Digital services regulation – opportunities and challenges – WS 01 2021
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What does the EU have in store when it comes to regulating digital markets and services and stimulating their proper functioning? A look at the European Commission-proposed DSA and DMA and what they (could) mean for digital companies, end-users, and the Internet itself, within and beyond the EU. Come and give your feedback!
In December 2020, the European Commission released draft proposals for two new ground breaking regulations - the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The DSA refreshes the old E-commerce Directive in terms of intermediary liabilities, and expands it to the new world of social media, disinformation and online advertising. The DMA addresses the market dominance of the big Internet platforms with new obligations to foster competition, user choice and Europe's digital autonomy. These proposals are now being debated by the European Parliament and the Council, and intense discussions around specific points have started across all stakeholder groups. This session will give you the opportunity to learn about the two proposals, hear diverse stakeholder views and express your opinions. The debate will focus on: content regulation, competition in digital markets, and DSA/DMA implementation. In order to provide sufficient background information for different stakeholders to give their perspective, the EC presentation will cover multiple aspects such as: rationale behind the two digital acts, overview of obligations proposed, objectives pursued and expected impact including on DNS operators.
Workshop 1 will be a double session (two 1-hour sessions), with a reduced 25-minute break in the middle. The session will start with a presentation by the European Commission of the Digital Services Act package (Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act) including an overview of the ongoing legislative process. We will then have three sub-sessions of 40 minutes each, devoted to the three following topics:
- Competition and platform regulation
- Content regulation and moderation
- Implementation and enforcement
In each of these sub-sessions the Commission and the other three panellists will provide their perspectives of the respective topic. An open discussion will then follow.
The last five minutes of the wrap up will be devoted to a final summary of the session’s discussions, and the preparation of the workshop report by the rapporteur.
Subject to slight adjustments during the session, the schedule will be:
|10:30-10:45||Introduction of the session and presentation of the Digital Services Act package|
|10:45-11:25||Digital Markets Act: competition and platform regulation|
|11:25-11:50||Digital Services Act: content regulation and moderation (part 1)|
|12:15-12:30||Digital Services Act: content regulation and moderation (part 2)|
|12:30-13:10||Implementation and enforcement of the Digital Services Act package|
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Focal Points take over the responsibility and lead of the session organisation. They work in close cooperation with the respective Subject Matter Expert (SME) and the EuroDIG Secretariat and are kindly requested to follow EuroDIG’s session principles
- Velimira Nemiguentcheva-Grau
- Vittorio Bertola, Open-Xchange
Organising Team (Org Team) List Org Team members here as they sign up.
Subject Matter Expert (SME)
- Sorina Teleanu
The Org Team is a group of people shaping the session. Org Teams are open and every interested individual can become a member by subscribing to the mailing list.
- Vittorio Bertola, Open-Xchange
- Wout de Natris, De Natris Consult/DC-ISSS
- Andrea Beccalli
- Amali De Silva-Mitchell, Dynamic Coalition on Data Driven Health Technologies / Futurist
- Denis Sparas
- Velimira Nemiguentcheva-Grau
- Auke Pals
- Jutta Croll
European Commission: Denis Sparas, Legal Officer, DG CONNECT, Directorate “Digital Single Market”, Unit F2 E-commerce and Platforms
Key participants by topic:
- Competition and platform regulation
- Tommaso Valletti, Professor of Economics, Imperial College Business School
- Oliver Bethell, Director, EMEA Competition, Google
- Amandine Le Pape, COO and Co-founder, Element
- Content regulation and moderation
- Gabrielle Guillemin, Senior Legal Officer, ARTICLE 19
- Thomas Bihlmayer, Policy Adviser, eco – Association of the Internet Industry
- Agustín Reyna, Director, Legal and Economic Affairs, BEUC
- Implementation and enforcement
- Jutta Croll, Chairwoman of the Board, Stiftung Digitale Chancen
- Frane Maroevic, Director of the Content & Jurisdiction Program, Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network
- Antonio De Tommaso, Director of EU and International Affairs Service, AGCOM
Key Participants are experts willing to provide their knowledge during a session – not necessarily on stage. Key Participants should contribute to the session planning process and keep statements short and punchy during the session. They will be selected and assigned by the Org Team, ensuring a stakeholder balanced dialogue also considering gender and geographical balance. Please provide short CV’s of the Key Participants involved in your session at the Wiki or link to another source.
- Vittorio Bertola, Head of Policy & Innovation, Open-Xchange
The moderator is the facilitator of the session at the event. Moderators are responsible for including the audience and encouraging a lively interaction among all session attendants. Please make sure the moderator takes a neutral role and can balance between all speakers. Please provide short CV of the moderator of your session at the Wiki or link to another source.
Trained remote moderators will be assigned on the spot by the EuroDIG secretariat to each session.
- Marilia Maciel, Geneva Internet Platform
Reporters will be assigned by the EuroDIG secretariat in cooperation with the Geneva Internet Platform. The Reporter takes notes during the session and formulates 3 (max. 5) bullet points at the end of each session that:
- are summarised on a slide and presented to the audience at the end of each session
- relate to the particular session and to European Internet governance policy
- are forward looking and propose goals and activities that can be initiated after EuroDIG (recommendations)
- are in (rough) consensus with the audience
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- The Digital Services Act package should support an open, diverse, and competitive ecosystem in which small players and European entrepreneurs in particular are capable of thriving.
- The Digital Services Act package should be granular and clear enough so actors can both understand and comply with the regulations, but it also needs to be flexible, and open to revision and updates based on evidence and market response.
- Product design is an important step in achieving norm compliance. Product design should be mindful of existing regulations and, to the extent possible, help to fulfill policy objectives.
- The design of the Digital Services Act package should tackle specific issues such as enhancing clarity of some obligations (including of due diligence obligations), of its geographical application and extraterritorial effects, and of content moderation provisions in the Digital Services Act that could potentially have ‘chilling effects’.
Find an independent report of the session from the Geneva Internet Platform Digital Watch Observatory at https://dig.watch/resources/digital-services-regulation-opportunities-and-challenges.
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>> STUDIO: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Belgrade Studio. I see that we are almost here from our participants for the first session. First of all, welcome to the Belgrade Studio of the EuroDIG 2021. I am your host right now Arvin Kamberi. Some others will change in the role of Belgrade host.
Well, kind of a pleasure to see again Belgrade having one studio after 10 years. After being held in Belgrade, 2011. Now in these virtual surroundings, first of all, I would like to go through the short rules for the sessions, which are going to be repeated over the – during the day. But just to have in mind a couple of session rules for this track. Please, when you enter Zoom room, enter your full name so moderators, co-moderators can grant you microphone or sharing rights. Please use your full names when you log in. Also to ask questions, you have a raise hand option here in Zoom in reactions down there. I guess you all pretty much aware of Zoom right now. As we all are. Of course, you will be unmuted when the floor is given to you by session host and organizers. Also when speaking, please switch on the video. Why we encourage that is you know, it is better way to communicate for the group if you can of course switch on the video. State your name and affiliation and then if you have questions, put it in the chat. I will be there to moderate the session. Please know chat will not be recorded or saved. Of course, at the end, I guess you heard this also from the EuroDIG Secretariat, please do not share links from the Zoom meeting with others. It will be great to go through registration process. I guess you will check that. This kind of a side event of EuroDIG Gather.Town, from there, you can access all of the links all of the rooms for this EuroDIG. Those are the short session rules. So let us now go to the first session for today from Belgrade Studio. We are talking about workshop 1, digital services regulation and opportunities and challenges. Moderator for this is Vittorio Bertola, I see him here. Head of policy of innovation and open exchange. Of course, after we’re done, we will have a review of the session. After this, I would like to go to Vittorio.
Good morning, the floor is yours.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Welcome to the session, on the regulation of digital platforms and mostly the package proposed by the European Commission. I will be your moderator for this session along with Velimira Nemiguentcheva-Grau from the European Commission, which I want to thank. First of all, before going and starting immediately with the session, I will just summarize briefly what will be happening. This is meant to be an interactive session with lot of community discussion. There are plenty of high-level speakers to give views on the proposals. We will have an officer from the European Commission introducing them all first. This is a moment for the entire EuroDIG community and Internet Governance community to provide feedback on this. After the initial speaker, we encourage you to raise your hand and provide your views or comments and questions to those spoken. You can raise your hand and use the chat. There will be chat moderation to any questions posted in the chat if you don’t want to speak directly. The session is divided into three subsessions. We will start, after a general introduction, we will start with a subsession on the DMA. This is focusing on more on competition, digital platform regulation. This will be the themes of the subsession, which will go on for in total around 40 minutes. Then we will see how much discussion we get.
Then we will move to the second subsession, about the Digital Services Act. More properly said, focusing on content and liability. Unfortunately, we will have a bit of the conference break. We will continue the session until 11:50. Then we’ll have the break between 11:50 and 12:15 then start with the final part of the discussion around the DSA. And move to the third subtopic, enforcement, and implementation. That is an important topic we want to stress. After we end there with the third subtopic, we will have the final reporting stage. I want to thank Marilia Maciel who will be the reporter. Her task is to listen to the entire discussion and summarize it into a few messages that she will propose at the end of the session and the participants will be able to say whether they agree or think it is a good summary. This is a message for the broader conference. Of course, the entire EuroDIG will be sending messages to the U.N. Internal Governance Forum which will happen in September, which I invite you to follow.
We can move to the first initial presentation, we are happy to have Denis Sparas from DG Connect, from Unit F2 and then we’ll move into the individual topics. Denis, please, you have the floor.
>> Denis Sparas: Thank you for the nice introduction. Good morning to all. I will be very happy to give you a brief and relatively high-level introduction to the digital services package. Because as Vittorio was saying, the benefit of the session is probably to make them as interactive as possible. I guess most of you who are interested in the package have already read it a few times. And already have a very detailed questions beyond very high-level horizontal messages. But nonetheless, because I think it is still good to remind ourselves what exactly the package seeks to achieve, I think it would be good to just very briefly remind ourselves of that, I will try to finish in 10 minutes, so we have sufficient time to of course then have individual discussions on individual –
>> Recording in progress.
>> Denis Sparas: Mmm. So briefly, as an introduction, as you all probably know, the digital services package is one of the items in the agenda for Europe adopted in March 2020. The package seeks to establish a single set of rules for the whole of the European Union as regards digital provision of services online. It has two pillars. One pillar would be DSA whose aim is to ensure proper functioning of the single market for digital services. As you can see, from the general high-level objective, this is a more wider societal objective. While on the other side, the Digital Markets Act the part of the package aims to ensure fair and open single markets for digital services, moving from the wider societal objectives, we’re narrowing down to more economic ones and effective functioning of internal market.
