Online censorship is Coming : 4 countries to watch

Too much information on the internet can be good and, at the same time, bad. This is why governments are considering censoring some information from their citizens. The main culprits are Canada, the UK, Europe, and the US. The relevant federal governments are in charge of enacting the censorship law. Some governments have already proposed internet censorship bills, and it is only a matter of time before they are passed into law. Here are four countries to watch as this debate takes center stage:

Canada’s C-11

Canada is one of the countries to enact an internet censorship bill. The bill, dubbed c-11, is a  modification of the c-10 proposed in November 2010 but failed. The main reason for failure back then is its contents could have made more sense to some people. The bill re-emerged in February 2022 as c-11 and was passed by the Canadian House of Commons. Once the bill is passed into law, it is believed to give the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) the power to control what Canadians can see on Youtube and social media. This will also apply to user-generated content. One of CTRC’s criteria is inclusion and diversity in content. The bill is currently with the Canadian Senate and will be voted on in February. If it garners enough votes, then it will be debated by the Canadian parliament. There are high chances of the bill turning into law as big Tech giants such as Youtube have failed to convince the Senate to remove user-generated content from the bill.

UK’s Online safety bill

Unlike Canada, the Uk decided to give its bill a more friendly name. The bill was introduced in May 2021 and is yet to be passed into law. The bill’s goal is to give the UK government the power to censor whatever it considers harmful. In the UK, the regulator of the bill is the Office of Communications (OFCOM) which is similar to Canada’s CTRC. Legal but harmful content was excluded from the bull back in November. OFCOM will, h however, have the power to protect quote content of democratic importance and news publishers. It also plans to do age verification to prevent minors from accessing some information. It will be a requirement for Tech companies to do a KYC for their customers.

EU’s data governance Act                                                 

This was passed in the summer of 2022 and may be passed into law autumn this year. It will be mandatory to share data with the government. There will also be an artificial intelligence regulation act. Monopolies will be fined in a bid to make the EU competitive. It also aims to increase innovation in the digital markets. Every EU country will have a ministry of truth to censor certain information and fuel government propaganda. Illegal information will be taken down immediately. Offenders of the bill will be banned from the Digital Services Act. It will weed out hate speech, social media crises, etc.

United States

The US has two documents related to online censorship, the kids’ online safety act and the supreme court case. Kids will be protected from inappropriate content. The Federal Trade Commission FTC argued that parents must ensure their kids are safe online. Social media companies will have more liabilities as they will be under watch not to support any illegal activities, propaganda, or crime. Or else, they will have to deal with the supreme court according to section 230.

Conclusion

These bills could drastically change the way people consume the internet in these countries. Seeing that these countries are at the forefront of economic development, it will only be a matter of time before other countries join and start regulating the internet. Once these draconian bills are passed in these countries, they will get to decide what type of content will be considered inappropriate or needs to be moderated.-potentially resulting in a dystopian society with little or no freedom of expression.

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15-Minute Cities: Cities of the Future?

15-minute cities are an urban planning concept that seeks to make a city’s amenities and services accessible within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from every resident. This concept is based on the idea that cities should offer their residents more self-sufficient, healthy, and equitable lifestyles.

The idea of the 15-minute city originated in France in 2016 when Paris Professor Carlos Moreno proposed this urban planning philosophy as part of an urban theory and an urban model. The aim was to reduce car use, improve public transport options, shorten commuting times, reduce air pollution, increase green spaces, reduce noise levels and create healthier living conditions for citizens. Since then, many other cities worldwide have adopted this concept, including Melbourne, Los Angeles, Barcelona, and Tokyo.

How It Works

The 15-minute city works by organizing a city’s services so that everything essential to everyday life is located within 15 minutes of walking or biking from each resident’s home. This includes shops, parks, schools, and medical facilities. It also encourages the use of public transportation and active travel as opposed to private cars for commuting. To make this possible, cities generally have to create more walkable streets with shorter distances between points of interest; increase access to public transport and bicycle infrastructure; improve housing density; develop green spaces; reduce traffic levels; incorporate businesses into residential areas; etc.

