Digital Assembly

We, the People…

Cybersecurity? Machine Learning? Artificial Intelligence? Human Centric? Start-up Driven? Skills Focused? Academia Led? Where shall the future internet begin with?

More than 200 delegates to the Digital Assembly in Malta gathered around the topic: how can the EC bring Europe back to a leading position in digital technologies.


Co-panellists, Lisbeth Mosnik from the Austrian Ministry for Transport and Alexander Weibel from the Karlsruhe University, together with myself debated with Pearse O´Donohue from the EC Future Networks  about the Next Generation Internet initiative from the EC.

Pearse O´Donohue

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world-wide-web, set the tone earlier this year indicating the 3 things that needed fixing to save the internet: 1) We´ve lost control of our personal data, 2) It’s too easy for misinformation to spread on the web and 3) Political advertising online needs transparency and understanding.


The EC itself, through their Next Generation Internet consultation process, also draw some initial conclusions aligned with Mr Berners-Lee: the “individual needs to take back control on their personal data”. It also highlighted that the “Internet should ensure diversity, pluralism and a right to choose” and “avoid the concentration of data in a few proprietary platforms”.


Jose María Pallete from Telefonica refers to this area as the “personal data space” and believes the time is come for a Digital Constitution, a new set of values that reflects the transformation we´re experiencing with the digital revolution.


“We, the people” can no longer stay “We, the product”. Remember, “if the price is free, the product is you”. We need to start by listening to the people. Listening is the best way to empower the people. And empowering the people is the only way to help them take control of their personal data space.

Sanyu Karani in the #DA17 Session

In FundingBox, after 3 years of listening to more than 12.000 start-ups, we have started to learn to listen to the people. Or, as start-ups say, “listen to the user”.  Listening is very challenging. It is noisy and overwhelming. Listening requires proper channels, translation and moderation. We are trying to listen through our tech communities.


Listening is something we Europeans are good at. Maybe, we are even too good. Sometimes, we listen so much, that we are slower than what market dynamics demand. But sometimes, slower pays off. The EC started in 2005 a process to ban roaming in the EU and, after “only” 12 years, last June 15th we celebrated the end of roaming.


The end of roaming has been considered as one of the pillars of a true European Digital Single Market. The end of geo-blocking and true EU wide e-commerce could be next.


Let´s hope this time we are faster at listening and empowering the people.



Watch #DA17 Session

Sanyu Karani

Co-Founder & CEO

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