The pandemic reveals the risks of EU technological dependency

The report by the EU's Joint Research Centre calls on the EU-27 to study the issue
Woman with a computer and mobile phone during the COVID-19 pandemic

PHOTO/PIXABAY  -   Woman with a computer and mobile phone during the COVID-19 pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed the technological dependence of the European Union on third countries in areas such as artificial intelligence, a lack of digital sovereignty that carries risks linked to cybersecurity or privacy, alert European researchers.

This is the report of the Joint Research Center of the EU “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital transformation: early lessons of the COVID-19 crisis”, which warns of these dangers and calls Twenty-seven to study the question.

The document maintains that there are two aspects of the lack of “digital sovereignty” that should be analyzed by the EU: the increased use of artificial intelligence to carry out cyber-attacks and “dependence of non-European platforms.

"Digital and data sovereignty need to include this technological layer as well. Worrying about the foreign ownership of physical structures and not the different layers of these platforms would leave a great security hole, " stresses the center.

In this sense, from the group of experts they stress that a policy of technological sovereignty it must “include software applications”, especially considering that the “vast majority” of programs and solutions used during the pandemic “are American and Chinese”.

Therefore, it is of “paramount importance to strengthen” their presence in this type of services, such as videoconferencing, which during the health crisis have experienced a “great acceleration” due to the increase in demand.

The report also stresses the need for a rapid positioning in intelligence artificial, that although “it is not yet a revolutionary technology for cybersecurity”, the forecasts suggest that it will be in “just a few years”.

Other sectors res that from Europe “must be monitored” to guarantee the aforementioned sovereignty with respect to foreign providers are “fast network devices, content distribution platforms and streaming media platforms”, the study lists.

The importance of Digital autonomy is due to the fact that the Internet already functions as a “strategic infrastructure” for nations and, therefore, the current governance of the network, on a “regional basis, could be considerably affected by innovative technologies” that are already being developed in other parts of the world.

The role of the institutions will also be “vital” in ensuring the privacy of citizens in the digital sphere, an issue that has been in public debate in recent months as a result of the tracking or personal data storage applications put in place to trace COVID-19 infections.

“It is absolutely crucial that governments keep track of responsible and transparent with their citizens. The crisis cannot be an excuse to stop respecting human rights or advance authoritarianism, “says Lucia Vesnic-Alujevic, one of the eighteen researchers who signed the report.

A “concerning” social scope

The social scope of these negative trends “aggravated” by COVID-19 is “worrying” for the scientists responsible for the report, who suggest a “proactive strategy” so that no social ladder is at risk of exclusion in the coming years.

“A final dimension amplified by the coronavirus is the extent to which artificial intelligence and digital transformation exacerbate existing social, economic and geographic inequalities, particularly affecting the most vulnerable in society: the elderly, young people and people of socially or economically disadvantaged groups”, the study details. The same strategy for public administrations, small businesses, educational centers and civil society as a whole.

For this reason, it calls for support for "local data ecosystems" to unite public administrations, small businesses, educational centres and civil society as a whole in the same strategy. Addressing these technological problems through a municipal and regional prism, the study concludes, will help “provide greater training and opportunities local employment ».