The 15-minute city model is different from similar urban planning models in several ways. Firstly, it emphasizes the idea of living within a smaller area with greater self-sufficiency and reducing the need to travel long distances for daily necessities. This differs from other ideas such as smart cities which aim to improve efficiency and quality of life by collecting data about citizens’ movements, purchasing habits, and preferences. This concept focuses on giving residents access to essential services instead of just leisure activities like parks or entertainment centers. The model puts an emphasis on creating a more equitable environment by providing increased access to amenities for all citizens regardless of their economic status. The overall goal is to make cities more sustainable and increase residents’ quality of life.

Which Cities are Implementing It?

Currently, some cities like Bogota, Seattle and Milan are implementing this concept in various ways. In Tokyo, for example, the city is developing a 15-minute living zone by providing more walkable streets and bike paths; increasing access to public transportation; developing green spaces; and decentralizing commercial areas. In Los Angeles, the 15-minute city concept is being implemented by introducing more dedicated bus lanes and reducing car traffic levels in some neighborhoods.

The 15-minute city concept has several advantages. It can help improve air quality; reduce noise levels; increase access to essential services for all citizens regardless of income level or social class; reduce dependence on private cars for getting around; promote healthy lifestyles through active travel such as walking and biking; create more shared public spaces where people can interact with each other outside of their homes, etc.

At the same time, however, this concept has some drawbacks. One of these is that it can be costly to implement as it requires significant investment in infrastructure and other services. Another is that it can create further segregation if not properly planned, as wealthier people tend to have better access to public transport or bike paths than those from poorer areas. Finally, 15-minute cities are inherently unstable; even if they succeed initially, they may not last very long.

Final Thoughts

The 15-minute city concept is an innovative urban planning philosophy that seeks to improve the quality of life for citizens by making essential amenities and services more accessible within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from home. While this concept has the potential to improve air quality, reduce noise levels, and create healthier lifestyles for citizens, it is not without its drawbacks; implementation can be expensive, and there are risks of creating further segregation if not properly planned. Ultimately, cities should consider the pros and cons of this concept before deciding whether or not to implement it.

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CENTRAL BANKS TO START HOLDING CRYPTO ON THEIR BALANCE SHEETS

The Bank of International Settlements, BIS, recently released a report titled “ Prudential Treatment of Crypto Asset Exposure.” According to this report, the BIS, which essentially is the Central Bank for all Central banks, released guidelines and operating procedures on how Central Banks can own crypto assets on their portfolios. This comes as a surprise considering the BIS and Central Banks around the world have been increasingly vocal in their opposition towards decentralized cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. This article summarizes this report and lists some of the key highlights the report.

Details of the Report

The guidelines listed in the report are to be implemented by the 1st of January 2025. The report contains standards that will be used by Central Banks across the world to purchase crypto assets and include them on their balance sheets. It was drafted in close consultation with central bank Governors across the world. The aim of this report is two-fold: Firstly, to provide guidelines through which Central banks across the world can hold crypto assets. Secondly, the report aims to preserve financial stability across the globe.

Crypto Asset categories

According to the standard issued, crypto assets will be grouped into two categories: Group 1 and Group 2. Group 1 (a) crypto assets will include tokenized security assets such as stocks and bonds.Group 1 (b) will include centralized stablecoins. Group 2 (a) crypto assets include all decentralized cryptocurrencies as such ETH and BTC. For crypto to be considered as Group 2 (a) crypto, then it has to have a market cap of over $10 billion and a daily trading volume of over $ 50 MILLION. Group2 (b) crypto lumps together all other alt-coins

Before a central bank opts to purchase any crypto assets, there are additional requirements that should be met. Additionally, a rigorous risk test will be carried out to know whether to place a crypto asset in Group 1 or Group 2. Also, if an asset is placed as a group 2 asset, then there is a maximum exposure limit- the maximum amount that can be invested. This exposure limit is currently set at not more than 2% of the bank’s total capital.

