The Digital Revolution in Europe – 50 entertaining questions to think about



  1. Do you use the internet – professionally or personally?
  1. Do you own a smartphone?
  1. Which of the following online services do you use? Reading the paper? E-banking? Shopping at Amazon? Ordering food to be delivered to you? Google Maps? Ordering a cab? Car sharing? Streaming music, series or videos? Booking your travel? Submitting your tax statement online?
  1. Do you have a Facebook or LinkedIn profile? Do you use Twitter?

  1. How does Google know how to tailor hits specifically to your needs?
  1. At which rate (Mbit/s) are you able to receive data at home? And at which rate do you receive data on your smartphone when you are on the move?
  1. What would I know about you if I was able to take a look at all of your digital profiles and your entire digital footprint?
  1. Is it true when columnists at the German weekly SPIEGEL write that mobile internet use is up to 5000 per cent more expansive in Germany than in Finland?
  1. Do you have an idea of what one can learn about you by retaining data for six months? If not, take a look at the brilliant work by the politician Malte Spitz and the German weekly ZEIT (..only in German available, but click on the play-button and see what happens…).
  1. Do you think the protection of digital data is the civil liberty of the 21st century?
  1. Do you learn online?
  1. What is a Massive Open Online Course – a MOOC ?
  1. Do you have children who already learn online, e.g. using platforms such as Khan Academy or math courses by Bettermarks?
  1. Are you a student who has also registered for courses offered at the online university Udacity by Sebastian Thrun in addition to attending your lectures?
  1. Why is it that a German like Sebastian Thrun is revolutionising education from California, not from Berlin or Munich?
  1. Are you a teacher or professor and wonder which influence digitalisation will have on your work in the education sector?
  1. Or are you an education manager in a private company and think of strategies to foster digital competences of your employees?
  1. Do you work in journalism and have already experienced the business model of an entire sector collapsing due to digitalisation as people only read online papers and do no longer pay for it?
  1. Do you know a Social Media Manager, a Mobile Developer or a Data Analyst? What do they do?
  1. Do you feel for special agents who get laid off because they are no longer needed to open other people’s letters or observe others as this can now be done so much more efficiently online?
  1. Did it put your mind at ease when, two years ago, during his NSA speech, Barack Obama declared that the US would limit its wiretapping to two hops of the suspect number instead of three?
  1. Do you wish for an Edward Snowden of the British GHCQ, the German BND or the French DGSE?
  1. Do you think the “Safe Harbour” judgement passed by the Court of Justice of the European Union, according to which the protection of personal data from Europe in the USA is inadequate, is right?
  1. Are you one of the thousand employees, entrepreneurs, lawyers or data protection officers in the European Union who now have to ensure that the judgement is implemented?
  1. Should a court order be necessary for the digital surveillance of potential Islamist attackers or not?
  1. What level of technical skills should the people have who are in command of the parliamentary control of our intelligence agencies?
  1. Do you think the intelligence agencies within the European Union are currently subject to adequate parliamentary control?
  1. Are you satisfied with the online services and e-government campaigns launched by your municipal, regional, national or European authorities?
  1. Do you use the live traffic map offered by Google Maps because it is usually more accurate than the traffic alert of your car’s navigation device?
  1. When will machines be interconnected to such a degree that they will continuously communicate with each other so that, for example, cars will automatically help reduce the probability of congestions?
  1. Have cars become big driving computers and have European car manufacturers turned into software companies?
  1. Are we currently experiencing the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0? What does it mean?
  1. Are you interested in a car insurance which becomes cheaper as you drive in an exemplary manner?
  1. Do you consider conveying data on your healthy way of life to your health insurance so that you can benefit from a lower insurance contribution?
  1. Which data about you is stored on the chip of your health insurance card?
  1. Do you think that the European Union has enough competence, venture capital and entrepreneurial spirit to provide for flourishing start-up businesses dealing with the most important commodity of the 21st century – data?
  1. Should all online data be treated equally in the European Union (network neutrality)? Or would you prefer certain data to be given priority for societal reasons (e.g. telemedicine)? Or even simply at a surcharge?
  1. Do you think that the internet infrastructure in the European Union is being developed quickly enough?
  1. Are you a British national and believe you should leave the European Union because Britain will be much better able to master these enormous changes of the 21st century alone?
  1. Under which conditions would the 430 million citizens of continental Europe allow 65 million British people to access their digital single market after the latter have left the Union? Would the conditions be better? Would they be equally good? Or worse than today?
  1. Are you a Norwegian or Swiss citizen and wonder whether the European Union’s laws on digitalisation also have an effect on you even though you have no political say in them?
  1. Do you think it is fair that the Hungarian government does not sufficiently respect the values laid down in Article 2 of the Treaty and at the same time Hungary receives one of the highest net amounts per capita in the Union and is, thus, better able to master the challenges presented by digitalisation than other states which do not receive such net payments from the Union?
  1. Do you think the Polish party which calls itself “Law and Justice” and which attacked over Christmas the independence of the Polish constitutional court and is going to minimize pluralism in the Polish press and art – do you think that these people have the right answers to digitalisation in Poland?
  1. Would you approve a forceful programme, launched by the European Union and its member states, to provide the young unemployed, especially in Greece, Spain and Italy, with new opportunities of e-learning?
  1. Have you recently seen the movie “Democracy” starring MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht as negotiator of the new data protection directive at the European Parliament? And do you now have a better understanding of how complex European law-making can be?
  1. Is “more Europe” in terms of a single consistent data protection regulation better than a patchwork of 28 different regulations at national level?
  1. Do you think that the period of seven years from the draft proposal by the European Commission to the coming into effect of the new data protection directive is adequate in today’s era of digitalisation­­?
  1. Is it biased of the President of the European Commission to merely talk about creating a digital single market?
  1. Do you consider digitalisation a chance or a risk?
  1. Are you interested to know which strategy the European Union and its member states pursue in terms of the Digital Revolution and which laws are in the pipeline in this context?


This article was published on January 17, 2016 in THE EUROPEAN

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