

    In this blogosphere, Bruno Maçães, former  Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs, defended the freedom of knowledge by proposing reforms to transform the single market. He called this ‘knowledge mobility’, considering the rapid and borderless nature of the digital economy.

    Freedom of knowledge and knowledge mobility can be achieved with the free movement of data.

    The new fabric

    Data is the raw material in the digital world, a good with major socio-economic value which can unleash the potential of the data economy expected to reach € 566 billion by 2020 (European Commission). It is a key driver for increasing Europe’s competitiveness and economic growth in order to ensure the continued well-being of EU citizens as they face the challenges of globalisation.

    90% of today’s global data has been created in the last two years alone. And data will keep on growing. Data is produced largely by people while interacting on the internet — foremost via pictures and videos, as well by an ever-increasing number of connected devices, such as smartphones and sensors (a.k.a. the IoT – Internet of Things), which gather climate information, satellite imagery, GPS signals, and much more.

    When analysed, all this data represents a land of opportunity. It has the potential to transform raw data into useful information to build up knowledge, and to enable that knowledge to utilise higher orders of intelligence in all sectors of society. It can bring greater efficiency and productivity to services, lowering delivery costs. It can create new and innovative services and business models, making the digital economy a major driver for growth and jobs. It can help us solve major societal challenges. It can even be used to make governments more accountable, more transparent and better at policy-making.

    DIKW Pyramid (Ackoff)

    But are we letting data move freely in Europe like we do for persons, goods, services and capitals? What can the free movement of data bring?

    Let’s take the example of a self-driving car. The car receives data from a traffic light that has turned red. This is then processed: the red traffic light is identified as a stop signal. But what happens if data cannot move freely among connected devices (in this case, between the traffic light and the car)? Or what happens if the car crosses a national border?

    Consider another scenario. have you ever been to a doctor while abroad? You are seated opposite the doctor, but your medical records remain at home. This can lead to a tricky situation, besides the difficulty of being ‘lost in translation’ between the foreign language and medical lingo. But if the doctor can access your medical history, this whole process can be facilitated and a more informed decision can be taken.

    The European Commission, in its Digital Single Market Strategy, identifies the economic and societal growth potential of data technologies such as Big Data, Cloud Computing and the IoT.

    After the European Cloud Initiative, the Digitalisation of Industry Initiative and the Internet Connectivity Package, the Commission is due to present the European ‘free flow of data’ initiative. It will tackle restrictions on the free movement of data and on the location of data for storage or processing purposes. It’s been said that by removing data restrictions, the EU could generate € 8 billion per year in GDP.

    This initiative should balance societal and economic benefits. It should address, properly and clearly, data ownership, liability and portability (encompassing confidentiality, availability, privacy and integrity) in order to achieve trust.

    Digital leadership

    The four freedoms opened many opportunities in the European Single Market, increasing the well-being of European citizens. With the freedom of data, we will not just keep pace but power greater innovation. And innovation is the only way to grow.

    We must take the lead in unleashing the potential of data and in rooting our values and standards in today’s globalised and competitive digital economy.

    The ‘free flow of data’ initiative may well be just the first step; to go further, we must show political leadership and vision: to add and open when reactionary forces push to remove and close.

    By creating more barriers to the free flow of data, as a protectionist reaction, we are not increasing security. The centralisation or the closing of the data is as interesting for hackers as a honey pot is for bees.

    So, in order to enable the Single Market to truly go digital, we must add a 5th gear to our engine. To fuel this, Europe must add to its core freedoms the free movement of data.

    References:
    Ackoff, R. L., (1989) “From Data to Wisdom”, Journal of Applies Systems Analysis, Volume 16, pp 3-9.
    Bellinger, G., Castro, D., Mills, A., (2004) “Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom”, System-thinking
    Gonçalo Carriço Growth Technology Values

    Gonçalo Carriço

    Does the EU need a 5th Freedom?

    Blog

    11 Jan 2017

  • In the early 2000s, it appeared that the European Union would continue to lead the world in telecommunications. It accounted for the largest share of private investment in telecommunications infrastructure; it had six handset manufacturers accounting for more than half of the world’s phones; and a continental agreement on 3G/UMTS which became  the  global  mobile  standard.  