Role of BIS in Crypto regulation.

The roles that BIS will play in implementing these new guidelines will be as follows:

· Monitoring the implementation of the standards stated in the report

· Make additional changes and improvements to the report

· Monitor central banks across the world as they implement these new standards.

Central banks will also be required to report to the BIS the crypto assets they are holding and consult with the BIS before classifying a crypto asset as either Group 1 or Group 2. Though not explicitly stated, this essentially means that the BIS will have a sole mandate on giving the go-ahead on whether a central bank can make purchases and how to grade the various crypto assets.

Conclusion

Industry insiders agree that this move may prove to be bullish for crypto assets and especially BTC as central banks have the capacity to provide immense liquidity to the crypto market. However, we also run the risk of centralizing some of these crypto assets as central banks have ‘limitless’ capital to buy large amounts of any particular asset and wield control over it. A good example of how Central banks may wield control over crypto is through the use of synthetic stable coins- basically, stablecoins that have been issued using the native currency of a given country. It is interesting to note that this report mentions nothing about CBDCs. It is assumed that the BIS know that some central banks may lack the technical capacity to implement CBDCs within their jurisdictions. Synthetic stablecoins seem to be a viable option at this stage. Having a huge stake in these stablecoins essentially means that Central banks can have a say in their performance.

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Blockchain, AI, and BNPL: Key Drivers of Fintech in 2023

Fintech is still disrupting the financial industry. While there is still a lot of work to be done to streamline and mainstream this sector, there has been significant progress and growth in recent years. More companies and venture capital investments are aligning themselves with fintech, and major tech brands like Apple and Google have launched products in this space. As we move into 2023, here are three top trends that we believe will shape fintech:

Increased use of blockchain solutions: A recent survey by the Stellar Development Foundation and Wirex showed that there is an increased use of cryptocurrency solutions as a way of sending money across borders. The survey covered the US, the UK, Mexico, and Singapore, and found that in developed and emerging markets, cryptocurrency was increasingly used for remittances. More than half of the surveyed individuals felt that they paid too much to legacy remittance providers, while 37% said they did not know how much they paid in fees. Over 80% of surveyed consumers said they were aware of crypto payments, while 45% said they had already used it for remittance. In addition to cryptocurrency payment solutions, blockchain technology has a wide range of use cases in the fintech industry, such as decentralized finance (DeFi). Despite market downturns, the DeFi market cap currently stands at slightly over $38 billion, and more fintech companies are betting on the long-term growth of this industry. A good example is Creditum.io, a fintech company focused on providing fast and frictionless payment solutions, which recently acquired a license to operate as a fully-functional financial company and intends to launch products within the wider Defi ecosystem across Europe.

Artificial intelligence (AI): AI will be a key driver of fintech growth in 2023. Data shows that by 2026, the global market size for AI in fintech will reach over $26 billion, with a continuous annual growth rate of over 23% from 2021 to 2026. Fintech companies will use AI and machine learning (ML) for intelligent decision-making, powering chatbots, providing customer support, and fraud detection. This will make the customer onboarding process easier and increase efficiency within these fintech companies.

Increase in buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) solutions: The BNPL industry is thriving, with estimates showing that it will reach over $500 billion by 2026, up from around $120 billion in 2021. BNPL made up about 2% of global ecommerce in 2021, meaning that for every $100 spent, $2 was from BNPL. The significant growth in this sector can be attributed to the increasing number of merchants accepting these products, as well as partnerships between big ecommerce brands and BNPL companies.

Conclusion: This list is not exhaustive, but it offers a glimpse into some of the areas that fintech players should keep an eye on as we move into the new year. The fintech space is constantly evolving and brands need to create game-changing products within this space, as there is plenty of room for expansion.

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