The DLD conference in Munich always seems to set a tone for the year ahead in tech, as it is conveniently scheduled right before Davos, which allows for keynotes such as Sheryl Sandberg in 2012 and Dara Khosrowshahi the new Uber CEO this year.
A consistent theme emerged this year in both private conversations and panels which leads me to wonder if some of the political events and tech-backlash of 2017 might not lead 2018 to being the year in which consumers start demanding platforms and tools to take control of their data and identity on the internet.
May 2018 is also the year GDPR will come into effect, a regulation that this Techcrunch article correctly states:
“The extra-territorial scope of GDPR casts the European Union as a global pioneer in data protection — and some legal experts suggest the regulation will force privacy standards to rise outside the EU too.”
I spoke to two separate entrepreneurs each developing a new “standard” for personal identity on the internet, or as one of them described it “Like HTTPS:// but adding HTTPSi:// for secure identity”. There was a whole panel called Privacy Reconquered: Digital Identities & Fraud with the CEOs of Evernym and Consensys both advocating for a permissioned blockchain for identity management (but disagreeing on whether to use Ethereum or a private blockchain).
DLD helped synthesise a certain zeitgeist in society at large and in the tech world in particular about a feeling of loss of control in 2017, with a perception of an excessive concentration of power amongst a small number of players, and a demand for contrition.
That underlies the public policy narrative going into 2018 around data privacy, which Europe is driving and which I do feel will provide a competitive advantage to European startups who will have to integrate Privacy by Design.