miércoles, 13 de diciembre de 2017

Digital Xmas

Christmas are around the corner. Shopping malls are crowded of people rushing from one shop to another and e-commerce sites are changing its face including  season images as Santa Claus or the Three Wise Men to attract more customers.  As it happens year after year, we will buy  this week the main part of our Christmas presents, an important part of them are targeted to kids and children. Even for them, those with digital features are the gifts which are more awaited.

Smart adjective has started to appear jointly with the word toys. Cameras, wifi connectivity and bluetooth links pave the way to a new a generation of toys that can collect images, voices, personal information and location from their little owners in almost real time. The market is gorwing at a quickpace. Accordingly with a report published by Juniper Research last summer, Smart Toy sales will reach $15.5 billion in hardware and app content revenues by 2022, up from an estimated $4.9 billion in 2017

The threefold growth of smart toys business is driving by the early unlimited access that children have to their parents smartphones and tablets. Furthermore, there is a growing base of children under six that owns their own smartphone or tablet that will be around 90% in 2020. Right now, nearly half of them has their own smartphone when they are 10 years old, almost all of them with the same features as their parents.

A growing supply industry and a thriving demand base will have as a consequence a proliferation of smart toys at our home. The emerge of this new wave of children´s companion has been so fast that we are not yet used to pay attention and demand information about with which data retention rules are embedded in their smartness and  with whom they shared the data they collect. As some field studies show, some times both parents and children are unprepared to manage the associated risks.

Consumer associations in Europe and America has started to warn on the risks after testing several smart toys. The lab work shows that four out of seven of the tested toys could be used to communicate with the children playing with them. Nothing new, the experts has been calling for more attention on Internet of the Things vulnerabilities for a long time. But this time could be more serious, hackers speaking with our children paves the way for a whole collection to social engineer attacks that could take full advantage the kids naivety.

Slowly, but those responsible to take care of citizens safety in this area are starting to take measures. Norwegian consumer agency is beginning to do intensive test to smart toys and has discovered vulnerabilities on them. German agency even is banning some this connected toys due to the cybersecurity risks.  At the other side of the Atlantic, the warnings came from the FBI who calls "consumers to consider cyber security prior to introducing smart, interactive, internet-connected toys into their homes or trusted environments."

As when we face any other challenge related with digitalisation, we should not let ourselves be driven by luddism. The consumer note published by FBI provide a full complete list of the actions we can do by ourselves in order to provide our kids safely with a digital companion for their games. Basically, as with everything, we have to know what we are buying. 

miércoles, 6 de diciembre de 2017

News on fake news

We have lived more than a full year under a growing worry for fake news in social media. It all started US presidential election, some journalist also discovered some hints that there where also present in the Brext referendum. Although their presence in France´s Presidential election and Germany´s Parliament election were apparently weaker than expected, the question of fake news stayed as a background sound for all the year.

In spite of the situation described above, the worry about fake news were uneven in the European Union and stayed at low level of prioritisation for many Member States. Although in september it was clear that the European Commission was planning some initiative on the issue, the Presiden Juncker decided to include in his letter of intent for 2018 but did not mentioned it in his address to the Parliament. All the clues pointed in the direction that fake news would stay as a minor issue in European policy, if not completely dissapear from it.

But some policy-makers apparently want to maintain fake news on the front page in the same manner that Hearst furnished the Cuban War after the sinking of the Maine ("Everything is quiet. There is no trouble. There will be no war. I wish to return." To which Hearst's reply was: "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war."). The dramatic events around the secession intentions of Catalonia from Spain have provided new fuel for the EC intentions to develop policy initiatives around fake news. The EC is exploited the opportunity and, what is more valuable due the Council mechanism, has won a relevant ally for its intention (Spain).

Certainly, there have been examples of fake news and doubtful pictures on the Catalonia crisis.  The EC has shown some of this pieces of fake news, curiously biased on one direction only when there have been example from both, but there have been little detail about the impact on the opinion of the population or even the actual distribution beyond Twitter´s retweets and Facebook´s likes.  This hype on fake news is logically supported by the traditional media, a logical support due to their fierce competence with online platforms as the main news distribution channel.

It is impossible to deny the existence of fake news on online platforms, even it is possible the involvement of governments, in what we can call a kind of revival of cold war. However, perhaphs we should be also critical analyzers of the news on fake news, they also could have an intention.

miércoles, 29 de noviembre de 2017

The end of jobs: A bigger problem than we think

Several studies began to point towards a decrease of people employed due to automatisation a couple of years ago. These results ignited a debate on  the future of employment, where some people have taken a more positive view hinting that at the same time that some jobs could dissapear other could emerge. One of the areas of hope for the provision of new kind of jobs for the susbtitution of the old ones is the IT sector. Furthermore, from the political level they are sending continuous messages about the lack of IT specialists

Thinking about IT fields where new specialist are needed, it is easy to point immediately to Artificial Intelligence and cybersecurity. The former looks as essential for the automatisation and redesign of activities, while the later seems as highly demanded to stop the continuous cyber attacks some high profile companies and institutions are receiving. Unfortunately, it looks possible that those who think that has existed an overestimation of the IT jobs gap are close to the truth.

