BDVA at Net Futures 2017


Another successful edition of the Net Futures conference (Net Futures 2017) took place last June 28-29 in Brussels with a focus on “Internet, the economy and society in 2027”. The NET FUTURES edition 2017 was meant to serve as a wake-up c...

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Another successful edition of the Net Futures conference (Net Futures 2017) took place last June 28-29 in Brussels with a focus on “Internet, the economy and society in 2027”.
The NET FUTURES edition 2017 was meant to serve as a wake-up call for policy makers and technologist alike, for civil society and the young whose future we will influence. Designed to place adeep-dive conversations and learnings right at a time when Europe is at the brink of entering the next industrial revolution: The Net. (Source: was at the centre of most of the speeches, presentations and workshops.
BDVA and BDVA members actively contributed to the event and in particular to the session “Data Protection: Brave new world of data”. Read here the brief session report.  

Session report 
The European Data Economy is meant to create new personalised and enhanced products and services adapted to citizens’ and organisations’ needs that will respect security and ensure privacy and personal data protection of individuals in the framework of relevant EU rules. In this context the session “Data protection: Brave new world of data” at Net Futures 2017 conference meant to identify and further discuss challenges and opportunities for Europe, with a particular focus on the latter. [1]
In a world where more and more data will be used to make critical decisions in our every day life, the session also tackled the importance of trust and transparency in data and algorithms as “the next generation AI-powered decision support systems will need to provide guarantees for decisions they recommend with a strong need to enhance trust and transparency for algorithms and data, on the trusted co-evolution between humans and AI-based systems”. [2]
The session chaired by Prof. Pieter Ballon, Director, imec-SMIT, VUB convened experts from the data research, experimentation and innovation arena to discuss through different real examples the main innovation and technological challenges and barriers and to co-design a strategy moving forward to further develop the European data ecosystem. In particular this session counted with the contribution of 2 speakers and panelist representing Research (Irene López de Vallejo, Director of Collaborative research and international Development at Digital Catapult, London, and, Nozha Boujemaa, Director of Research, Advisor to the CEO of INRIA in Big Data, in INRIA, Head of TransAIgo, member of the BDVA Board of Directors) and 2 speakers and panellist representing industry (Amardeo Sarma, General Manager at NEC Laboratories Europe and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Trust in Digital Life (TDL), and Maurizio Cecchi, Manager at Telecom Italia,
The session opened up with a keynote by Prof. Pieter Ballon, Director, imec-SMIT, VUB, who gave an overview of the new data economy emphasizing how data drives digital business models, disrupts economy and public governance. He presented the case of Smart Flanders, a regional Open Data Ecosystem of cities, emphasizing the need of increasing data interoperability and showing different technical solutions for data sharing and the development of data services in the city context. Linked to the city context, he touched on the data privacy and algorithms accountability, highlighting the strong link in between privacy and transparency, the multi-stakeholder nature of privacy, and the need of new forms of data literacy.
The main topics further developed by the speakers and discussed in the panel and with the audience can be summarized as follows: 
  • GDPR as an opportunity for Europe as a differentiating innovative factor. And in particular: 
    • The great opportunities for SMEs innovating with personal data where some promising things are happening, the European Commission is funding research into next generation data market places, and communities such as the Big Data Value Association and PPP are promoting it as part of its Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda. 
    •  The creation of a solid reference and business model – working under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules – able to support an open communication ecosystem as a key factor, and the role of the telecommunication Industry in this new model. 
    • The availability of technologies based on EU funded research. 
  • The importance of transparency, trust and ethics in data and algorithms in particular considering the incredible potential of AI technology and AI-powered decision support systems, whose power we need to harness wisely, and where data and algorithms are seen as the two sides of the same coin. One of the main current data science challenges is accountable and ethical data management and analytics. AI will re-identify individuals and thus break existing privacy solutions, requiring further research. Finally, AI is not only a data protection risk but AI will be using input data and features prepared by humans, requiring technology, regulation and political solutions to avoid biased human prejudices, abuse of market power in controlling this interface and accessing our communications and data, discrimination and other issues. 
This session was organized with the support of the Big Data Value Association (, with input and insights from its Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) [3]. This session contributes to the BDVA SRIA update. 
[1] ““the further development of privacy-enhancing technologies can be an asset for Europe as this is currently an underdeveloped market and firms operating in the digital economy may realize that investing in privacy enhancing technologies could provide a competitive advantage”. Source: BDVA Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda:…
[2] Source: BDVA FP9 position paper
[3] BDVA Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda:…