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Category: News from the pillars (page 1 of 2)

Corner Späti Podcast feat. Cearbhall and David (DSC Berlin)

Two members (@SubKid and @cgm-maguire) of the DiEM25 DSC Berlin talked to the american/german/irish berlin-based hipster politics podcast “Corner Späti” on July 19th. We discussed DiEM25 in general, the GNDforEurope, European Spring, Strategies and Technological Sovereignty.

“Meanwhile the progressive left DiEM25 political movement has recently released a policy doc advocating for European tech sovereignty that seems to share many of our ideals (…)”
Democratic Socialists of America

Download the green paper here.

DiEM25 presents its Green Paper on Technological Sovereignty in a cozy barcamp atmosphere

The location for the event {Technological Sovereignty} – Doing Tech the democratic way couldn’t have been more appropriate. Located in Berlin-Mitte, the renowned hackerspace c-Base was the perfect scenery for the presentation of DiEM25s Green Paper. Around 70 people joined the 8 hour event in which lightning talks, panels and fishbowl discussions shed light on the different topics of Technological Sovereignty.

From Platform Monopolies to a Digital Commonwealth

Surrounded by modular synthesizers, 8bit-arcade-consoles and spaceship-chunks, the paper coordinators gave a brief overview of the making-of and the contents of the paper, followed by an in-depth discussion of the second chapter: “A Digital Commonwealth for the 21st Century” by Kate McCurdy and David Schwertgen.
This chapter is dedicated to the first steps DiEM25s tech policy identified to democratise the development of digital technology. It addresses the so-called Platform Monopolies, an ecosystem of companies like Alphabet (aka Google), Facebook, Apple and their numerous clones and off shoots, and claims we need to limit their power and re-open the playing field for fair competition, as well as go beyond with a positive vision for the “digital commonwealth,” a democratic alternative to monopolistic control. The paper proposes:

  • stronger and more versatile anti-trust enforcement,
  • stronger ePrivacy Regulation,
  • mandatory platform interoperability, and
  • collective representation of data producers, i.e. data unions;

and to create an infrastructure for a digital commonwealth through

  • de-commodification of data through a public data commons,
  • support of democratic economic structures for data-driven innovation, and
  • creation of a digital rights framework for citizens.

An example for democratic innovative structures are e.g. platform cooperatives, which were covered in depth during the second panel of the event.

The theoretical groundwork of the second chapter was then fleshed out by two lightning talks of dedicated experts: Claudio Agosti from tracking.exposed and Lorenz Matzat from AlgorithmWatch.

Claudio, a software developer, researcher and DiEM25 member, presented his project eu19.tracking.exposed, an attempt to understand the manipulation processes of information inside digital platforms.

Lorenz informed us about the various fields in which his non-profit organisation is doing research. One of these projects, the “Atlas of Automation,” aims to map the state-of-the-art of automated decision-making systems in Germany. As a dystopian non-German example, Lorenz mentioned the job dismissal algorithm of Amazon, which automatically fires workers that don’t meet Amazon’s benchmarks.

Automation of Work and Platform Cooperatives

The second part of the event was dedicated to scrutinizing corporate control of the digitization and automation of work, and exploring a possible antidote: Platform Cooperatives, which refers to cooperative ownership models of digital platforms. Before we dove into this, the paper coordinators Christoph Schneider and Joren de Wachter framed the debate with highlights of the third and fourth chapter of DiEM25s Green Paper.

Joren posed the provocative question: is intellectual property, in fact, property? In his analysis, copyrights don’t help anyone to build upon protected immaterial goods and instead only prevent other people from using them. Given the fact that huge parts of research and innovation are funded by public money, Joren presented an intuitive demand – “Public Money, Public Code”. His takeaway: Innovation that is funded by public money should remain accessible to all, by default under the most permissive license systems.

Christoph Schneider focused on one core proposal: A Participatory Budgeting Platform for Research and Innovation. In a nutshell, this proposed crowd funding system would allow European citizens to allocate public money through voting on the platform. At the same time, this platform would also enable citizens to identify pressing problems to be addressed through research and innovation.

As a reality check of current platform/worker relationships, DEMOKRATIE IN EUROPA candidate and researcher Joanna Bronowicka gave some examples of how workers’ conditions have worsened with the rise of apps like Foodora, Deliveroo and Uber. For her the solution to this problem is twofold: investment in platform cooperatives that push common ownership, and regulation of existing companies and their business models.

To elaborate best practices and identify possible pitfalls, the following panel discussion hosted platform cooperative practitioners like Peter Harris, co-founder of the music streaming platform resonate.is; Ela Kagel, a curator, adviser and consultant for platform co-ops; and Felix Weth, who runs the cooperatively owned online marketplace fairmondo.de. While the daily grind of platform cooperatives is much more complex than a theoretical framework like the DiEM25 policy paper could possibly incorporate, the panelists largely embraced the core ideas that the policy coordinators came up with.

Final Takes: Democracy is the Technology We Need

As a wrap-up, the evening concluded with some big-picture outlooks on why we need not just technical solutions, but inclusive social and political approaches, to the challenges posed by technology. Mathana Stender, a Berlin-based tech ethicist, presented their CIVIL framework for democracy, envisioning how social and political actors can change the balance of power to restore human-centric decision-making in the age of monopolized machines. Bianca Praetorius, Startup-Coach and also a candidate for DEMOKRATIE IN EUROPA, talked about the Universal Citizens Divided that DiEM25 proposes as a means for European citizens to participate in e.g. productivity boosts achieved by automation.