What could failed? Why in a highly automated world the demand of digital jobs would be not as high as we expected? The answer is that automatisation could devour itself. To begin with cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence is at the heart of a new generation of cybersecurity products that "helps analysts to boost their accuracy and shorten their reaction time".  But same could be said regarding Artificial intelligence itself, the shortage of AI specialist is quickly filled by cloud companies as Google to provide AI on demand services.

Although I´m on the side the optimists who think that automatisation will bring new jobs on the medium term, news as those described above fill you with blue for some time. We will need to fight hard in order to maintain a working space for human beings.


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.

miércoles, 4 de octubre de 2017

Personal Data in the future relationship EU-UK

Brexit negotiations are on march since some months ago. Strictly guided by the text of article 50 of the treaty, the conversations between the two parts has started talking only about the issues related with the UK´s exit from the EU. There are few if any digital issues to be tackled on this stage of the negotiations.

The British team is eeager to start the second stage of the negotiations on the future relationship, although for its dismay the efforts are despised by the EU. Not even the flood of papers on the future relationship published by the UK in August in order to prove its readiness to start the second phase has obtained any oficial reaction from the EU. Among the most ignored was the paper on personal data flows, "The exchange and protection of personal data - a future partnership paper".

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be one of the last EU regulations that are going to be applied in the UK. Although its applicability would end the Brexit day, there is a commitment with the continuity of its application on british soil. To be concrete, the new Brtish Data Protection Bill will bring the complete GDPR into British legal framework and the UK firms are taking seriously its fulfilment hiring people to meet with its obligations.

According with this privileged situation, the UK´s proposal for the future relationship on the field of data is continuity as if nothing has happened. Certainly, there is a sound rationale for the almost automatic publication of adequacy decission by the European Commission on Brexit day that would enable the continuity of data flows by UK and the EU. Furthermore, another option will be harmful for both parts.

Nevertheless, besides this logic proposal the paper also shows some clues that the UK has not grasp the dimension of Brexit. As an alternative for building up a regulatory cooperation in this area is to continue the involvement of the ICO (UK Data Protection Authority) in the EU Data protection Authorities network, but we the disclaimer that the UK government will be the unique responsible of the data protection in UK.

So it´s not a good start for the negotiations of the digital Brexit. As it was expected, digital economy looks as one cherry of UK´s cherrypicking strategy. That could mean on the end a tougher position from the EU on this field, and therefore more uncertainty about the final result. Another block on the middle of Europe´s digital policies.

miércoles, 27 de septiembre de 2017

The end of romance (II)

Definitely, something has been broken in our relationship with digital platforms. The end of romance looks more feasible as times goes by, In spite that some countries have recognised a semi-state status to the GAFAs, even some of the actions that have been praised in the past are now been calling digital colonialism. As the spouse who is desperate observing the unavoidable end of its marriage, they are spending more money than ever before to maintain the relationship. Even more, it looks that some of the GAFAs  are trying to make forget the rumours of some past little sins with a little bit of over reaction.

Unfortunately for the GAFAs, it looks that there are a growing consensus on their power and the need to curb it. To begin with, it has been quite significative that the EU´s fine on Google for anti-competitive actions have not raised any strong comments from the White House, neither before nor after the fine was imposed. This fact has not passed unnoticed to the US media, specially to those close to the GAFA´s world that has also underlined the Trump´s position in favour of a more agressive antitrust position. 

Meanwhile in Europe, new actions are under development. Germany is putting to practice a year-old idea expressed by Commissioner Vestager on the need to consider the role of data and digital issues in competition laws, specially regarding M&A cases. Firstly, the German Government published a white paper on the matter; later, an amendment to the competition law was adopted that introduces a new approach to competitition in the digital era. After Germany decission, it is not surprising that the European Commission itself has began to warn the GAFAs with taking actions applicable for the whole Union in order to increase the protection of online consumers.


It looks that the winds are beginning to blow against the sails of the digital  platforms. The world where everything is disrupted except legislation seems to dissapear. Regulation on digital issues are begining to take a more solid shape.

miércoles, 20 de septiembre de 2017

"The rise and fall of American growth" - Robert Gordon

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil WarThe Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War by Robert J. Gordon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We live under the impression that never before growth of the economy and the standard of living have been so high, and we are wrong. As a matter of fact, we are in a declining phase. This is one of the central lessons of Robert Gordon´s book, which is focused in the US case but could be applicable also to the majority of the western nations. We are still leaving under the spell of what has happened between 1870-1970, the phenomenal change from a live without electricity, gas, water and communication networks to our fully connected society.

However, the second lesson of the book is the excepcionality of the century between 1870 and 1970. Growth may has declined since 1970, but has virtually no exist before 1870. The rise of growth has happened due to the great inventions of the first and second industrial revolutions, the steam machine and electricity, that has bring us the full set of facilities we enjoy in our dailiy routine and we would not be able to put aside: cars, washing machines, fridges, cheap clothing, ....

