POLITICO Pro Morning Tech
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With Laurens Cerulus, Annabelle Dickson, Mark Scott and Lauren Bishop


— We tell you what to expect the European Commissions celebration of Europes one-year-old privacy regulation: plans to tweak and strengthen the law.

— UK Digital Minister Jeremy Wright tells POLITICO his government isnt “necessarily going to get everything right” with their proposals for how to fight online harm.

— Germany debates whether to make it easier for law enforcement to eavesdrop smart speakers, which has Berlins top data protection watchdog alarmed.

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GDPR EVALUATION TIME: After a modest celebration May 25, the Commission is finally bringing out the balloons to celebrate one year of the General Data Protection Regulation, the privacy law that changed the world. Too much? Okay, the law that briefly clogged your inbox, put Irish regulators on a pedestal and is sometimes helping and sometimes hurting big technology companies.

Commission takes on new to-dos. The Commission will today announce a campaign to prompt internet users to tweak their settings and plans to come up with new “standard contractual clauses,” or model clauses, for international data transfers. It will also release a Communication on GDPR before the summer.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova is expected to tell an audience gathering at the EU executives conference that, regarding the balance between public and private life, “in democracies we found the right balance. But as our future lives look to be closer to the digital and online sphere than ever, I fear we are again losing that balance.”

First stocktaking report: The Commission launched a consultation on the impact of GDPR last March and drafted a report expected later this morning. It should feed into the review of the behemoth privacy law next year. We had a look at the report,, in which business and civil society groups at EU level got complaints and hopes off their chests concerning the privacy laws implementation.

New rights, old computers: Organizations said working with legacy IT systems also meant that it was sometimes too hard or too costly to build in rights like the right to ask for your data to be scrapped from a database.

Wanted: concrete impact. On the citizens side, “several members report that … individuals … did not always fully understand the impact of the GDPR; for example, there were misunderstandings leading to the assumption that it was always necessary to obtain their consent or that the right to erasure was absolute.” Civil society also “indicate[d] that the impact the Regulation should have on business practices still has to fully materialize,” in particular through fines and enforcement.

EU citizens surveyed. The Commission will also release a “special Eurobarometer” survey looking at Europeans use of the internet, and their rights. The survey shows one third of close to 30,000 respondents hadnt heard of GDPR, and one third had but didnt know exactly what it meant.

Another stat said half of Europeans felt they had only partial control of their information online, and another 30 percent felt they had no control at all. When asked what they think of privacy statements served to online visitors (often) to obtain consent to use personal data, a whopping 66 percent of Europeans said they find them too long to read.


— Digital Assembly: In Bucharest, Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă, her Communication Minister Alexandru Petrescu and European Digital Commissioner Mariya Gabriel are opening the “Digital Assembly” conference.

— Back in Brussels, Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip is opening the “Can we regulate for innovation and can we innovate in regulation?” conference with a speech about “digitalization as new challenge in regulation.”

—Meanwhile in Rome, the Annual Privacy Forum co-organized by the EUs agency for network and information security (ENISA) and DG Connect is kicking off.


GETTING REGULATION WRIGHT: There is hope for those looking at the U.K. governments online harms proposals with concern: Jeremy Wright, Britains secretary of state for digital, told Morning Tech he would “show some humility and accept we are not necessarily going to get everything right in our first iteration.”

But for those looking for a wholesale overhaul of the plans, Wright indicated he was not for turning. “The two fixed points that are unlikely to change are a duty of care model and an independent regulator, but there are many many questions that sit below those two things that we need to hear what people have to say about,” he said. Click here or scroll down to read the full interview.

THE BEST/WORST OF TIMES: Halfway through Londons tech week, and the citys techies are lining up in two rival camps. The optimists shout from the rooftops that tech investment continues at pace and the U.K. continues to be home to more so-called unicorns, or companies worth more than $1 billion, than the rest of Europe combined. The pessimists highlight the growing difficulty in attracting talent and a (gradual) slowdown in economic output from the countrys tech sector. Whos right? Morning Tech crunched the data so you dont have to. Have a look at our graphics here or below.

On the plus side, Facebook is creating 500 new tech jobs in London by the end of the year, including 100 roles in AI, the U.S. tech giant announced during London Tech Week.

