miércoles, 22 de noviembre de 2017

Funding the policing of the digital world

Be careful what you ask for, it can become a reality. I'm pretty sure that achieving world's success was among the garage dreams of Google and Facebook inventors, now they have. However, the problem is that their success has been so huge that they are the main news channel for a significative number of people. This undeniable fact has become a nightmare for the GAFA, because governments have started to remember them the old spiderman's adage: With great power comes great responsibility.

The plague of fake news become the front-page of daily news with the US elections. There has not been electoral process in a big country since then without evidences of  them. Like the naughty boy, with each new evidence the GAFA`s asked for pardon and made some big commitment to fight the plague. Up to now, the result have been null and the faith on self-regulation on this field has decline.

So governments in Europe have decided to start policing the network to stop the fake news disease and other kind of misinformation online. But this new government activity comes with a cost, it is said that only in Germany facebook is employing 600 people to fight (with a humble success) fake news. So, the governments have decided to start asking the GAFA for funding for this fight, whether in a compulsory manner through fines (Germany) or in a voluntary manner through levies (United Kingdom).

Nothing new, it is another sign of the turning tide against the GAFA that were so cherished until recently. A first attempt to make sustainable the so long neglected labour of policing the virtual world.

domingo, 12 de noviembre de 2017

Six months after #Wannacry

Six months ago, on May 12th, the world was shaken by Wannacry. It was not the first global cybersecurity incident but it was probably the one with the quickest contagion so far. There is a feeling that the crisis could be avoided with stricter updating procedures of the basic software. Certainly, there existed in some cases a problem with basic IT security as have been proved, but not all the causes for the crisis could be reduced to the lack of update of IT systems.

Or it could be better said that the lack of basic IT security measures were only the tip of the iceberg of bigger problems. Organisations have still to learn three basic lessons to protect themselves. Firstly, cybersecurity depends on technological mesaures as much as on organisational and behavioral change that promote prevention mesaures. Secondly, there is a lack of human resources within organisations with the needed cybersecurity knowledge. Last but not least, the legal framework neither oblige enough the companies to deploy protection measures nor deter the attackers.

In the EU we are beginning to see steps in that direction. There is the feeling that a ransomware case on a big scale could happen again, so the advices about how to react to those cases are frequent. However, structural measures are also promoted by European organizations, as the development by ETSI of standard procedures to implement the not so recently approved NIS Directive. Also in the political level the awareness is on the rise, and there is the intention to establish new alliances for mutual defense and funds to help on case of cybersecurity disaster.

Automatisation is key for the economic development and social well being. calls to embrace AI are given by cyber security specialist. With certain caution perhaps it is is time to believe that the mesaures are begining to be taken, the question is if we are acting quickly enough.

miércoles, 8 de noviembre de 2017

"Recordarán tu nombre" - Lorenzo Silva

Recordarán tu nombreRecordarán tu nombre by Lorenzo Silva
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alguna vez, tomamos decisiones que cambian nuestras vidas, como casarnos, tener hijos, comprar una casa o cambiar de trabajo. Son bastantes más de los que creemos. Suelen ser resultado de una evolución, de un caminar que hemos realizado voluntariamente. Son decisiones buscadas, de las que siempre hemos tenido una vía de escape previa, pero en las que hemos evitado extraviarnos de un destino falsamente inesperado.

Son menos, a veces ninguno, los momentos de la verdad en nuestras vidas. Esos instantes que no buscamos ni esperamos ni podemos esquivar, que ni tan si quiera imaginábamos que aparecerían en nuestras vidas. Disyuntivas vitales de las que no podemos escapar y en las que entran en conflicto nuestros más altos principios. Por ejemplo, cuando chocan nuestras creencias y nuestro deber. Algunas ocasiones, cuando de la decisión pende el destino de otros, quienes se enfrentan a esos momentos pasan a la historia como heroes; en otras oportunidades, se les recuerda como traidores; muchas veces, simplemente se les olvida.