    But  the  EU’s  lead  was  short  lived. Instead the US and Asia emerged. Today there are no more European handset  manufacturers. 4G  eclipsed  3G. The  US  is  on  track  to have half of all its mobile broadband subscriptions as 4G by the end of 2016, while  Europe  will  struggle to reach 30 percent. There is over €100 billion of additional investment required to achieve the Commission’s Digital Agenda goals.

    This note examines the reasons behind the EU’s decline in global telecommunications leadership, notably a confused approach to telecom regulation and a regulatory framework which actually deters European enterprises from investment and innovation. 3 solutions are proposed to help close the gap in investment and to strengthen European enterprises so that they can invest/innovate and stimulate the demand for digital services. 

    These solutions are:

    1. Removal of obsolete regulation on specific industries in favour of a general competition approach;

    2. Update the competition framework to recognise the dynamic effect of digitally converged industries

    3. Encourage public sector institutions to digitise as a means to help lagging European nations adopt the internet and achieve Digital Single Market (DSM) goals.

    European Union Innovation Internet Macroeconomics Technology

    Telecoms Investment: 3 Steps to Create a Broadband Infrastructure for a Digital Europe

    IN FOCUS

    07 Sep 2016

  • Most, if not all, economic transactions are digitized to some degree. Most, although not all, enterprises use digital technology in some part of their business. Many, though still far too few, people use digital technology to make their lives richer and easier in everything from shopping and online banking to online dating or streaming music and films.

    Accordingly, it is becoming increasingly hard to separate the digital economy from the non-digital one. Rather, the digital economy is the new economy, and the ambition to establish a European Digital Single Market (DSM) is the aspiration to realize an improved single market that makes use of new technologies. This is what makes fulfilling this goal both extremely complicated and very simple.

    Rather than a bombastic revolution, digitization has been a silent, low key integration process moving horizontally through our economy and society. That is, until now. We have now reached a critical point, having realized that digitization has been embedded into most, if not all, parts of our lives.

    Accordingly, a lot is changing as new technologies are no longer just being used to do things the way they have always been done, but also to do things in completely new ways. The song has been separated from the CD, bloggers compete with journalists, a mobile gaming company is worth more than a car manufacturer and our cities are being transformed by apps. Times are changing.

    Based on our examination of the process of digitization and digital market integration in Europe, we highlight five specific policy issues that are crucial to promoting a lasting digital economy in Europe. 

    These areas include the need for harmonized regulation; making data borderless and data flows seamless,  promoting regional, bottom-up, controlled experimental policy initiatives; growing urban digital markets where digitization and density accelerate innovation, and establishing an open, coherent framework for data ownership with regard to privacy, personal data and metadata.

    In particular, we highlight urban digital markets as a unique opportunity for the EU (and member states) to improve the policy response to digital and disruptive entrepreneurship.  Used properly, these markets can generate substantial growth and innovation while aiding the transition to a sustainable and world leading European Digital Economy.  A rewired Europe fit and able to compete in the 21st century global economy.

    EU Member States Innovation Internet Technology

    Rewiring Europe: Five Priorities for a Lasting Digital Economy

    Research Papers

    29 Jun 2016

  • “Pleased to make your acquaintance,” European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen meets 3D-printed life-sized robot InMoov at Makerstown.

    Held on 24 May 2016 at the Square Meeting Centre, Makerstown was the first event of its kind in Brussels. It brought to the European capital 50 young and innovative Makers — a new generation of entrepreneurs and DIY experts empowered by Web 3.0 tools, technology and crowdfunding. From 3D printing to robotics, wearable technology to new ICT and food to fashion, the Makers selected from all over Europe might just be tomorrow’s Robert Bosch, Enzo Ferrari or Arthur Guinness.

    Part fair, part conference, Makerstown was organised by the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, the official think tank of the European People’s Party, and by Think Young, the first think tank to lobby for young people.

    Speakers included Jyrki Katainen, vice president of the European Commission responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness; and Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner responsible for Research, Science and Innovation, as well as members of the European Parliament and business leaders. Industry 4.0, public and private finance for entrepreneurs, women’s entrepreneurship, start-ups and scale-ups were the order of the day.

