Today, Web Summit, the “world's largest technology event”, has announced that this year’s edition is officially a sellout, with 70,469 attendees, 2,150 startups and 239 partners confirmed to participate from November 4- 7, in Lisbon, Portugal.
Our first impression
Any event of such magnitude has a key problem to solve: registration of participants. Although it seems like a logistical nightmare, the organizers managed to impress us from the moment we got off the plane, at the airport being installed a registration point for all the participants. The registration was made on the basis of a QRcode, previously received by mail, and a confirmation of identity, a badge with code bars being printed at a time concurrently with a bracelet (double-check). Entry to the event was achieved by scanning the QR code, which is almost instantaneous.
Edward Snowden: „The problem isn't data protection. The problem is data collection”
The highlight of the first day was certainly the dialogue between the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, James Ball and Edward Snowden, the world's most famous whistleblower. If you don't know, Snowden is the man who risked everything to expose the American Government's system of mass surveillance. This made him the main target of the American Government in recent years, thus taking refuge in Russia, which granted him asylum, from where millions of people continue to inspire. Not being able to attend this event, for understandable reasons, it was present through two huge screens mounted on the main stage. As expected, the main topics of discussion were about the violations of privacy by IT giants or governments and so the General Data Protection Regulation has received special attention. Here are some of the most interesting replicas:
"What does a good version of the internet look like, what helps you build that? You know, we are speaking to you from within the EU where GDPR is applicable.
This is a good bit of legislation in terms of the effort that they're trying to do. Is GDPR the correct solution? I think no and I think the mistake that it makes is actually in the name: the General Data Protection Regulation. (...) The problem isn't data protection. The problem is data collection. Regulating the protection of data presumes that the collection of data, in the first place, was proper, that it was appropriate, that it doesn't represent a threat or a danger, that it's okay to spy on everybody all the time, whether they're your customers or whether they're your citizens, so long as it never leaks, so long as only you are in control of what it is the truth, sort of stolen from everybody. And I would say not only is that incorrect but if we learned anything from 2013, it's that eventually everything leaks. It's a bad strategy.
One of the rare things with GDPR is that it's got big fines, you know you can have 4% of your money. Are there some tech giants you'd like to see facing that kind of thing?
I say it is a good first effort. It’s a low bar and they have raised that bar, and that is meaningful. What I'm saying is that it's not a solution. What I'm saying is that it's not the good internet that we want, because even though the GDPR does propose 4% of global revenue fines for internet giants, today those fines don't exist. And until we see those fines being applied to every single year to the internet giants, until they reformed their behavior and begin complying not just with the letter but the spirit of the law, it is a paper tiger. And I think that actually gives us a false sense of reassurance because these companies that are the ones who that find is most threatening to are also the ones with the most lawyers who are able to undermine the meaning that law the most effectively.
(...) The law is not the only thing that can protect you. Technology is not the only thing that can protect you. We are the only thing that can protect us and the only way to protect anyone is to protect everyone."
5G is putting the computing power of the cloud right in your pocket
Another interesting topic was presented by Guo Ping, Huawei's rotating CEO, the tech giant intensely grounded by accusations launched by the US government and quickly spreading across Europe, stepped onto the scene, presenting the benefits of implementing 5G technology. The future looks great in the presentation posted on the two huge screens, but we could not be surprised, especially after reading the European Commission's Report on the coordinated assessment at EU level of the risks regarding the security of 5G networks.
"My topic is 5G+X. We are creating a smart new era. This X can be AI, big data, or VR AR among other technologies. As you all know, 5G deployment has just begun. AI applications for a range of industries are still in their infancy. I believe that in the future, 5G + X will create countless opportunities for entrepreneurs.
In 1875, the Paris Nord train stations started using electric lines. In 1879, a power plant in San Francisco started selling electric power. These were historical changes. Later in the 20th century, electricity significantly increases productivity in all industries. Humanity entered the electric age. Just as the edge began with electric lighting, 3G and 4G solved the problem of connecting people. (...) As of now, forty carriers in over 20 countries are using 5G networks commercially. We predict by the end of this year, we will see 60 commercial 5G networks. The new experience, delivered by 5G is being warmly welcomed by consumers. Just take South Korea for example: 1 million users signed up for 5G during the first 69 days. When 4G was launched, it took 150 days to accumulate that many users. The average 5G user consumes three times as much data as a 4G user. 5G can achieve speeds as high as 20 gigabits per second and the latency as low as one millisecond. It can support 1 million connections per square kilometer. 5G can ensure a superior experience for the Internet of Things. You are familiar with the cloud and the AI. 5G reduced the distance between devices and cloud, putting the computing power of the cloud right in your pocket." (Guo Ping, Huawei's rotating CEO).
The dpo-NET team will continue to transmit information from this event daily, focusing on topics such as privacy and data protection.