Are people starting to realize how valuable their data is?
The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal was a wakeup call for many people. Since then, I’ve observed an ever-expanding collective awakening on data privacy globally. However, the link to the economic value of data created by individuals might still be unclear for most people. That said, the growing demand for protecting our privacy has started a powerful movement to answer the question of ‘how’.
When we dig into how the large tech companies generate their outsized profits using data from us, it becomes natural to question the value of our data, especially when it carries such intimate details of personal lives.… Seguir leyendo »
The Democratic Party’s struggle for its future policy direction is evident this election season. The primary results in Iowa and New Hampshire, narrow first- and second-place finishes for Senator Bernie Sanders (a progressive) and former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg (a moderate), were just two indicators. During Wednesday night’s debate in Las Vegas, the split became even more obvious.
The six candidates onstage clashed on ideology (socialism and capitalism, progressivism and centrism) as well as policy (healthcare, climate change, fossil fuels, criminal justice, China). Buttigieg made plain the stakes for Democrats, saying, ‘We’ve got to wake up as a party.’
If a Democratic candidate is elected to be the United States’ 46th president on 3 November, it will be despite this unresolved intra-party struggle.… Seguir leyendo »
The view from the Gulf
There has been no coordinated response among states of the GCC, but the messages have been universal, and surprisingly each one has welcomed US efforts to restart peace talks and praised this particular US administration for doing so. But in each case, the same set of issues and concerns has been highlighted, namely the status of Jerusalem, the situation of refugees and ultimately a simple absence of a revival contiguous Palestinian state.
While much has been made of younger Gulf generation’s apparent disconnect from the emotive issues around Palestinian statehood, the state of Jerusalem and the larger refugee issue, older leaders in the Gulf continue to pay them heed.… Seguir leyendo »
Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the highest-ranking US official to visit Belarus since Bill Clinton in 1994. After meetings with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka – who Condoleezza Rice once memorably described as ‘Europe’s last dictator’ – Pompeo said he was ‘optimistic about our strengthened relationship’.
The EU and its member states have also changed their tune, at least a little. Previously, prosecutions of democratic activists led to sanctions against the Lukashenka regime. But his less-than-liberal manner of governance did not prevent him from visiting Austria last November or from receiving invitations to Brussels.
Eight years ago, most EU contacts with Belarusian officials were frozen.… Seguir leyendo »
Internet shutdowns in Asia have become frequent and persistent, an ominous sign of shrinking public space for debate and discourse. The shutdowns have become an irresistible option for governments of all stripes and ideological affiliations. Democratic India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines are prodigious offenders. So are Asia’s more repressive regimes, notably China.
In their defence, governments have offered real and imagined threats to national security as reasons for shutting down the pipes. It is useful to examine these claims as well as to objectively frame the issue. Are internet shutdowns in Asia legitimate and can be defended and explained as threats to national security?… Seguir leyendo »
President Paul Biya issued his annual message to mark Cameroon’s annual youth day on Wednesday. In a break from the usual platitudes, he made a heartfelt appeal for young people in the two English-speaking regions, Southwest and Northwest, where government forces and Anglophone separatists have engaged in increasingly brutal violence and reprisals since 2016, to lay down their weapons and return to community life.
He also made a vigorous defence of new decentralization laws that, he claimed, represent ‘a genuine peaceful revolution that respond to the desire of our fellow citizens to participate more fully in the management of local affairs’.… Seguir leyendo »
Since the 2018 economic crisis, when the value of the lira plummeted and borrowing costs soared, Turkey’s economy has achieved a miraculous ‘V-shaped’ economic recovery from a recession lasting three quarters to a return back to quarterly growth above 1 per cent in the first three months of 2019.
But this quick turnaround has been built on vast amounts of cheap credit used to re-stimulate a consumption and construction boom. This so-called ‘triple C’ economy generated a rapid growth spurt akin to a modestly able professional sprinter injected with steroids.
This has made the currency vulnerable. The lira has steadily depreciated by 11 per cent against the US dollar since the beginning of 2019 and crossed the rate of 6 lira versus the US dollar on 7 February.… Seguir leyendo »
One of the key messages at the heart of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s presidential campaign in 2019 was a very simple one: peace in Donbas, the war-torn region of Ukraine where Russian-supported separatists continue to fight a war against the Kyiv government. Zelenskyy’s message was based on the assumption that if a ceasefire could be respected, and all Ukrainian prisoners-of-war could return home, then peace would have been achieved.
Nine months after Zelenskyy’s inauguration and two months after his first Normandy Four summit (which brings together Germany and France with Ukraine and Russia to discuss Donbas), it appears more likely that this approach will lead Ukraine into a Russian trap.… Seguir leyendo »
Following the US strike on Qassem Solaimani and Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis, populist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has violently cracked down on youth-led protests in Iraq.
His paramilitaries and ‘blue hats’ – supposedly created to protect protestors from state and allied parastatal security forces – sought to end the months-long demonstrations by attacking the places where protesters have camped since October. In Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, they successfully captured the famous Turkish restaurant which had become a symbol of Iraq’s ‘October revolution’.
Once the champion of Iraq’s protest movement, Sadr has seemingly changed course and now leads the counter-protests. This reversal has mystified many, from Iraqis who saw Sadr as an ally in their struggle for reform against an impenetrable elite to foreign diplomats who hoped Sadr could help pushback against Iranian influence in Iraq.… Seguir leyendo »
There are two well-established ideas in trade. Individually, they are correct. Combined, they can lead to a conclusion that is unfortunately wrong.
The first idea is that, across a range of economic sectors, the EU and the US have been engaged in a battle to have their model of regulation accepted as the global one, and that the EU is generally winning.
