European Citizens’ Virtual Worlds Panel

Press Release: “Many people believe that virtual worlds, also referred to as metaverses, might be a change comparable to the appearance of the internet and will transform the way we work and engage with each other in the future. In the last couple of years – and particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic – numerous public and private actors have been investing massively in these so-called “extended and augmented realities”, speeding up changes in our workplaces and habits.

Despite this increased attention, such a transformation will not happen suddenly. Virtual Worlds will take many years to develop into a high-quality, realistic digital environment, and there is no clear picture yet of what metaverses could and should become.

The EU and its Members States are committed to harness the potential of this transformation, understand its opportunities, but also the risks and challenges it poses, while safeguarding the rights of European citizens. The European Commission has therefore decided to convene a citizens’ panel to formulate recommendations for the development of virtual worlds.

Find out more in the information kit that is available in the document section below….(More)”.

Code of Practice on Disinformation: New Transparency Centre provides insights and data on online disinformation for the first time

Press Release: “Today, the signatories of the 2022 Code of Practice on Disinformation, including all major online platforms (Google, Meta, Microsoft, TikTok, Twitter), launched the novel Transparency Centre and published for the first time the baseline reports on how they turn the commitments from the Code into practice.

The new TransparencyCentre will ensure visibility and accountability of signatories’ efforts to fight disinformation and the implementation of commitments taken under the Code by having a single repository where EU citizens, researchers and NGOs can access and download online information.

For the first time with these baseline reports, platforms are providing insight and extensive initial data such as: how much advertising revenue flowing to disinformation actors was prevented; number or value of political ads accepted and labelled or rejected; instances of manipulative behaviours detected (i.e. creation and use of fake accounts); and information about the impact of fact-checking; and on Member States level…

All signatories have submitted their reports on time, using an agreed harmonised reporting template aiming to address all commitments and measures they signed onto. This is however not fully the case for Twitter, whose report is short of data, with no information on commitments to empower the fact-checking community. The next set of reports from major online platform signatories is due in July, providing further insight on the Code’s implementation and more stable data covering 6 months…(More)” See also: Transparency Centre.

Americans Don’t Understand What Companies Can Do With Their Personal Data — and That’s a Problem

Press Release by the Annenberg School for Communications: “Have you ever had the experience of browsing for an item online, only to then see ads for it everywhere? Or watching a TV program, and suddenly your phone shows you an ad related to the topic? Marketers clearly know a lot about us, but the extent of what they know, how they know it, and what they’re legally allowed to know can feel awfully murky. 

In a new report, “Americans Can’t Consent to Companies’ Use of Their Data,” researchers asked a nationally representative group of more than 2,000 Americans to answer a set of questions about digital marketing policies and how companies can and should use their personal data. Their aim was to determine if current “informed consent” practices are working online. 

They found that the great majority of Americans don’t understand the fundamentals of internet marketing practices and policies, and that many feel incapable of consenting to how companies use their data. As a result, the researchers say, Americans can’t truly give informed consent to digital data collection.

The survey revealed that 56% of American adults don’t understand the term “privacy policy,” often believing it means that a company won’t share their data with third parties without permission. In actual fact, many of these policies state that a company can share or sell any data it gathers about site visitors with other websites or companies.

Perhaps because so many Americans feel that internet privacy feels impossible to comprehend — with “opting-out” or “opting-in,” biometrics, and VPNs — they don’t trust what is being done with their digital data. Eighty percent of Americans believe that what companies know about them can cause them harm.

“People don’t feel that they have the ability to protect their data online — even if they want to,” says lead researcher Joseph Turow, Robert Lewis Shayon Professor of Media Systems & Industries at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania….(More)”

2023 Edelman Trust Barometer

Press Release: “The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that business is now viewed as the only global institution to be both competent and ethical. Business now holds a staggering 53-point lead over government in competence and is 30 points ahead on ethics. Its treatment of workers during the pandemic and return to work, along with the swift and decisive action of over 1,000 businesses to exit Russia after its invasion of Ukraine helped fuel a 20-point jump on ethics over the past three years. Business (62 percent) remains the most and only trusted institution globally. …

Other key findings from the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer include:

