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Digital Currency

Thousands of political and business leaders gathering in Davos to promote their vision for our future

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WEF social media video from 2016 that stated eight predictions about the world in 2030, including: “You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy. What you want you’ll rent, and it’ll be delivered by drone.” – Reuters 

From the: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

  • The Annual Meeting 2023 will take place in Davos, Klosters from 16-20 January.

  • The theme of the meeting is ‘Cooperation in a Fragmented World’.

  • The meeting will bring together 2,700 leaders from 130 countries including 52 heads of state/government.

Cooperation in a Fragmented World

Under the theme ‘Cooperation in a Fragmented World’, the Annual Meeting 2023 will bring together more than 2,700 leaders from government, business and civil society, at a pivotal time for the world.

Multiple crises are deepening divisions and fragmenting the geopolitical landscape. Leaders must address people’s immediate, critical needs while also laying the groundwork for a more sustainable, resilient world by the end of the decade.

“We see the manifold political, economic and social forces creating increased fragmentation on a global and national level. To address the root causes of this erosion of trust, we need to reinforce cooperation between the government and business sectors, creating the conditions for a strong and durable recovery. At the same time there must be the recognition that economic development needs to be made more resilient, more sustainable and nobody should be left behind,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.

The programme of the 53rd Annual Meeting focuses on solutions and public-private cooperation to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges. It encourages world leaders to work together on the interconnected issues of energy, climate and nature; investment, trade and infrastructure; frontier technologies and industry resilience; jobs, skills, social mobility and health; and geopolitical cooperation in a multipolar world. Special emphasis is on gender and geographical diversity across all sessions.

The full programme is available here. To learn more about the Forum’s impact, click here.

Top political leaders taking part include:

Olaf Scholz, Federal Chancellor of Germany; Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission; Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament; Yoon Suk-yeol, President of the Republic of Korea; Cyril M. Ramaphosa, President of South Africa; Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain; Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation 2023 and Federal Councillor of Home Affairs; Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan; Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium; Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego, President of Colombia; Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland; Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece; Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach of Ireland; Maia Sandu, President of the Republic of Moldova; Aziz Akhannouch, Head of Government of Morocco; Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands; Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Philippines; Andrzej Duda, President of Poland; Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia; Samia SuluhuHassan, President of United Republic of Tanzania; Najla Bouden, Prime Minister of Tunisia.

As well as:

John F. Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate of the United States of America; Avril Haines, US Director of National Intelligence; Martin J. Walsh, Secretary of Labor of the United States; Katherine Tai, United States Trade Representative; Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Canada; Christine Lagarde, President, European Central Bank.

Heads of international organizations taking part include:

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General; Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General, World Trade Organization; Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General, North Atlantic Treaty Organization; Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organization; Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency; Catherine Russell, Executive Director, UNICEF; Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, President, International Committee of the Red Cross.

This year will bring about the highest ever business participation at Davos, with over 1,500 leaders registered across 700 organizations, including over 600 of the world’s top CEOs form the World Economic Forum’s Members and Partners, with top-level representation from sectors such as financial services, energy, materials and infrastructure, information and communication technologies. They come as governments increasingly look to business to take big ideas and put them into action quickly and inclusively. There will also be a strong representation of Global Innovators who are transforming industries, with more than 90 mission-driven leaders from the Forum’s Technology Pioneers and recently launched Unicorn communities.

Leaders from civil society taking part in the meeting include:

Seth F. Berkley, Chief Executive Officer, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; Stephen Cotton, General-Secretary, International Transport Workers’ Federation; Christy Hoffman, General-Secretary, UNI Global Union; Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President, Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad; Azza Karam, Secretary-General, Religions for Peace; Oleksandra Matviichuk, Nobel Peace Prize Winner 2022 and President, Centre for Civil Liberties; David Miliband, President, International Rescue Committee; Luisa Neubauer, Climate Activist, Fridays for Future Movement; Kirsten Schuijt, Director-General, WWF International; and Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, Art of Living Foundation.

Among the new initiatives at the Annual Meeting is the Global Collaboration Village, a purpose-driven metaverse that fosters more sustainable public-private collaboration and spurs action to deliver impact at scale. The first-ever metaverse multilateral meeting hosted by the Forum will bring together experts and leaders from finance, food and retail to drive action on ocean health and seafood waste.

This year more than 160 of the Forum’s civic-minded young leaders will join as members of our Global Shapers, Young Global Leaders and Social Entrepreneurs communities. We will also welcome nine Indigenous leaders bringing the knowledge and expertise of their communities to advance regional and global efforts in ecosystem restoration, inclusive trade and sustainable development.