The second is that governments can use their regulatory power to extend strategic and foreign policy influence.
The conclusion would seem to be that the EU, which has for decades tried to develop a foreign policy, should be able to use its superpower status in regulation and trade to project its interests and its values abroad.… Seguir leyendo »
In the face of multiple competing pressures, most especially intense pressure by the US president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the UK government has carved out an independent choice on the role that Huawei will play in its 5G mobile networks. Announced just days before the UK exited the European Union, a move designed to allow the UK to reclaim its sovereignty, this was a model example of a sovereign decision, but one that carries risk and will create ongoing uncertainty.
The government’s assessment is that this will bolster Britain’s economic competitiveness through a rapid rollout of its 5G mobile network while staving off pressure from the United States and economic retaliation from China.… Seguir leyendo »
The coronavirus outbreak in China poses a tremendous test for Beijing. Beyond the immediate public health crisis, the Chinese Communist Party faces a stuttering economy, growing public anger and distrust, and a potentially heavy blow to its global reputation.
The hesitant early response to the outbreak sheds light on the way the Chinese bureaucracy approaches crises at a time when the party leadership is tightening control at almost all levels of society. At first, officials in Wuhan attempted to censor online discussions of the virus. This changed only after President Xi Jinping’s call for a much more robust approach was followed by a sudden increase in the state media coverage of the outbreak.… Seguir leyendo »
Violations against cultural property – such as archaeological treasures, artworks, museums or historical sites – can be no less detrimental to the survival of a nation than the physical persecution of its people. These assaults on heritage ensure the hegemony of some nations and distort the imprint of other nations in world history, sometimes to the point of eradication.
As contemporary armed conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Yemen demonstrate, cultural property violations are not only a matter of the colonial past; they continue to be perpetrated, often in new, intricate ways.
Understandably, from a moral perspective, it is more often the suffering of persons, rather than any kind of ‘cultural’ destruction, that receives the most attention from humanitarian aid providers, the media or the courts.… Seguir leyendo »
Whether feared or longed for, Brexit day has arrived. It is positive for all sides that the process is thus far managed and ordered, with debts paid, rights guaranteed and borders still invisible on the island of Ireland. But in a difficult new phase of negotiations, as the UK and EU try to hammer out the terms of their relationship after 2020, Britain is at risk of repeating many of its mistakes from the withdrawal talks.
First, the government, through the negotiation timeline, has reduced its own room for manoeuvre. The failure of the initial withdrawal agreement and subsequent turbulent politics have reduced a planned 21-month transition to an 11-month one.… Seguir leyendo »
In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, there was much discussion about whether leaving the EU would push the UK towards China as the major source of growth in the global economy and a seemingly promising source of new inward investment.
Now that Brexit day has finally arrived, that question remains on the agenda, but in a somewhat different form. Much has happened to affect the UK’s China policy since June 2016, and – as the Huawei/5G decision shows – it may be factors other than Brexit which do most to shape it over the coming years.
The big development has been the clear emergence since 2017 of US–China strategic rivalry.… Seguir leyendo »
The decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Myanmar should take all measures available to prevent acts of genocide against the persecuted Rohingya minority is truly ground-breaking. The case shows how small states can play an important role in upholding international law and holding other states accountable.
The Gambia, acting with the support of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, skilfully used Article IX of the Genocide Convention, which allows for a state party to the convention to pursue cases against another state party where it is felt there has been a dispute regarding the ‘interpretation, application or fulfilment’ of the convention.… Seguir leyendo »
The 2019–20 fire season in Australia has been unprecedented. To date, an estimated 18 million hectares of fire has cut swathes through the bush – an area greater than that of the average European country and over five times the size of blazes in the Amazon.
This reflects previous predictions of Australian science. Since 2008 and as recently as 2018, scientific bodies have warned that climate change will exacerbate existing conditions for fires and other climatic disasters in Australia. What used to be once-in-a-generation fires now re-appear within 10–15 years with increased ferocity, over longer seasons.
In a country known for climate denial and division, debate has erupted around bushfire management and climate change.… Seguir leyendo »
When it comes to emerging infectious diseases – those newly recognized in humans or in new locations – it is not only what we know that matters but also what we do not know.
An outbreak of a new coronavirus first reported in Wuhan, China, which has so far led to more than 500 confirmed cases and multiple deaths across five countries (and two continents) has prompted the question from several corners of the world: Should we be worried?
Although expert teams coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) are working on key questions to get answers as soon as possible, the level of uncertainty is still high.… Seguir leyendo »
What does Britain’s departure from the EU mean for the country’s policy towards the South Caucasus, a small region on the periphery of Europe, fractured by conflict? Although Britain is not directly involved in any of the region’s peace processes (except in the case of the Geneva International Discussions on conflicts involving Georgia, as an EU member state), it has been a significant stakeholder in South Caucasian stability since the mid-1990s.
Most obviously, Britain has been the single largest foreign investor in Caspian oil and gas. Yet beyond pipelines, Britain also has been a significant investor in long-term civil society-led strategies to build peace in the South Caucasus.… Seguir leyendo »
The transition of power in Oman from the deceased Sultan Qaboos to his cousin and the country’s new ruler, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, has been smooth and quick, but the new sultan will soon find that he has a task in shoring up the country’s economic position.
Above all, the fiscal and debt profile of the country requires careful management. Fiscal discipline was rare for Oman even during the oil price spike of the 2000s. Although oil prices only collapsed in 2014, Oman has been registering a fiscal deficit since 2010, reaching a 20.6 per cent high in 2016. As long as fiscal deficits remain elevated, so will Oman’s need to finance those deficits, predominately by borrowing in the local and international market.… Seguir leyendo »