Lorenzo Silva recupera en su libro, una biografía novelada, la figura de un hombre que se enfrento dos veces en su vida a momentos de la verdad, y que sin embargo fue olvidado. Aunque más bien, deberíamos decir que fue borrado, se trata del General Aranguren. El militar fue un hombre profundamente religioso, probablemente cercano a la derecha política. Sin embargo, el puesto que ocupaba y sus principios le empujaron a ser clave en el advenimiento de la II República española y en la resistencia de la misma al golpe de estado de julio de 1936. Como escribe el autor, un hombre Aranguren fue un hombre que es ejemplo que "si bien a veces no pueden evitarse justicia ni crueldad, siempre se tiene ocasión de no suscribirlos".

Vivimos en España momentos de turbulencia. De nuevo, como en 1931 y 1936, hay más de una persona que sin duda se enfrenta a la decisión entre creencias y deber. Es quizás el momento de leer este libro, u otros que relatan la historia de personajes similares que poblaron aquella encrucijada, como el General Escobar. Aunque sea solo para descubrir que no puede existir duda entre creencias y deber. Ser fiel al deber es siempre parte de la creencia de toda persona de bien. Al mismo tiempo, ningún deber puede ir en contra de ninguna creencia central al bien. Lo difícil es saber qué es el bien.

Y por supuesto, el libro excelentemente escrito, como todo lo de Lorenzo Silva

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jueves, 2 de noviembre de 2017

Again, the EU laissez-faire approach about digital platforms

Some weeks ago, the European Commission presented its communication "Tackling illegal content", that was previously announced by the Commission´s President in its letter of intent published jointly with his speech on the State of the Union. The communication was the first step for a proactive prevention, detection and removal of illegal content inciting hatred, violence and terrorism online. All the strategy rest on a call on online platforms to further boost their efforts to prevent the spread of illegal content.

As a critical action for fighting illegal content, the European Commission considers that strengthening the collaboration between platforms and trusted flaggers is a needed complement of the usage of automatic tools. As there are several failures on the side of the usage of automatic tools for tagging content (e.g the case about how Google clasified black people as gorillas), some people began desesperately the meaning on what is a "trusted flagger". The relative unawareness about the term "trusted flagger" is reflected on the story of searches for the term on Google.  Few look-ups about "trusted flaggers" were made previously to May 2017.

Trusted flaggers are defined by the European Commission as "specialised entities with expert knowledge on what constitutes illegal content". The search for the interest on the issue on Google Trends reflects also that the geographic area where users are most concerned of this kind of providers is Indonesia. Without any doubt, this interest could be caused to the high-profile of the programme for the development of trsuted flaggers agreed between Google and the Indonesian government. Few more information of this kind of service providers are on the network, except some echoes of the discomfort with the YouTube´ trusted flagger program in USA and the UK

As the European Commission position on tackling illegal content rests on outsourcing the enforcement to platforms instead of developing a full regulation on the issue, the faith on the work of trusted flaggers looks the introduction of a new delegation of the liability of the fight against illegal content on the internet. The hope that the extension of the chain of liability with a new link will help, looks as an escapism about tackling the problem. The impression is reinforced with the scarce number of success cases of trusted flaggers programs.

The Commission´s approach may end again with a failure of self-regulatory tools, as what have happened previously with the issue of anti-competitiveness practices developed by online platforms, where the European commission has recognised recently the need to develop some regulatory instruments after rejecting this approach for years. It that is the case, some questions about the responsibilities for this laissez-faire approach on digital issues will be raised by several stakeholders.


miércoles, 25 de octubre de 2017

"And the weak suffer what they must?" - Yanis Varoufakis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Books on economic issues are usually difficult to read unless you have some previous knowledge on the matter. The merit of Yannis Varaoufakis is having written a book on monetary history in postwar Europe which is readable for all. The story is so readable that sometimes is as gripping as a detective novel where the murdered is democracy, the weapon the ideal of a more united Europe and the killers an elite of non-elected burocrats and academics.

Varoufakis presented us the tragedy of the making-of of European Monetary Union, a succession of crisis where each solution have drive towards a greater probability to suffer a bigger crisis where the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. According with the author, the seeds were planted with the creation of the European Union (then the European Economic Community) as a tool to defend the interest of the Central European industry and French agriculture, without any popular demand in its basis. As a consequence, the managers of this tool has always been more worry of saving the interest of the richer whatever its social consequences for the rest of the society.