  • Personal economic fears such as job loss (89 percent) and inflation (74 percent) are on par with urgent societal fears like climate change (76 percent), nuclear war (72 percent) and food shortages (67 percent).
  • CEOs are expected to use resources to hold divisive forces accountable: 72 percent believe CEOs are obligated to defend facts and expose questionable science being used to justify bad social policy; 71 percent believe CEOs are obligated to pull advertising money out of media platforms that spread misinformation; and 64 percent, on average, say companies can help increase civility and strengthen the social fabric by supporting politicians and media outlets that build consensus and cooperation.
  • Government (51 percent) is now distrusted in 16 of the 28 countries surveyed including the U.S. (42 percent), the UK (37 percent), Japan (33 percent), and Argentina (20 percent). Media (50 percent) is distrusted in 15 of 28 countries including Germany (47 percent), the U.S. (43 percent), Australia (38 percent), and South Korea (27 percent). ‘My employer’ (77 percent) is the most trusted institution and is trusted in every country surveyed aside from South Korea (54 percent).
  • Government leaders (41 percent), journalists (47 percent) and CEOs (48 percent) are the least trusted institutional leaders. Scientists (76 percent), my coworkers (73 percent among employees) and my CEO (64 percent among employees) are most trusted.
  • Technology (75 percent) was once again the most trusted sector trailed by education (71 percent), food & beverage (71 percent) and healthcare (70 percent). Social media (44 percent) remained the least trusted sector.
  • Canada (67 percent) and Germany (63 percent) remained the two most trusted foreign brands, followed by Japan (61 percent) and the UK (59 percent). India (34 percent) and China (32 percent) remain the least trusted..(More)”.

Commission defines high-value datasets to be made available for re-use

Press Release: “Today, the Commission has published a list of high-value datasets that public sector bodies will have to make available for re-use, free of charge, within 16 months.

Certain public sector data, such as meteorological or air quality data are particularly interesting for creators of value-added services and applications and have important benefits for society, the environment and the economy – which is why they should be made available to the public…

The Regulation is set up under the Open Data Directive, which defines six categories of such high-value datasets: geospatial, earth observation and environment, meteorological, statistics, companies and mobility. This thematic range can be extended at a later stage to reflect technological and market developments. The datasets will be available in machine-readable format, via an Application Programming Interface and, where relevant, as bulk download.

The increased availability of data will boost entrepreneurship and result in the creation of new companies. High-value datasets can be an important resource for SMEs to develop new digital products and services, and therefore also an enabler helping them to attract investors. The re-use of datasets such as mobility or geolocalisation of buildings can open business opportunities for the logistics or transport sectors, as well as improve the efficiency of public service delivery, for example by understanding traffic flows to make transport more efficient. Meteorological observation data, radar data, air quality and soil contamination data can also support research and digital innovation as well as better-informed policymaking, especially in the fight against climate change….(More)”. See also: List of specific high-value datasets

Nine cities set standards for the transparent use of Artificial Intelligence

Press Release: “Nine cities, cooperating through the Eurocities network, have developed a free to use open-source ‘data schema’ for algorithm registers in cities. The data schema, which sets common guidelines on the information to be collected on algorithms and their use by a city, supports the responsible use of AI and puts people at the heart of future developments in digital transformation.

While most cities primarily use only simple algorithms and not advanced AI such as facial recognition, the joint effort by seven European municipalities aims to pre-empt any future data misuse and create an interoperable model that can be shared and copied by other cities. The data schema was developed by Barcelona, Bologna, Brussels Capital Region, Eindhoven, Mannheim, Rotterdam and Sofia, based on the example set by Amsterdam and Helsinki…To develop the data schema, Eurocities, through its Digital Forum lab, built on the existing example of Amsterdam and Helsinki. Eurocities further enlisted the work of an expert in data, who has worked alongside experts from the cities to test and validate the content and functionality of the schema, to ensure ethical, transparent and fair use of algorithms.

  1. Further information, including the full transparency standard can be viewed and downloaded here:
  2. The cities of Barcelona, Bologna, Brussels Capital Region, Eindhoven, Mannheim, Rotterdam and Sofia cooperated through Eurocities Digital Forum Lab, basing their work on the previous initiative of Amsterdam and Helsinki. The Eurocities Digital Forum Lab aims to develop digital interoperable solutions for cities.
  3. The examples from Amsterdam and Helsinki can be found here:

Industry Data for Society Partnership

Press Release: “On Wednesday, a new Industry Data for Society Partnership (IDSP) was launched by GitHub, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), LinkedIn, Microsoft, Northumbrian Water Group, R2 Factory and UK Power Networks. The IDSP is a first-of-its-kind cross-industry partnership to help advance more open and accessible private-sector data for societal good. The founding members of the IDSP agree to provide greater access to their data, where appropriate, to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges in areas such as sustainability and inclusive economic growth.