    Makerstown takeaways:

    1. Ideas are assets. Makers are leading the way

    Twenty years ago, our biggest challenge was digitalising information. Now we are entering a new era in which the digital world is affecting and transforming the physical world in unpredictable ways. It is the age of the fourth industrial revolution and of the peer-to-peer economy. In this age, innovative Makers at the cutting-edge of the technological frontier are our best hope to revive our ailing economies.

    Start-ups in Europe represent only 5 percent of firms, but they already account for a disproportionately high percentage of job creation. This is destined to rise due to the increasing interpenetration between digital and physical world. We must be ready to exploit this opportunity.

    2. The three Fs of funding: Friends, family and fools

    For innovative start-ups launched by visionary Makers, financing is often the main initial hurdle. In the early stages, often only friends, family and fools will be bold enough to believe in a new idea. In some contexts, public money can partly remedy this shortcoming, and innovative financial instruments have been developed by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank in the last few years.

    Such versatile instruments are often not well known by makers and it is important to raise their awareness on this topic. However, public money should be used with great caution, as it can backfire and discourage the investment of private money.

    Europe’s real problem today does not seem to be the availability of finance – markets are actually flooded with liquidity – but the lack of an adequate ecosystem. In the U.S., public money is much more limited than in Europe, and yet Silicon Valley is in California, not in Germany or France.

    3. We can make it: Female entrepreneurship

    Women are an under tapped source of economic growth and innovation.  While more than half the European population is female, women represent only a third of the self-employed and 30 percent of start-uppers in the EU. This happens in spite of excellent educational achievements. The EU has traditionally been at the forefront of initiatives promoting gender equality and equal opportunities.

    It could potentially do more in the field of education, which is essential in fostering a new mindset that would encourage women to live up to their potential. This needs not come at the expense of maternity and family life: intelligent policies can help women reach a balance between family and career engagements.

    4. Creative bravery: Celebrating failure, changing the world

    According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures, 60-70 percent of productivity growth stems from innovation. Taking initiative is therefore essential. Recent years have seen a few success stories of innovation in Europe, for example the Estonian policy of abolishing tax for new companies, arguably one reason why Skype was born in Estonia.

    However, some countries are doing better than others and policymakers should be open to bolder initiatives. In the U.S. more universities are introducing commercialisation offices to help students develop their ideas and bring them to the market. The initiative can be valuable for Europe, too.

    Other important policy initiatives include increasing personal security on the Internet, strengthening the presence of technology and science in schools and decreasing transportation costs. Why not even allow reformist zeal to carry us away? The introduction of a ‘failure day’ could celebrate entrepreneurial failure and help eliminate the stigma it carries.

    5. Ecosystems are essential

    Only the right ecosystem can allow entrepreneurial spirit to create start-ups. The first element of a successful ecosystem is a big continental market. Europe has in place all the institutional instruments to create such a market, but national tensions mean services, digital and energy remain closed to competitive pressure.

    The second essential element is an environment with few regulations, little bureaucracy and a very high level of flexibility. The EU has not always been up to the task. The EU and its member states should minimise regulation and allow as much innovation as possible. The third element is a mindset open to failure as a stepping stone towards success, and not paralysed by it as a shame to avoid. Although it’s unlikely that a single European Silicon Valley will emerge, we can be optimistic that Europe’s innovative future is bright.

    After a day of demos and discussions, everyone who attended the event could agree on at least two things: Europe’s manufacturing tradition IS getting an update, and Makerstown was THE place to experience it first-hand! Breaking free from the confines of a regular EU-bubble conference, it was anything but a talking shop. Instead, it was streets ahead, celebrating European innovation in a dynamic, engaging, and inspiring way. Missed the action this year? No worries, Makerstown 2.0 will be back in town in spring 2017. 

    Business Economy Industry Innovation Technology

    Europe, get ready for the Makers Revolution!

    Other News

    25 May 2016

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime has taken control of the traditional media in Russia: TV, radio and newspapers. As Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has stated, the Kremlin sees the mass media as a ‘weapon’.

    Now Russia’s leadership is trying to take control of social media too, and for this massive operation a new information warfare tool has been mobilised—an army of fake social media Putin-fans, known as ‘trolls’.