More than 125 experts and heads of the world’s leading universities, research institutions, and think tanks will join the Meeting, bringing the latest facts, insights, science, and data into the programme and the Forum’s work.

The Arts and Culture programme features a number of sessions and immersive art installations on the preservation of coral reefs, displaced peoples and the global refugee crisis, gender equality and female empowerment, and global sea-level rise. It will include the 27th Annual Crystal Awards and our Cultural Leaders.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the Open Forum, which welcomes diverse people from around the world to listen and share experiences with experts and leaders on pressing issues. The theme is, Our Environment: Lessons, Challenges and Opportunities. For more information, click here.

The 53rd Annual Meeting will also be climate-neutral for the sixth consecutive year. New initiatives to boost resource efficiency and reduce emissions will build on the Forum’s 2018 ISO 20121 certification for sustainable event management. Learn more about our strategy and efforts here.


Example of a typical session sees varied personas such as the President of Columbia and former US VP Al Gore speaking with three environmentalists, three business leaders, the President of the National Congress of American Indians, and internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma talking about “Leading the Charge through Earth’s New Normal”.  Here is that agenda item:

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ANNUAL MEETING

Leading the Charge through Earth’s New Normal

The world is undergoing interacting crises in food, energy, health and nature that are threatening our way of life and accelerating us towards a global catastrophe.

What visionary leadership is needed for systems thinking, transformative solutions and global collaboration to build a more inclusive, prosperous and sustainable future?

Public Speakers

Joyeeta Gupta

Professor of Environment and Development in the Global South, University of Amsterdam

Johan Rockström

Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

Roshni Nadar Malhotra

Chairperson, HCL Technologies Ltd

Al Gore

Vice-President of the United States (1993-2001); Chairman and Co-Founder, Generation Investment Management LLP

Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego

President of Colombia, Colombia Government

Marc Benioff

Chair and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Salesforce

Andrew Forrest

Chairman and Founder, Fortescue Metals Group Limited

Fawn Sharp

President, National Congress of American Indians

Yo-Yo Ma

Cellist

Gim Huay Neo

Managing Director, Centre for Nature and Climate, World Economic Forum Geneva

 

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Brownstone Institute

EU Digital Identity Wallet Pilots Roll Out Under the Radar

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY Stavroula PabstSTAVROULA PABST

As 2023 continues, the European Commission appears busy developing and running pilots for its EU Digital Identity Wallet (EUDI), which it intends to make available to all EU citizens in the near future. But while the European Commission (EC) boasts the prospective EUDI’s convenience, security, and wide range of prospective use cases in daily life, what’s less discussed is the tool’s potential for a bevy of ethical and surveillance-related issues.

What is the EU Digital Identity Wallet (EUDI)?

The EU Digital Wallet, often referred to as the EU Digital Identity Wallet (EUDI), is slated to be offered to the European public in the years ahead. According to the European Commission, “EU Digital Identity Wallets are personal digital wallets allowing citizens to digitally identify themselves, store and manage identity data and official documents in electronic format. These may include a driving licence, medical prescriptions or education qualifications.”

As legislation streamlining their slated use across Europe is finalized, the European Commission is advancing its efforts to roll out EUDIs amongst the general European public, where over 250 private corporations and public authorities are participating in four large-scale pilot projects. At the time of writing, the EU has invested €46 million into these pilots.

Indeed, a wide range of use cases are already being tested in the EUDI pilot projects. These include using the wallets to access government services, register, and activate SIM cards for mobile network services, sign contracts, facilitate travel, and present educational credentials. All together, these use cases suggest the Digital Identity Wallets’ prospective utilization across a wide range of services essential to daily life.

Convenience, But for Whom?

The European Commission frequently plays up the digital wallet’s convenience, with messaging boasting that users will be able to use the Wallets to check into hotels, file tax returns, rent cars, and securely open bank accounts. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted the following in a 2020 State of the Union address, where she proposed the concept of a “secure European e-identity:”

Every time an App or website asks us to create a new digital identity or to easily log on via a big platform, we have no idea what happens to our data in reality. That is why the Commission will propose a secure European e-identity. One that we trust and that any citizen can use anywhere in Europe to do anything from paying your taxes to renting a bicycle. A technology where we can control ourselves what data is used and how.

Certainly, von der Leyen is correct that “we have no idea what happens to our data” when we create online accounts or log in to private services, positing that Digital ID can work to solve a core problem many people have when using the internet.