Briefly on the specific objective of the Digital Services Act. One of the things that we aim to ensure is best possible conditions for innovative cross-border digital services to develop. It is good to have a well-functioning market where any service provider that seeks to provide services across borders can do so in not a burdensome way. What is important in the way of identifying is to maintain a safe online environment. You know, where all service providers but also users of the services act responsibly and are accountable for their behavior online.
At the same time, it is also very important, one thing that is often flagged as an issue is to empower users and protect fundamental rights online. In particular, when we talk about freedom of expression. Again, it is not only about users, we should also not forget we want to protect other fundamental rights, including right to conduct business for the business. Last but not least, of course, as it is always the case with any set of rules, you can have the best possible rules in place in a very clear obligation and rights for all relevant operators and users. But, you know, in absence of effective supervision, those may remain simply very nice rules but not effectively in force. What we also establish in the DSA is the intermediaries and cooperation between the international authorities and digital services coordinators that are envisaged as the single regulatory point for any issues related to the Digital Services Act. On the other side, looking at Digital Markets Act the aim is to ensure very large online platforms who would be considered to be gatekeepers, do not undermine by means of unfair behavior functioning of the internal market as well, as you know fairness and contestable markets. The aim is to bring innovative services to the market and empower customers to choose between the services and different service providers. One of the issues that has been identified as a problem is that very often users are faced with the limited choice or the business users at the same time are also faced with a limited choice when bringing certain services and products to the market. This should in principle enhance coherence, so have uniformed harmonized set of rules to ensure all market participants, you know, by setting uniform and set of substantive and procedural rules. Of course, again, what is very important in this case is the effective supervision of the gatekeepers, which contrary, as we will see later on, contrary to the Digital Services Act is structured different in case of digital markets.
On the Digital Services Act I would like to outline 3 issues. One is the liability provisions, which are part of the Digital Services Act in particular in chapter 2. It essentially maintains or builds upon the principles of the already existing regulatory framework, as you probably all know, since 2000, we have the e-commerce directive in the European Union which provides for the provision of the Information Society services. You know, when we talk about the principles of the e-commerce directive, we talk about conditional liability exemption and prohibition of general monitoring obligations and these general principles, which have shown through the e-commerce directive as part of the preparatory work are very valid and the cornerstones of the functioning of the internal market. Also important that the Digital Services Act provides for a safe online environment. That does not define what is illegal. Illegality is defined by substantial other EU rules. Most of the – the third point I would like to make here is most of the Digital Services Act provisions apply to legal content, but there is a lot of discussion about the harmful content and it is important to keep in mind some are a harmful content and the broader context. Some of the obligations for online platform, for example, risk assessment, when you conduct a risk assessment in the online platform, you identify not just the risk associated with the appearance and dissemination of legal content but the harmful content. The second building block of the act, I would like to mention due diligence. And we will talk about content moderation later on in the specific session, I don’t want to go too much into details. It is important to keep in mind when it comes to due diligence obligation, this is a part of the regulatory framework. Something which does not do same scope and extent exist in the e-commerce directive. Some of the provisions do, but not to this scope and extent. The other point which is important is we’re talking about asymmetric interventions with the providers and intermediary services. One thing I forgot to mention is this provides to provider of intermediary services, which is a subset of service providers that applies. Within the context and within the scope of the providers of the intermediary services. Due diligence obligation are asymmetric, depending on the type of the service that is provides. For example, all providers will be subject to some basic minimum obligations, while if we talk about online platforms or very large online platforms, those will be subject to much wider scope of obligations, which is based on the role in the intermediation of content, their size and the outreach in the society, briefly when we talk about large online platforms we set the value of those at 45 million recipients of the service, which is essentially 10% of the EU population. Which has been considered as a proxy value for the role and impact of the services in this Digital Services Act is a large online platform that can be designated a gatekeeper by decision of the Commission. To be designated certain requirements have to be met. Such a provider of core platform services has to have a significant impact on the internal market. It has to operate one of the core platform services which serves as an important gateway for business users to reach end users and the other way around. It has to enjoy on durable positions in the operation or in certain specific circumstances may enjoy a position in the near future. We talk about emerging gatekeepers. The designation process can take two forms. One is through meeting the threshold. And once that is met, it can act as a gatekeeper. The provider can bring forth an argument to rebut this and through the designation which is based on the market investigation this is -- you don’t want to go into too much detail. Just another important building block is once you are designated as a gatekeeper, there are specific obligations that are laid down in four provisions. The main set is laid down in articles 5 and six, important to keep in mind, those obligations are directly applicable. Compliance with the obligations has to be ensured within six months of the designation, the obligations of such apply to core platform services that meet the conditions of gateway function. What is the difference, obligations 5 and 6 are implementable so no question of what has to be done and how, while in case of article 6 there may be a question of how, but there is no question of if, that is important to keep in mind. Any designated gatekeeper to the extent it provides the core platform service that is identified would need to comply with the obligations, there are two sets of information obligations, one is obligation of core platform providers and in the consumer profile. Just briefly on the governance structure, before we move on, as I already mentioned the digital services act is essentially build around the services of Member States that are responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Digital Services Act. What is important to keep in mind in that context is in many Member States, there are a number of competent authorities that may be dealing with different issues relating to the implementation of the Digital Services Act so it would be up to the Member State to see which of those or potentially new authority would be designated as digital services coordinator who would be, as I mentioned, single regulatory point when it comes to cooperation between the different authorities. But which doesn’t mean, you know, that that authority in any way superior to any competent authority. They’re all on equal footing.
The other building block governance building block of the Digital Services Act is the European board for digital services which is board of independent digital services coordinators and then also a very specific role for the European Commission in the context of the implementation of the DSA in particular to the enhanced supervision of the large online platform.
On the other side the Digital Markets Act the main enforcer is the European Commission, that can be advised to individual decisions and also in relation to some implementing and delegated acts by Digital Markets Act Advisory Committee or other bodies which are envisaged throughout the interinstitutional agreements between the institutions. This is a nutshell. I will stop here. I’m happy to take any of the points more in detail during our dedicated sessions. Sorry for running a little bit over time.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. I think we have plenty of time anyway. We will call you into play again pretty soon. Because what we are going to do now is move into the three subtopics that we have identified at the beginning of each of them, I will call you again, for interaction on the topic.
The first subsession we will have is dedicated more to the Digital Markets Act and more in particular the competition and platform regulation. This is a bit of a Holy Grail in that many stakeholders for many years have been saying that there is a market dominance by mostly non-European companies, mostly American and Chinese as well. This is a problem for Europe in many dimensions, there is a discussion around this called digital sovereignty or digital autonomy. And there is a call that many markets are unbalanced in a way. It seems to be hard to compete and challenge the currently dominant platforms. This is true. Is the DMA a good answer to this? This is what we will discuss in this subsession. I will give back the word to Denis, to give us a brief introduction again on this specific point, then we move to the key panelists for this subtopic, I will introduce them as we go.
>> Denis Sparas: Thank you, Antonio, I am looking forward to the discussion with the panelist, I will try to keep this part of my intervention short. As you already alluded to, I want to remind ourselves a little bit of the background and also the type of issues that we’re trying to tackle with the Digital Markets Act and again, looking forward to the discussion with the panelist and of course other participants. As you know, we have over the past year, there was a very wide worldwide reflection process about the need to change. The current regulatory and legal framework to ensuring, you know, let’s say effective remedy or effective enforcement of actions in the markets, in particular digital markets.
You have seen a number of decisions against, you as you Vittorio mentioned, large online platforms for very different type of what has been considered an abusive behavior in terms of competition rules. But also, you know, let’s say wider policy type of reflections like and like the authorities, the different, various calls by the co-legislator, European Parliament and council, Member States. Consumers and member organizations were calling for action in this sphere. Let’s say, you know, building on what is done in the platform to business relationships, there has been a reflection and, you know, understanding that there are – there is a subset of issues and problems which would need to be tackled in order to do so we launched before two close related impact assessments. One for platforms and public the inputs and analysis of that input it has led to conclusion that the most pressing issues on the digital markets need a holistic approach, avoiding possible overlaps, the decision is taken instead of having different initiatives, we need to focus now and quickly on very specific subset of issues. And that has somehow led to merger of the two previously separate initiatives into the Digital Markets Act. What is important to keep in mind here, this is something we will come back to in the decision. The Digital Markets Act does not replace any consumer protection legislation or competition law. It is a question about what will it be once adopted? It is clear it is not replacing the others. It’s a relatively classical example. As you alluded to. What we are trying to package is the few online platforms that are merged which dominate the entire ecosystem which one way or another allows them to be essentially a market operator, customer or consumer that results in unlimited contestability of different markets in the digital sector. So the problems which have been identified and third problem, the regulation, the issues in the digital sectors for specific Member States, we see appearance of different regulatory frameworks, different legislative solutions that seek to tackle this issue. Of course, very different and fragmented manner. The objectives to pursue is the failure of the markets that are contestable and compatible and also increase innovation in the potential consumer choice. I will not go in the great levels of detail as mentioned, in order to apply to different platform services, it has to be designated the criteria. I mentioned how it can be designated. Maybe one thing to keep in mind, the notion of core platform services we focused on subset of services in the digital sector, where we have identified on concentrated area, highly platform services on only large digital platforms that set the commercial conditions independently of any other operator or user, they act as gateways and often mis – get keeper powers is misused by unfair behavior. This is the problem we tried tackle. The core platform services that we have identified and are identifying in article 2 of the DMA. You know, contain services like online communication, search engines, social networking services or advertising services including, you know any ad related serves. As we mentioned, and the designated gatekeeper has to comply with the obligations, governance in an essential manner and the enforcement powers are similar to what we already know under the competition rules.
Again, I would maybe stop here and just leave enough time for our discussion.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Now, I think we can move to our three key participants for this subsession. We have invited three expert stakeholders to give their views to solicit your feedback, so we are welcoming then your comments. Of course, the first stakeholder we thought we needed to have in this discussion is one of the companies that are most frequently mentioned as the target of this competition regulation, Google. We will have Oliver Bethell Director of EMEA competition for Google.
We’re giving him five minutes to provide Google’s perspectives on the market proposal.
>> Oliver Bethell: Can you hear me? Thank you for the invitation. I don’t want to overrun my five minutes. I think that there are – a caricature of the debate, there are two types of conversation that are happening at the moment. On the one hand, there are a group of people saying, now is the time for change. The rabble is at the gates. Reform is necessary.