In the past few years, open data has played a critical role in enabling faster research and collaboration across industries and with the public sector. As we saw during COVID-19, pandemic data that was made more open enabled researchers to make faster progress and gave citizens more information to inform their day-to-day activities. The IDSP’s goal is to continue this model into new areas and help address other complex societal challenges. The IDSP will serve as a forum for the participating companies to foster collaboration, as well as a resource for other entities working on related issues.

IDSP members commit to the following:

  • To open data or provide greater access to data, where appropriate, to help solve pressing societal problems in a usable, responsible and inclusive manner.
  • To share knowledge and information for the effective use of open data and data collaboration for social benefit.
  • To invest in skilling a broad class of professionals to use data effectively and responsibly for social impact.
  • To protect individuals’ privacy in all these activities.

The IDSP will also bring in other organizations with expertise in societal issues. At launch, The GovLab’s Data Program based at New York University and the Open Data Institute will both be partnership Affiliates to provide guidance and expertise for partnership endeavors…(More)”.

New Interoperable Europe Act to deliver more efficient public services through improved cooperation between national administrations on data exchanges and IT solutions

Press Release: “The Commission has adopted the Interoperable Europe Act proposal and its accompanying Communication to strengthen cross-border interoperability and cooperation in the public sector across the EU. The Act will support the creation of a network of sovereign and interconnected digital public administrations and will accelerate the digital transformation of Europe’s public sector. It will help the EU and its Member States to deliver better public services to citizens and businesses, and as such, it is an essential step to achieve Europe’s digital targets for 2030 and support trusted data flows. It will also help save costs, and cross-border interoperability can lead to cost-savings between €5.5 and €6.3 million for citizens and between €5.7 and €19.2 billion for businesses dealing with public administrations…

The Interoperable Europe Act introduces:

  • A structured EU cooperation where public administrations, supported by public and private actors, come together in the framework of projects co-owned by Member States, as well as regions and cities.
  • Mandatory assessments to evaluate the impact of changes in information technology (IT) systems on cross-border interoperability in the EU.
  • The sharing and reuse of solutions, often open source, powered by an ‘Interoperable Europe Portal’ – a one-stop-shop for solutions and community cooperation.
  • Innovation and support measures, including regulatory sandboxes for policy experimentation, GovTech projects to develop and scale up solutions for reuse, and training support…(More)”.

Digital rights and principles: a digital transformation for EU citizens

Press Release: “The Commission welcomes the agreement reached yesterday with the Parliament and the Council on the European declaration on digital rights and principles. The declaration, proposed in January, establishes a clear reference point about the kind of human-centred digital transformation that the EU promotes and defends, at home and abroad.

graphic showing a circle with text Your Digital Principles and different icons with a text below the circle At the heart of Europe's digital transformation

It builds on key EU values and freedoms and will benefit all individuals and businesses. The declaration will also provide a guide for policymakers and companies when dealing with new technologies. The declaration focuses on six key areas: putting people at the centre of the digital transformation; solidarity and inclusion; freedom of choice; participation in digital life; safety and security; and sustainability…(More)” See also: European Digital Rights and Principles

Principles for Responsible Algorithmic Systems

Press Release: “The Association for Computing Machinery’s global Technology Policy Council (TPC) has released a new Statement on Principles for Responsible Algorithmic Systems authored jointly by its US (USTPC) and Europe Technology Policy Committees (Europe TPC). Recognizing that algorithmic systems are increasingly used by governments and companies to make or recommend decisions that have far-reaching effects on individuals, organizations, and society, the ACM Statement lays out nine instrumental principles intended to foster fair, accurate, and beneficial algorithmic decision-making.

The statement includes a definition for each principle as well as a brief explanation of how the principle contributes to the larger goal of building responsible algorithmic systems. The nine instrumental principles include: Legitimacy and Competency; Minimizing Harm; Security and Privacy; Transparency; Interpretability and Explainability; Maintainability; Contestability and Auditability; Accountability and Responsibility; and Limiting Environmental Impacts. The new statement complements the ACM Code of Ethics and is intended as a guide for algorithm developers and designers to remain vigilant concerning the potential for bias and unfairness at each stage of the software development process….(More)”.