    My investigation has discovered that coordinated social media propaganda writers are twisting and manipulating the public debate in Finland, too. Trolls and bots distribute vast amounts of false information in various languages, and target individual citizens for aggressive operations.

    Aggressive trolls have created a feeling of fear among some of my interviewees, causing them to stop making Russia-related comments online. Trolling has had a serious impact on freedom of speech, even outside Russia.

    Thus, it should be viewed as a national security threat that needs to be addressed accordingly. The question is: how should the Kremlin’s trolls and disinformation be countered?

    Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.

    Jessikka Aro Defence EU-Russia Internet Security Technology

    Jessikka Aro

    The cyberspace war: propaganda and trolling as warfare tools

    Blog

    12 May 2016

  • The security threats Europe is now facing, such as hybrid warfare, propaganda campaigns and information warfare, frequently include a digital dimension. At the same time, digital tools offer an immense potential for change in the European neighbourhood, not least in their ability to equip and inspire pro-democracy protesters, particularly those facing a repressive security apparatus.

    Digital policy cannot therefore become an afterthought but needs to be deeply integrated into Europe’s foreign policy and diplomatic efforts. Furthermore, the US’s long-held Internet hegemony is beginning to fade, placing the EU in a good position to lead global Internet governance initiatives and ensure that they develop along open and liberal lines.

    Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.

    Łukasz Antoni Król Foreign Policy Internet Neighbourhood Policy Security Technology

    Łukasz Antoni Król

    Digital foreign policy: how digital tools can further Europe’s foreign policy goals

    Blog

    12 Apr 2016

  • A lot has been said about the impact of the digital world on science, technology and the entertainment industry. However, little attention has been paid to innovation—or lack thereof—in the political system. This article argues that the political system is out of sync with the times. It explores the causes of this and proposes some avenues for institutional innovation. The aim is not to propose a solution or a roadmap. Rather, it is to ask the questions that need to be asked and push the boundaries in terms of what could be done, all in the hope of moving the debate forward.

    The Internet is bringing about a seachange in how citizens expect to be represented. Governments, however, are unable to keep up with the changes that it has provoked in our societies. The world changes by the second, and yet our governments are still only receiving citizen input every two, four or five years, depending on the system. Modern democracies are based on information technology that is five hundred years old, the printing press.

    With this information technology, the best possible system that could be designed was one whereby a few make daily decisions for the many, and the many vote on who represents them once every few years. Long-term representation made sense at a time when citizens could not participate in the decision-making process. This was not physically possible, nor did the citizens have access to the information required to make informed decisions.

    One could argue that, in the eighteenth century, someone like John Adams knew pretty much everything there was to know about running a country, but that is far from true today. The increased complexity of the issues we face, from climate change to the global financial markets, makes it impossible for our representatives to come up with innovative and long-term solutions on their own. We are in the middle of a global crisis of representation. Governments simply do not seem to be able to respond to the demands of our rapidly changing society.

    Technological connectivity has multiplied access to and circulation of information at a very low cost. Conversations that used to be one-to-many have become many-to-many. The Internet has the potential to transform us all into producers as well as consumers of information, and we can now participate remotely in any global conversation.

    Read for FREE the full article published in the June 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.

    Pia Mancini Innovation Internet Political Parties Technology

    Pia Mancini

    Why it is time to redesign our political system

    Blog

    09 Sep 2015

  • Our society is living in turbulent, yet exciting times: an unprecedented political crisis on the European level is shaking up the political status quo, leaving no stone unturned. Europeans have begun to realise that they live in a more complex, interdependent and connected era than ever before.

    Citizens are now questioning the current political situation and are not satisfied with the means of participation. Where European politics is concerned, many citizens do not feel sufficiently informed and are unable to get actively involved. According to the latest Eurobarometer results, more than 50 % of European citizens feel ‘that their voice is not heard’ on the EU level (European Commission, Directorate-General for Communication).

    However, democratic processes, and policymaking tools especially, remain very traditional. Voting for representatives during elections is still the primary source of legitimacy in the law-making process—with only rare ‘adventurous’ participatory exceptions, for example in the Nordic countries.

