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FROM RUSSIA WITH 5G: Over the next month, youll likely become sick of the daily (or minute-by-minute) updates about all-things soccer coming out of Russia. Here at Morning Tech, we would like to get in early, putting our own spin on the worlds beautiful game, and that starts with 5G.
Yes, just like previous global sporting events such as the recent Winter Olympics in South Korea (and its upcoming Summer counterpart in Japan), Russia is trying to showcase its industrial clout with a series of 5G tests, including virtual reality headsets and a superfast mobile connection to beam games from St Petersburg to Moscow.
Sure, its not as impressive as what the South Koreans had on display. But the fact that Russia and the other countries are throwing their hats in the 5G ring is emblematic about the inherent political nature of the latest generation of mobile technology.
Showcasing these trials at major sporting events is not done by accident. With 5G standards still yet to be finalized, politicians are eager to put their best foot forward, trying to position themselves at the center of the next mobile revolution — although many would be hard pressed to say that Russia truly is leading the way on 5G.
But at least you have to give them credit for trying. And these trials will likely play into what else is going on worldwide as the technology moves one step closer to commercialization, which is expected by the end of the year with the first 5G handsets due in 2019.
So if youre in Russia and really want to watch Morocco take on Iran today through a 5G-enable virtual reality headset, be our guest — it might be a gimmick, but such technology will likely become more mainstream over the months to come.
— It is not just POLITICO jumping on the World Cup bandwagon. Tech Nation is capitalizing on football fever and has put together its own “definitive UK tech XI”. Monzo, Deliveroo, and Skyscanner all feature and in what can only be seen as a effort to ingratiate themselves with the U.K. Digital secretary. Tech Nation has chosen the Matt Hancock app as manager of its fantasy line-up. Morning Tech is not so sure however that being picked for a U.K. starting 11 is a huge vote of confidence given Englands recent World Cup record.
Hello and welcome to Morning Tech. Research and Innovation Commissioner Carlos Moedas is in Plovdiv, Bulgaria at an event on innovation in food. Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis will meet with industry representatives on the Health Technology Assessment. Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager takes part in a citizens dialogue in Denmark.
London Tech Week is (still) on. The European Investment Bank hosts its Bulgarian presidency event in Sofia, titled “Innovation Enterprise Week.”
ILLEGAL CONTENT — PARLIAMENT HEARING: The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee will host a hearing on horizontal measures to remove illegal content from the internet on June 19. The first session will focus on EU legislative approaches, and the second will look at what countries are already doing on this front. Find out more online.
Thats after a proposed own initiative report on the matter was held back over a feud between parliamentary committees. The report, initially set to be drafted by German Greens MEP Julia Reda, now wont see the light of day before the European Parliament elections in May.
**SAVE THE DATE! POLITICOs Agriculture & Food Summit is back in Paris on November 27. Following last years success, we will gather once again 130+ top policymakers, industry experts, agriculture and food leaders to discuss todays most pressing issues in the sector. From farm economics to food trade, sustainable agriculture to food safety, the summit will analyse whether Europes agri-food system can stand on its own two feet. Benefit from your special Pro discount!**
DATA FLOWS IN TRADE — STATE OF PLAY: Trade attachés in the EU Council this week met to discuss the issue of how to add language on data flows in trade agreements. In short: The Commission is being asked how data flows make part of new trade deals, and has taken about two years to figure out how these FTAs match up with the EUs GDPR and data protection rules. The text was forwarded to attachés last month. Heres what we found out about the discussion, from two people briefed on the discussions:
— Nordic countries and Ireland seem to favor a stronger “necessity test” for limits to data flows (which is a demonstration that such restrictions are needed and legal). That would be a major change to the language.
— Spain favors stronger transparency requirements. France is happy with the text. Germany is undecided. Slovakia and Slovenia seem only lukewarm about it. But a large group of countries is relatively silent on the issue.
Clash not over: There are two risks to these discussion. One is that Parliament will fiercely defend the existing text, since it is a win for data protectionists like Viviane Reding and Jan Philipp Albrecht. Parliament hasnt touched the file for a month now, one official said, partly because it isnt clear if it needs to officially adopt or approve it.
The second is that the text is a delicate compromise reached within the Commission, and even a tiny tweak could tilt that balance — especially as the Commissions Secretary-General Martin Selmayr is closely watching.
DATA — SETTING RECORDS ON FREE FLOW: Negotiators of the European Parliament, Commission and EU Council have their hearts set on agreeing extremely fast on new rules for data flows within the EU. A first meeting on Thursday “went extremely well,” according to Parliament rapporteur Anna Maria Corazza Bildt. Next week Tuesday negotiators meet again and they might even then already push a final text to Councils higher-level Coreper meeting still this month, she told Morning Tech.
