It’s been a hot week in Brussels and an even hotter week for tech news. Alas, we cannot cover it all, as client* work comes first.
One note before we leave you to it. We’re assuming you’ve read as much as you can take about Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s resignation after a saga of operational missteps and PR nightmares. Toxic culture in companies often seeps down from the top. Breaking the mould can be great, but breaking people and breaking trust along the way is no way to achieve your disruptive dream.
Read on for our insights, then on again to check out the many articles that didn’t make the final cut.
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Meet Casper Klynge, the world’s ever ‘techplomat’. Yes, that’s now an official position at the Danish foreign ministry. The new ambassador will move to the Silicon Valley in September to delve into tech companies’ impact and to represent Danish interests towards the tech elite. Considering the role that topics like data and encryption play in diplomacy, this may be a smart move that many countries follow. It’s certainly clear that Denmark thinks the big tech companies wield such influence on a global scale that they warrant direct diplomacy.
WhatsApp is increasingly used around the globe to share and discuss news, according to The Digital News Report, a study conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. One of the app’s main advantages is its end-to-end encryption, allowing users to exchange news and opinions in a confidential environment that is difficult for governments to monitor or control. In countries with authoritarian governments and compromised media, this private space to share news without prying eyes is essential. Nevertheless, using personal contacts and their shared information in WhatsApp as a source of news raises concerns over fake news, as users might be highly influenced by the news shared by their peers and not double-check the information that they’re fed. As social networks shift towards private space, who will be able to tell fact from fiction?
The spread of violent ideologies through digital networks has been keeping many up at night. As information and people continue to flow across borders, making sure law enforcement authorities have access to relevant data from lawbreakers is essential. Cross-border data requests are currently governed by outdated regulation. Google says it wants to change that with a process allowing countries that agree to baseline privacy, human rights and due process principles to request data directly from U.S. providers without having to consult the U.S. government as an intermediary. A proactive attempt by a tech giant to tackle policy woes head on and provide governments with solutions.
Setting up a shop can be a real obstacle course. You need permits, authorisations, impact assessments and more. It might take years before you can start building your store. Thankfully, the European Commission will by December launch recommendations to streamline the process of 'retail establishment’. But why ‘establish’ a shop when you could just move it around? In Shanghai, a Sweden-based start-up, Wheelys, is trialing a new 24-hour convenience store on wheels that can drive to the warehouse to restock and to customers to make deliveries. No more queues, no more rent and, well, no more establishment hurdles. Note to the Commission: hurry up before wheels overtake concrete footings and make those upcoming recommendations future-proof.
Car travel in cities is making the switch to on-demand, shared and autonomous. Companies like Zipcar and Drive Now have already made car-sharing a reality. To keep up, the likes of BMW and GM are planning for a future that is autonomous and based on shared ownership. Subscriptions to a vehicle that, for instance, allow people to use it for a number of hours a day, or on a regular schedule for a fixed price, are on the horizon. Elon Musk has even hinted that he’s preparing to create a network of Tesla owners that could rent out their self-driving cars to make money. The way we move around cities is about to shift up a gear, buckle up.
In cybersecurity, Estonia ranks first in Europe and fifth in the world out of 195 countries, according to the International Telecommunication Union’s Global Cybersecurity index. An attack against its parliament, banks, ministries, and media in 2007 spurred Estonia’s commitment to better cybersecurity. The country has just set up the world’s first data embassy in Luxembourg to keep back-up files of the Estonian government’s vital data on servers and guarantee the country's digital safety. Tech-savvy Estonia’s move is an obvious one for other European countries to follow as cybercrime is a fast-growing business and cybersecurity is still in its infancy.
For people living with disease, the number of pills they have to take on a daily basis can be overwhelming. A new app-based pill-dispensing system promises to bring simplicity to medicine cabinets. The app is linked to an operating system to track medication, request refills and even contact insurance companies. Sounds great – but as eHealth solutions develop, we have to keep an eye on who has access to what data, especially personal health data.
In case you haven’t had enough:
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