Each time we log in to a platform, buy something on the internet, or even simply connect our phone to a wi-fi network, we leave a trace of data. Different apps and platforms have marked the past two years have been marked with scandals surrounding the misuse of data. In May 2018, the European Parliament has adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), in an effort to protect its citizens and their privacy. Europe is trying to catch up with big giants in the battle for data, but what is actually going and, and is it too late for Europe to make an impact?
Lately, the news has been flooded with the news that Europe is rapidly losing the battle for data. Europe found itself to be in the middle of two fires. On one side, in the US giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are controlling large data sets. They have developed platforms that are used by a big chunk of the world’s population on a daily basis and they are making sure that they take out all the value out of it, by storing every piece of information they can and using it in their analyses. On the other side, China is following a similar plot but with a different twist. There, the government uses the latest technology to exercise as much digital control possible over its citizens.
Europe’s position is not easy. Regardless of the all European GDPR law, it is definitely not striving to act as a digital police office, like China. Nor does Europe have many companies that are in a comparable position to Google or Amazon. However, Nijland, Liezenberg, and Lycklama in their book “Everything transaction”, that won the Management book of the year 2019 award, argue that Europe still has a chance to “win” this battle. As they put it, it is all about the right positioning and timing. In their eyes, Europe should position itself as the first market to shape transactional internet, and it should do it now. Processing payments as being able to trust all the entities involved is a big challenge.
The three authors predict that we are moving towards a ‘transactional internet’, as they call it. They believe that to remedy the current shortcomings of internet transactions, lack of trust, and all the transactional data being owned by big companies, the internet infrastructure needs to be reshaped with trust anchored to it. Now, to proceed with a transaction, you usually have to log on to a certain platform or provide proof of your identity in one or another way. If you would be able to confirm your identity using a single application for every online transaction, you as an individual would be able to have a clear overview of your transaction and reputation history.
It seems that the European Commission agrees with the above-mentioned. Thierry Breton, a European commissioner for Internal market has stated that Europe is sitting on an ‘immense mine of non-personal data’, however, a challenge is to make this mine of data trusted and safe so that it can fuel European innovation. He has made his goal clear – to make Europe a global data hub for data, both personal and industrial, benefiting all European economic players – SMEs, startups, large groups, and all European citizens.
Data Market Services is already contributing to this goal by providing free support to data-centric startups. We have selected 50 European most promising early-stage data-centric startups and provided them free support, knowledge, and mentorship. We have made it our goal as well, to help Europe in this battle for data, by supporting the selected young companies that might be leading this revolution within a couple of months from now.