miércoles, 26 de octubre de 2016

Cibersecurity & Self-Dring cars

Digitalisation is posing a great legislative challenge. On one hand, some all rules need to be changed or eliminated due to the obsolescence of the principles there were based. On the other hand, new rules are needed to face new realities. Among the former, we can include all the legislation regarding the services more impacted by the shared economy model. Among the later, one of the most exciting fields is the legislation regarding security in the IoT world.

It is expected that the installed base of active wireless connected devices will exceed 40.9 billion by 2020. There have been registered enough IoT security incidents  to foreseen this technology will be the major target of hackers in the future. A general consensus is around the need to include IoT security in the organisations strategic plans, as a recent IDC survey shows. In the public sector, this means not only to being ready to secure the IoT infrastructure, but also establish the right legal framework to enable IoT security everywhere.

As one of the paramount symbols of our way of live, self-driving cars are the connected things that are capturing for more public and press attention. But it is happening the same with the cybersecurity incidents that involve a self-driving car. Behind this incidents, there are the failure of the software embedded in cars. Demanding an exhaustive testing of software through legal obligations should be part of the future legals frameworks on the matter, as they are thinking in the US govenrment. In particular, digital security has been included as one of the items to be tested.

While US is already planning and designing the new rules for self-driving cars, EU is lagging behind again. There are not clear signs that a proposal coherent framework for self-driving cars in Europe will be produced in the next months. it should be food for thought that an European car maker as Volvo is testing its self-driving cars in USA (jontly with Uber). 

miércoles, 19 de octubre de 2016

The new bred of publishers for the digital era

For those reading this blog, it is nothing new that Internet is becoming the main source of information for a growing population. Several surveys has confirmed this fact in the last months. On one hand, the Pew Research Centre in its State of News Media 2016 has pointed that 38% of americans get news from digital sources. On the other hand, the Reuters Institute in its annual Digital Report 2016 has estimated that 73% of internet users worldwide obtain news online. 

The evolution towards getting online news could be seen as an expected one in the digital world, but jointly with this migration a new set of news intermediaries are emerging: Social media. Pew Research has estimated that 62% of the americans obtain news from social media sites, while Reuters has calculated that 48% of internet users worldwide has social networks as a news source. More worrisome is the piece of data given by Reuters about the growing number of Internet users that has social media, particularly facebook, as the main source of news. Now, it is only 12%, but this means a 50% growth since 2015.

There is a resistance in social media and digital platforms to be classified as a news media publisher. Nevertheless, the fact is that they are taken editorial decisions regarding which news are seen by their users. Sometimes, they are taken the decisions based on their own principles, like the case of the censorship on "napalm girl" picture. Other times, they respond the demand of governments regarding terrorism fight, altough politicians in UK,  Germany and other countries think social media are not tough enough in this fight.

Algorithms are seen by many people as a solution for the elimination of bias in the selection of news by social media. The Reuters report shows that more internet users trust automatic selection than manual selection (36% vs 30%). However, algorithms have shown its limitations in the selection of news and we should not expect less bias in the algorithms that the bias of their creators.

Social media is growing hub for information in the digital era. Whether the selection is done manually or based on algorithms, Facebook and the others should provide more information and be more transparent on the criteria they apply for the selection, ordering and, specially, censorship of news. Media have been always biased, and technology is not going to change it. We should forget about having digitalisation as the cornerstone for more impartial media, bits should not be an alibi for not giving details on admisible partiality.

miércoles, 12 de octubre de 2016

EU free flow of data initiative vs Alphabet?

More than a year ago, I wrote in this blog how Google had started to drive us towards what I called "The Alphabet Home". Last week this Google business line was confirmed in its autumn products launch event. A more powerful Chrome cast, New wifi routers and a Google Home device are among the presented products. It definitively looks that home will be the new battlefield for the Internet giants.

However, consumers does not look enticed yet by the dream of a fully automated home. A recent study pointed to the excessive prices of Smart Home devices as a brake for its adoption. The need for partnerships between utilities and the Smart Home manufacturers was also highlighted in the report. Probably, both of them are reasons for the lack of adoption, nevertheless, there are other more important reasons in my opinion. 

First of all, we have the security issue. Year after year, we can read articles pointed to the same threats and fears: hacking of objects, DDoS attacks to the home appliances, steal of information, ... it looks that manufacturers will not include security-by-design without a regulatory pressure from the governments. Equally important is the lack of rules regarding the handling of data. The potential early adopters are aware of the amount of data that could be generated from this devices, which companies look eager to monetise with the creation of marketplaces

Once more, it looks that the European Commission will try to innovate with an initiative to promote the free flow of data in Europe. The initiative has at its heart the need to set a favourable environment for Internet of the Things, in general, and Smart Home development, in particular. Both the need to embed security rules within Smart Home appliances and the clarification of the rules for handling data could be included in the initiative. 

Due to the contenders from both sides, the Internet giants and the European Commission, we can expect to listen again the complaints of European protectionism in Smart Homes area

miércoles, 5 de octubre de 2016

Connectivity in exchange for rights

United Nations has set an ambitious set of objectives to be reached by 2030, the so-called 2030 Agenda or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). "The Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom". Although the main objective is to end poverty in all its forms, the agenda also seek to secure the environment, guarantee an efficient and respectful usage of natural resources and achieve gender equality among others high-level goals. The stakes are really high and there is a feeling that the objectives will not be reached with a simple "business-as-usual" strategy.

Digitalisation could be the game changer that would make possible achieving the SDGs. Although it is considered to be hidden within the ninth goal, "Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation", the deployment of broadband infrastructure and services for all is the cornerstone of the global digital transformation efforts. However, the costs are high. Currently, only 40% of the population are connected to the internet and the ITU has estimated that the cost of achieving the connectivity of the 60% costs 450$ billion, around 300$ per each of the 1,5 billion people that will be connected.

The case for global connectivity has been put forward and its cost has been estimated. However, in spite of the productivity dividends and positive effects on personal life of broadband adoption, neither governments nor the disconnected people will be able to foot the bill. Therefore, private companies need to look for new cost effective manners to connect the digitally excluded in both the developed and developing world. It is not a sudden philantropic attack of the private sector, it the conviction that after providing the connection they will be able to sell aditional value added services, one way or the other.

In the developed world, telecommunications companies are exploring personal data as the payment currency for an Internet connection. The price of someone's personal data is highly discussed. Consumers tend to estimated a high cost while companies thinks it is not so much as we think. Nevertheless, it seems it is enough for some US telcos to propose a "pay-for-privacy" model of broadband services. Allow to be tracked while you surf and you will have a discount in your broadband monthly bill.

The offer of companies is not so generous in the developing world. The price of connectivity in Africa and other underdeveloped areas is the complete attention of the user. The value of someone's personal data is directly related with your purchase capability, if your personal data is valueless the price is your whole digital life. That is the proposal put forward by internet.org, lead by mark Zuckenberg. The price of a free internet connection is having the Facebook's vision of the world, the news and images that Facebook would like to present you. 

Many times it is said that connectivity is the new utility. Internet is put in the same level as water or electricity. However, it looks that the only way to extend internet connection to the poor is in exchange of their privacy or their freedom of information. Internet could be the tool for their economic development but their rights are the price
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