Finally, there is a warning for us. Although it looks us the other way around, ICT has not bring us as much growth us we think, except for a brief period between 1996 and 2004. Since them, after the main novelties were integrated in home and offices (PCs, Internet, substitution of the papers by bits, ...) growth has decline both in productivity and standard of living. The fall of innovation rythm has been a cause, but also the rising inequality, the demographics changes, the imbalances in the access to the different level of education, the downsides of globalisation and the failure of enviromental policies. The author undelines that unless we change these trends, growth will not return.

But the book is something more than just another book of an economy expert packed with graphics and figures that support his ideas. The book is also in great part a picture of how life was in the different periods it covers. The description of rural life by the end of the XIX century, the evolution of the urban areas, the changes in the entretaintement industry, the vanishing of horses as the main companion of human life, the blurring of distances brought by trains, planes and telecommunications, ... This is also the book if you want to get information for writing any social or non fiction paper which is set in any period after 1870.

In spite of its length, you will enjoy the book. It is going to consume may hours of your life its reading, but you will not repent. Final tip: if you are short of time, read at least the pages of conclusions of each chapter.

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miércoles, 13 de septiembre de 2017

The rising importance of free flow of data (II): How to

So data is important for growth and employment, and it is also important to promote the free flow of data in order  enable the sharing and aggregation of data  needed for the new services and products. Data and its free flow would also help for increasing the social well being through a new generation of health services and the digitalisation of government services. Therefore, it is needed to deploy the mesaures to tear down the barriers that stop the circulation of data between jurisdictions.

The European Commission is focusing on the supression of the restrictions on data localisation across the Union. The general idea is that there are unjustified legal restrictions on where the data could be stored and that these restrictions are different in each different Member State, so there is a need of a legal instrument to harmonized these restrictions. It is difficult to oppose these rationale. However, exceptions on the free flow of some kind of data is needed to be introduced. For instance, for national security reasons or maybe even taxation information.

But in spite of what many people looks to think, the elimination to localisation restrictions should be accompanied by other measures. Because the most important thing are enabling trust among the parties who intervene in the data economy and facilitate equal opportunities for all to jump on the data economy wagon. For enabling trust, on one hand, there is a need of cibersecurity standards on data storage and, in the other hand, a legal framework that defines who has the right to use, share and reuse data and under which conditions.

But we also need to establish a level playing field with the above mentioned conditions. It should be prevented that data could be used as a tool for unfair competition. We can oblige all to share data but there should be transparency on the conditions each one establishes and these conditions should be universally applied without discriminations. Also some kind of data should perhaps be universally made availaible, for instance, those generated around public and general interest services.

So, although supressing the restrictions for data localisation is important, it is difficult to imagine that data economy could flourish without accepted security standards for its storage and clear and fair conditions on the access, use and reuse of data. Free flow of data would never happened without all these things puting on the table at the same time.

miércoles, 6 de septiembre de 2017

The rising importance of free flow of data (I): Why

Enabling Free Flow of Data (FFD) in the European Union has jumped from a marginal note to a first rank priority on the European Digital Agenda. In order to appreciate this change, it is enough to compare the space dedicated to the issue in the policy documents published by the European Commission. While in the communication "A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe" the issue was described in few more than a paragraph; in the recently published "Mid-Term Review on the implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy A Connected Digital Single Market for All" the item was described with greatest detail accross several pages.

Why the issue of free flow of data is so important? A few figures taken from recent studies are enough to provide the big picture. On one hand, the McKinsey Global Institute has estimated a growth of 45 fold of data flows which have boosted the world GDP by 10% since 2005. On the other hand,  according with a study on the European Data Market it is expected that the value of the data economy in the EU will be around €739 billion, 4% of the GDP.

Besides the economic figures, there are also political reasons. Enabling FFD is required to updating the European project. The basis of the European Union are the so called four freedoms: the freedom of movement of services, products, capital and people.  In an increasing digitalised world, the above freedoms heaviliy depend on the free movement of data. FFD has become the 5th freedom to guarantee for an ever closer Union. 

And it spite of its importance on the digital era, only 87% of the European companies shared data with other companies. This is what can be called an economic blindness. The value of data growth with its aggregation and processing, following a recursive pattern. Therefore, promoting the sharing of data is critical to reap the full of the data economy and the distrubution of its benefits among the whole society. Namely, the dat economy enable more innovation, new business models and accessing to new markets, and better welfare services based on policy evidences.

So far is what we can obtain from the data economy and the free flow of data. What we can do for the creation of the right environment for a thriving data economy will be the focus of the next post

 


domingo, 20 de agosto de 2017

Políticas trans. Una antología de textos de"Políticas trans. Una antología de textos desde los estudios trans norteamericanos" - Pol Galofre

Políticas trans. Una antología de textos desde los estudios trans norteamericanosPolíticas trans. Una antología de textos desde los estudios trans norteamericanos by Pol Galofre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Un libro necesario, aunque cuyo título puede resultar equívoco. No esperen encontrar en el mismo un análisis de necesidades de los colectivos trans* y políticas públicas para su resolución. Si es un compendio de análisis de las identidades trans* desde distintas ópticas políticas, y, sobre todo, debate de modo recurrente la compatiblidad de las reivindicaciones feministas con el reconocimiento de las identidades trans*. Diversos autores aportan también perspectivas históricas de las identidades trans* y la relación del fenómeno con el mundo de la asistencia sanitaria.