But critically, the European “e-identity,” and digital identification methods generally, pose a bevy of new issues for civilians in both the short and long term. Namely, while Digital ID can provide users access to services, a 2018 WEF report on Digital ID admits the tool’s propensity to exclude; “[f]or individuals, [verifiable IDs] open up (or close off) the digital world, with its jobs, political activities, education, financial services, healthcare and more.”

And indeed, within the control of a corrupted state or other governance structures, Digital ID’s propensity to “close off” the digital world appears ripe for misuse or abuse. Researcher Eve Hayes de Kalaf, for example, writes in the Conversation that “states can weaponise internationally sponsored ID systems” against vulnerable populations. She highlights an example from the Dominican Republic, where long-term discrimination against Haitian-descended persons manifested in the stripping of their Dominican nationality in 2013, rendering them stateless.

Meanwhile, it’s not difficult to imagine others falling through the digital “cracks” as Digital ID systems become mainstream and interconnected with, if not a prerequisite for, accessing critical social and financial services and supports.

As Jeremy Loffredo and Max Blumenthal elucidate in 2021 reporting for the Grayzone, for example, the 2017 introduction of Aadhaar, India’s biometric ID system, “which tracks users’ movements between cities,” led to a spate of deaths in rural India as difficulties accessing the Aadhaar system functionally blocked goods and benefits recipients from accessing the country’s ration stores, leaving them to even starve. India’s Scroll reported that, in a random sampling of 18 villages in India where biometric authentication had been mandated to access government-subsidized food rations, 37 percent of cardholders were unable to obtain their rations.

Despite the devastation it has caused, Aadhaar has ultimately been promoted as a success, and Rest of World reports that India’s setting up international partnerships to export its popular Unified Payments Interface (UPI), an instant payment system which uses the Aadhaar biometric ID system as its base, elsewhere.

Clearly, Digital ID poses significant possible societal harms if implemented hastily. Despite these possible harms, as I note for Unlimited Hangout, a near-universal adoption of Digital ID systems increasingly appears inevitable, with “Juniper Research [estimating] that governments will have issued about 5 billion digital ID credentials by 2024, and a 2019 Goode Intelligence report [suggesting] digital identity and verification will be a $15 billion market by 2024.”

Further, legislative strides have been made towards the digital wallet’s interoperability across the EU. In other words, key services are being hyper-centralized across borders and digitized in ways more traceable than paper counterparts could have been — all at the authorities’ fingertips.

Critically, the EUDI Wallet is apparently slated to connect with or otherwise include financial services, where EU citizens will be able to use their EUDI to open bank accounts and even apply for loans. Further, language from a European Central Bank policy brief on the European Digital Identity Framework suggests that the “EUDI wallet will bring benefits to all the stakeholders of the payment ecosystem” even including “foreseen support for the digital euro.”

While the European Commission’s keen to spotlight the EUDI’s alleged benefits for “the stakeholders of the payment ecosystem,” it appears less eager to discuss the dangers surrounding the plausible, if not likely, linkage of digital identity with money, and especially digital currencies, where elite capacities to track, or even manipulate or block civilians’ abilities to accept or make payments, could be unprecedented.

In short, EU Digital Identity Wallets are slated to be convenient for everyday civilian use. At the same time, these wallets, and other adjacent digital ID systems budding elsewhere, could also be convenient for governments and governance structures looking to surveil, monitor or otherwise manipulate or control critical aspects of citizens’ lives en masse.

The DIIA Connection

Despite its lack of EU member status and war on its hands to boot, Ukraine is involved in the EU Digital Wallet pilots. Namely, as I reported on my Substack, DIIA, Ukraine’s hyper-centralized state-in-a-smartphone app, is assisting the EU Digital Wallet’s rollout. In fact, Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov highlighted in a Telegram post from July that DIIA representatives had even showed off the DIIA app’s capabilities at the POTENTIAL (Pilots for European Digital Identity Wallet) Consortium this summer.

Notably, many of the EU Digital Wallet’s use cases being tested in the pilots are already reality with Ukraine’s DIIA app. Indeed, Ukrainians use DIIA for a range of day-to-day activities, including to verify their identities to use banking services, hold a variety of digital IDs (such as drivers’ licenses and biometric passports) and even pay certain taxes and access social services for families. Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation has emphasized its intention to make all public services available online: DIIA is to be the “one-stop-shop” for these services.