    The desire for more legitimacy in representative democracy, combined with the unprecedented technological possibilities available for realising greater citizen involvement, is exciting for citizens and political actors alike, as its achievement would offer a more encompassing assessment of society’s sentiments. Existing digital communication tools that are readily available and just waiting to be exploited are expected to improve the quality of democracy through an increase in citizen participation. Most promisingly, digital methods can improve the dialogue between civil society on the one hand, and elected officials and political parties on the other.

    This article will address crowdsourcing in democratic processes and especially how the process of crowdsourcing legislation can be implemented by political parties to augment democratic processes. One example of how legislation can be crowdsourced will be presented in greater detail, and the implications for the citizens who participate in the process will be discussed. The article will look at possible challenges to crowdsourcing activities and then conclude with recommendations on how political parties can use this new technology effectively.

    Read the full FREE article published in the June 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.

    Maria Lastovka Democracy Innovation Political Parties Society Technology

    Maria Lastovka

    Crowdsourcing as new instrument in policy-making

    Blog

    09 Sep 2015

  • Information technology permeates almost every aspect of our lives. The reason is simple. When a system is well designed, it makes everything better: speed, reliability, security, efficiency, convenience and capabilities are all increased, most often by many orders of magnitude.

    No one would dream of running a bank without the computers and software that are the central nervous system of any institution. Every time you fly in a plane you put your life in the ‘hands’ of a computer for most of the trip, albeit with some human supervision. If you happen to be in hospital in critical condition, your life-support system is likely to be controlled by software run by a computer.

    We twenty-first century humans trust computers with the most difficult, the most critical and the most important tasks of our personal lives. It therefore seems strange that technology is largely absent from important areas of government, which is not taking advantage of the significant benefits that we are now used to everywhere else. One area where developments in technology have been especially slow is in the process of enabling democracy. Enormous opportunities in this area remain unrealised: citizen engagement, real-time participation, communication between government and constituents, and elections.

    This article discusses government elections from start to finish. It focuses on polling station voting. All around the world, from the most developed countries to the most challenged ones, running a successful, clean election is the first step towards true democracy. The process of assuring the eligibility and enfranchisement of voters, the voting itself, counting the votes, producing election returns, canvassing and tallying is still mostly done manually in a majority of countries. In each one of these stages, the 2,000-year-old system is unreliable at best and corrupt at worst. This leaves room for all kinds of problems. In many cases these problems are swept under the rug, but they pervert the ideal of democracy, that in elections it is only the will of the people that prevails.

    Many people perceive the election process to be straightforward and take for granted that it works. For this reason, very little attention is given to election administration. But as one of the founders of Smartmatic, the largest voting technology company in the world, I can say that the election process is much more complex than most people realise. I am deeply concerned about the election process and consider the convergence of technology and politics a matter of great importance. I invite the reader to join me as I discuss this topic that is so fundamental to our democratic systems.

    Election technology: the case for and against

    After 11 years conducting thousands of elections on every continent, and working side by side with countless election professionals and volunteers, Smartmatic election specialists have discovered common themes in the challenges faced by those with the difficult jobs of organising, running and managing elections.

    Read the FREE full article published in the June 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.

    Antonio Mugica Elections Technology

    Antonio Mugica

    The case for election technology

    Blog

    09 Sep 2015

  • This research paper examines two modern disruptive military technologies that are being used increasingly frequently: remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) and cyber-attacks. These technologies are called disruptive because they are profoundly changing our societies and warfare. These changes also apply to Europe, so it needs to take them into account and adapt to the changes. More conventional threats have not disappeared, however, but are sometimes used alongside the new methods, as Russian aggression in Ukraine has shown. Europe is facing a hybrid threat with multiple elements that blend together and can change rapidly. However, Europe is falling behind in developing or even dealing with new technologies. Insufficient investment has been made in research and development (R&D) and, due to a decline in military technology programmes, the European defence industry is suffering. If this continues we might lose important capabilities that have already been jeopardised by defence-budget cuts in recent years, and the existence of European military technology know-how could even be endangered. Creating European projects, such as a common RPAS, and economies of scale will be necessary to support the European defence industry.