There is another group of people who are saying be careful, don’t need innovation, slow down. The leading proposition is we’re past this debate. This debate of change, no change. We’re past that. And I will talk to you about ways that we can move the debate forward.
I think the key idea I want to leave you with today is what are we trying to do with the murals? How can we better understand what the outcomes look like? We have already – Denis has touched on the core policy objectives, that is more choice, the more choices in the Digital Markets Act that is mentioned in the preamble. We will get to better outcomes if we can be more concrete where we want to get with the policy goals. What does choice mean in practice? It is that everything is uncertain in the future. We can have a conversation about what types of outcomes we’re hoping to achieve. I think that is important for a number of reasons. As I say, it will lead to a greater chance of us achieving the outcomes. It will lead to more precise rules to have the conversations now. I think it will reduce the probability of debate. Litigation, conflict. As we try to work out what the rules mean some two or three years from today. I strongly advocate for more concrete conversations as to what choice looks like in the envisage of the DMA.
One example to bring this idea into sharper focus. The DMA points to the potential concern, the problem of a large platform integrating its own service on that platform. Giving itself an advantage. The core idea is to look carefully at that. We should do something about that. Now, the question is, what does that something look like? In parts of the DMA we talk about notions of equal treatment. Equal treatment is an interesting idea. It is something you can understand quite easily, I would say. I think that it raises initial concerns or trepidation for a company like Google. I think equal treatment is a high goal when I think about search integrations and what we’re able to do when it comes to integrating third party services and such. It is challenging in some circumstances to achieve equal treatment. We know things about our services that we can’t possibly know about a third-party service. We build our services in ways that are different from third-party services. If you are interested in – this is a technical point, I’m making, if you are interested in digging in more there is an interesting article from a colleague of mine, that talks you through the challenges of a strict equal treatment law.
That said, my impression talking to people, listening to people is that this is not necessarily what the DMA strives for. What the DMA strives for is effective choice. It is in the preamble and mentioned already. I think we can already have an interesting conversation about what that would mean in practice. What does informed choice look like? Where in a user journey would it need to appear? How do we frame choice? How do we think about those ideas? Where is choice important? Choice across the services, choice in the messaging app, choice of my browser. Places to concentrate the debate and speak in a more concrete form about what is required. This is a fact-based discussion. No doubt. And it is one that I think we can start having now, to be quite frank.
Two final thoughts on what that might look like. What are the implications of the importance of the better understanding of the outcome? And to be frank and optimistic about achieving the outcomes. First of all, it is important now, you are hearing this a lot, create the right framework for regulatory dialogue, however you want to describe that conversation. It is important to do that now. Create it in such a way that firms like Google won’t be presumed to be guilty if they want to come and talk about how they’re implementing some of the rules. I think that is important.
Talk about notions of proportionality, what kinds of evidence is relevant and interesting? I think those are conversations we can have now. We see some parts of the DMA that is anticipated. Notes for example, in 61C, that is about safeguards a platform can talk about. I think that is a fruitful and helpful conversation to have now.
Secondly, my final point and I made this point already. I will say it again. Let’s start now! Let’s start now talking about the kinds of product designs that we have in mind at Google as to how we could comply with the set of rules. I think that can begin the fruitful conversation as we talk to the drafters about the things that we have in mind. Yes, there will be some costs associated with that. You will hear us say that some things are not technically possible. But you will also hear that there are some things that are technically possible. Here are some ideas. If we can read the rule. If we’re of a mind that the goal looks like this. This is the implementation of choice. Here are some of the ways you can think about bringing those changes to European issues. I will leave on that point. I think it is the most important point.
I would strongly encourage those of you interested in understanding better how Google can comply with the rules, reach out to me. Please. You can get my contact information and find me on all the popular social networks. Let’s talk. I think it will lead to better rules, faster outcomes, and less conflict when it comes to interpretation of the rules when they come into force.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. That was very interesting. We want to hear another perspective, from the industry, but different industry. We have Amandine Le Pape, the COO and co-founder of Element. This is becoming very popular in the open-source community. There are a number of European countries that are actually trying to provide alternatives to the dominance by the global platforms. It is interesting to hear also their perspective on the DMA. Please, Amandine, you have the floor.
>> Amandine Le Pape: Yes, as you say I’m here with two hats, alongside the smaller private company gold element, that is building on the matrix, this being the open standards for the communication. The goal is to bring the control of the communication back to the users and create this market of innovation and competition for communication in general.
We really create a matrix because we believe this communication industry is broken and with the communication stuck in the silos. Basically the silos can hinder the market. The web worst decentralized. The web is an open standard. The size of the market of the web is $33 trillion. You look at the networks, some standard, it is managed by a group of private companies, you go down to $2 trillion. If you go to the communication market you go to $100 million. That is the kind of things we’re trying to tackle.
It is – the web has shown that by building on open standard, you bring choice as Oliver was saying, you have choice of browsers, multiple type of companies built on top of the web, it works. And what we have been trying to do with matrix is prove it works for communication too. Matrix has 33 million users in the open networks. And more than 70 thousand deployments. It is ranging from the French Government who is running instant messaging on Matrix, and the German (?) and education in Germany and many other countries and Governmental communication that are running on top of Matrix. But also individuals. Or companies like Mozilla, multimedia, that are using us for their internal accounts.
So we have shown that this work and that promoting interoperability and open standard allows multiple companies to build and provide choice to the user. You provide choice at the application level, each user chooses what user experience they want to access the data. Choose which provider to create the account, who they trust with their data. It provides choice at the technical level. You have multiple companies building multiple types of servers, for example, for multiple usage.
Are you trying to do communication between devices, IoT or need something super light and efficient? Or are you trying to build a server, which is super scalable, because you are trying to support a million users’ deployment? Or something, a hosting platform where you can support different thousands of deployments in parallel? And it brings the innovation at the business model levels as well. Are you going to provide hosting? Are you going to provide an app store? Services, support, licensing? That is what we believe in the DMA can bring to communication ecosystem overall.
So the other point that is often comes up with the interrupt is how it is technically impossible. Again, we built something that shows how it works and how privacy might be incompatibility with interoperability. And the solution is to provide encryption. If every service provider is actually implementing the same standard natively, end-to-end encryption is protecting users from data spread all over the place and potentially read by wrong – bad players.
If you need to use a bridge because you are not implementing the standard natively, then you can choose a bridge you trust to decrypt the data.
We – the other thing is metadata, coming up as a problem. For matrix, we have not made the data encrypted, but that is something we’re working on.
So basically, yeah, I wanted to highlight we have created something that is showing what communication looks like if it is interoperable. There is email, and chat for their solutions to bring this interoperability and bring it in the right perspective. For the choice of app, provider, the ability to change provider, if you want to, the ability to run communication yourself, if you are a business. As a business, being able to build on top of a big open network, without having to build first your network of users before selling to them is really what we are trying to do, and what the DMA is trying to do. We’re supporting 100%.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. I think this – this is very interesting. I think you raise many interesting points also on the technical level on the terms of open standards, interoperability. We will complete the set of initial views with the third key participant and I will open up the floor for interventions. So prepare to raise your hand if you want to speak after the next intervention. And we have Tommaso Valletti, professor of economics at imperial college business school. And he was actually involved in the thinking behind these acts.
Also, I discover we share the same Alma Mater. So we have – I will give the floor to give us a general overview of the views on the Digital Markets Act and then we’ll open the discussion to the floor. Go ahead.
>> Tommaso Valletti: Thank you Vittorio for having me. I’m the columnist on the panel. I will tell you a couple of things from the economics point of view. From the economics point of view, the DMA makes good sense. Is it a good thing? That is the main message. These are markets with many externalities, there are markets where there are switching cost, behavioral biases on the consumer side. Default matter a lot. We’re far away from the typical markets with rationality where everything works in a nice way. So these are markets where you ask any economists, you would hear that markets don’t function well. Whether or not you have market power, that is a different matter. These are markets that are subject to market favors. When markets don’t well, we regulate them. We have done in other instances. The curious thing is that despite knowing this 20 years ago, it took us 20 years to get there. But okay. In the long run, we’re all dead.
The point is that we’re finally where we should be. Realizing that there is markets that need to regulate and need good regulation. We don’t regulate for the sake of regulation, of course. We regulate to give competition a chance. We still believe in markets. Markets when we get rid of the market failures well. We need competition and monopoly is not particularly good to deliver outcomes that are in the interest of society and consumers in particular. We need to give competition a chance. We haven’t had that much competition in the past 10 years. In particular, we’re talking about social network, choice, search, or Amazon type of platform. These are the markets where we have to concentrate on.
What the DMA does, therefore, is to delve into what we should be doing. The key thing is the interoperability. We have done it in banking and other sectors. So there is that. We have to do it in an accessible way, so we can see if the interoperability and connection ways make sense. We have to see if they are pro-competitive or not in the end. Just as an example think of social network. Now, obviously it is difficult to interconnect with Facebook. A good implementation of DMA is like in telecom, you change your phone operator, you keep your number and contact and you switch. You don’t have any contact with the old operator. Instead what the DMA is apparently missing is in order to grant the interoperability in the interconnection that is needed, you need to keep an account with Facebook. This defies the purpose of introducing competition. Then Facebook still has the advantage of knowing everything about you, even if you go with a competitor, they will still keep knowing about what you do. This is not the kind of right competition we have in mind. We have to do it in a sensible way and see if our rules are indeed what they were meant to do.
We have to do it in a way that is a privacy perspective. This is the only thing compared from the past. From the privacy perspective, we don’t want a race to the bottom. We wanted everyone especially incumbents follow GDPR. This is great in theory, but in implementation it lacks. In particular, purpose, imitation is not being enforced. It has to be enforced inside the ecosystem of the incumbent that we currently have. So to speak, since we have a representative for Google, the idea is not that we should introduce a third-party cookie for everybody, but the idea is that probably Google shouldn’t be allowed to define that everything is access to information even stuff that the consumers didn’t sign for. So this is a big battle which is bringing together competition experts and privacy experts. And a couple of reflection of what is currently missing in the DMA, so a big miss is mergers. DMA didn’t want to go into the mergers. Instead the U.S. the is moving fast in that direction. Part of the problem we’re facing is we have allowed to many mergers to happen. So rough ballpark mergers, a thousand mergers done, nothing blocked. These numbers should strike the imagination of people. A thousand done, zero blocked doesn’t seem to be the right type of merger assessment.
The other more controversial area is the business model. The DMA doesn’t want to speak to the business model, but as an economist, I think the business model of Facebook and Google is a real problem. Because these are business models which are trying to engage customers as long as possible. There is economic evidence that the engagement is causing addiction. People are not happy to stay far too many hours in orders to gather data. This is part of this as well. This is still a source of concern to me. Regulator in general don’t want to talk. My apologies to Oliver.
