This week the European tech bubble saw a changing landscape of power players. The Estonian presidency kicked off on Saturday. Known as a digital powerhouse, the tiny nation faces heavy pressure to ramp up the EU’s push to become truly digital. We heard Prime Minister Jüri Ratas admit as much.
However, the Estonian team is on the case with ambitious plans for a Digital Summit in Tallinn on 29 September. While information about the event is limited, there are reports that most EU heads of state have confirmed. For tips on how to lobby the Estonian tech élite in Brussels for an invite, check out POLITICO’s guide to the key players.
In other news, Bulgaria’s Mariya Gabriel was confirmed as the EU Digital Commissioner on 4 July. Fun fact: she is the youngest person ever to take on a top Commission post. Watch this space for updates as she puts her team in place and gets down to digital business.
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Uber may have taken a hit from the EU’s top court in a non-binding opinion this week over a case in France, but not all news for the U.S. ride-hailing app firm is bad. The company recently started testing a new service – UberBOAT – in Europe. Launched in Croatia just in time for the summer tourist boom, the service allows users to book boat journeys between Split and Dubrovnik and the island Hvar. Could we see the tide turning on Uber as new services connect users to new modes of transport?
In a fun read, Wired dives into superhero privacy speculation. As the notion of privacy is evolving, or even maybe dissolving, it’s fascinating to imagine how super heroes such as Spider Man could hide their identity from authorities in today’s wired world. The first tip is simple: ditch your smartphone. It traces your every move. Today’s digital forensics and CCTVs too make discretion impossible for a shy superhero. We ordinary mortals need to be aware: private eyes (and public ones) are watching us.
Horrific stories abound in the U.S. tech and start-up worlds about the sexual harassment and general abuse of women that have been tolerated as the norm for years. Heads are finally rolling in Silicon Valley over sexual harassment as women fight back. But as Bloomberg Gadfly’s Shira Ovide says, it’s going to take more than women getting mad if things are really going to change. Still, the appointment of Ariana Huffington as the public face of Uber appears to be an encouraging sign. Here’s hoping she’s able to make a difference.
A week ago, a ransomware cyber-attack originating from Ukraine caused serious damage throughout the US and Europe’s digital infrastructure. Did you know some victims can claim a tax deduction? Laws in Ukraine and Russia allow companies that choose to pay ransoms to computer malware to reduce their corporate income tax liability. You just need to justify your extraordinary expense to the authorities, and you’re good to go. Cross plug – read our Tax-to-Go newsletter for the latest tax news.
News of the European Commission’s record Google fine sparked speculation of what’s to come for American tech companies, the sector in general and Google in particular. The FT’s Martin Sandbu considers the fine to be a step in the right direction, but one that doesn’t go far enough. He wonders if big tech companies have gained a systemic importance that, coupled with their market power means they’re too big to fail. For Sandbu, the case for public regulation is clear, but he also argues that this 21st century problem might need more of a 21st century solution than classic regulatory tools. Meanwhile though, Reuters reports that more trouble is in store for Google…
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