    Defence Foreign Policy Innovation Technology

    Dawn of the Drones: Europe’s Security Response to the Cyber Age

    Research Papers

    17 Apr 2015

  • German MEP Andreas Schwab has recently introduced into the European Parliament a resolution on the creation of a digital single market where, amongst others, Parliament asks the Commission to check the possibility of the unbundling of search engines. Schwab, a Member of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, is determined to create a fair and open digital single market in the EU but so far “we lack a level playing field”.

    Mr Schwab, why have you been engaged with this resolution on the issue of the digital single market?

    Without any doubt, new technologies and the digitalisation of life offer a lot of opportunities, but there are also risks. We want to make sure that these opportunities are available to all citizens – and they should abide by the same general rules as the existing “old” single market. It is our task, as representatives of the European citizens, to create trust and to ensure that as many customers and companies as possible benefit from the new technological advances. At the same time, we have to guarantee that the European door for innovative services is wide open – irrespective of whether those services come from the Far East, the United States or Europe itself.

    What problems does this resolution seek to address?

    The resolution takes a closer look at the large range of policy areas that we need to bring coherently together if we want to create a truly open and transparent digital market in the EU. This is why this resolution addresses fields such as cyber-security, data protection, roaming and net neutrality and also the fact that users are often paying with their data – without being aware of it. Another mentioned area is the search engines market, where there is the increasing danger that certain search results are displayed with greater visibility than others in the web search.

    Search engines even often privilege their own services in the results at the expense of their competitors. The major problem with this is that the consumers assume that the best result appears always on top of their search and not that result which the search engine has chosen to be on top. This is why we’ve asked the European Commission to consider all available options to ensure remedies that benefit internet users and online businesses.

    What other aspects do you want to have underlined with the resolution?

    The EU has to perform what one might call a “gate keeper role”. A free digital single market facilitates innovative business models. Online companies not only need access to big data, but also need a certain level of freedom to remain creative. At the same time, we need fair and open conditions and for this a whole range of aspects have to be improved by harmonising existing standards in the EU, for example. Privacy, roaming costs, net neutrality, broadband network expansion and the protection of intellectual property are the most urgent aspects we need to work on.

    Another example is the portability of internet services. Why is it not always possible to transfer the music a customer has bought digitally from one smart phone to another? This needs to be addressed as well. These examples show that the existing rules and standards do not suffice anymore, and therefore need to be changed or extended. In this context we also welcome the proposal made by national cartel offices for a deeper examination of the big data market.  

    For four years the European Commission has been examining the possible monopoly of Google. In the perception of many European citizens nothing has happened. Does the Commission lag behind reality?

    It’s correct to say that investigations in newly developed markets, like the digital area, are taking more time than “normal” cases. Therefore, we have to give the European Commission enough time to deal with the anti-trust cases in an appropriate manner. More critical is what I’ve mentioned before, namely that there is a lack of a fair level playing field to create a flourishing digital single market in the EU.

    Google as the biggest search engine in Europe is accused of unfair competitive advantages. Do Twitter or Facebook business models contain similarly unfair practices?       

    The online social networking services follow a business model that many consumers are actually not aware of. These commercial services are mostly for free, but the consumers provide personal data in exchange for the service and the company can make money with that data in the end. These practices are in line with the law and our market economy. However, it starts to be problematic for free and fair market where companies with a far too dominant market position are incorrectly perceived as generally acknowledged service providers.

    This is, in particular, an increasing danger for search engines like Google that dominates more than 90 per cent of the European search market. In line with aspects of President Jean-Claude Juncker’s plans as already proclaimed during the Parliament’s election campaign, the resolution calls for concrete answers. They are however particularly difficult to find as we haven’t got the right tools for the digital economy yet. Now we are looking forward to hearing Commissioner Oettinger and Vice President Ansip’s proposals in this matter in 2015. Of course, there is no simple solution to this task, but I am confident that we will find the right answers.

    Interview by Simon Forster

    Internet Technology

    Taking on Google: “We haven’t got the right tools for the digital economy yet”

    Other News

    26 Jan 2015

  • The appearance of political marketing and campaigning on social media is a relatively new phenomenon, which was first introduced in the US before spreading to Europe. The importance of online political marketing can be seen in, among other factors, the major advantages offered by the Internet—namely the rapid transmission of information and the possibilities for large numbers of people to connect. This is especially significant for politics on the EU level, which embraces a body of 375 million voters. Despite the fact that not everyone uses the Internet in Europe, the percentage of those who do is considered to be high enough for its application in politics.