La compatibilidad del reconocimiento de las identidades trans* con el feminismo, contrariamente a lo mantenido por otras autoras, figura como elemento central o auxiliar en varios artículos. Muestran el equívoco de considerar las identidades trans* como una ocupación machista del feminismo, rebatiendo el argumento de no considerar a las mujeres feministas trans* como un artificio. En un paso más allá, son varios los autores que consideran el activismo trans* como una palanca final para acabar con las discriminaciones de género de todo tipo, buscando en algunos casos incluso una ruptura del binarismo hombre-mujer.

Es interesante también el debate histórico de las identidades trans*. Dejando a un lado la óptica de análisis marxista de Feinberg que lo situa en el contexto de la lucha de clases, es relevante la negación de las identidades trans* como resultado de la evolución de la tecnología médica, al englobar no sólo transexualismo sino también transgenerismo. La presencia de la disconformidad con los roles de género y la variedad de expresiones de género no sólo en otras culturas, sino incluso en la cultura occidental, son las muestras de un colectivo que ha existido desde la noche de los tiempos.

Otro aspecto que es estudiado es la visibilización frente al ocultamiento. En general, aunque es comprendido como una actitud de búsqueda de la aceptación, se realiza una crítica de la no visibilización posterior a la transición. En cierto modo, tratar de pasar como mujer u hombre en la esfera pública una vez realizada la transición, es visto como una ruptura de los principios del transgenerismo, ya que supone asumir un binarismo y una denegación de la historia propia y la existencia de cuerpos diferentes dentro de un mismo género.

Por su óptica excepcional dentro del libro, probablemente también por mi condición de hombre, me ha capturado el texto de Patrick Califa que debate el concepto de "hombría". Subrayar cómo considera en parte fracasada su búsqueda de conceptualizaciones diferentes para hombre y mujer. Las cualidades por las que ambos géneros (y los otros géneros) debían ser juzgados deberían ser los mismos. El autor confiesa en un momento dado cómo al final de la transición espera encontrar la misma persona.

Un libro para teorizar sobre las identidades trans*, pero también para analizar la relación que uno mismo tiene con el género en su más amplio sentido





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miércoles, 16 de agosto de 2017

"Trans*exualidades. Acompañamiento, factores de salud y recursos educativos Trans*exualidades. Acompañamiento, factores de salud y recursos educativos" - @platerin

Trans*exualidades. Acompañamiento, factores de salud y recursos educativosTrans*exualidades. Acompañamiento, factores de salud y recursos educativos by Raquel (Lucas) Platero
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Un libro enciclopédico sobre las identidades trans*, introduciendo un concepto que va más allá de la visión tradicional de la transexualidad como el paso de un sexo a otro a fin de adecuar en ser con el sentir. Las identidades trans* se presentan como construcciones sobre la disconformidad con el concepto de género y su relación biyectiva con las características biológicas del binarismo sexual. Sobre esta definición, se presenta la vivencia en primera persona de las personas que se identifican como trans* y quienes más directamente les rodean, sus familas.

Lucas construye un libro que resulta una guía de viaje al interior de los conceptos de sexo, identidad de género, expresión de género e identidad sexual. Es una hoja de ruta para la reflexión sobre cuatro conceptos que la normatividad nos presenta como un bloque, binarios y con blancos y negros acompasados. Sin embargo, las páginas del libro nos muestra las evidencias de las disonancias entre ellos y los grises en cada uno de ellos. También introduce la necesidad de acercarse a las identidades trans* desde una perspectiva no patologizadora, más relacionada con la conciencia personal que cada uno tiene de si mismo.

Más allá de la presentación de conceptos, Lucas presenta los retos a los que se enfrentan las personas autoidentificdas como trans* en distintos ámbitos. La vivencia infantil de la creatividad de género en los entornos educativos, su prolongación hacia el entorno afectivo y social y la integración laboral son tratados de modo profuso, permitiendo escuchar sobre la realidad a quién quiera escuchar. La transfobia como lacra social y ramificación de la intolerancia hacia la diversidad es el corolario de la aproximación del autor.

El libro quizás peca por exceso con su segunda parte, de interés tan sólo para quien tenga una aproximación a las identidades trans* con objetivo netamente formativo y de intervención social. No deja de ser material de interés, especialmente su glosario, pero quizás serían útil una edición menor sin las páginas amarillas de cuaderno de ejercicios.

Un libro imprescindible en tu biblioteca sobre asuntos sociales. Para leer tanto si las identidades trans* te son cercanas en primera personas o en tu entorno familiar o si te aproximas a ellas para entender más la realidad humana.

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miércoles, 26 de julio de 2017

Google case

The biggest fine in competition ruling history. That's the notice that Google received a couple of weeks ago. 2,4 € bn for having given its price-comparison shopping service preferential treatment in its search results over rival offerings. But there are doubts about the solidness of the rationale of the fine.

