EU and US should join forces on tech, says Blair

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS NEWS - CHAR­LIE TAY­LOR in Lis­bon

Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion com­mis­sioner Mar­grethe Vestager says reg­u­la­tors are close to wrap­ping up their third case against Google over its AdSense ad­ver­tis­ing ser­vice.

Ms Vestager, speak­ing at the Web Sum­mit yes­ter­day, said the dig­i­tal world can no longer es­cape the rules that ap­ply to our lives off­line.

“The in­no­va­tion we need isn’t about get­ting round the rules. In­no­va­tion mat­ters be­cause it makes our lives bet­ter,” she said.

“Dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy has im­mense power to do good. But tech­nol­ogy that pow­er­ful is bound to cre­ate risks as well. And it’s not an at­tack on tech­nol­ogy to ac­knowl­edge that those risks are real,” added Ms Vestager.

United front

Ear­lier in the day for­mer Bri­tish prime min­is­ter Tony Blair said the US and Europe should look past their dif­fer­ences and form a united front on tech­nol­ogy to off­set the rise of China.

Mr Blair also re­it­er­ated his ob­jec­tion to Brexit and called for a se­cond ref­er­en­dum to be held in the UK. “I am 100 per cent against it . . . and up to the very end I am go­ing to do ev­ery­thing I can to stop it,” he said, to cheers from the au­di­ence. Mr Blair said a se­cond ref­er­en­dum was needed on whether to re­main in the EU or not be­cause oth­er­wise peo­ple would face ei­ther a “point­less” or a “painful” ver­sion of Brexit. The for­mer leader, who again ruled out a re­turn to party pol­i­tics, also said a stronger sys­tem of reg­u­la­tion is re­quired for tech giants such as Face­book and Google.

“Of course, tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies should pay their taxes prop­erly,” he added.

Tech back­lash

How­ever, Mr Blair also voiced con­cerns about a ris­ing tech back­lash.

He said tech­nol­ogy is cen­tral to de­bates the world is cur­rently hav­ing, as “it can show peo­ple an op­ti­mistic way to the fu­ture”.

Mr Blair also warned of the rise of China as a tech­nol­ogy player, par­tic­u­larly in the ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) space.

‘‘ Mr Blair also warned of the rise of China as tech­nol­ogy player

He said there was a strong case for a transat­lantic al­liance to counter “an aggressive and big push” by China in the tech space.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: DAVID FITZGER­ALD

Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion com­mis­sioner Mar­grethe Vestager told the Web Sum­mit in Lis­bon yes­ter­day that the dig­i­tal world can no longer es­cape the rules that ap­ply to our lives off­line.

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