WATCH OUT UBER: Bolt, an Estonian ride-sharing firm, is promising to pay drivers more and charge riders less in London, breaking Ubers monopoly on the city. Bolt originally launched in London in 2017 but was pulled after three days because local authority Transport for London didnt like that it took a shortcut through the proper licensing process, Wired reported. Now, the service is back with a proper business license and plans to take only 15 percent commission from its drivers, which is about half of what Uber takes.


GERMANYS PRIVACY WATCHDOG IS ALARMED. As Germanys 16 state interior ministers are gathering with Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer for the second day of their biannual meeting in the city of Kiel today, Germanys top data protection watchdog is worried about reports that ministers are mulling new legislation that would make it easier for law enforcement to access the recordings of smart speakers such as Amazons Echo, he told Morning Tech.

Unconstitutional? “Im highly critical of the current debate around using data from voice assistants and other smart home devices for law enforcement purposes,” Ulrich Kelber, Germanys federal commissioner for data protection and freedom of information, wrote in an email.

Changing the law and making it easier for law enforcement to access the recordings of smart speakers could mean a “massive intrusion into the privacy of citizens and potentially even into their sphere of intimacy,” Kelber said, adding that such practice could “even raise significant constitutional concerns, depending on the way its executed.” Watch this space.


JUICY AUCTION: Germanys auction of spectrum for 5G mobile services is now closed, the countrys Federal Network Regulator announced on Wednesday. Europes largest economy ended up raising €6.55 billion — more than most analysts anticipated. The bidding took a record 497 rounds and lasted nearly three months.


HAMMOND G20 DEBRIEF: The U.K.s finance minister just flew back from a G20 meeting in Japan, and boy are his arms tired. Asked at a conference in London yesterday on his views on getting global consensus around new digital tax proposals agreed to recently in Japan, Philip Hammond didnt mince his words. “Im not confident well get there quickly at the international level,” he said. “Theres a difference between the Europeans and Americans about the scope of tax law.”

And what is that difference, you might ask? Hammond said the Europeans wanted to keep the focus on digital companies, whereas Washington would prefer to expand the proposals to other parts of the economy. “If we havent reached a global consensus by April, 2020, well implement our digital services tax,” he said, in reference to the U.K.s domestic tax proposals: “Theres no likelihood of a 180 degree turnaround [when the new government takes over in London].”


AI GENDER BALANCE ISSUES: Women continue to be under-represented in artificial intelligence. Against this backdrop, U.S. tech giant IBM released a list of 40 women who work in AI business leadership positions. Names from Europe include Daimlers Sabine Scheunert, Ona Juodkiene of Danske Bank, DBs Maren Reinsch, Telekoms Claudia Pohlink, Severine Marquay of Orange France and Vodafones Tanja Richter.

TWEET DU JOUR: Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has a fan, and that fan is making religious candles with her picture instead of Marys. h/t Lewis Crofts

ONLINE RETAIL: Germany wants to introduce rules for product returns at online retailers, German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze announced.

PRIVACY: Facebook shelved an app that gathered data on how kids used competitors apps some time ago — but it has now brought back an app called “Study” that does the same for adults. The Next Web has more.

Morning Tech wouldnt happen without Marion Solletty and Zoya Sheftalovich.

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Q and A with UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright

By Annabelle Dickson | Read online

LONDON — Unpredictable U.K. politics permitting, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright will celebrate his first year in charge of the U.K. governments digital policy next month.

In his short tenure he has formulated proposals for a new duty of care for online technology companies; been at the forefront of the contentious debate about Chinese telecoms supplier Huawei; and been tasked with preparing the tech industry for Brexit.

He spoke to POLITICO during London Tech Week:

What has the reaction to the governments online harms white paper and the digital services tax been from industry this week?

“I think everyones first reaction is not to love tax or regulation. I think there is an increasing recognition on their part that some form of intervention from government is essential. They can see that their customers are spotting a gap between the way in which similar content is regulated in broadcast media, print media, out on the street frankly, and the way it isnt regulated online. And that is creating a pressure from those who use social media platforms and other applications to say well what are you doing … to keep my kids safe online?'”

Can you see the proposals changing as the white paper becomes legislation?

“I think it is so important given we are breaking new ground here, given we cant look around the world for a model to follow, we are inventing it almost from scratch. I think it is important that we show some humility and accept we are not necessarily going to get everything right in our first iteration. The two fixed points that are unlikely to change are a duty of care model and an independRead More – Source

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