The Commission said that the company systematically manipulated its results page to promote its own Google Shopping service and push smaller rivals down its search rankings. Even it provided some figures of the outcome of Google´s strategy, It is said that "since the beginning of each abuse, Google’s comparison shopping service has increased its traffic 45-fold in the United Kingdom, 35-fold in Germany, 19-fold in France, 29-fold in the Netherlands, 17-fold in Spain and 14-fold in Italy,” 

Some eyebrows have been raised after the fine has been imposed. There is a misunderstanding how Google could be fined for e-commerce activities without a dominant position in the electronic shopping sector. But this is a misunderstanding of the Google Shopping business. Google Shopping is nothing more (and nothing less) that an kind of advertisement service, the so called Product Listing Adds. So the fine is for taking advantage of its position in the web ads market and taking the information obtained from other services (search, mail, ...) to create and advertisament formula that its rivals can not match.

But also this argument has a flaw. As the economist said, the EC has failed to prove that there is a correlation between its behaviour and the poor performance of competing comparison-shopping services after 2008. It is difficult to estabish if Google Shopping has beat its commpetitor for its own merit or due to the tight integration of Google Shoping with the rest of Google´s service. 

So apart from establishing clearly that Google has a dominant position in the search market and this may help its dominance in other markets, few new things has came with the sentence. It is no surprise that in order to discover new facts for future investigations the EC has opened a call for monitoring Google´s algorithm.

miércoles, 12 de julio de 2017

EU Gigabit Society: Upgrading policy tools

Last september, the European Commission proposed a full renewal of the Union connectivity goals. Under the umbrella of the Gigabit Society the new targets included that all European households, rural or urban, should have access to connectivity offering a download speed of at least 100 Mbps by 2025. This means a significant upgrade regarding the target set in the Digital Agenda for Europe, which established that by 2020 internet speeds of 30 Mbps or above should be availaible for all European citizens.

For the purpose of achieving the connectivity goals of the Gigabit Society, the European Commission started the review of the European telecommunications legal framework. The proposed European Electronic Communications Code is supposed to include the adequate legal measures to boost the investments needed for this objective. But beyond the legal framework, other policy instrument should be deployed.

To begin with, the European Commission estimates  that €500 billion investment over the coming decade is needed in order to achieve ultra high speed broadband connectivity. This means that some kind of public intervention will be needed. Using again the European Commission figures, the needed public investment is likely to be a €155 billion.However, the EU Guidelines for the application of state aid rules in relation to the rapid deployment of broadband networks are still waiting a renewal. 30 Mbs is still the speed reference for the definition of which areas state could intervene without distorting compentence.

But there are other policy instruments where the connectivity speed goal taken as a reference should be renewed. It is also obvious that we need to renew the indicators used to follow the European progress on digitalisation. Nenvertheless, the connectivity dimension of the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) still does not include the measurement of the availaibility and usage of 100 mbs connection.

So for achieving the Gigabit Society not only setting targets and creating a new legal is needed. Other policy instruments should be in place, and right now it looks that the European Union are still not thinking on it.

miércoles, 5 de julio de 2017

Bundling measures to fight digital poverty

As the digitalisation advances it is more difficult to find any activity which is not linked with ICTs in some manner. Both our leisure and job, our personal and professional life are invaded with technology, sometime in subtle ways other in obvious ones. Probably, if you are living this invasion with few disphoria is because you are digitally literate and not in risk of beign trapped by digital poverty.

Digital poverty is the inability to use IT, either due to the lack of access or due to the lack of skills. There are countries that are colectivelly sunk in digital poverty, but the concious of suffering it is bigger in advanced countries. Furthermore, the increase of your digital poverty degree increase your exclusion as digitalisation is progressing around you. For instance, moving public services online may have as a consequence that you will receve less public services you badly need, and therefore you will be more excluded.

Obviously, the first step of policy makers to fight digital poverty is creating the conditions for the development of an affordable internet access and providing with digital skills to the whole population. But taking advantage of digital opportunities sometimes required an extra investment, and this is happening more and more frecquently. This is the reason to promote by public authorities programs like the Amazon Prime discounts for people on government asistance. What is the value of an internet connection if you are not able to pay the services on top of it?

So bundling maybe also has a place in public policies. Perhaps in the fight against digital exclusion we should start to think in bundling different kind of services depending on the degree of digital exclusion of the target. And for this purpose we will also need some new kind of public-private partnerships, but that is another story.

miércoles, 28 de junio de 2017

Digital transformation of sectors (III): Energy

The transformation of the production of energy in the late 19th century was the base of what Robert J. Gordon identified as the century of US growth (1870-1970). Without it, we would have not had what we call modern life conforts, such as electric power at home or cheap transport. Therefore, the application of digital technology to the energy sector create great expectactions as it is foreseen to fuel a complete revolution y the production, distribution and consumption of energy

Digitalisation will impact the supply and demand side of the energy sector. Regarding the demand, on one hand, consumption will be affected by the general trend towards the abandonment of ownership in cars, applianaces and other greater consumers of energy. This will certainly mean the need for different manner to sell energy packaged with the use of these goods. On the other hand, the deployment of smart meters will bring more personalised models of comsumption at home

On the supply side, digitalisation brings new opportunities across all the value chain. To begin with, the creation of new partnerships for production and distribution, for example, between legacy energy companies and telcos, that will create new platforms and marketplaces for energy distribution. But also, it will implies a more decentralised model for energy production, bringing us closer to the Rifkin´s zero-marginal cost society. A change in the production model that  can boost profitability by 20 to 30 percent.