Corazza Bildt thinks it might be a record to start and close trilogue negotiations this fast — even “worth a Guinness Book of World Records mention.” It helps that Council and Parliament see eye to eye on almost all points. The Commission initially took more than a year to finalize its proposal but by having to fight so many battles over it, it also laid the groundwork for quick approval of the text.
At the core of the new regulation are new requirements for EU countries to allow companies to store data anywhere in the EU. “This legislation is about where data is going to be … It is about moving data, not about processing data,” Corazza Bildt said. Its a win for cloud companies too, and companies in e-health or e-services in general.
One spat at the trilogue: Pirate MEP Julia Reda still disagrees with the texts mention of “mixed datasets,” a concept that muddles the distinction between personal data and non-personal data. The former falls under GDPR protections, and the EUs Data Protection Supervisor recently released a critical assessment of this part on the new regulation. Dont hold your breath: We hear Corazza Bildt basically bulldozered over Reda at the trilogue discussion, shutting down that one small spark of opposition. The path to a new regulation is wide open.
NET NEUTRALITY — EUROPE AND INDIA BAND TOGETHER: The EUs telecom regulator group BEREC and Indias TRAI telecom regulatory authority signed a memorandum of understanding underlining a whole series of “building blocks” and rules that make up net neutrality regulation. Remember: Net neutrality rules were officially repealed earlier this week in the U.S.
COPYRIGHT — ANTI-ARTICLE 13 CLAPBACK: Fake news! Thats the latest lobbying label used by groups arguing to keep the controversial article 13 in the copyright proposal, set for a vote in the Legal Affairs Committee in the European Parliament on June 20. “The way [pro-Article 13 lobbying groups] are throwing around words like fake news to discredit opponents in a democratic debate is much like Trump — shameful! No one opposed to Art. 13 does this,” tweeted out Dimitar Dimitrov, Wikimedias lobbyist in Brussels.
DIGITAL INDUSTRY — APPLE EUROPE: Always on the lookout for a good story to tell Europe, the iPhone maker released figures showing that its app store and Continent-wide footprint helped to create 1.8 million jobs across the region. The announcement, of course, had nothing to do with either the Commissions digital tax push or ongoing state-aid case against Ireland. Who would even think such a thing?!
TELECOMS — HUAWEI LOCKOUT? Huawei is negotiating with the Australian government to maintain access to the 5G wireless network without having to register as a foreign entity on the foreign influence transparency register. The Australian Financial Review reported earlier that Huawei could be barred from accessing the network over fears of its connections to the Chinese government. The Guardian has more.
TELECOMS — CALIFORNIA DREAMING: Talking of 5G, executives from many of the worlds largest equipment makers, carriers and tech companies are finishing up a weeklong standards pow-wow in California today. The gathering will be likely to move the ball forward to finally agreeing to global rules on how this next generation of mobile technology will be rolled out globally.
DUTCH AND FAKE NEWS: ¯_(ツ)_/¯ The Dutch are least concerned of fake news out of 37 countries studied in a new Reuters Digital News Report, the countrys monitoring agency for media said Thursday. According to the report, only 30 percent of people in the Netherlands are concerned. 59 percent agrees that you can trust media reports in the country, too.
FOOTBALL FEVER: It is not just POLITICO jumping on the World Cup bandwagon. Tech Nation is capitalizing on football fever and has put together its own “definitive UK tech XI”. Monzo, Deliveroo, and Skyscanner all feature, but in can only be seen as a blatant effort to ingratiate themselves with Matt Hancock, Tech Nation has chosen the U.K. digital secretarys own app as manager. Morning Tech is not so sure that being picked for a U.K. starting eleven is a huge vote of confidence given England recent World Cup record.
FROM ACROSS THE POND — SEC official says Ether not a security, in a victory for the cryptocurrency: POLITICOs Colin Wilhelm: A top SEC official said Ether does not qualify as a security, delivering a major victory to the second-largest cryptocurrency because that will free it from strict regulation and disclosure requirements. “[B]ased on my understanding of the present state of Ether, the Ethereum network and its decentralized structure, current offers and sales of Ether are not securities transactions,” William Hinman, director of the SECs Division of Corporation Finance, said in prepared remarks at a Yahoo Finance conference in San Francisco.
Hinmans comment gives clarity to investors in the cryptocurrency, which is second only to bitcoin in market capitalization, with an estimated $50 billion worth of coins in circulation. The SECs decision has been long awaited by followers of the digital currency as a key to its future success.
TELECOMS — OFCOM FEELS OFF: Britains media regulator Ofcom said it was concerned by the involvement of broadband and mobile provider BT Group Plc in developing the strategic plans of its networks business Openreach, despite splitting the operations.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Elliot Schrage, Facebooks communications chief, is leaving the company. Hes the most senior executive to leave since U.S. election and privacy scandals, according to the FT.
Morning Tech wouldnt be possible without Nicholas Vinocur and Zoya Sheftalovich.