There is skepticism. Some degree of skepticism is this dialogue we hear from the incumbents. The field is not level. It is a very unlevel playing field. [Audio skipping].
Very happy to have Amandine on this panel. But she’s not the typical person that speaks. Instead Google, Amazon, Facebook are constantly present. We hear the views in an unbalanced way. We want all involved, but there is the problem with the collective action. The small players don’t coordinate and we don’t hear enough the views of the players.
I don’t know, my hope, since we are in Europe is to give a chance to competition. Give a chance to European entrepreneurs that should be given a chance to survive. So now the dream of European entrepreneur is to be bought, perhaps, so that this creates a lot of individual wealth. But not societal health. Instead, I would be much happier in open and resilient and diverse ecosystem if five years from now I would see lots of European players that are born and can survive in a system that allows competition and expressions. Thank you so much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you for the very interesting comments and for pointing out actually what works and doesn’t work in your assessment. We have come to the point that we can solicit your views. There have been some already posted to the chat. I would encourage anyone in the room to raise a hand and provide interviews or questions for the panelists as you prefer. Okay. I see some hands. Let’s start from Andrew, what was the first one. Andrew and then Veronica.
>> ATTENDEE: Hi, good morning, can you hear me okay, Vittorio?
>> MODERATOR: Yes, go ahead.
>> ATTENDEE: Fantastic, I posted two thoughts on the chat, but I will amplify those. The first ones, really, just to point out that an important challenge that many of us I think are guilty of ignoring is for example, when we’re talking about the choice and so on. And there are indeed many choices available. The discussion of matrix highlighted some of those. How do we bring the interests of the mass market to majority of users that don’t have technical understanding, how do they get choice? How do they understand the choices and implications of the different options? As an example, I know if I was based in North America, if I downloaded Firefox, it would suggest that I use encrypted DNS, which would seem like a good thing. It doesn’t explain to me what the implications of changing my resolver to Cloudflare are. It is possible I may already be using encrypted DNS. It doesn’t test for that. It maybe that I’m using an encrypted service that filters for malware, but when it flips mere me to Cloudflare, I won’t have the filtering of malware. In providing me a private service, my tech surface has now been significantly expanded and nontechnical users, chances are I don’t know what DNS is and I certainly won’t understand the implications of swapping my resolver in that way. So I’m using that as an example.
So question I will throw out there is, how do we provide genuine choice and informed choice to the mass market in a way that is actually understandable by all users rather than just the technically informed few? Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Let’s take Veronica’s question or comment.
>> ATTENDEE: Hello, everyone my name is Veronica, I’m from Italy. Participants and ain’t trust – antitrust researcher.
So we should use more granularity and based on the audience, but also on the – based on the subject. I’m a researcher, I will need certain information. A user won’t need the information I use. This is my question for you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. I think we’re going to ask if any of our panelists want to reply to the considerations. Since I don’t see any other raised hands, I will use the ability as moderator, I will give intervention. The big change in the way the services work. We had email and web and they were interoperable services. And now we have services built in silos that don’t communicate with each other. These are creating problems for competition. What happened? Is this a natural trend? Is this a result of business choices? That is also something I would like to ask. I actually see more raised hands. I give – unless there is a very pressing need to reply by Oliver and Amandine. I know Professor Tommaso Valletti has to leave. But we thank him for time joining us. I will give the floor to Wout and Jutta. So you can start Wout.
>> ATTENDEE: You can hear me? Okay. I would like to add to Andrew’s question
who is to do the right supply of information on these topics? So that would be consumer organizations, but they need the right criteria to actually test the digital products that are out there. Because as an end user in the end you buy a PC or laptop and you get what it is, there are not many choices in what they make.
How do we ensure the end user gets the information they need to make an informed decision? Who would aid in this process? Those are two questions to raise.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Jutta, if you have a quick question or comment, go ahead.
>> Jutta Croll: I’m Jutta Croll. I want to reflect on what was said about the granularity of the loss. On the other hand, my position is the more we go into detail in legislation like the DMA and DSA, the less flexibility we would earn. And at some point, we would need some flexibility to react although we have a harmonized legal framework, we still need to have some flexibility to react to certain situations, to certain national differences.
And then one remark on the users’ informed choice that was mentioned by Andrew. I’m really not sure if there are enough users out there who want to have that informed choice. I think we need more education of users to make them aware of what informed choice would really mean and make use of the choices offered to them. These are my remarks. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. We will ask Oliver and Amandine if you want to reply, what you have to say. Unmute yourself.
>> Oliver Bethell: That is a range of really interesting remarks. I will try to get through them quickly. Andrew, to the question of choice and how to be sure we’re at a high-level – if I may summarize choice, how it is effective in practice, if I can say. I said the opening remarks depend on user testing. Google needs to show users studies, where we show the different types of design and choice. I think the evidence is important there. We’re thinking a lot about this. At the moment, again, I ask anyone interested in this topic, come to us. We have a team of people thinking specifically about choice and UX design under the auspices of the DSA. Are we using too much language in the choice? You give examples of perhaps an abundance of confusing terminology that may turn people off.
That is one question. You might talk about the emotional reaction. Are you talking about tracking a user or using the data to improve the service? You may be driving for consent, but clearly the impact on the user is different in those two cases.
And this point, part of the analysis will be, of course, to determine what information is most relevant to the user to make the point. And Jutta, the point of understanding what is important to consumer or user that is properly educated. Some of those answers may not be what we expect. Tommaso had the question of the first-party data and third-party data. There is questions about concern about being tracked on one site or highway it is used across multiple sites. Very quickly, I know we are close to time. Veronica, I agree the granularity of choices is important, ensuring not creating too much friction for consumers to have decisions that are properly contained articulated and not too much choice. I mentioned in the opening remarks. There is a sensible conversation around – I think Jutta touched on this also. What are the things consumers care about? When I take a smartphone, I care about my search engine, my browser, my messaging, I care about payments potentially. There are some set of things we will decide as society that these are the places we want to think about choice and articulation of choice. You don’t want choice every time you open up the free delivery service. There are differences that are important. I will close on that. Again, this is a familiar refrain on my remarks. We’re thinking carefully about all the issues. We have ideas. You might not like all, but you might like some. Talk to us about how we’re testing and improving on choice.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Amandine, do you have anything?
>> Amandine Le Pape: Yeah, I concur, it is what we think about every day when we build services for interoperable platforms. Education is key. It is whose responsibility it is. It is the developers, regulators, the consumer organizations. It is making sure everyone involved in the ecosystem should try to educate the users from different angles highlighting when a problem happened, making sure we explain why and how. And once education – it is going to be a step, right? It is a barrier that people will have to jump over at the beginning. Once this is stable state, then it will be much easier for people to navigate. You don’t – first, when you first have a choice of browsers to access the Internet, you are like what is this? Surely this is – Netscape was the Internet. No! How Chrome and Firefox and all accessing the Internet and data. Once you understand how it is working high-level, you can make more informed choice. It will be the responsibility from application developers to make sure they use – as Oliver was saying, test it, make sure they use the appropriate language. Something that is understandable for people who do not understand the concept of having apps and servers and bridges between applications and integrations and these sort of things.
>> MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you. So now we have to move to the second subsession. I see Denis has a raised hand, maybe you want to comment. This is fine. You can comment on this and help us introduce the next topic, which is issues around content moderation in the DSA.
>> Denis Sparas: Thank you. Both points are valid. One side, the provisions themselves are granular or clear enough to be directly implementable. That is what we tried to achieve. I take point of Oliver saying, you know, some of the provisions may need – may require some additional, let’s say editorial changes to make them clear enough to implement effectively. This is part of the co-legislation process we’re in. I take the point – this is the two sides of the same coin. Dual discussion. How to ensure the rules put in place are not outdated by the time they’re adopted. And the flexibility element.
While I take the point of Jutta. One of the things we’re trying to achieve is not to come up with the proposal, which would also have the third language, principle-based approach, where we essentially have to put the substance to each and every principle, because that is much, much closer to what we already know on the competition rules. You know, DMA is not a competition tool, it tries to complement. The flexibility element or future proofing element is in the DMA through the so-called market investigation which could lead to the outdating of the obligations in the DMA, as long as the obligations or new practices more or less, how do you say, meet the same type of characteristics as those already identified. I think it is a very valid point, very good questions. I mean, just to explain that we were already trying to go for this granularity and also trying to ensure the tool which we adopt is future-proof.
So this is on the DMA. Now, if I understood you correctly, maybe just a very quick introduction to the DSA point on the content moderation.
As already said, I would like to – again, try to be very brief so we have enough time for discussion. I mean, first thing that is important to keep in mind is, you know, to whom the Digital Services Act applies. When we talk about the scope of the Digital Services Act, it is important to keep in mind it applies to providers of intermediary services. The type of providers, the scope, let’s say the classical American lit providers, like access providers, domain name. And on the other side, other intermediaries, online marketplace, app stores and we know many collaborative platforms, somewhere in between we will have what we call hosting service providers like Cloud services in certain cases or web hosting. These are the type of services that would be covered by the Digital Services Act. As I already mentioned before, what we tried do with the Digital Services Act is recognize that many of the services are of, you know, different nature, different size and also different Region of society and in view of this the DSA is built on the idea of isometric obligation, the due diligence obligation. As already shown on the slide or already put before, the type of obligations that will apply to all providers is different from the type of obligation that will provide to very large online platforms, whose size, nature of the service, but the societal reach is much broader. Specifically on the content moderation, I think it is very important to keep in mind, you know, the specific obligations in the DSA which try to tackle different issues around the content moderation. Of course, when it comes to content moderation, one of the main problems that has been identified is you know, lack of clarity, lack of transparency, why certain things are happening, how they’re happening, how they’re taking place, how certain decisions are taken. And also how rights of users, either the ones that are actually providing the content as recipient of the service or those who are simply, you know, benefitting from that content. You know, how those rights are – how those rights are protected. Here, I mean, without going into great level of details, again, because I would really like to benefit from the discussion and views of the panelists, participants. I think the things that are important to keep in mind here is the fact that you know, we – the Digital Services Act lays down detail obligations when it comes to the transparency about the content moderation policy. You know, while we’re not saying that a specific type of content – so the service providers cannot act against a specific type of content, what we are very clearly saying in the Digital Services Act is you have to be transparent up-front, to your user that this may be happening and once, you know, you are transparent, you have to clearly report on it. So for example, if you have a content which is uploaded by the user of the provider of intermediary services, like the particular example is the hosting service provider, let’s say, you know, user generated content on the video sharing platform, you know, a user may upload a specific content, but at some point, somebody may identify that content as illegal and the service provider may be, you know, become aware of that through various means. Here, what is important to know and keep in mind is that will Digital Services Act provides for certain obligations which intend to make this process, you know, transparent, where all the actors act responsibly and you know, all the service providers can also be held accountable for the type of action that they are taking. So for example, you know, service provider may become available of the illegal content on the platform by a user.