The evening concluded at length with cold beers and the screening of the interactive documentary Codonaut (available online at codonaut.de), that explores risks, prospects and outlooks in the field of artificial intelligence.

The Technological Sovereignty Green Paper coordinators are very grateful to everyone who contributed to the development of the paper and/or participated in the barcamp event – it was a terrific example of democracy in action!

DiEM25s 3rd Green Paper on Technological Sovereignty

[Image: CC BY-SA 2.0 by JérémY]

News from the pillars: Questionnaire »Technological Sovereignty«

The development of the 1st Green Paper for the seventh pillar of DiEM25s Policy: »Technological Sovereignty« is in progress.

In this phase, which runs until July 5th, members of the DSC »Democratic Technologies« are gathering input on this questionnaire. In July we will work on the first draft of the Green Paper until August 5th. In order to work, we’ll need your ideas!

Your ideas do not have to be fully elaborated. Think about what might be wrong or be better in our (computer-)managed world. Can you name practices in any technology that you would consider »undemocratic«? How can we foster the privacy of European citizens and protect their data from misuse by private corporations? How can we regulate the Internet monopolists (GAFAM)? How can we think about technological development – our future – in a creative way and beyond economic imperatives? How should copyright laws be reformed? The full list of questions can be found in the questionnaire.

Send your suggestions, ideas and policy proposals to techpillar@diem25.org.
(Needless to say: Input that arrives after the 5th of July will also be considered.)

For your inspiration here are two brief proposals made by the author of this piece:

1. The European Union is in need of a multilingual content platform that stores and delivers content produced by the distinct national public stations. This so called European Media Platform would deliver subtitled and/or voiced-over content produced or licensed by EU public entities to enrich an european public debate. A european democratic Netflix!

2. A decentralized, autonomous, encrypted peer-to-peer-network as opposed to the commercial and centralized server farms of the internet giants. The EU should set up a European Save Networking Fund that encourages research on an open-source and easy-to-use solution implementing an Autonomous Data Network. With this fund the EU e.g. provides bootstrap servers and minimum amount of storage capacity (storing encrypted data chunks) to get the network up and running.

This idea and your ideas will be developed during the paper development process. Again: Send your suggestions, ideas and policy proposals to techpillar@diem25.org.

We have a lot of plans and we still need fellow combatants. If you want to join us now or in future meetings, please find more infos in the Mattermost-Team »TechPillar«, write an e-mail to bogdan.gradinaru82@gmail.com or spiritsparrow@riseup.net or hit me up on twitter.

Find more infos on our communication platform Mattermost here.

Picture Credits:

Message from artificial intelligence.. by Michael Cordedda – CC-BY (flickr.com/photos/mikeycordedda/5382624995)

The databending of phantom pink + green flowers in surveilled gardens where paranoia grows by torley – CC-BY-SA (flickr.com/photos/torley/9349869180)

Censorship Machines, Upload Filter and Link Tax

Urgent Call for Action:
On 20-21 June, the European Parliament will vote on the Copyright Directive. Members of the parliament are the only ones that can stand in the way of bad copyright legislation.
Tell them you need them to protect your Internet against surveillance and censorship machines!

changecopyright.org
#SaveYourInternet

»The internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.«
Principle 2 of The Mozilla Manifesto

We at DiEM25 see the Internet as the most powerful resource for communication and collaboration resource that humanity has ever had. The possibilities of freedom of expression and civil discourse – despite the many problems such as Fake News – are to be defended. The internet has made it possible for thousands of artists, activists, creators, authors and bloggers to speak out. An important means was and is the internet meme culture.

What if this image was illegal?

Memes are an effective way to communicate and have already affected a whole generation of users to creatively use digital resources. The Art of Collage, Remix and Creative Recycling of texts, sounds, images and ideas is a crucial part of the cultural repertoire of the 20th and 21st century.

»Individuals must have the ability to shape the internet and their own experiences on it.«
Principle 5 of The Mozilla Manifesto

In his project »Everything Is a Remix« the filmmaker Kirby Fergusson has impressively shown how not only film and popular culture, but the whole human history of knowledge is based on copying, recombining and transforming existing ideas.

The end of remix and sharing culture?

On 25 May, the European Council agreed to a negotiating position on the draft copyright directive. This will allow the presidency of the Council to start negotiations with the European Parliament on mass monitoring and filtering of internet uploads and a chaotic new “ancillary copyright” measure that will make it harder to link to and quote news sources.
Diego Naranjo

This reform proposals contains two toxic suggestions:

Upload Filter

Every upload to an internet platform should be automatically filtered to prevent copyright infringement. The responsible systems are already being accused of making ridiculously wrong decisions – the so-called algorithmic over-blocking – and a lack of transparency.

What is algorithmic over-blocking? Christophe Bruno has collected some amusing examples in his project logohallucination :

Ancillary Copyright

The proposed law includes powers for media giants to charge licensing fees for posting links, through a new type of copyright, aka the link tax.

What can we do to save our internet?

In our thematic DSC “Democratic Technologies”, we work on the regulations of the future and on preventing or correcting undesirable developments, as described above.

We have a lot of plans and we still need fellow combatants. If you want to join us now or in future meetings, please find more infos in the Mattermost-Team »TechPillar«, write an e-mail to bogdan.gradinaru82@gmail.com or spiritsparrow@riseup.net or hit me up on twitter.

Find more infos on our communication platform Mattermost here.

The calendar can be found here.

Useful links:

EU Member States agree on monitoring & filtering of internet uploads

EU censorship machines and link tax laws are nearing the finish line

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