Barcelona was the tech capital of the world this week. The Mobile World Congress, the world's largest event for the mobile industry, gathered around 100,000 participants for exhibition and conferences featuring mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors and content owners from across the world. The hot topics? 5G and AI, to no surprise. But there was much more on display, from IoT and smart devices to cybersecurity and blockchain.
Back in Brussels, policymakers have also had a techy week discussing many aspects of the digital single market, from copyright to telecoms regulations. Stakeholders are wondering if regulators will opt to incentivise or hamper digital transformation in Europe – and enable innovations like the ones announced and showcased in Barcelona.
We’ll keep you posted.
In Eindhoven and Utrecht, smart technology is keeping tabs on traffic, noise and crime. From sound sensors that can detect verbal arguments and deploy an orange scent to “calm” the mood, to traffic sensors detecting your phone’s wifi signal – even when you’re not connected to the city’s wifi – an increasing amount of data is being collected. The Dutch Personal Data Protection Act states that people should be notified in advance of what data is being collected and why. The Dutch cities, which don’t do this, argue that because they anonymise the data, it’s ok. The thing is – the original data is still personal. While the EU closely monitors big tech with GDPR, should it also be keeping an eye on its own cities?
“Blockchain technology holds a strong promise for financial markets. To remain competitive, Europe must embrace this innovation,” Commission VP Valdis Dombrovskis said on Monday. That was the No. 1 conclusion from the first cryptocurrency roundtable. What about conclusions No. 2-6? Speculation is hazardous, consumers are not informed, issuers’ identities are cloudy, money laundering persists, and nobody knows whether or not cryptocurrencies are covered by any existing legislation. Ok – a pan-European solution, anyone? Maybe, but only if there is no “clear response” at the global level by late 2018. Meanwhile, the first ever EU FinTech Action Plan is expected within a few days.
Facebook found another way to counter radicalisation through its platform. How? By paying victims of extremism to talk to people who show signs of extremism or who share far-right or Islamist extremist material. The objective is to understand what makes extremists angry by chatting to targeted people. Although Facebook claims it’s a neutral platform, it has often been criticised, along with YouTube and Twitter, for being a hotbed for extremists. This is a good example showing that tech giants are willing to fix the misuse of their platforms when legislative bodies push them to do so.
There is no doubt pornography – and the need for more videos and faster speeds – has shaped the internet as we know it. It’s poised to do it again due to the increased use of virtual reality. However, on the other side of the camera, performers often struggle getting paid because although perfectly legal, some companies may not recognise their activities. That’s where blockchain can play a major role in the form of cryptocurrency where intermediates and censorship can be completely wiped out. With suggestive names such as Titcoin, Sexcoin, Spankchain, new platforms promise reliability and anonymity, which can be great for consumers. No more credit cards, no more user name, no passwords.
In case you haven’t had enough:
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