The digital economy is massive and still growing.
The rapid development of the internet has greatly affected the functioning of the economy and digital technologies such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to shape the transformation of European industries. In that context, online platforms – covering a wide range of activities such as search engines, social media, e-commerce and sharing economy portals – play a prominent role as they are the most accessed websites.
Data collection is a market process that developed particularly in recent years, even though firms always needed information about their customers in order to manage their products and to create new ones, as well as to choose the best price (or prices) to apply. Until a few years ago, however, this collection was made in a “discrete” way: every time the customer came into contact with the firm, the latter collected information about the former. This contact could be a physical encounter, a telephone call, an email exchange.
With the advent of the internet, “the screen onto which people project their lives is no longer and not only their pc screen; it has enormously expanded and tends to coincide with the entire network space”, the problem is that the rules governing cyberspace’s structure and content in general, and so-called big data in particular, are increasingly clashing with the principles set out in international human rights law.
All industrial revolutions have relied on raw materials as a fuel for economic development. In the digital revolution, the main source needed to prosper and drive the market is a different one: data. Unsurprisingly, this has led many companies to collect and exfiltrate data in ways that have not always respected the privacy of consumers. In fact, companies benefited – and are still benefiting – from unregulated markets and legal loopholes in many countries.
At the height of the blockchain frenzy, many evangelists were proclaiming that blockchains would provide solutions to most of humanities problems, and in particular that they would enable secure, online voting. Much of the initial frenzy has died down now, and few blockchain “solutions” have actually emerged. Regarding voting, a few blockchain based schemes have been proposed and some even been trialled. Whether any of these are secure in a meaningful sense is very doubtful, despite grandiose claims by their advocates.
In the book “Why Elections Fail” Pippa Norris argued that there were multiple factors that could explain the flaws and failures undermining elections.
The concept of political representation is traditionally connected to two reference poles: from one side the electoral dimension, from the other side the practices of participation. This linkage, however, is a relatively recent conceptual constraint and was not present in the development of the “electoral method” in the rising American nation: James Madison, for example, described democracy as a troubled system, destined to a quick and violent death.
At a recent launch of a new TV station in the capital, Abuja, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said that as well as damaging Nigeria’s reputation broad, fake news was destroying the media industry and sowing national disunity. This is a favourite theme of the Minister. Last year he described fake news as a “time bomb” waiting to explode. Misinformation and hate speech, he said, “threaten the peace, unity, security and corporate existence of Nigerians”.