Category Archives: digital

Security of 5G networks: EU Member States complete national risk assessments

Following the Commission Recommendation for a common European approach to the security of 5G networks, 24 EU Member States have now completed the first step and submitted national risk assessments. These assessments will feed into the next phase, a EU-wide risk assessment which will be completed by 1 October. Commissioner for the Security Union, Julian King, and Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, welcomed this important step forward and said:

“We are pleased to see that most Member States have now submitted their risk assessments. Following the support expressed by the European Council on 22 March for a concerted approach, Member States responded promptly to our call for concrete measures to help ensure the cybersecurity of 5G networks across the EU. The national risk assessments are essential to make sure that Member States are adequately prepared for the deployment of the next generation of wireless connectivity that will soon form the backbone of our societies and economies.

We urge Member States to remain committed to the concerted approach and to use this important step to gain momentum for a swift and secure rollout of 5G networks. Close EU-wide cooperation is essential both for achieving strong cybersecurity and for reaping the full benefits, which 5G will have to offer for people and businesses.

The completion of the risk assessments underlines the commitment of Member States not only to set high standards for security but also to make full use of this groundbreaking technology. We hope that the outcomes will be taken into account in the process of 5G spectrum auctions and network deployment, which is taking place across the EU now and in the coming months. Several Member States have already taken steps to reinforce applicable security requirements while others are considering introducing new measures in the near future.

We need all key players, big and small, to accelerate their efforts and join us in building a common framework aimed at ensuring consistently high levels of security. We look forward to continuing our close cooperation with Member States as we begin the work on an EU-wide risk assessment, due to be complete by 1 October, that will help to develop a European approach to protecting the integrity of 5G.”

National risk assessments include an overview of:

·    the main threats and actors affecting 5G networks;

·    the degree of sensitivity of 5G network components and functions as well as other assets; and

·    various types of vulnerabilities, including both technical ones and other types of vulnerabilities, such as those potentially arising from the 5G supply chain.

In addition, the work on national risk assessments involved a range of responsible actors in the Member States, including cybersecurity and telecommunication authorities and security and intelligence services, strengthening their cooperation and coordination.

Next Steps

Based on the information received, Member States, together with the Commission and the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), will prepare a coordinated EU-wide risk assessment by 1 October 2019. In parallel, ENISA is analysing the 5G threat landscape as an additional input. 

By 31 December 2019, the NIS Cooperation Group that leads the cooperation efforts together with the Commission will develop and agree on a toolbox of mitigating measures to address the risks identified in the risk assessments at Member State and EU level.

Following the recent entry into force of the Cybersecurity Act at the end of June, the Commission and the EU Agency for Cybersecurity will set up an EU-wide certification framework. Member States are encouraged to cooperate with the Commission and the EU Agency for Cybersecurity to prioritise a certification scheme covering 5G networks and equipment.

By 1 October 2020, Member States should assess in cooperation with the Commission, the effects of measures taken to determine whether there is a need for further action. This assessment should take into account the coordinated European risk assessment.

Background

Fifth generation (5G) networks will form essential digital infrastructure in the future, connecting billions of objects and systems, including in critical sectors such as energy, transport, banking, and health, as well as industrial control systems carrying sensitive information and supporting safety systems.

The European Commission recommended on 26 March 2019 a set of concrete actions to assess cybersecurity risks of 5G networks and to strengthen preventive measures, following the support from Heads of State or Government for a concerted approach to the security of 5G networks.

The Commission called on Member States to complete national risk assessments and review national measures as well as to work together at EU level on a coordinated risk assessment and a common toolbox of mitigating measures.

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Digital Single Market: Europeans are aware of rules against unjustified geo-blocking

Seven months after new rules against unjustified geo-blocking began to apply, general consumer awareness of the new rules against restrictions for online shopping and cross-border sales is already high.

A Eurobarometer survey published today shows that just a few months after the new rules on geo-blocking started to apply, 50% of EU citizens are generally aware of EU action to tackle unjustified discrimination by traders. However, more efforts are needed to ensure wider knowledge of the specific digital rights enshrined in EU law, since only 29% of respondents know which rights specifically concern them.

Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said: “By banning unjustified geo-blocking last December we made another concrete step for Europe’s people and businesses to get the most and best from the digital age. I am now pleased to see that Europeans are largely enjoying their new digital right, which is part of a total of 35 new digital rights and freedoms that the Digital Single Market has created, as a new legal environment has fallen into place.”

Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, added: “The new rules ending unjustified geo-blocking benefit consumers and traders alike, offering fairer access to products and services within the EU single market. Companies that continue to restrict access to consumers are quite simply breaking the law. The Commission will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the rules are complied with.”