Any of us in the trusted user in certain specific areas, you have specific NGOs or organizations that act as trusted flaggers in identifying specific type of content. One thing that very quickly comes to many people’s mind is in hope network for child sexual abuse material. But also, the way the service providers can become aware of something illegal on their platform is through orders by judicial authorities. In this context, when we talk about the possible content moderation that the service provider is engaging in, it is important that the providers have a notice and action system in place, based on the principles laid down in the digital services act. They provide the user of the service with the statement of reason in case they act against such content and provide for internal complaint handling and also recipients of the service have possibility of out of court dispute settlement and always, the possibility to have a chance of judicial redress.
Again, number of these obligations in the Digital Services Act apply to different type of service providers. For example, talk about transparency, terms, conditions, this is the obligation that apply to any provider of intermediary services. You talk about the system of inaction that has to be put in place by the service provider, we talk about, you know, obligation applies only to hosting services. Not all intermediaries.
For example, such an obligation would make no sense probably in case of medical conduit providers, where the question of the actual knowledge of illegal content is not something relevant. In the same context, obligation to provide statement of reason, something to provide only to providers of hosting services and all other subsets of the hosting service. At the same time, what is also important is the obligations of the proportion in view of the risk associated with the service. We found that for example, obligations like internal compliant handling, dispute settlement, you know, those are the type of obligations that should apply more to the online platforms, which does not mean that also, you know, providers of hosting services cannot comply with these on their own – but there is no specific obligation about this.
Again, this is very much in a nutshell. I’m happy to also go into details of any of the points that may come out in the discussion. But maybe I will leave it here and give a chance to find anything from the panelists and their perspective.
>> MODERATOR: Let’s go to the key panelists for the subtopic. We had only two because we had to excuse Agustin Reyna who cannot join us. I will call in Gabrielle Guillemin from article 19 to give the views of – the digital rights organization on the DSA. Go ahead.
>> Gabrielle Guillemin: Thank you for the invitation. It is a pleasure to be here today. While first I would like to begin by just highlighting how much the DSA is really going to be a game-changer in this area. I think it is fair to say although we have seen gradual changes in relation to the debate of platform power, and whether or how the platforms should be regulated, quite clearly, this is a major step forward. The e-commerce directive was adopted nearly 20 years ago, so the debate we’re having now is really important because it will set the terms of the debate moving forward and potentially beyond the EU itself. We have already had a presentation of what’s in the DSA. I would just add as an introductory remark is that this – the regulatory architecture around the DSA is so that it is setting a range of obligations for a range of actors. And these obligations are overseen, there is a whole oversight structure behind it to ensure its implementation. And for this it relies, for the most part on regulators and one of the issues for – from a global – for many, these would not be independent.
For global organizations such as ourselves it is somewhat difficult to fully enforce the model put forward. Many countries it simply wouldn’t work because the regulators wouldn’t be independent. With that caveat, I would like to first look at a number of obligations in the DSA that we have welcomed from a Civil Society perspective. And second the ones we find problematic, thirdly, something we thought were missing from the DSA proposal. So as has already been presented on the positive side, we welcome the fact that many of the building blocks of the e-commerce directive were kept in the DSA. And that is the prohibition on the general monitoring. And the conditional unity from liability that also recognize that the DSA proposal sought to clarify what was previously unclear, namely how hosting providers can obtain actual knowledge of illegality. We have some problems with the system that is proposed, I will get back to that in a minute. Generally speaking, it is trying to clarify the framework and that is still to be welcomed. Now, the DSA contains many things which – many transparency obligations. These are also very welcome. That is on the range of issues. We already heard about it. Some of the things that are currently very opaque and what are largely not sufficiently well known is around the number of orders that companies may receive from the authorities, there’s not quite enough information about how the companies handle their own processes. They often do not give reasons for their decisions. There is inconsistency in the existence of internal complaints mechanisms. There is still much more to be done in relation to advertising transparency. And also around how it recommended systems are shaped. In this regard, the DSA is putting in place a range of hosting obligations, as we have heard on the asymmetric basis for certain of these things. But these are all improvements. On accountability, and the process, from Civil Society has been missing for a long time. A final point that we welcome is introduction of the good Samaritan obligation in the DSA, which clarifies which companies take certain steps to have consideration processes they don’t get fixed with knowledge for doing so. We think it is positive. We believe that if they didn’t have that in a way companies find themselves in the position of completely hands off or remove content.
Two, some of the issues and problems we have had with the DSA proposal. The first issue is very much around the notice and action system put in place. Under the current proposals, a hosting provider would be fixed with knowledge when they receive a substantiated notice from a user. Effectively, that means that it is just the appreciation of an idea that may trigger the loss of immunity for the hosting provider. And in practice, we think that it’s likely to have a chilling effect on expression. Very few players will have a team of lawyers that are able to have a look at the notice and figure out whether or not it is likely to be illegal and although it is much easier for them to decide to remove the content, because that will make the problem go away. We think it is a serious problem from a free speech perspective. A second problem is in relation to the due diligence obligations. I think there are some positive aspects. The key concern we have in relation to it is really that the rules are very vague and unclear. So there could be lots of measures to impact on fundamental rights. The system is built to be dealt with by soft law, it is a difficult perspective. I think my time – I have spoken too long. I will end with this. I will be happy to talk about later on some of the things we thought were missing, although most of those were actually related to the DMA and concerns around unbundling of content moderation. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. We already have questions for you. We will definitely give you the floor again. A will just like the second key panelist to speak. And then we will take questions after the break. We have to go to the break. I will call Thomas Bihlmayer. And association of Internet industry. Then we will break and then take questions from the audience. Thomas, go ahead.
>> Thomas Bihlmayer: Thank you, you are putting me in a difficult position standing between the break and in between the people and the break. But thank you for having me and for giving me the opportunity to speak on the DSA, which is a really important file for all of us that are here, I assume. But especially from the point of view of the Internet industry. And I will try to keep it short. A lot of things Denis and Gabrielle said, I can only underline and second. As echo as Internet industry, we welcome the proposal of the Commission. We agree e-commerce directive still is and has been the cornerstone of the internal market as Denis said it, also without the e-commerce directive, we would not see the Internet in any way as it is today.
It is indeed still valid. Looking at the mere conduit, the caching providers, hosting providers, for most of those, it is important to have as Gabrielle pointed out, the limited liability, the prohibition of general monitoring. The proposal of the Commission introducing a new subcategory of hosting providers for the platform is something we actually also suggested in the first discussions around the improvements of the e-commerce directives. And so far, we’re very happy this is picked up. We see new services are being developed and have been developed. Facebook did not exist when e-commerce directive came out. Google looked completely different, I would say. But we also should not only focus on those companies when we talk about the DSA. Having said this, there are some tendencies looking for example, at the MCO report in the European Parliament, where we see the pressure is high. The feeling of doing something now kind of copying what we did with the GDPR from the EU perspective, building a golden standard worldwide, putting as much into the DSA as possible. It is there. The discussions show that the burden being put on the shoulders of companies could be high. And as this is – as echo we need to highlight that the Internet does not exist or consist only of the big ones. But the majority is small, micro, small, medium-sized enterprises. And when we talk about the transparency obligations, I do agree with Gabrielle, they are important. We have seen a lot of movement there by the big companies, by Google, since we had in the panels before. Facebook, others. And I mean, as eco. We’re also running and working to take down content from the Internet. We work with the big ones and small and medium ones. We see a lot of progress has been made and can be made. I mean, trusted flaggers is one of the points in the DSA where we fear that the proposal as it is right now could actually instead of improve the situation, even worse the situation. This is something that works on the basis of mutual trust. Where the connection between a hotline and trusted flagger in this case. And a hosting provider or this case, a platform is very important for the efficiency. And I mean, the numbers of the ECO complaint official, we have a success rate within the country of up to 99% of taking down illegal content. It is a focus on child sexual abuse material, but not solely. But in our eyes, it shows that something that has been developed by the industry can also work wonders. We see it very critical that the proposal now foresees on a national basis, digital services coordinators shall appoint or award the trusted flagger status to different associations. And Gabrielle pointed out, the situation in different countries looks differently. I mean, we’re having the discussions on the LGBTQ+ rights, looking at Hungary. We have different situations looking at Germany, Austria with Nazi propaganda. Abortion rights that are still prohibited in some of the countries. This brings me to the country-of-origin principle. But before completely getting lost there and pushing the break further away. The DSA, I think is a good proposal as it is. As it has been there put on the table by the Commission. Yes, there are still improvements to be made. Denis pointed out clarity can still work and improve a lot. Gabrielle said that actual knowledge is to be clarified or tried to clarify actual knowledge, we see a big gap there. We were hoping for way more clarification than there is. And other points. But I think we’ll keep it at that. And go further in the discussion then. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. And I think we can go to the break. Maybe from the studio.
>> STUDIO: Thank you Vittorio and thank you all. This is a really vast discussion. So we heard a lot on many aspects. And we also have questions in chat for the panelists regarding technologies that will be used specific, et cetera. But we can get on that when we follow-up with this session. But right now, we will have to go to break. So this room will go to break for 15 minutes. Next session starts at 12:15 which is the follow-up of this same discussion. So be with us. You can leave Zoom, go to the Gather.Town and mingle around. Or stay in this Zoom room and we will be back in 15 minutes with the continuation of discussion and answering some of the questions from our audience. Thank you, Vittorio. Thank you all, we’ll be back in 15 minutes.
Transcript (follow up)
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>> NADIA TJAHJA: Good afternoon and welcome back to Studio Bruges. I am your host live from Bruges. This is the follow-up session of the open mic on COVID-19 and retrospective and moderated by myself. I would like to ask the cohost to go over the session rules.
>> REMOTE MODERATOR: Hello. Good afternoon. I am your Remote Moderator and also best employee. We believe in open dialogue. And that’s why we like to go over the session rules. I am reading out the main things. So firstly, if your display name is not your full name on Zoom, please can you rename yourself? Secondly, you will have a chance to ask questions during the session. You can ask for the floor by using the raise hand button and then we will unmute you. And the video is slightly (inaudible). You can use the chat to say your thoughts.
