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LOVE-BOMBING UK TECH: Theresa May will show her tech industry some love today.
After hosting a roundtable for tech entrepreneurs — the first in a series planned by Downing Street, the U.K. prime minister will open the famous No. 10 door to more than 180 tech founders, entrepreneurs and investors who have been invited to a glitzy reception to “celebrate the UKs position as a world-leading destination for tech investment.”
May has had a rocky relationship with the U.K. tech sector since becoming prime minister in 2016.
Her efforts to break with predecessor David Camerons particularly pally relationship with the industry did not go down well, and came at a time when her Paris rival Emmanuel Macron was busy courting the industry.
Industry bosses have seen an uptick in engagement from Downing Street since last years general election and now May is getting in on the London Tech Week action.
It will not just be drinks and canapés on the menu for tech bosses.
In an attempt to calm tech industry concerns about access to talent post-Brexit, the U.K. prime minister will also serve up a plan to turn the U.K.s current graduate visa route into a broader “start-up” visa route open to business founders next spring. It is not yet clear if the current 2,000 cap on the scheme will be raised.
Other eye-catching announcements today will include a new £2.5 billion patient capital fund to help promising U.K. companies to go global and plans for new “tech hubs” in the British embassies in Brazil and South Africa.
Roger Taylor, the founder and former chairman of the Open Public Services Network at the Royal Society of Arts, will be named as the head of the governments newly created Center for Data Ethics and Innovation.
Downing Street has been stung by criticism that it has not cherished its tech relationship.
Today, May will roll out the red carpet and attempt to show the industry she really cares.
Hello and welcome to Morning Tech. The European Commission presents its Security Report today, which is expected to contain details on how well internet platforms have implemented the Commissions recommendation on removing and flagging illegal content. The goal is still to bring down terrorist content within an hour of its posting.
Digital Commissioner Mariya Gabriel will be in Vienna, Austria to meet with members of the Austrian Parliament, the Minister for Digital and the Economy Margarete Schramböck and other officials. She will also visit a Horizon 2020 flagship project on quantum research.
In Gdańsk, Poland, Europes telecoms regulator BEREC holds its plenary meeting. In Barcelona, the European Commission hosts its Annual Privacy Forum. Grayling hosts a lunch debate on artificial intelligence in the transport sector.
CYBERSECURITY — SPOTLIGHT ON HYBRID THREATS: The Commission presents new texts on security plans for funding research and innovation in cybersecurity and surveillance today. Foreign Affairs chief Federica Mogherini, Security Commissioner Julian King and Industry Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska will present reports in Strasbourg at 11 a.m. on hybrid threats, new budget lines and the EUs work on nuclear and chemical weapons.
A report requested by EU heads of state at their March European Council will discuss “hybrid threats” including misinformation and cyberattacks. The key question: Will the Commission attribute recent attacks like WannaCry and NotPetya to (respectively) North Korea and Russia? Both have been attributed to these states by European intelligence services in previous months, but the EU has so far shied away from naming names. One official said the language in this report was “more straightforward” and less “mellow.”
The other big issue: threats to the European Parliament elections next year. But the EU Commission is limited by competence, since electoral processes fall strictly under national law. The report will also discuss funding for East StratCom, the small office of officials fighting Russian misinformation — although there too, the Commission seems split in whether to seriously boost its funding or not.
**Watch live at 8:00 AM BST on Wednesday, July 4 POLITICOs London Playbook Breakfast with Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Presented by BSA | The Software Alliance, the event will take place in London and be livestreamed here. Be part of the discussion and learn more about evolving technologies, artificial intelligence and ethics, internet safety and Hancocks life as a Cabinet minister. For more information and to request an invitation visit our website.**
COPYRIGHT — THE COUNTDOWN: The copyright war is heating up and Article 13 is the next big battle. Lobbyists are sharpening their knives ahead of a June 20 vote at 10 a.m. on the proposed Copyright Directive in the European Parliaments Legal Affairs Committee. The reform aims to update copyright rules for the digital age.
Refresher: The article in question is designed to better track copyright infringements on platforms that host user-generated content. The European Commission says such a mechanism is essential to bridge a now pervasive “value gap” in the online world, by which artists, songwriters and other creators argue they are losing money because copyrights are being infringed upon in the online space.
Not everyone agrees.
THE ANTI-ARTICLE 13 VIEW: The Electronic Frontier Foundation escalated hostilities with a scathing letter to European Parliament President Antonio Tajani. “By requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering all of the content that their users upload, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users,” writes the group, which includes internet pioneer Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Jimmy Wales, the director of the Wikimedia foundation and dozens of others. Read the letter online.
The letter feeds into a broader campaign. On Tuesday, Create Refresh launched its “Take Action” day to oppose Article 13. It urges people to call and email MEPs to change their votes against the bill, which Create Refresh says will lead to censorship on the internet. Heres their full campaign video. Meanwhile Liberties EUs Eva Simon wrote that “this reform is not the way to do it – the side effects are just too costly to society.”