Growing interest to access cross-border content

The Eurobarometer survey published today is part of the Commission’s ongoing evaluation of consumer needs and market realities in sectors that are currently not covered or only partially covered by the geo-blocking rules. This evaluation will feed into an initial review of the rules, planned for March 2020, which will look into whether there is need to extend the scope of the Regulation. For example, the survey clearly shows that audio-visual and other electronically supplied copyright-protected content, such as music streaming and downloading, e-books and games, is among the most popular content sought by consumers across borders. This type of content is not covered by the current rules, yet it is likely that it will merit specific attention under EU law in the near future.

In particular, the number of internet users trying to get cross-border access to content has nearly doubled over the last four years (from 8% in 2015 to 15% in 2019). The most popular types of content sought across borders is audio-visual (sought by 9% of respondents) and music (8%). The survey also indicates that this trend is likely to continue, driven by young people in particular; the percentage of 15 to 24 year-old respondents who have tried to access these services across borders is 28%, nearly double the overall figure.

The most common reasons for trying to access such content are lack of availability in the respondents’ own country (44%), followed by the quest for a wider choice (39%). A majority of those who did not try to have access to content meant for users in another EU country would nonetheless still be interested in doing so (in particular audio-visual with 31% and music with 29%, with even higher figures for the younger generations).

Background

The Regulation against unjustified geo-blocking, which entered into force on 3 December 2018, addresses unjustified online sales discrimination based on customers’ nationality, place of residence or place of establishment within the internal market. It does not oblige traders to allow access to their content, nor sell or deliver across the whole EU, but rather prohibits traders from discriminating against customers based on their nationality, place of residence or place of establishment, if the trader already delivers to their particular Member State.

This regulation is part of a series of rules on e-commerce aimed at boosting cross-border online sales in the EU, for the benefit of the consumers, who will enjoy more choice and more guarantees, as well as for the online sellers. In particular:

Thanks to the Digital Single Market strategy, Europeans can, since April 2018, access their online subscriptions to films, sports events, e-books, video games or music services while travelling to another Member State. In addition, new rules will make it easier for broadcasters to enrich their online output across borders, granting people better choice and access to content across borders and allowing European culture to flourish.

Fujitsu: Co-Creation for Success

This year, Fujitsu World Tour 2018, which stopped in Brussels on June 7, highlighted the “Co-Creation for Success“.

6 start-ups from the Hive Brussels network presented their innovations to more than 300 of Fujitsu’s most important customers and partners. As part of the “Labs Battle”, each start-up had 5 minutes to convince the public and the jury of the potential of their innovation. The laureate was n-Auth specialized on security of sensitive data.

We interviewed Mr. Yves de Beauregard, Managing Director Fujitsu Benelux who explained: “Today, digital co-creation is moving to a new phase, from concept to the creation of new opportunities. Our unique capabilities in advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things, combined with know-how, achieve this goal, delivering true innovation and business value.

The complexity of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is more then a usage.  As example we have used AI in Order to develop a non destructive testing that’s the example of Siemens Gamesa using AI to analyse images and data in order to ensure that the wings of the windmills are produced with the highest quality possible because it is very expensive for those companies that have the necessity to dismantled in order to change the wings. For so far this is done by human beings that they are really checking and also using the experience in order to look after the quality of those wings . This is a typical example where the AI has actually got to learn what humans are looking after and ones the AI has learned, it can apply very easily to a massive data informations, in order to really detect what is not in line with the expectations.”

 What are the other applications of AI?

“Another example AI applications is in the medical industry. We have been using AI together with San Carlo hospital in Madrid, supporting doctors in case of psychiatric treatment and at first when they go to analysing which sickness has the patient. In the psychiatric treatment there is a number of interviews that are needed to really understand what is the behaviour and what are the symptoms to define the actual sickness. For this reason, psychiatry is not that digital. We developed together with S. Carlo Hospital a system based on AI that really try to measure the behaviour, the comportment, the answers of the questions submitted to the patients and therefore that are able to support doctors in making a diagnosis on what is the actual sickness that the patient is suffering . Therefore, this application help patient to get treated quicker and helps doctors, who have to do less interviews in order to define the proper sickness and, of course, it also helps public money because it really support the entire chain to do better, quicker and less expensive.”

The second topic is Cyber security.   

“Fujitsu has been recently nominated as one of the top leader in cybersecurity. We see the recent attack from malware. I am proud to say that none of the Fujitsu customer, have been drastically impacted. We are effecting protecting our customer proactively and reactively. The business of Fujitsu in cyber security significantly improving and growing. Number of new customers, new logos and new companies come and ask us to support them with regard to cyber security.”

With the Blockchain centre recently inaugurated in Brussels which development you can see?