And if you post on the chat it will be shared with the other participants. So we’ll be here in the background to make sure that the discussion is inclusive and good spirited. And with that I would like to invite the Moderator to come over and guide us through this discussion.
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for the very kind introduction to the EuroDIG. My name is Marcel Krummenauer. I am going to host the session. An hour ago we had a session on the topic of the retrospective of the COVID-19 to gather some ideas and thoughts together on the current state of affairs, risks and opportunities.
At that point we thought that about a year, maybe some more time we will get over the pandemic but as we currently see, we aren’t. And we want to use the moment to go in to a short retrospective and have a look back at the messages that we formed last year which were mainly about the influence of COVID-19 on the economics, on the society, on education as well as on sustainability. And we have three speakers for this panel. And I would like Danny to introduce himself.
>> DANIEL KRUPKA: Hi. I’m Daniel Krupka. I’m the managing director of the German Informatics Society which is the community of computer scientists in Germany. There are about 20,000 personal members. We do have, and my job is to support those people in their work who are doing a lot of political work, but we are also involved in the EuroDIG as well as in the IGF supporting the youth participation in Internet Governance.
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for your short introduction. And I would provide Mohan Gandhi with the floor who kindly joined.
>> MOHAN GANDHI: Can you hear me?
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Yes. Loud and clear.
>> MOHAN GANDHI: I’m Mohan. So we are obviously working hard with not necessarily that software layer that every thing of these tech startups but in the underlying data centers. We are aware of the skills shortage in that realm and that’s really taken off over COVID.
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot both of you for your introducing yourselves. Unfortunately our third speaker has not joined. Nevertheless I would like to kick this discussion off and cross fingers that he will manage to join since there is some technical issues I gather at the moment.
Daniel, would you like to present your view or the view of the German Informatics Society over the last year and a half?
>> DANIEL KRUPKA: Yes, I’m happy for the invitation. I’m going to talk about the school sector first. I have prepared a brief impulse about that. But I’m also happy to talk about the impacts of the COVID pandemic on the field of work in general. But I think that in many ways the school sector is kind of a vocal point. And therefore, I think for a discussion it might be a good kick start. So the general question is or was, is COVID-19 assuring a fundamental digital paradigm shift? And I would say that very much depends on how we go on once the pandemic is over. It surely will be an accelerator of digitalization in many fields, in education as well as in the – in the world of work. But very much depends on the conclusions and the takeouts, yeah, we proceed on from this pandemic situation.
So I’ve prepared like three theses and happy to discuss that afterwards. I’m gonna say a few words on each of them. And that might be kind of an impulse for a further discussion.
So first for the school sector, we, and that is what also studies say, see a real danger that the last year is a lost year for many students, especially for those who are or who come from a less privileged background. Second, the digitalization and the use of digital tools in German schools has or made a massive progress within the last year. But it’s still lagging behind.
And third, it became evident more than ever before that students as well as teachers or that – the importance of digital skills of students and teachers where we have to focus a lot more on.
So let me first say a few words on my first thesis, on the danger that there are many students falling behind during this pandemic situation. I’m convinced that the late effects of that pandemic in the – in the education sector are, yeah, in the upcoming years will be a lot more apparent. Just recently the German Academy of Science, Leopoldina has released a study, saying that some minors, especially those from social weaker backgrounds need to be more accompanied in the short and medium and probably also in the long term by first the stress and also the deficits in the education they received.
And the goal must be that the situation of children in Germany but that probably also counts for other European countries after the pandemic should be better than before. Meanwhile a new study gives distance learning during the Corona crisis very poor grades. They looked at data from around the world with this sobering results. The average development of competencies during the school closures in spring 2020 can be described as a stagnation between competencies towards a loss, and this in the range of effects you have during summer vacation.
Then my second point that digital equipment, digitization of schools has made massive progress but still is lagging behind. So the Corona pandemic has accelerated digitization in German schools but still significant gaps in the digital equipment and the skills and the usage of digital tools.
And according to a representative study by the University of Gattingham, for example, one in two schools still cannot provide WiFi for the students and teachers. There is a clear gap between individual schools. For example, in terms of digital literacy. There are many schools who even in the prepandemic time, very advanced and they handled the situation very well. But there are so many schools lagging behind before the pandemic and that didn’t change within the pandemic.
So recalling some numbers from this study of the University of Gattingham, in the pre-Corona time, there were only 10% of the schools using learning management systems. And this number increased dramatically to about 40%, but that also means that about 60% are not using learning management systems now one and a half years later.
Schools in Germany have experienced a surge in digitization. The increased momentum is reflected in this use of learning management systems.
So there has been a very strong dynamic in this pandemic year. And there are some other numbers. I want to recall from this study while only 27% of teachers report a discernible digital school strategy for 2020, this year has more than doubled in February 2021. Supportive digital infrastructure has doubled from a quarter to a half, but that means that the other half does not have a proper digital infrastructure.
The biggest lift under the pandemic is in school owned end points from 36 to 65% for devices to be used by students and from 15 to 55% for those that can also be taken home for learning.
And yeah, that brings me to my third point, that it became evident even more than in the prepandemic time that digital skills are more important than ever. And I mean we had this development before. We all know that there will be a massive shift in the digital skills needed within the workforce, with ongoing automation on the present connectivity, Artificial Intelligence that will change the workplaces significantly.
And yeah. I mean the OECD identified computational thinking and that’s the point I want to make as an excellent skill in preparing students to face the present and future challenges of digitization. And the digital society plays an ever-growing demand for computational thinking and programming education. And my thesis would be and I guess I’m not alone with that, that computational thinking will become a cultural technique that is just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. However, if we talk about digital skills we often only talk about the use and the application oriented perspective.
So we have to much more focus on yeah, computational thinking and informatics and computer science as skills that needs or that basically everybody needs to have some basic skills in these – in this field and that doesn’t only count for students but also for the teachers. And that maybe I will leave it with that, but maybe we can also talk about that in the discussion because the teachers, of course, they have a very – they are a very crucial factor. And there is still a lot to do on the side of the digital skills amongst the teachers.
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for the initial statement. And especially the third part is perfect. You bridge between you and Mohan since you mentioned that digitization is moving forward pretty fast. And another issue is pressing more and more and that’s the question of sustainability. And luckily Mohan Gandhi is working with the sustainable digital infrastructure alliance. And they are working towards solutions in that area. And he might be able to link that to the early education of children possibly as well as those other people coming to the market very soon.
>> MOHAN GANDHI: I will start with maybe the first question. So what is the digital paradigm shift? What does that sort of mean? What we did notice is that a lot of people, you know, were forced or otherwise in the teaching profession and office workers, a lot of things are done over teleconferencing. The network is provisioned there, is there for the peak.
Now preCOVID the peak often occurred at about 8 p.m. Everyone came home and switched on Netflix on the TV and on Netflix and multiple devices going. That was often the peak from the network’s perspective. And what happened through COVID we didn’t necessarily reach the peak with respect to bandwidth. So we had a more permanent peak throughout the day and then average utilization. You would almost say that was a more sustainable use of the existing infrastructure we currently have.
Obviously that’s – that doesn’t take in to account like Daniel was talking about the impacts on individuals. So COVID stressed our infrastructure but our telecommunication infrastructure held up pretty well, at least it did here in London. What will happen post-COVID? And I know we don’t really know what post-COVID looks like. Some people we will never go back to things. I think it’s pretty clear, in the teaching profession they will get back to the classroom. I can expect they won’t use video conferencing in teaching the way they previously did. That’s not to say they won’t use it at all. There might be virtual check-ins for homework.
What do I think is going to happen? We don’t know. What I think is going to happen is that basically medium and large size companies who have office workers will probably move to a more hybrid model. Small businesses won’t. They will get back in the office. Factory workers, manufacturing workers, oil and gas workers, transportation logistics, they won’t necessarily be that affected. And they will go back to doing what they previously did.
So the – you could say the stress that the networks are feeling now will probably subside a little bit. What is permanent is maybe that larger office. A larger corporate with multiple offices who will move to what I have seen is a three-day week in the office, for example. And that is as much to do because the technology has enabled them to do that. I take London, for example, a lot of these medium and large size companies exist in the cities where fiber connectivity is good. They can do that now. And the pandemic may be changed, people’s perspectives. Maybe 20 years ago they thought it was ridiculous. Those medium and large companies that I mentioned they got away with being able to operate with relatively little impact with people working from home and over videoconferencing. What they lost was the benefits of office work, onboarding new employees. The simple questions the new employees couldn’t ask or didn’t feel comfortable asking. Time will tell.
I think that’s why most companies will move to hybrid two to three-day-a-week as opposed to completely remote. I think that’s what is permanent. The pilot will need to be in the plane. There are some professions and industries that we haven’t had – COVID hasn’t changed anything. The primary effects of this like we just said is maybe the office workers working the hybrid week.
What are the second order effects of that? What are the second order effects of children who have spent 18 months learning online? And they may be positive. Positive might be better videoconferencing skills. Negative might be they are so traumatized by the videoconferencing experience that they don’t want to do it anymore. That’s where the – we are I guess are looking now. It’s the second order effects. If there is a rebound effect, obviously everyone rushed to purchase Microsoft Teams. Microsoft is building a lot of data capacity. A lot of the purchases of their Teams suite is permanent.
Hence why they are building this capacity. So that is where the permanent change, the permanent shift might be for the office worker. I haven’t seen it so much for many other industries. But second order effects are, how will it affect the underlying infrastructure, the network infrastructure and the data center infrastructure. And like I just said Microsoft is building a lot of data centers. And I actually don’t know about telecoms. I know that they pretty much, the average almost hit the peak during COVID. I don’t know what their plans are going forward.
So that’s my two cents on the paradigm shift. And long answer, to answer your second question on sustainability, it’s very difficult to quantify what is sustainable, especially as people move more and more to public cloud. Because when you move from owning and operating your own service, say in your own basement, what we call an enterprise data center, when you move that to the public cloud you actually – when we look at it from a carbon perspective it goes from scope 1 and 2 to scope 3. You lose the ability to track that. It is very difficult for public cloud providers to be able to tell you exactly the carbon emissions involved in the specific – it is very hard for them to match that to a customer or to a workload. It is sort of in the mix. And therefore you are using assumptions and aggregations.
Overall we do believe it is more efficient to use public cloud than not. The – the economies of scale that these public carbon providers have they have every incentive to drive down unnecessary energy costs. But it is actually very difficult to measure and track that. And that’s one of the things that we are working on at the SDIA. The ability to – you can call it a digital carbon footprint. It is quite an exciting topic that we are working on.