THE PRO-ARTICLE 13 VIEW: Far less aggressive than their opponents, several pro-copyright groups did try to combat the anti-Article 13 bluster. The position espoused in rapporteur Axel Vosss report, which is likely to get voted through next week, is ultimately closer to the pro-copyright crowd than to its opponents.
Author societies representatives GESAC called on MEPs to “support Article 13 as it is!” after Axel Voss proposed tweaks and compromises. The group also tweeted out a number of messages from supportive MEPs, including Helga Trupel and Mary Honeyball. “Some have perverted the debate into one over censorship; mobilising unsuspecting people through disinformation. In fact, Article 13 has nothing to do with free speech, but rather platform responsibility. If the Parliament chooses international platforms over the European creative sector, it will send a horrible message,” a creative sector executive told Morning Tech.
TELECOM — MERGER OR NO MERGER: Deutsche Telekom is facing a new investigation into an attempted buy-up of telecom assets in the Netherlands. The German telecom giant wants to buy Tele2s operations in the country and combine them with “T-Mobile Nederland” to compete with the two leading players in the market: KPN and Ziggo.
LOBBYING — CCIA NEW MEMBERS: Zebra Technologies, a firm that sells mobile computing solutions to other corporate clients, has joined the Computer and Communications Industry Association. Samsung has also expanded to full global membership with the tech trade group.
CYBER — ESTONIA ON THE HUNT: The Estonian cybercrime police contacted top cybersecurity researcher Troy Hunt to add a large dataset of compromised accounts to his “Have I Been Pwned”? database. The aim is to get Estonian users affected by a phishing scheme to check if their data is being misused. Heres Hunts story of how he got contacted.
TELECOM — INDUSTRY REPORT: Swedens telecom infrastructure giant Ericsson released its “mobility report” that looks at trends in mobile and infrastructure. Top takeaway figures: By 2023 about 3.5 billion cellular IoT connections will exist, and there will be 1 billion 5G data subscriptions.
CYBER — GOOGLE ELECTIONS: Google has launched an election-focused website that counts among its goals informing political campaigns how to defend against cyberattacks, our U.S. colleagues report. The site, Google Elections, also aims to help campaigns fend off disinformation campaigns such as the one U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia conducted during the 2016 election.”Googles newly launched elections website aims to educate campaigns, candidates, voters and policymakers about the use of Google and YouTube leading up to the midterm and presidential elections,” Riva Sciuto, Google spokeswoman, told POLITICO. “Its a one-stop shop for candidates to learn how to protect their campaigns against digital attacks, use Google civics products to connect with voters, and combat disinformation during the campaign,” she said.
CYBER — WORLD CUP WARNING: William Evanina, an FBI agent and the director of the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center, has warned Americans traveling to Russia for the football World Cup not take electronic devices because they are likely to be hacked by criminals or the Russian government, according to Reuters.
— Speaking of the World Cup: Follow all the action with POLITICOs Linesman blog.
TELL CLOUD WHAT YOU THINK: A group of cloud providers is asking for input from the industry and interest groups on how to do “cloud switching,” or swapping cloud providers without losing your data. The request for input is linked to a Code of Conduct theyre developing, in light of pending regulation from the EU on the “free flow of data.”
5G — BERLIN AND LONDON PAIR UP: The City of London Corporation and Kings College London unveiled a collaboration with the city of Berlin, testing the capabilities of 5G mobile technology. “On Friday 22 June, audiences are invited to see musicians from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama perform at Londons oldest entertainment venue, the 2,000-year-old Roman Amphitheater in tandem with pianist Professor Mischa Dohler and the Peter Wiegold Ensemble, who will be playing simultaneously from Berlins historic Brandenburg Gate Museum,” the City said in a Tuesday, explaining the live performance would be streamed.
Morning Tech wouldnt be possible without Nicholas Vinocur and Zoya Sheftalovich.
***POLITICO Pro Articles***
Macrons fake news law runs into trouble
— By Zachary Young
PARIS — Emmanuel Macrons plan to fight “fake news” via legislation is running into increasingly stiff opposition as critics from the left and right blast a draft law as unworkable and censorious.
French Parliament last week began debating the bill, which President Macron first announced in January and has since been put forward by his centrist La République En Marche (LREM) Party. It aims to fight online misinformation during elections by holding platforms such as Facebook to account for content on their sites.
But plans for a quick vote were derailed as a debate Thursday stretched for eight hours, with critics honing in on the bills most controversial aspects: how to define and crack down on “fake news.”
The spat shows how difficult it is to legislate on a topic as thorny as misinformation, even in the midst of anxiety about foreign meddling in the run-up to European Parliament elections in May, 2019. The French move comes after Germany passed a hate speech law that ran into its own wall of criticism, with people arguing both that it curtailed free speech and gave too much responsibility to platforms like Facebook to determine what constituted acceptable speech.
A vote on the bills remaining 157 amendments is now not expected until July at the earliest. If the bill is watered down, that would amount to a legislative defeat for President Emmanuel Macron, who had hoped to have a tough law on the books ahead of European election.
“The platforms subject our democracies to the laws of the marketplace,” Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen told parliament at the outset of debates. “They give public opinion over to sensationalists. Lies, flagrant falsehoods, exaggerations and manipulations are lucrative products.”