“We are actually very amazed by the number of projects and request coming after the inauguration of the Blockchain centre in Brussels. We were definitely too shy in our plans. We are very intrigue by the number of companies that are actually embracing Blockchain technologies, in order to help them because is not easy to understand what is the value that such technologies could bring to your business. We have developed a kind of support that really help those companies to understand what means Blockchain for their business model, for their customers. In the same time we are moving  ahead with our research for Blockchain for smart cities and new projects keep on having a leading position on that market.”

Why do you think is an asset choose Brussels for the Blockchain centre?

Three most important reason. The first reason is that in Belgium there is a culture of settlement. There is a number of company working on functional settlement located in Brussels. So the culture of working as a chain or being in the middle of a chain, support people from the business to stream line, the processes, they are able to work better together is something that is strongly in Belgium. The second reason is obviously, because Brussels is located in the centre of Europe. The proximity with European institutions and finally also the language skills that is present in Belgium.”

How do you collaborate with Japan?

On Artificial Intelligence, cyber security and Blockchain there is a very strong collaboration with Japan. There is actually a very strong relationship. We can benefit in Europe also from the technology advancement that our colleagues have in Japan. Fujitsu is indeed a market leader in Japan and the biggest part of R&D done by Fujitsu is still predominantly in Japan. If we want to benefit from those R&D as quick as we can, we need to have those strong relationships with Japan.”

How was important for you to collaborate for 0 Plastic Rivers initiative?

I truly believe that a company in whatever the business is operating is a social body. That means we also have the responsibility to the society, to the next generation and to the environment. One of the stakeholders we need to be very careful is our environment and we believe that this initiative is very interesting. In 0 Plastic Rivers initiative I believe that sensor technologies and Artificial intelligence technologies, could really help in managing plastic waste issue by detecting plastics in the water. It is an important topic that matter to us and on which we believe. We can have an added value.”

Henry Borzi

Fujitsu inaugurate Blockchain Innovation Center in Brussels

Fujitsu opened a new international Blockchain Innovation Center in Brussels on March 21, 2018. The center undertake research with external partners, collaborating on specific projects to explore the technology’s potential and limitations. Fujitsu’s aim is to develop the potential of blockchain beyond financial services as a new architecture for information systems and sectorsof all kinds.

Brussels was selected by Fujitsu for the geographical, political, technological and linguistic advantages it offers to international organizations considering applications of blockchain technology, making it an attractive testing-ground for novel co-creation initiatives. The centerhas an international remit. Alongside local projects in Belgium, Fujitsu’s co-creation model has resulted in a number of international projects, including projects in Germany, UK, the Netherlands and participation EU Horizon 2020 projects.

Blockchain represent a big opportunity in Europe. Many people think that Blockchain beeng solely about financial services bitcoin and cryptocurrency. It is not. I think Blockchian could be the world glue or oil for the world economy and the public sector. So that make sense to be in the heart of Europe in a country with a long track record of innovation like Belgium.” Explained Duncan Tait, CEO of Fujitsu Americas and EMEIA.

One particular area of expertise that Fujitsu plans to develop in the Blockchain Innovation Center is the use of blockchain for the design and implementation of Smart City services, focusing not only on technology, but also on important aspects of the cityof the future, such as sociological and demographic factors, societal organization, economic functioning and ecological challenges. The center will support and encourage research, development and innovation, both for Brussels and for other cities, throughthe funding of innovative projects by companies, research organizations and the non-commercial sector. Although the initial focus is on Smart Cities, the goal is to deliver scalable, secure, business-ready blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) solutions in a wide variety of industries.

The first blockchain R&D project being developed at the center is called “Blockchain as enabler of services in the context of Smart Cities”, and is being conducted in collaboration with Innoviris, the Brusselsinstitute for the encouragement of scientific research and innovation. The 24-month project is focused on establishing blockchain knowledge and expertise for the design and implementation of services in the context of Smart Cities, in areas such as citizen participation and elections, and the interaction between smart devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) and a multimodal supply chain. It consists of two main tracks: to build fundamental knowledge about the use of blockchain for Smart City applications, and then to apply this knowledge to specific use cases, with the aim of creating meaningful business solutions.

Mr Kris Peeters, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister, commented that “Belgium is the ideal place to establish an international skills center such as the Fujitsu Blockchain Innovation Center. Not only it is located in the center of Europe, but it has also made the innovation the engine of its economy. In addition, our compatriots have excellent language skills, making them valuable contributors to multinational companies or international projects. It is important that all levels of government continue to work actively with innovative companies to support the overall economic fabric of Belgium.

