Claudia Biancotti and Paolo Ciocca

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Policymakers around the world are finally looking for a way to mitigate the dangers inherent to large-scale data collection and AI use. Their decisions will affect more than the fate of a few firms. The limits that governments set, or decline to set, on who can harness the power of data, and for what ends, will define the meaning of freedom in all societies in the future.

Today’s policy choices will determine how strong the rule of law is in the age of AI, by establishing what…

These days I am spending quite a lot of time writing about Libra as an economist — what are the implications for the financial system? What is likely to happen in emerging markets? Who will regulate what? And so on. I wish I were not thinking about any of this, because on a deeper level Libra makes me sad.

It’s like punk rock in 1994. One day there is an underground culture with disruptive ideas, which produces pointed, radical social criticism and inspires people to question everything. And then, it goes mainstream overnight. People who have never heard about the…

Claudia Biancotti, Paolo Ciocca


Over the past few years, it has become apparent that a small number of technology companies have assembled detailed datasets on the characteristics, preferences, and behavior of billions of individuals. This concentration of data is at the root of a worrying power imbalance between dominant internet firms and the rest of society, reflecting negatively on collective security, consumer rights, and competition. Introducing data sharing mandates, or requirements for market leaders to share anonymous user data with other firms and academia, would have a positive effect on competition. As data are a key input for…

Originally posted at

The growing number of California-based technology companies exploiting internet communications to reap billions in revenue recently led Gavin Newsom, the new state governor, to propose a seemingly attractive idea: Why not compensate consumers for providing the data that has made these companies rich? Governor Newsom announced plans in February for the introduction of a so-called digital dividend, which he applauded as a way for consumers to “share in the wealth […] created from their data” by technology companies that “make billions of dollars collecting, curating and monetizing” user information.

Implementation details have not been defined yet…

Originally posted at

Chinese technology firms have developed a variety of social media outlets in the last few years. Some are wildly popular at home, while failing to attract foreign users. This indifference outside of China changed in 2018, as a Chinese app similar to Instagram made the first significant foray into the Western market. It even became popular among the US armed forces.

The overseas penetration of Chinese social media poses a substantial security problem, however. Social apps gather a lot of data on users; if this information is sent to China, it can be easily accessed by…

Originally posted on the Peterson Institute for International Economics website.

Blockchain technology was first introduced in 2009 with the invention of bitcoin, a so-called cryptocurrency designed to facilitate an entirely peer-to-peer electronic monetary and payment system. This first experiment securely transferred virtual tokens used as money between buyers and sellers within the bitcoin network without need for an official or government-sponsored notarizing authority.

In traditional financial systems, trusted third parties such as banks are tasked with preventing abuse or fraud. After all, electronic cash is just data: In principle, anyone can make themselves richer by cheating the system and adding…

Claudia Biancotti, Paolo Ciocca

Calls for regulation of big tech are getting louder and louder. This column argues that policy proposals should be evaluated through the lens of their impact on the evolution of artificial intelligence. It proposes a holistic framework that encompasses consumer control over data, competition in product markets, incentives to innovation, and implications for international trade. It also highlights the role played by major big tech companies, and the threat of data and artificial intelligence monopolisation.

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Claudia Biancotti

Economist at the Bank of Italy. Aging punk rocker. Knows that OTP has (at least) two meanings on the internet. Opinions expressed here are personal.

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