    The goal of this paper is to examine the connection between European politics, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and the use of social media, and to give suggestions on how the use of social media in political marketing could be further advanced. This paper starts with an explanation of what political marketing is and how it is used in politics. It explains the relevance of the theme of this paper, in the context of the lack of political legitimacy in the European Union and the low turnout in the European Parliament (EP) elections, and discusses the possible reasons for these.

    The paper then describes the growth of the use of the Internet, its influence on everyday life and its connection to politics. The paper then describes European Parliament elections and the fall in voter turnout (not only in the EU, but also at the national level). It then focuses on the growing use of the Internet in society – at the first place in electoral campaigns, although we have seen lately its application in social movements (e.g. the Middle Eastern and North African revolutions, political protests, the anti-ACTA campaign, the political riots in the UK, etc.).

    The conclusions suggest that, although present on the main social media websites (such as Facebook and Twitter), politicians and campaign managers in Europe need to further develop their use of this type of communication in order to find the right approach for European citizens. While campaign managers and advisors are mostly aware of the advantages the Internet brings to the field of political marketing, understanding of the phenomenon needs to be further developed among politicians.

    The paper recommends greater use of social media for the creation of stronger bonds between politicians and citizens in Europe, which could improve electoral participation and consequently contribute to overcoming citizens’ apathy and the lack of democracy at the EU level. Social media sites could be used to mobilise a larger number of EU citizens to vote in the 2014 European Parliament elections.

    Elections EU Institutions Internet Technology

    Members of the European Parliament Online: The Use of Social Media in Political Marketing

    Research Papers

    15 Apr 2013

  • What do demonstrations on city streets in the Philippines in 2001, the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States in 2008, revocation of the results of the fraudulent elections in Moldavia in 2009, the M-15 movement with their camps and demonstrations in Spain in 2011, the so-called “Arab Spring” in the Middle East in early 2011, and the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that started in New York, also in 2011, all have in common?

    They have all used social media to help organise such protests and mobilise their responsible agents. Yet these were much more than just about arranging a party: they all greatly exploited social media to establish communication networks and move towards their objectives.

    Today’s social media have helped make real the idea of a “global village”, first put forward by communications theorist Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s, and suggests the claims of a “flat world” by twenty first century essayist Thomas L. Friedman are true. According to Friedman, personal computers and the speed of the optic cable in the transfer of information have marked the modern revolution and almost removed the limitations of time and space.

    Social media’s quick development into an important way to influence society is part of the advancement of information and communication technologies. The study Social Media and Politics – The New Power of Political Influence explores the development and use of social media in influencing politics and society.

    Innovation Internet Society Technology Youth

    Social Media and Politics – The New Power of Political Influence

    Collaborative

    18 Dec 2012

  • Today the internet is part of our daily lives. But it is also part and parcel of our politics, from e-government straight through to e-revolutions. This book visits the major questions of Internet governance today bringing to the fore the role of the Internet in, and its impact on, politics and policy-making.This publication does not in itself aim to be an exhaustive text on the topic. Rather, the authors open small windows onto vast themes. Hopefully, this will entice readers to engage further with a relatively new area of academic research and perhaps – why not? – instigate them also to contribute to future research in this fascinating area.

    Innovation Internet Technology

    Governing the Internet

    Collaborative

    01 Dec 2011

  • Following the Arab spring, the power of social networks to drive social protest movements was acknowledged worldwide. Social networks, used mainly by young people, collected and crystallized their demands for change and also gave them the opportunity to get in touch with each other. 

    However, the official regimes in these countries had to face new social demands and new technological challenges at once. And as we know, in many cases they didn`t succeed in this.