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for your initial statement. And luckily Arben made it to the panel and won over the technical difficulties. As a short introduction we heard a statement from Daniel already discussing issues and challenges in digital education, especially with the focus on Germany. And how the education system is changing and how the didactic concepts need to be implemented in the future to have the youth, students and education system ready for the future.
And we heard from Mohan Gandhi around the question of paradigm shift of COVID-19, especially on the digital infrastructure, to which extent we are using it. And in the end I think you were with us at that part where he talked about the sustainability and how it is hard to measure it and tackle it down through the customer, that we are facing a lot of changes at the moment. And when we come to changes, especially to small and medium enterprises you might be the perfect person to introduce us to the Albanian situation of the manufacturing companies and what they’re struggling with.
>> ARBEN SHKODRA: Thank you for having me here. Sorry, I was late but due to technical problems. Yes, in fact, the COVID-19 situation, the pandemic here was a very big shock for citizens and also for enterprises and industries especially. I am Arben Shkodra. I am the Secretary-General. And yes, for sure that pandemic ’19 has a huge impact, the first wave of shock in the beginning and after that the aftershock that we are now not feeling and facing, in fact, resilience was one of the major problems. Governments and companies were not ready to face this kind of trauma. And due to problematics in the state, the Government was not able to have this kind of approach with small and medium enterprises especially but also with big enterprises.
In the end of the pandemic year we are now analyzing the situation. And the situation is that not only in Albania but also in the whole region, in the West Balkans we had the same problems. The first problem is employment, unemployment. It is the impact.
The second is that we don’t have as a region, but also in Albania we don’t have the right financial mechanism to support these kinds of traumas. In terms of mechanism we had less let’s say possibility to access finance. Banks they were very rigid, even before pandemic year but also during the pandemic year. And now after the pandemic year they are totally rigid. A third thing is that we in different sectors, for example, in textile or leather, we are facing problematics of the foreign market. They are not ordering as they have before the pandemic year. So somehow many of they industries that they are processing and working in textile and leather, they are facing difficulties because they don’t have so much work. Let’s say that something that is happening, that two major things that happens during the pandemic and after the pandemic, we are facing the increase of the transportation cost and this is worldwide. It is not only nation wide or regional wide, it is worldwide.
Second thing is the increase of raw materials. So I think that for this year, these are two of the major problematics that worldwide we have to solve. I don’t know what happens to China transportation because they are the major leading partner worldwide for transportation and container processing.
But something happened in China. And now we are facing the increase of cost of transportation and also the raw materials. So this is an overview of what we had during the pandemic year and now what we are facing now after the pandemic year.
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thank you for your initial statement. Even though all of you talked about three completely different areas and – but there is one point that all of you are connecting on and that’s the digital divide. Is it the poor or rich families that are having their children brought to school and supporting them? The small and medium enterprises who are in a good or bad situation? Opportunities to grow and difficulties that the current situation brings with it. And the sustainability part, of course, if you have money to invest on sustainable solutions that have a future you can grow your business or research even though the pandemic is happening at the moment. And what I would like to ask all of you three is how you want – would like to tackle that digital divide in your respective area?
>> DANIEL KRUPKA: If I may start.
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Sure.
>> DANIEL KRUPKA: I think it’s very much linked to the third point I made. We have to provide our not only the students but even like kids and younger age with the proper digital skills. So they are able to participate in, yeah, in the workforce of the 21st Century. And that – I mean it’s not only the digital skills. We see that those students lagging behind with like – who come from like a weaker social, social background, they don’t have the tools at home. They maybe – they may not have the abilities to focus on such things. So they also very much need like help and that is – I mean in Germany there is this discussion going on for a whole day schooling that students and kids get from like early age coming to the educational system. And that – through the whole day. So that kind of – the dependency on the social background of the families is less obvious and becomes not like the main factor for the educational success of the kids.
And then maybe also adding to what Arben said and what Mohan said, we – we see in Germany, like for companies, that about – there was a study conducted last year that about two-thirds of HR managers expect that home office, telecommuting, mobile working will be used more frequently but that very much depends on the industry, right? If you are in manufacturing, it’s hard. There is no possibility for home office or mobile, mobile work. And then – and those are again numbers for Germany. Especially that counts very much for like bigger companies. They do have the possibilities and the resources to provide that.
But in Germany 99% are small and medium-sized companies. And with them it’s a lot harder. They’re – the majority will go back to as it was before. So I think we’ll see a great backlash there. And I mean there are Governmental programmes to support those small and medium-sized companies in their digitization efforts. But it’s not going to be like a dramatic shift. It’s more like a slow progress and a slow – yeah, evolution, that would be my guess there.
>> MOHAN GANDHI: My turn to bridge the digital divide, short term and long term. I guess what is the digital divide? It is made up maybe of the lack of skills or the mismatch between the demand in skills and the supply of those skills. And Daniel mentioned a very good point before, that often teachers don’t have the digital skills to teach the children. Often the children are ahead with respect to digital and that’s definitely the case here in the UK. We have a very academic style of education. So those sorts of digital skills don’t really come in to the traditional school education system at all.
And they might be touched on at University but they are often developed out of people’s passions on the side. And I think as – that’s not a bad way because you often get exceptional developers with this and exceptional software engineers. But is there a way of formalizing that? And I see a movement in universities. We see schools of computer science, they are expanding quite dramatically. And we are seeing specific niches that I work with, for example, centers of FinTechs, Universities are applying computer science and data science and digital to traditional industries like banking. FinTech, that center for FinTech at the University of East London that I spoke to yesterday is one example of this.
I do think that digital will be as embedded at a point in this century as embedded in a warehouse or an office building as the electrical infrastructure. It will become like a utility. You need your water in your building for the toilets and electricity for the lighting. And you need digital elements for a lot of the elements of your work. So I see that coming. Like Daniel said, how quickly that comes, it depends on the industry and adoption rates, et cetera, et cetera. So it is really, really difficult to say.
May also depend on other elements, sort of the regulatory framework. It is difficult to put an end date on that. What are the other elements of the digital divide? That’s probably the digital skills. For example, in the data center, there aren’t actually that many people who require digital skills. What we require in the data centre is electrical skills. That skilled section, electrical and mechanical skilled section we find that is also stressed because the people who built data centers, who really took them off in the ’90s and early thousands they are starting to retire. And the data center industry is so hidden you could say it’s so under the radar that often people don’t know that it is a good career or good field even though that growth rates are exponential. There are more women in the military than there are working in data centers. Often people working in data centers are former military electrical/mechanical engineers. So that’s something that is quite interesting.
That is as much a perspective issue or a social stigma, stigma is the wrong word, but you know what I mean, as a skills gap. As with many of these things I think that every action will have an opposite reaction. So probably the – you will see reflected in people’s salaries, starting salaries for data scientists who are already very high, starting salaries for data center workers will be quite high. As a result of that you will also see people investing in this individual more because they have so much in demand. I think you will see quasi Pan-industry, formal education programs starting certainly in the data center, in the infrastructure layer. And I’m not too sure whether that software layer. I suspect it will happen in both.
>> ARBEN SHKODRA: It’s my turn? I think that yeah, I’m – I agree, fully agree with my colleagues. Just to mention that industries, they had a different approach on the digitalization automatization, based on IE, based on Artificial Intelligence. I think that everything started from there, the Fourth Era of Industrialization. In terms of digitization of industries, I think that for sure that we – after the pandemic or during the pandemic we face the kind of problematics. The pandemic situation was a stress test for industries. It comes out that without digitization industries cannot survive in another trauma like this.
Economy of scale, it’s another – it’s another issue. And I think that to reach the economy of scale, absolutely industries they must have a digital approach of processes, automation of processes. Rather Bill Gates when he starts discussing on robotics and everyone was starting to laugh. There will come a day when we start taxing the robots. It means that robots will start to somehow to replace main power.
In our region, not only in Albania, in our region we are facing a lot of immigration and high-scaled immigration. And for this reason I think that it’s urgent to start thinking about digitalization and also education. We must continue to educate people. But digitalization and automatization. It is something that’s coming. We have to approach it slowly but we have to approach it. Not to put it aside. Digitalization is crucial in this context for the years to come.
>> DANIEL KRUPKA: If I might add on this, I mean Arben just mentioned what is claimed as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, that basically industrial processes are becoming automatized and digitized. Just last week I guess was that Siemens which is like the biggest industrial supplier in Germany, just announced a strategic shift in what they are doing. They are building power plants and stuff like that. But they want to become a software company within the upcoming years. Also automotive, Volkswagon, they have the resources. They do have the money. Others like small, medium-sized companies they don’t have the power and the resources.
Therefore I think, and that is basically what we’re seeing on a political level, we do need massive public investments in this. And that’s investing in to the digital infrastructure. But as well as and I would also call that kind of infrastructure is the educational system.
And I mean the European Commission just announced this huge investment program, and I don’t know how it is in Albania. I’m pretty sure that in the UK it might be the same, that Governments are investing massively in those fields.
>> ARBEN SHKODRA: Not to interrupt you, but yes, for sure that public money is always good. And if we have a digital agenda as a strategy it might be better. Sure, that education must be on the top of this. And we have to push forward with the education, not only education in general but education in IT. On the other hand, yes, Government must start digitization also for the public services. In Albania we can say that we had maybe with the other countries, because now we are implementing also the digital invoice. Means that the trading between companies, between other stakeholders, it’s – it’s becoming digital. So I think that moving forward in this direction maybe it will be much more easy for companies to change.
But the last thing that I want to say is that okay, public money okay, with digital agenda but also companies, also as organizations, private organizations they must change. They must change the way how they do business, how they approach the market and so on. So digitalization also internally as processes for companies it’s a good thing. Thank you.
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot. And I would like to give the mic to Gergana to ask a question.
>> GERGANA PETROVA: Sure. So my name is Gergana Petrova. I work at RIPE NCC. My comment has nothing to do with the organization that I work for. You were talking about the gender divide and its relationship with how industrialized the country is. I have the feeling that actually analyzing the data there is very little correlation with how developed the country is and the gender divide. There is the opposite relationship. When we look at developed rich countries, OECD countries, you see that there are actually less women in computer science programs. When you focus – because this is EuroDIG, when we look at Europe in particular there is a clear divide between the rich West and Eastern Europe. We see high percentages of women interested in engineering and computer science.