Her proposal faces objections from newspapers, civil society groups, and opposition parties alike.
One day after parliamentary debate dragged on until 1 am without a vote, the influential French daily, Le Monde, published a front-page editorial dubbing the bill as “useless.”
Other French newspapers chimed in, from business-themed Les Echos to right-leaning Le Figaro to left-of-center Libération. Moreover, the NGO Reporters Sans Frontières said the legislation “disregards the logic of journalistic work,” while French blogger Olivier Berruyer alleged it gave “unacceptable, unequal treatment” to mainstream news sources.
When Macron unveiled his plans for addressing fake news, he touted his initiative as “protecting the life of democracy” from the meddling of foreign states and profit-maximization of online platforms.
Getting to specifics, however, has proven challenging. After Nyssen said the text was “nearly ready” in mid-February, the bill waited another four months before debate began on the parliamentary floor last Thursday.
Fake News: A Definitional Quagmire
Opponents have homed in on the bills standard for identifying information as false, or “manipulated,” as the government now puts it. The bill creates judicial mechanisms for adjudicating a storys reliability within 48 hours
Initially, LREM legislators gathered around a definition of information “devoid of verifiable evidence which might make it probable.” In parliamentary debate, however, concern emerged that the definition could encapsulate types of satire and editorializing.
A subsequent version proposed at midnight, referring to “inexact or mistaken facts,” prompted parliamentary tirades on the philosophical meaning of “inexactitude.” To resolve tensions, Nyssen proposed adding “manifestly” to the original definition so that it would be less prone to judicial overstepping.
Even then, legislators from the right-leaning Les Republicains cautioned that the ever-changing nature of evidence made a 48-hour window unrealistic. “Allegations deemed fake news by a judge could be substantiated just a few days later,” said Constance Le Grip, an MP with the right-leaning Les Républicains (LR) party.
Another LR MP questioned how facts could be determined in “minutes or hours” when historical debates sometimes go on for “30, 40 or 50 years.”
To their right, Marine Le Pen of the Rassemblement National concurred, denouncing the draft law as “almost entirely composed of major flaws.” She made for somewhat strange bedfellows with Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the far-left France Insoumise, for whom the law would be “repressive.”
If postponed to July, the French bill may well coincide with the results of an EU Commission-ordered “code of conduct” to be produced by the online platforms. The code is likely to ask platforms to police themselves for any misinformation but stop short of imposing any binding rules on them.
On the subject of a European-led approach, some French lawmakers found common ground. “The response can only come at the European level,” declared Le Grip.
From the governing LREM, Pieyre-Alexandre Anglade allowed, “Our response cannot stop at national borders.”
Center-right grouping proposes tough security offer for EU election
— By Maïa de La Baume
Europes largest political grouping will propose creating an EU army by 2030, external borders policed by drones and with fences, and a block on EU membership for Turkey, according to a draft policy document obtained by POLITICO.
According to a draft of the center-right European Peoples Partys priorities, the group, which currently has 219 seats in the European Parliament, plans to put forward a tougher approach on security, to limit a shift by its voters toward anti-migration parties to its right. The EPP is currently discussing its campaign strategy ahead of the European election in May 2019.
Members of the EPP have not approved the document, entitled “EPP group priorities,” which is primarily a thought-provoking draft “meant to stir up an internal debate inside the group,” a Parliament official said.
The text is split into four sections — “Protecting, preserving, creating, empowering” — and mentions the need to “have the systematic right to immediately send a pool of officers to borders” or to “build fences where needed,” as well as “equip our borders with the latest technology — including drones — accompanied by at least 10,000 new officers.”
It also proposes the development of an EU army by 2030, “starting with a cyberbrigade within 2 years to fight misinformation, cyberattacks and terrorism.”
The EPP text also wants the EU to withhold visas for countries outside the EU which refuse to take back illegal migrants, to “say NO” to Turkeys membership of the EU and “abolish” 1,000 outdated pieces of legislation.
“The success of Europe will depend on our ability to protect its citizens, preserve the European way of life, create new hope and empower the European continent,” the text says. “To achieve these goals, we do not need fear or blame games; we need values, ambition and hope.”
On Tuesday, the EPP leader in the Parliament, Manfred Weber, told reporters that his group would be “really ambitious” on migration issues. “It is not inhuman to ask for a border check,” Weber said, adding that a “separation” needed to be made “between illegal migrants and refugees.”
But the text is already receiving critical comments from some EPP members who consider some of these proposals too far-reaching and going against the EUs principle of free movement within Europe.
“Build fences: That is Trump-speak,” said Gunnar Hökmark, a Swedish member of the EPP.
“This is not something we should advertise,” Hökmark added. “By being a leader, we can be strong and firm, control our borders with the rule of law and respect for those who need protection.”
On the need to end Turkeys membership ambitions, Hökmark said it was “obvious” that negotiations couldnt be held “with the Turkey of today.”
“But time is long and we all have interests in being able to cope with a democracy rather than a regime like the current one,” he said.
A Parliament official said the document would likely be modified, as “the goal is to stir up an internal debate on items that will need to be confronted during the election campaign.”