    The Belarusian internet revolution started in June from the simple idea of trying to see the people who are ready to protest off line. Belarusian society, thoroughly entrenched in the regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka, has been suffering for the last 15 years under the grip of the state ideology. Relative economic stability, based on cheap Russian oil, was sufficient to keep ideological control over a large part of the voters. As for its ideology, the Belarusian regime, usually described by Western media as the “last dictatorship in Europe”, is also the last fortress of Soviet political values. The notorious official ideology of Belarus still characterises the country as part of non-existing Soviet state and constantly refers to the Soviets’ moments of glory, like the victory over fascism or the first space flight. In contrast to this artificially imposed, frozen ideological framework, the society is going through a difficult period of self-identification. The economic crisis was a trigger for another round of self questioning about the path that Belarus should take.

    The state of play The group created in the Belarusian segment of the Russian replica of Facebook – VKontakte, known as “The Revolution through Social Networks”, called for the public to gather on the main squares of Belarusian cities at 19:00 each Wednesday. The first protest on 15 June was conceived as a manifestation of support for the car owners’ protest, which took place earlier that week. In order not to provoke the regime`s security forces it was decided not to perform any activities, but rather to have a “silent” protest. However, as the situation developed, protestors were inspired to choose their own very special way to express their disagreement: each time one of the participants was detained or harassed, people applauded. That was how the “silent” protests gained their “voice”. The number of participants grew rapidly. In Minsk there were 400 participants on the first Wednesday and 2,000 by the third Wednesday. In some of the cities these protests were the largest of any in the last 10 years.

    As for virtual participation, the group on VKontakte has around 14.000 and is still growing. The movement also has Twitter and Facebook accounts. The way the protests were organised and the unexpected number of protestors were a real challenge for the Ministry of Interior. Being classical Soviet institutions, the Ministry of Interior and the KGB were not prepared both structurally and ideologically to even classify them. During the first protest they were desperately and unsuccessfully trying “to keep the order”. As for the virtual response to the protests, the KGB immediately used its ultimate cure, which it is using in response to all Internet “plagues”–blocking the web page of the group. There were some weak attempts to play on the same field as the protestors by creating accounts and by spamming the page with abusive content. However, the virtual revolutionists were vigilant and were publicly denouncing them. After have tried for a while to fight the virtual revolution with its own weapons, the Belarusian coercive structures resorted to their classical methods: arrests, intimidations and physical force. But not only the Belarusian regime was surprised by the success of the idea of the internet revolution. The Belarusian opposition was left out in the organization of the largest non-election protests. Being sceptical and divided in the beginning of the protests, the Belarusian democratic elites then changed their minds and tried to catch up at the last minute by signing an agreement of cooperation. The majority of the democratic parties and movements are supporting the protestors. Independence Day The Lukashenka regime is focusing its efforts to keep society under control by carrying out pseudo-patriotic events.

    Lukashenka is appealing to Soviet history, and by distorting the facts, presents the Belarusian people, and particularly himself as the representative of Belarus, as the main contributors to the victory over fascism. Therefore, all dates connected to WWII are largely celebrated in the whole country. The last event of that kind was Independence Day on the 3r dof July in Minsk. Knowing the significance of this military parade to the ruling regime, the organisers of the internet-based group proposed gathering during the parade. The state security forces and the Ministry of Interior were vigilant, and everybody who was applauding “inconveniently” as well as others were detained directly on the parade stands. Other participants moved to the Railway stations’ square. There they were dispersed by special forces, with about 100 taken to temporary detention centres. Plainclothes agents acted violently toward women and teenagers and used tear gas against journalists. Many of the protestors were severely beaten. However, the next day, the organiser of the group stated that the protests will continue and the violent reaction of the authorities will only trigger more of them. …

    Will it end in the same way as in North Africa? We will see on Twitter!

    Alena Dzemidzenka Arab Spring Human Rights Neighbourhood Policy Technology

    Alena Dzemidzenka

    Belarus: Social Networks and an end to Lukashenka’s regime

    Blog

    06 Jul 2011

  • This paper examines the extent of competitive challenge faced by European enterprises in the knowledge economy from the emergence of Asian technology powerhouses. Key sectors such as those of software development, IT services and pharmaceuticals are explored and the paper demonstrates that European politicians and business leaders should become more aware of the current and future innovative capacity that industries such as these are beginning to gain momentum in Asia today.

    Economy Innovation Technology

    Maintaining Europe’s Innovative Advantage: EU Policy Responses to the Asian Challenge in Pharmaceutics and Software

    Other

    01 Feb 2009