Bulgaria, the country I come from they are 46%. In the Arab world, I don’t know if you guys know, but it’s truly high percentages of women involved in engineering majors. In Malaysia and Thailand they are more than 50%. In a lot of conferences that I go, especially if like Western focused there is this almost like attitude that other Developing Countries have to learn from us but it’s the opposite now. Like we need to – I’m saying we because I’m based in Amsterdam. We the West need to humble ourselves and think of what messages we are sending to our young girls because these sort of attitudes are something that develops from a very young age, what sort of advertisement do they constantly see, what sort of extracurricular activities do parents help them enroll in that leads to such a huge disparity.
I think in the UK there is 10% of women are in the computer science programs. That is – that’s huge. There is something happening. And I remember that – I have raised this point in some conferences including ones in Brussels. And there was very little follow-up like yeah, this is how it is.
But I’m like what are you planning to do. How are you going to increase participation of women in your programs. And I once read an academic study written by a white Western Jew who did find that, that’s the statistics, like statistics don’t lie and he tried to explain it. And the way he explained it was, I don’t know, so he explained it that basically women are by nature not interested in engineering. And in poorer countries they are interested in engineering because it is higher paid positions.
Having grown up in Bulgaria I slapped myself in the face so hard it is no. It is just an explanation of a white Western Jew. I went to a Matts school and I experienced my whole life girls and boys being totally equal and not having absolutely any division. I went to Germany, and sorry for pointing to particular countries, and I went to German university and I took a few math classes. Just me entering the hall, people are like are you lost. I’m not lost. But this is math 101 or whatever. Yeah, I’m taking it. And people were so surprised that I would be taking this class.
Yeah, again this happened in Germany. Never happened in Bulgaria. No, not anybody was surprised that I was taking math in my school. Remembering this studying, oh, yeah, women in Developing Countries are choosing it because it is higher paid professions. No. No. Go and live in those countries. That’s not what’s happening. There is something going on in the West that discourages young girls a lot from following these career paths. Has nothing to do with their biology, oh, my God. I’m going to stop talking now and give the floor to other people.
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for bringing that topic to our discussion. And I get Daniel can add some color to that topic.
>> DANIEL KRUPKA: Thank you. Because I mean that is kind of a poor, yeah, result we do have from like 30 years of women and girls trying to bring them in to more technical, more technical fields. And I don’t have the perception that or that – at least in my bubble, people are not looking disrespectfully to others towards, for example, Eastern European countries because I very well know the numbers from Bulgaria and from Southeast Asia that their women and girls are a lot more participating in technical fields.
And I can add that we are conducting computer science competitions, right, for students or kids from like the age of 8 until they are grown up, until 18. And within the youngers, you see that there are like about 400,000 students each year participating. And in the younger age, with 8 until about 12, 13, the percentage is almost equal of girls participating in those competitions and boys. And then the number of girls dramatically goes down until you have and in Germany it is like 20% of girls participating in those competitions. But also who are studying technical like engineering or also computer science. It’s about 20 to 25%, which is very, very weak.
And that is – because it’s so deep in our – within our heads, and it’s really hard to kind of break that. And that’s why it’s so important to like in the early ages already to bring computer science engineering things in to schools to kind of break those stereotypes.
And I mean like 60 years ago when computer science started, there were more women in those fields than men, right? But it’s really hard. We are working on that since 20 years. And we are making such poor progress.
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: I would like to offer Mohan the chance to comment on that. After that we will move over to Vlad.
>> MOHAN GANDHI: My personal opinion is our education system is too academic. It is not about men and women and digital. Universities and schools are not creating enough STEM people in general. In the UK there is a shortage of science, technology, engineers, mathematicians. We didn’t touch the subject of engineering until we were in University. Which means you had already chosen to do engineering before you knew what it was. And I wonder if this as exactly as Daniel said we are exposing people to STEM subjects so late that they are already down the academic track. And, for example, in the UK I use the UK because that’s where I am from, a lot of people do very academic subjects through school and then also through University.
So I completely agree with Daniel that we need to bring STEM in to the curriculum at a far earlier age to kind of stimulate those you could say brain muscles on the STEM fields far earlier and to help people see there is a career in this field of study you could say. That’s my two cents.
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for your comment. I would like to give the floor to Vlad.
>> VLAD IVANETS: Okay. That seems it. I can hear it. Hello, everyone. Thank you. Yes. And I’m here in order to represent some youth voices because they are always needed. Yeah. And I represent a part of youth D coalition that worked this year on our messages. And they were finally published. And I will send a link to the chat so you can look through. And if you watch us on Youtube or prerecorded, then you can also find them on the official EuroDIG website.
So I will just shortly describe what we are talking about and our main concerns as the young population was about digital technologies and how they are represented inside the Governmental structures. Also platforms, digital self-determination and disinformation as well. So I think this – these few parts are really interconnected with what has been discussed previously. And we believe that in the modern world, we all live (inaudible) and we sometimes need more actions from Government because governments become online structure as well and they provide many sources online. And we need to make it as much accessible for everyone as it can be. And also with the respect to the minorities who are lagging on the access to the services. Also we were talking about platforms, they need to be more transparent because in the modern world data is somehow – is the new oil. Let’s say it like this.
And we want them to be open and also accessible to the people with some problems, probably minorities or, you know, marginalized groups which are to date many. Yes. And we were also thinking about digital self-determination. Because as we use online services we want to have more presentation there. And we need to make this online environment as friendly as it can be. And we also expect from digital platforms to work on this. If we talk about discrimination, we want governments to not spread as much information as they do. And we want media to pay more attention to this problem, especially during this COVID pandemic. We all know about this information. So it’s my short input on youth messages. And you can find and learn more on the website or via the link that I just sent to the chat.
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for your comment. And Gergana also, thank you to your end for your inputs. I would like to ask the key participants to kind of have a short final statement on whether the COVID-19 pandemic brings some catalyzing effects which might be solving some of the issues that you are mostly failing for out. This might be the immigration of highly qualified personnel. For Mohan this might be a focus on sustainability. And Daniel, it might be the focus on digital education, digital literacy and bringing that to our education system. I would like to invite you to do a short wrap up. Who would like to start?
>> MOHAN GANDHI: I can start. From a sustainability perspective, I think what has COVID-19 done? It has pushed certain functions online. And those may have rebound effects in the future. And generally speaking not flying for a meeting in the south of France, having it over videoconferencing is better for the environment. But for every move we make like that, we – that demand that puts on the network, might send signals to the telecom providers to put down more cables that may enable future services. So the – it has catalyzed a lot of change that might have – without COVID taking a long time and that may also bring rebound effects in our wider digital ecosystem. And so we are very – very clear that the – this will bring sustainability benefits like it did with videoconferencing versus flying to a meeting. But there will also be rebound effects. From the rate we can see it looks pretty exponential. Managing that in a way that maximizes the benefits of this industry and doesn’t hold it back but makes sure it is a force for good.
>> DANIEL KRUPKA: Maybe I can add on this. So I think that the pandemic has shown the necessity of digitization, digitalization and digital transformation even more as it has been in the prepandemic time and shown the necessity of a sustainable digitization. And that is something that I mean comes alongside and that’s not really a thing that was triggered by the pandemic. That was there before, right? But especially from the youth that there is such a fundamental movement towards a more sustainable yeah, way of working, of living. So that will not go away.
As having said, I think and that the education is a key factor. We have to focus very much on that. Also for closing the digital divide, closing the gender gap within STEM. But also closing kind of the social gaps that are kind of coming up through the pandemic. And I think that can be supported by Governments, by intelligent investments in the right fields. And I’m pretty sure we are going to see that. And I mean there is a lot of public money right now there. So I’m positive that we will come out of this pandemic even stronger as we went in.
>> ARBEN SHKODRA: Yes. In fact, as I mentioned before, one of the impacts during the pandemic year was also unemployment. Unemployment coming from all sectors. And we have seen also a link with unemployment, also the lack of assistance from Governments to preserve employment. And citizens in the same times employed in different sectors. And different fields, they start thinking why not to immigrate in another country where the system can provide assistance for you and you can have much more money than you earn in your country. Unemployment linked with immigration, it is the high skills. What to do about that, we will – we have to move forward with education. Educate people, educate highly skilled employees in order that we will have always people ready to take over positions and vacancies. The other side we cannot stop the immigration because globalism means also mobility, mobility of workers, mobility of skills and other things.
Countries like Balkans, like our region, absolutely they will have always the brain drain. And the brain drain it’s inevitable. So this is one of the major for me, the major problems that we will face in the next five years in our region.
>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for your final words, Arben. Thanks a lot to all three speakers for taking time to participate in today’s session. Thanks to the audience for listening and for asking questions. And crossing fingers that every one of you is staying safe and healthy and is working and coming through the end of the pandemic at its best.
>> NADIA TJAHJA: Many thanks to the speakers and participants but also to Marcel for moderating these last two sessions. It has brought interesting thoughts and developments. I find it an exciting place that we can come together and discuss where we came from, where we are going to and how do we want to achieve that.
And thus it brings us to the closing of Day Zero. And to close, I would like to invite the Studio Live stage to make the final intervention for today. Can you hear us? Studio Live stage will be there in a minute.
But that gives us a little bit more of an opportunity to kind of look at what is ahead of us tomorrow. Here in Studio Bruges we have focus sessions and new development in – for EuroDIG and where we will be having presentations but also breakout sessions. So we can actually have discussions in more detail about the topics that are most important to you.
But I think that we have the opportunity to do just more than having discussions and actually coming together with good practices regarding themes like greening Internet Governance, digital sovereignty. And we are looking at new European proposals on NIS and cybersecurity agenda and the European media scape and how to recreate a trusted sphere. Many of the interesting keynotes that we are going to have over the next two days will provide food for thought in our daily lives. And I hope that you will choose to come back to Studio Bruges. But if you do not, we have very many interesting sessions that are happening in Studio Belgrade and Studio Trieste. I hope I have spoken enough that we can do a quick but lovely closing in the Studio Live stage. Studio Live stage, are you there? I can see you, but I cannot hear you.
>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: We can hear you. Can you hear us?
>> NADIA TJAHJA: We can hear you.
>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: How was the day?
>> NADIA TJAHJA: It was really great discussions. Active in chat and in the discussions. And I have to really thank the Remote Moderator here in Studio Bruges who has been trying to activate the group and participants who have not been shied to get involved and participate.
>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: We would like to thank you for your first day. And I think it was a good trial. Tomorrow and the day after is going to be the most important day. We look forward to welcoming you tomorrow morning officially in Bruges.
>> NADIA TJAHJA: We look forward to seeing you tomorrow.
>> Enjoy your first free evening and let’s meet again tomorrow. Thank you. See you tomorrow.
>> NADIA TJAHJA: Good evening, everyone.
>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Bye-bye.