In a higher degree than other sectors, cybersecurity is the great challenge to face in order to reap the benefits of digitalisation of energy. Only in the oil and gas sector, 68% of the companies have suffered some kind of cyberattacks. The short of digital skills in the sector, jointly with the combination of legacy and new technologies and the great disruption that could cause any failure of energy networks, makes the energy sector a natural targets for cyberattacks.  

The digitalisation of energy was one of the focus of the EU Digital Day in Rome. The great benefits and risks that technology could introduce in the sector are beginning to draw the right attention.




miércoles, 21 de junio de 2017

The end of romance

There was a era when everybody loves the GAFA (Google. Amazon, Facebook, Apple) and their descendants (as Uber, AirBnB, ...). Citizens appreciated then the services provided by the so-called digital platforms, it convenience, innovation and price. Governments didn´t paid them too much attention from the regulatory perspective as they were minor players in the economy, and also they liked to establish alliances and joint initiatives with them to obtain a seal of modernity.

But suddenly, it looks that the global romance between human beings and digital platforms has ended. To begin with, think-tanks that previously worked as the resounding camera of GAFAs speech about low-prices and high-quality services, are begining to write about their danger for competitive markets. Nobody would have imagined someone making such a bold proposal as the creation of global competition authority "to enforce competition law against companies engaging in cross-border business practices that restrict competition"  in the digital economy.

On the legislative activity, new rules are closer to be approved in Europe forcing social networks to curb the publication of inappropriate content on social networks. Even the past allies within the European Union are calling for these stronger rules in this area. Furthermore, it looks that the review of net neutrality in the US will  produce a new legal framework harming for its business models

Things are not better on competition regulatory field. Past investigations are being reviewed with a new perspective and fines are imposed for abusing its overwhelming position and knowledge of market. Furthermore, the interpretation of internet laws are begining to break the tabu of "platforms=mere conduit" and they are beging to be seen as sectorial companies instead of internet companies.

We are entering a new era. The GAFAs have disrupted markets and sectors and now a disruption wave of norms and regulations are beginning to menace with the disruption of the framework conditions that have served for their growth. But the real danger is perhaps on the making: the technology that will disrupt a world based on digital intermediaries, blockchain. There´s not loved that last forever.


miércoles, 14 de junio de 2017

"Contra el #running " - Luis de la Cruz

Contra el running. Corriendo hasta morir en la ciudad postindustrialContra el running. Corriendo hasta morir en la ciudad postindustrial by luis de la cruz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Empecemos con el yo confienso. A diferencia del autor, soy runner entre lesión y lesión. Adicto irredento, que cura la abstinencia forzosa con otras actividades con la natación o el ejercicio en bicicleta estática, ese soy yo. Si tambien lo eres, no descartes leer este libro. La provocación del título esconde una colección de artículos que realizan una radiografia sociopolítica completa de tu deporte favorito.

En el libro, habrá páginas que te refrescarán otras ya leidas. Las cifras económicas en que se materializa la creciente obsesión por el running ocupan páginas de periódico con frecuencia. De modo similar, habrás podido leer sobre los orígenes de la práctica deportiva dentro del tiempo libre resultante del establecimiento de límites a la jornada laboral. Sin embargo, existen menos análisis del impacto de la evolución urbanística de las ciudades sobre nuestras costumbres del ejercicio como pasatiempo.

Adicionalmente a los análisis históricos que han configurado la práctica urbana del running, el autor realiza la exploración del running desde distintos ángulos de las ciencias sociales. La perspectiva de género del running nos presenta la visión de la mujer deportista en la sociedad patriarcal y heteronormativa. La vida sana se descubre en otro de los ensayos como instrumento de configuración de una clase trabajadora productiva. No falta tampoco la inevitable visión próxima al ludismo de las interelaciones entre running y sociedad digital.

No nos retirará del running la reflexión política sino la decadencia física. Sin embargo, una óptica crítica nos ayuda a realizar la construcción personal del significado y razones nuestras costumbres.

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miércoles, 7 de junio de 2017

Collaborative Economy in EU: New steps but ... are they big enough?

Just in a week, the European Parliament will approve its report on a "European Agenda on the Collaborative Economy" (draft available here). The report is the reply to the European Commission communication with the same title published last year. The worries and concerns of both institutions have as a background the potential contribution of the collaborative economy to EU growth, between 160 and 572 € billion.

The Commision and the Parliament shared their opinion in many areas. Both institutions recommend taken a cautious approach to regulate  this new kind of business model. At the same time, they highlight the key issues to be watched in order to detect the need for regulation: Market access, liability, consumer protection, workers rights and taxation. The cornerstone on the decission to regulate is the distinction between professionals and non-professional service providers.

However, the Parliament introduces some critical remarks about the European Commission attitude to the issue. On one hand, it calls for a bigger clarification about the applicability of existing EU legislation to different collaborative economy models. On the othe hand, calls the Commission to be more active in the provision on guidelines, establishing principles and creating the right environment that allow the collaborative economy to flourish.