Fujitsu has already identified more than ten projects and multiple European cities aiming to fulfill their ambitions to become Smart Cities have also expressed interest in collaborationwith Fujitsu. The Blockchain Innovation Center it is expected to lead to co-creation relationships with international and Belgian public bodies, customers, partners andthe Hyperledger Project (see Alternative Blockchain platformsbelow) to extend the technology beyond the current focus of proof of concepts into scalable, secure and business-ready DLT solutions.

What is blockchain?
Blockchain is essentially a database infrastructure, originally designed for the crypto-currency Bitcoin as an alternative to traditional government-guaranteed money and bank-controlled payments. What makes this technology special is the fact that the data is multiplied and stored across a network of nodes. This data distribution is the foundation and strength of blockchain technology, as it enables trusted information storage without a central controlling body (or trusted third party often referred to as an ‘authority’) by means of a network of computers (nodes). New transactions are sent to the blockchain, where they are encrypted before being sent to every node for validation and, once validated, stored in blockchain building blocks. Every new block is linked by cryptography (hash tree) to the previous block (which, in turn, is securely attached to its predecessor block). This makes the chain immutable: every change in one block entails change in every subsequent block on every node. Blockchain is said to provide trustworthiness like traditional ledgers. Therefore, it is usually referred to as Distribution Ledger Technology.

Watch the full interview with Duncan Tait, CEO of Fujitsu Americas and EMEIA:

Henry Borzi

Artificial intelligence and ethical standards

 

The Commission has opened today applications for a group on artificial intelligence (AI) to gather expert input and rally a stakeholder alliance.

Also today, the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE), an independent advisory body to the Commission, has published a statement on artificial intelligence. The expert group will be tasked to advise the Commission on how to unite a broad and diverse community of stakeholders in a ‘European AI Alliance’; support the implementation of the upcoming European initiative on artificial intelligence; and come forward by the end of the year with draft guidelines for the ethical development and use of artificial intelligence based on the EU’s fundamental rights. The guidelines will be drafted following a wide consultation and building on today’s statement by EGE. Applications to join the expert group in artificial intelligence can be submitted until 9 April and the Commission aims to set this group up by May. The group will gather and build on the work done by other experts which is relevant to artificial intelligence, such as the high-level strategy group for industrial technologies (intermediate report) and the expert group on liability and new technologies. For the latter a call for applications was also launched today. This expert group will assist the Commission in analysing the challenges related to the existing liability framework.

Stop geo-blocking

This new EU law on geo-blocking is an important step towards an even more competitive and integrated Digital Single Market, for both consumers and traders. It also represents another milestone in the fight against the discrimination of consumers based on their nationality or place of residence, which should never be taking place in our united Europe. We have proven that the European Union can deliver concrete results for the citizens all over Europe, bringing positive changes in their daily lives.” Said Róża Thun (EPP, PL), rapporteur.

Online buyers will have wider and easier cross-border access to products, hotel bookings, car rentals, music festivals or leisure park tickets in the EU.

The new rules will ban the “geo-blocking” of buyers browsing websites in another EU country, so as to enable them to  choose from which website they  buy goods or services, without being blocked or automatically re-routed to another website due to their nationality, place of residence or even their temporary location.

Traders will have to treat online shoppers from another EU country in the same way as local ones,  i.e. grant them access to the same prices or sales conditions, when they:

  • buy goods (e.g. household appliances, electronics, clothes) which are delivered to a member state to which the trader offers delivery in his general conditions, or are collected at a location agreed by both parties in an EU country in which the trader offers such option (traders would not have to deliver in all EU countries, but buyers should have the option to pick up the package in a place agreed with the trader),
  • receive electronically supplied services not protected by copyright, such as cloud services, firewalls, data warehousing, website hosting, or
  • buy a service which is supplied in the premises of the trader or in a physical location where the trader operates, e.g. hotel stays, sports events, car rentals, music festivals or leisure park tickets.

Treating shoppers differently based on the place of issuance of a credit or debit card will also be forbidden. While traders remain free to accept whatever payment means they want, they may not discriminate within a specific payment brand based on nationality.

EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum

The European Commission launched today the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum with the support of the European Parliament, represented by Jakob von Weizsäcker, responsible for the recent report on virtual currencies.

The Blockchain Observatory and Forum will highlight key developments of the blockchain technology, promote European actors and reinforce European engagement with multiple stakeholders involved in blockchain activities.  Blockchain technologies, which store blocks of information that are distributed across the network, are seen as a major breakthrough, as they bring about high levels of traceability and security in economic transactions online. They are expected to impact digital services and transform business models in a wide range of areas, such as healthcare, insurance, finance, energy, logistics, intellectual property rights management or government services. The Commission has been funding blockchain projects through the European Union’s research programmes FP7 and Horizon 2020 since 2013. Until 2020, it will fund projects that could draw on blockchain technologies with up to €340 million. The press release and a factsheet are available online.

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