Reflections on oversight and transparency in public digital services

This post is a revised transcript of my speech during the XIII Nexa Conference on Internet and Society, dedicated to Digital and the State.. Many thanks to Lucio Bragagnolo for the effort The design of Italy’s public digital infrastructure and the current legislation, starting from the Constitution, indicate that the road for public services must lead towards decentralization; on the contrary, we are witnessing an ideological trend towards centralization on which important questions must be asked and on which we should reflect at a time when the stability of institutions and governability is not in question. Foreword Some time ago…

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Mo’ scendo

Premessa Questa settimana segna la fine della fase della mia vita a servizio della cosa pubblica. Una fase durata otto anni. La mia vita professionale non nasce e non vive di aspirazioni rivolte a una carriera politica, lo preciso qualora chi si trovasse a leggermi non mi conoscesse. Sono un informatico e un imprenditore (qui un mio profilo molto sintetico) chiamato alla partecipazione politica proprio in virtù delle mie esperienze precedenti. Nell’intraprendere questo percorso ho appreso molte cose che credo sia interessante conoscere a chi si affacci alla politica; a chi di lavoro analizza la vita politica (ci sono retroscena…

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Apple’s new child abuse prevention system: an antitrust/competition point of view

Apple has announced the new client-side content scanning (based on parameters received from the center) to find child sexual abuse materials to be reported to law enforcers. The point I try to make is that it will do little to protect children (while weakening users’ privacy and pushing criminals to hide better) but it will be used as  an excuse to justify a tight control of the devices in order to perpetuate their apparent monopolistic power through the app store in a time when such behavior is under the fire of competition authorities. As per Apple’s announcement, that will happen…

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Artificial intelligence, egovernment architecture, institutional democratic architecture

Artificial intelligence opens us new application spaces, previously inaccessible on an algorithmic basis: activities of perception, classification and prediction. But every time we digitize an activity, the speed of computers is such that the scale transcends traditional human possibilities. Scenarios of mass customization, mass conditioning, mass surveillance, etc. open up. If these activities are carried out by governments, what are the appropriate checks and balances? Under what power would Montesquieu have placed egovernment? What is the most suitable IT architecture for an institutional democratic architecture?

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A comment on the baseline global tax for corporations

The G7 agreement on the baseline global tax for corporations is a major diplomatic accomplishment and great news. When implemented it will help contrast the states’ race to the bottom to attract multinational corporations fiscal headquarters. Spain has already endorsed the plan (Spain is  not part of the G79. Negotiators hope to expand the deal to the G20 in 2021. G20 account fo aprox. 80% of international trade. But let’s not forget a few facts: the average global corporate tax rate is 23% (it was about 40% in the 80s) in the US this is unlikely to pass soon as…

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From “Surveillance Capitalism” to “Surveillance eGovernment” – Some thoughts

Prof. Lessig correctly says that “code is law”, as software controls who can do what, without exceptions. There has been growing discontent around the world towards the control of code by the multinational giants GAFAM, and many states are introducing “digital sovereignty” rules to assert their right to determine how software should be managed. In fact, limiting oneself to the sole consideration that they don’t like GAFAM-controlled code, is short-sighted. By putting more focus on it, before making missteps, one should ask, “and so, who should control it ?” Control of the public administration software/data is a major power as…

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