Against the opinion of the founding fathers of the Union and many of its successors in ruling Member States or the European institutions, Varoufakis defends that a closer economic union is not bringing us to a closer union. Futhermore, the absence of a real political debate in the European institutions on taxation and spending at the European level makes impossible even a real economic union. To sum up, there is not real sovereign control on the decissions of the burcrats in charge of the economic policies (the European Commission), which take advantange of each crisis to capture more power from the Member States without adding any (or few) popular control on the machinery. The outstanding example for the author is the Eurogroup, the institution where the main economic decissions are taken that even is not described in the Treaties as an institution.

The author, as you may expect, is particularly critic with the construction of the monetary union. He tries to show the impossibility of success os a monetary union without a solidarity on the debts and based only on free trade. Varoufakis present the contrast of this reality with how the economic issues are dealt in a real union as the USA as the reason for a European Union doomed to fail.

Perhaps, you will not be agree to all or even any of the arguments that Yanis Varoufakis uses in his book, but the book is also interesting to know the story of the European monetary union. In the book you will discover its origin as a tool to overcome Bretton Woods sinking, its first stages as a mere stabilizer of currencies exchange value, the role of a closer monetary Union in the making-of of Brexit and how the dream of a French control of a German currency failed.

miércoles, 18 de octubre de 2017

Brexit does not mean #Brexit in the digital dimension



After the position paper on the flow of personal data future relationship between UK and EU, UK government has published a paper containing its vision on the UK-EU cooperation on foreign policy, defence and development after Brexit. Coherently with the rising tide of threats for all countries coming from cyberspace, the paper has dedicated some space to the future cybersecurity cooperation.

It looks quite logical that UK and EU maintain a tight relationship on cybersecurity matters. According with the ITU Global Cybersecurity Index 2017, UK scored 4th among European countries and 14th globally in the world rank of countries commited towards cybersecurity. Besides beign an important global player in cybersecurity, UK has played the role of  bridge between EU and US in this field. However, in the cybersecurity field as in other areas it looks that UK asks for a Brexit without Brexit. 
The framework for cybersecurity relationships in the European Union is defined in the Network and Information Security Directive (NIS Directive). This Directive defines the existence of two groups for cooperation among Member States, the Cooperation Group (article 11) and the CSIRT Network (article 12). The first group aims to facilitate strategic cooperation, while the second has an operational nature, but, as I said previously, they are groups or Member States only by its legal definition. For the surprise of all, the UK proposes to "collaborating closely through participation in the CSIRT network and Cooperation Group" after Brexit.  

An important part of the European digital community was horrified after Brexit, and I include myself among them. But this position of Brexit without Brexit was beyond our expectations. After the aspiration to continue its membership of EU privacy cooperation groups, now UK has uncovered the same intention towards cybersecurity cooperation groups. Perhaps, they need to review those old Sesame Street chapters describing what means in and what means out.


miércoles, 11 de octubre de 2017

The case for a world summit on the future of work

There is a certain panic along the world with the unstoppable raising of the usage of robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI). People so far from being a luddite as Elon Musk or Bill Gates have make calls to be cautious in their development and even the AI industrial leaders are advocates of a certain limitation on their usages. The identification of AI as the basis for new world empires by some kind of politicians do not contribute to dilute the apprehension.

But beyond the apocalyptic visions of Terminator-like robots exterminating the human race, what worries the man and woman of main street is the risk of losing their job. Trade Unions in different countries are drawing the attention on the challenge of boosting productivity but not a the cost of employees. Different proposals are begining to be debate aiming to sooth the population on these fears about a jobless future (and therefore, without a wage for living). The idea of taxing the usage of robots in the centre of this ideas, but it is facing the difficult task of defining what is a robot.

However, not everybody is equally worried about having robots as working mates and rivals for obtaining a job. Those who are going to be the main actors of the future look robots as a complement for their activities and an opportunity to avoid doing the harder tasks in working environments.On the other hand, the governments of aging and advanced societies like Germany are welcoming robots as the remedy for the shortage of workers.

As on the field of the AI and robot usages for wars, the role of robots on the future of work deserve an international UN summit. The alternative will be masses of unemployed and continuous global unrest. But if the summit is called, beware that this time everybody pays their fair share of the organisational fees.
palyginti kainas