Eva Kaili, Member of the European Parliament, Chair of STOA, the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment body talks about regilation, distributed ledgers, data ownership and portability.
THE INTERNET OF THINGS
IOT in Europe is basically the internet of things. This means connecting devices through the internet. We are trying to improve our legislation to harmonize the environment for connecting devices through the internet because you know that online we have no barriers no borders. There is an estimation of something like from 20 to 50 billion devices connected in the next 10 to 15 years. This would mean there are a lot of issues of energy, cyber security of course. As you may well know it's really important to make sure that we have 5G networks so that they can take the huge amount of data being transferred. And when I say devices, I mean from lightning bulbs, your fax, your computer, your refrigerator, your washing machine, everything can be connected. More things that we used to have, everything can be online and you can control it if you are home or not. So I think we're going to have an exciting future I think we already have a preview of that with entering houses and by your voice; it depends on what time the light reduces or the windows are closing and your refrigerator can order milk if you don't have any without you even knowing. So I think it's going to be exciting for those that want to have a more easy life and this would make it more easy for them.
Public ledger technology, the known to us distributed ledger technology DLTS, are actually distributed databases. The amazing revolution is that they're usually decentralized. This is a revolution. If not, this is just distributed ledgers. This means that we can serve content without having a central server or authority control like that. So we can exchange peer to peer like we used to do with all your files or video files, but now we can actually exchange value and transaction and smart contracts with each other. And one copy of this transaction would be anonymous of course and it would have cryptography, but one copy would be and remain at each server at its computer of the user of this DLT technology, but not centrally. Nobody can hide a central computer because all the users participate. So this creates a new way of trust and I think it's exciting because suddenly it takes us a huge step forward not just by automating things by having smart contracts but actually by putting a lot of trust in the system removing a lot of these intermediating things and removing these intermediaries that we knew and maybe having new ones but much cheaper with less friction, faster, safer, more efficient. And then you can have on your phone your house, your account, your savings, and your data and you can sell it, exchange it, look at it. If you have voted you could always go back and check that your vote has not been altered. So this is going to be an exciting technology but it's just started.
Blockchain is a revolutionary technology. It gives us the opportunity to exchange value, to tokenize things that we couldn't do before. Basically, you use this technology to do transactions faster and cheaper. If you think that we spend so much money in hidden fees for our transactions and then if you want to send money from one country to the other it would take like 3 days or 4 days. This would make it instantly, like in a few seconds or minutes. So in fintech it can reduce the cost too much. It can save us billions of euros 30 per year. But fintech is not the only thing that an auction can do indeed. So I see a lot of potential in supply chain. This means you can treck the origin of the product and you know how important this is for trade to check, have a code. And of course it is a combination of blockchain, artificial intelligence, automation, and devices but at the same time blockchain gives us the possibility to remove a lot of paperwork there and automate the origin and then the bar code of a product to make sure that this is the same product the reaches your house or your table. Already that are technologies and applications that are testing blockchain and it seems to be working. This would be I think one of the best possible applications but we will also have hands on blockchain which means you can see if your doctor or your health clinic, they check your health data, they use them, they have access to them and you can control and remove the access: so you get control of your data. One thought I could think of which is essential, especially in Europe it would be identity. So at the moment we have some issues making sure that that certificates or identities are not duplicated. And if you put them on blockchain, it will have one common database. Blockchain makes sure that you feel you can trust it. At the same time you cannot have two similar identities--it rejects it. So you can have an European identity or a no borders identity. That could make it possible of course to exchange as I said tokenized value like allowed registry or like energy. You can sell energy that's produced in your house even if you are in the other side of the world and somebody else wants to buy it from a third place. So it makes things exciting, less complicated, more easy and more cheap of course--it saves a lot. So I do believe that every day that goes by we have new blockchains coming. All the problems that we face so far like the energy cost is being reduced. There are smart people working computer scientists who provide us with new solutions and not just energy but also with the data control and GDPR with blockchain you can have lots of solutions there. So you can control your data. You can see who's accessed and denied access and for health it is really important but several other cases. So I see that any sector, if you have a contact somebody, if you want to get divorced, get married, you can automate things and save money, create different jobs of course but for sure make our lives a lot easier and bring a lot of trust.
GDPR has a lot of fuss around it but basically it's principles that give control to citizens of their data, the ownership of their data and they make sure that there are clear rules for companies to respect. So it brings some principles, the principle that you have the right to privacy, you have the right to control your data, that you have the right to have an explanation of where your data are being held, how they're being used and of course you have the right to take your data to portability, take them with, remove them from other people's servers and transfer them to another application just like keep a copy of those. So what it does is it's trying to create some set of rules and principles that people can use. At the same time it's something that has dynamics. So the right to privacy ends where the right to public information starts. And of course this is something to be explored. There are many guidelines that will be coming, depends on the case, but it is here to help innovation and also protect citizens and not to block innovation. And if innovative things like blockchain come then GDPR probably would have to be adopted sooner or later unless as I said blockchain can also have solutions for GDPR, or provide solutions to apply to GDPR. So I think Europe is already leading because we connected GDPR to the companies we work with at the European level. So if you don't want to comply with GDPR then it's not easy for you to work in Europe. And with the European Union having this decision it actually forces other jurisdictions to comply. So we're trying to lead globally with these rules. And of course I believe that this is the beginning of the work because we still have to find ways to make data more open and also we have to provide more data for scientists. If you have a lot of data then artificial intelligence can use these data and get smarter (machine learning can do that) and then give you a better understanding and more accurate information that could lead us to predict diseases, prevent diseases, or find the best possible treatment. I think this is the best application of artificial intelligence and using data for that. At the same time it's going to be a bit hard for some companies to apply all the rules. We do have guidelines coming and we do have the European Commission provides them with explanations. So whoever needs that we are there to support and as I said it is dynamic so when innovation happens it cannot follow rules. Usually we adapt to the rules. We have to be faster than that. So innovation is “thinking out of the box”, even out of GDPR.