And, as I’ve mentioned before in previous reporting for my Substack and Unlimited Hangout, DIIA’s scope creep continues as conflict deepens, with the app providing war-adjacent services. Ukrainian civilians affected by war have received stipendsthrough the app, for example, and can also verify their identities through DIIA to sign into e-Vorog (“e-enemy”), a chatbot that allows Ukrainian citizens to report information about Russian military whereabouts to the state.

All together, these conditions suggest DIIA may serve as a kind of blueprint for or precursor to Europe’s adjacent Digital Wallet, where the EU Digital Wallet, already a centralized application slated to assist citizens in a number of critical day-to-day services, could take on a growing number of government services across the European Union. While it remains to be seen what happens with the Digital Wallet rollouts in Europe, the wallet’s EU-wide implementation and smartphone app format, where features can be easily introduced, removed, or edited at will, means that scope creep on a comparable scale cannot be ruled out.

Conclusion

Many people are understandably interested in digital documents and other easy ways to access public services and complete tasks in a digital age. But these services and tools, when facilitated by states and adjacent governance structures, and unaccountable members of the private sector, come with significant ethical and surveillance concerns that should be extensively discussed and debated by the public. In this respect, it appears the prospective EU Digital Identity Wallet is no exception.

But debate or not, Digital Wallet pilot rollouts and EU member states’ respective Digital ID adoption is ongoing, with an EC press statement explaining that “everyone will have a right to have an EU Digital Identity” accepted in all EU Member States.

And while the European Commission communicates “there will be no obligation” to use an EU Digital ID Wallet, EC report Communication 2030 Digital Compass: The European Way for the Digital Decade elucidates that a 2030 target for the EU is for 80 percent of citizens to use an “electronic identification solution.” Ultimately, the mixed messaging leaves room for speculation that, even if Digital IDs are not obligatory when introduced, the general population could somehow be nudged or eventually even mandated into adopting Digital IDs to access key public services.

While Digital ID proponents emphasize the tools’ capacity for convenience and security in an increasingly online world, the ethical and privacy issues I’ve highlighted here signal that, if rolled out hastily, the EU Digital Identity Wallets could ultimately have disastrous and lasting consequences for privacy and civil liberties. And, once implemented, it seems Digital IDs could be difficult to roll back even if unpopular, ultimately nudging people into a technocratic nightmare they cannot easily escape.

In short, the dangers posed by emerging Digital ID systems like the EUDI Wallet cannot be discounted as Europe grows into its “digital decade.”

Author

  • Stavroula Pabst

    Stavroula Pabst is a writer, comedian, and media PhD student at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Athens, Greece. Her writing has appeared in publications including Propaganda in Focus, Reductress, Unlimited Hangout and The Grayzone

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The Dangers of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) – John Stossel with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

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On the same day that this add about Digital Currency from the Bank of Canada popped up on my facebook feed..

I see that 19 time Emmy Award winning journalist John Stossel has posted a short discussion with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on the implementation of Central Bank Digital Currency in the United States.

Should you be concerned?  Depends how much you like living under the thumb of whatever the government dictates.

From Stossel TV

The federal government and the media are excited about something new: a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). “I think it would be a total disaster,” Gov. Ron DeSantis tells me.

A CBDC would be a cryptocurrency, one controlled by the federal government. The Biden administration says a CBDC would “protect consumers, investors…and the environment.”

DeSantis tells me, “Sometimes government does things that may appear to be benevolent but really are kind of like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This is a wolf coming as a wolf.” DeSantis says the government will use digital money to spy on us and control our behavior. “’You’re filling up too much [with gas]. Wait a minute–Climate change… You can’t be doing that! …You bought another firearm? No, no, no.'”

He’s is so upset about this new plan, he just persuaded Florida’s legislature to ban the CBDC’s use in Florida.

———— To get our new weekly video from Stossel TV, sign up here: https://www.johnstossel.com/#subscribe ————

After 40+ years of reporting, I now understand the importance of limited government and personal freedom.

——————————————

Libertarian journalist John Stossel created Stossel TV to explain liberty and free markets to young people.

Prior to Stossel TV he hosted a show on Fox Business and co-anchored ABC’s primetime newsmagazine show, 20/20.

Stossel’s economic programs have been adapted into teaching kits by a non-profit organization, “Stossel in the Classroom.” High school teachers in American public schools now use the videos to help educate their students on economics and economic freedom. They are seen by more than 12 million students every year.

Stossel has received 19 Emmy Awards and has been honored five times for excellence in consumer reporting by the National Press Club. Other honors include the George Polk Award for Outstanding Local Reporting and the George Foster Peabody Award

 

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