An interesting remark of the Parliament not including in the European Commission communication is the demand to develop the social face of the collaborative economy. Or what is the same, a return to the basics of collaborative economy encouraging non-profit and user-governed model that fosters the scalability of the social economy.

The report of the European Parliament brings Europe closer to enable the right environment for the collaborative economy. Nevertheless, we should reflect if it is needed so much time betwen steps. More than a year have passed since the European Commission published its communication. And while this debate goes, fragmentation is on the rise with different approaches to different sectors in different Member States. The uneven legal situation of Uber accross Europe is the most visible sign. The question is how much time do we have to solve the debate on collaborative economy in an efficient manner.

miércoles, 31 de mayo de 2017

Europe and the battle for digital standards

In our globalised world, the ability to communicate with each other underpin every process. The value of devices and applications depends it is capacity to conect with other devices and applications, creating complex global value chains. Standards are the critical element for enabling these communications, which are defined in the EU Regulation 1025/2012 as "a technical   specification,   adopted   by   a   recognised standardisation body, for repeated or continuous   application,   with which compliance is not compulsory".

It is easy to recognise the value of ICT standards in our interconnected world. The exponential growth on Internet adoption is based on the existence of a group of communication protocols, visualisation tools and personal computer platforms that have been adopted by a vibrant industry and allow consumers and companies to seamlessly enjoy a growing rank of digital services.

The value of ICT standards for policy making of any sector has been long recognised by the European Union. In 2011, the ICT Multi Stakeholder Platform (ICT MSP) was established. The central mission of the ICT MSP is the yearly development of "The Rolling Plan for ICT Standardsation", which provides an overview of the needs for preliminary or complementary ICT standardisation activities to be undertaken in support of EU policy activities. For each policy area, the rolling plan takes stock of the legislation and policy framework, the ongoing standarisation activities in standarisation activities and proposed new actions to be developed. 

The attention pays to ICT standards in the European Union has been strengthened since the launch of the strategy for a Digital Single Market in Europe. On one hand, we need standards to support the exchange of digital services and products within the internal market. On the other hand, there is a need to have a common European voice in the global ICT standarisation arena in order to reinforce the EU position in the digital sector.

On April 2016, the European Commission presented the communication "ICT standardisation priorities for the Digital Single Market". The document identifies five priority areas where improved ICT standardisation is most urgent to create a Digital Single Market: 5G, the internet of things, cloud computing, cybersecurity and data technologies. Besides the identification of these areas, the European Commision commits to monitor the works in the standarisation bodies and ensure that their roadmap and activities takes into account the growing need of ICT standards in the economy and society.

The importance of  ICT standards far from diminish will increased in the next years. Many more devices will be connected in the medium term with the rise of the Internet of the Things. It is expected that the IoT market will grow from an installed base of 15.4 billion devices in 2015 to 30.7 billion devices in 2020 and 75.4 billion in 2025. And these devices will be in use in almost every economic sector and social scenario: Manufacturing, health, cities, energy, ... Standards are needed to avoid vendor lock-in and guarantee consumer choice. Without ICT open standards there will not be open markets and trade barriers will flourish.  OMC agreements looks to avoid this situation.

The growing importance of ICT standards for keeping open the digital world has been recognised in recent international summits. For instance, on April 6 the digital ministers G20 countries highlights the importance of the creation of similar international norms and standards worldwide as far as possible, to enable the different systems to interact with each other and new value-generating networks,  across the borders of countries and companies. 

Could Europe be absent of the battle for the standardisation of the digital world? It would be the same as desisting of having a role in the future of the world.


miércoles, 24 de mayo de 2017

Digital transformation of sectors (II): Farming

Human beings and societies depend on agriculture for its survival. Without this rural activity, we would not have the nourishment needed for our subsistence. Nevertheless, the rural population is decreased year by year puting in risk having the needed workers at hand. The World Bank estimates that while rural population was 2/3 of the world population at the begining of the 60´s in 2015 was less than half of world population.  At the same time, estimates that the global population will rise to more than 9.7 billion in 2050 and exceed 11.2 billion by 2100, which demands and increase in agriculture production.

The dramatic decrease of population in the rural areas while we need more production calls for an automation of the farming activity. It also calls for it the diminishing public budgets dedicated to promote and support agriculural activity, so needed in developed countries due to its excessive costs. For instance, in Europe the agricultural budget has decreased from 70% to 40% since 1980.

The benefits of the application of digital technologies to farming activities was analysed in the report "Precision agriculture and the future of farming in Europe". It contributes both to food security and safety and promote more sustainable  ways of farming. Precision agriculture may also help to completely reshape the social profile of the rural areas, as it eases the working conditions and paves the way to new business models.

However, the barriers to overcome to achieve the automatisation of agriculture are similar but bigger than in urban areas. On one hand, the adoption of broadband is smaller in rural areas. From the 300 million EU citizens living in rural areas, only 25% are covered by fast or ultra-fast broadband, compared to around 70% coverage in urban areas. On the other hand, the lack of digital skills is more acute.  

To sum up, while farming looks an ideal scenario for showcasing the main virtue of computer technologies (enabling doing more with less), there are structural burdens to overcome before unleashing digital transformation in rural areas.

miércoles, 17 de mayo de 2017

The weakest link

The new normal is an insecure digital world. We should better get used to it. The global attack suffered last friday by many companies is just the last piece of new on the issue. But along the last month we have also witnessed other cybersecurity incidents, like the hacking of computer resources related with the French President two days before his election. Both attacks look for the disruption of our normal life in its political or economical face.

While companies are spending more budget in cibersecurity, incidents are on the rise. In spite of the $75 Billion spent in  2015​ ​and the expectations of reaching a market size of  $170 Billion By 2020, all the technological solutions deployed look incapable of stoping cybercrime, which it is in its own a buoyant business that will reach $2 Trillion by 2019.

We should look to other points if we want to be effective in fighting cybercrime. To begin with, everything points that we have a great problem with the digital skills of people. The scale of last friday attack would have been lesser if a suspicious e-mail had not been open by so many people. But 44% of the Europeans probably do not have enough digital skills to distinguish between an economic proposition received by e-mail and a scam.

It is frequently said that a chain is as weak as the weakest of its links. The security chain is the best example of it, we can´t expect to live in a secure digital world without providing all the basic capabilities to walk safely on its virtual streets.

miércoles, 10 de mayo de 2017

#NetNeutrality : back to the trenches

Here we go again. As it was foreseen during the last US presidential election campaign and confirmed by media close to Trump just after the election day, the time is ripe for a review of the US net neutrality legal framework. Little more than two years after the last review, the Federal Commission of Communications (FCC) has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and asked for public comments on the issue.  

It is the story of a revenge. The open internet order was approved on February 2015 with a vote clearly divide along party lines, 3 to 2. One of the commissioners who voted against that order was the current President of the FCC, Ajit Pai. In his dissenting statement after 2015 vote, he clearly stated that there were no evidence for that decission. Furthermore, he hoped that the days of the open internet order were numbered and "the plan would  be vacated by a court, reversed by Congress, or overturned by a future Commission".  

The main rationale behind the new review is the lack of evidence of the 2015 open internet order, but also the harming effect of the order for the development of the broadband society in USA. In his speech announcing the NPRM, Ajit Pai underlined the success of the Internet growth since 1996 to 2014 and put on the table data about the decrease of investment in network infrastructure since 2014 (he said that among the 12 largest US Internet service providers, domestic broadband capital expenditures decreased by 5.6% percent, or $3.6 billion).

The efforts to prove the above two arguments are to avoid future court complaints to the forthcoming review based on the US 1946 Administrative Procedure Act that bans federal agencies making “capricious” decisions. The review of the net neutrality legal framework could be seen as a flip-flop movement based on political rationale, and therefore susceptible of anullment. We should remember that Internet giants stated their position about the review even before it was announced.

The actions towards a review of the net neutrality legal framework could be detected even in Europe. Although the European Electronic Communications Code proposed by the European Commission does not include any article related with net neutraility, we can not discard future legislative projects on the matter in Europe. Net neutrality has been included among the topics of the consultation on the future of the Internet launched by the European Commission

Without any doubt, the next months we will see announcements and press releases from both sides of the net neutrality battle camp. The fragile peace of the war between digital platforms and telecom operators for the dominance of the Internet has been broken again.


miércoles, 3 de mayo de 2017

"El monarca de las sombras" - Javier Cercas

El monarca de las sombrasEl monarca de las sombras by Javier Cercas
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sigo los libros de Javier Cercas desde su primera novela, "Soldados de Salamina". Tras aquella obra maestra, no creo haya alcanzado la misma capacidad de emocionar al lector excepto en "Anatomía de un instante". No obstante, su habitual fórmula de la descripción aséptica de una historia combinada con mostrar sentimientos del autor hacia los personajes centrales ha producido otras obras interesantes, como "El impostor". En "El monarca de las sombras" intenta repetir el modelo, pero queda a mitad de recorrido en el camino de causar sobresaltos en los sentimientos.

El fracaso de "El monarca de las sombras" radica de una parte en la desgana. Cercas confiensa sus dudas iniciales en contar la historia, y no parece que las dudas se disipen en ningún momento. Se mantiene desde comienzo a fin un sentimiento de verguenza hacia una historia familiar que repudia, conteniendo al autor de volcar sus emociones, probablemente por temor a causar daño a los familiares vivos que consideraron un héroe al monarca de las sombras. Hay demasiada contradicción entre los valores del autor y el protagonista del libro y un exceso de relación con él que le impide ser sincero.

De otro lado, "El monarca de las sombras" no deja de ser un historia demasiado cercana a muchos como para llegar a interesarnos. Las grandes novelas son historias que nos enriquecen mediante la sorpresa, a través del descubrimiento de situaciones en su mayor parte alejada de la cotidianeidad. Sin embargo, el monarca es un personaje demasiado conocido, al menos para una parte importante de los lectores de Cercas, de aquellos que rondamos los cincuenta años. Aquella guerra nos dejó a todos historias cercanas de fantasmas cosanguineos de los que se huye.

Quizás el tiempo haga que "El monarca de las sombras" una obra más apreciada.

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