Matthias Kettemann, head of a research program on digital communication spaces at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research alias Hans Bredow Institute (HBI), sees politics, business and society with the judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court on climate justice also under the obligation to “sustainable digitization and digitized sustainability to reach”. It is therefore important to jointly set an example “with good Internet regulation” and “human rights-based legislation” for future network use.
Defending freedom in the digital world
With their fundamental decision won by Fridays for Future, the Karlsruhe judges had reminded that existing freedoms must be defended for future generations, explained Kettemann at a panel on the universality indicators for the Unesco Internet at the virtual network conference re: publica on Saturday. This also applies to the digital world. The scientist is one of the leaders of a team, the one Study with recommendations for action to design the Internet in the light of the Unesco principles created.
Young people in particular should see the Internet as a space “in which they can expand their knowledge,” explained Kettemann. They would have to be enabled to find offers for lifelong learning there that work against disinformation and could immunize society against infodemia.
Exclusion of the “analog world” also on the Internet
In view of the state of emergency, the corona pandemic “pushed the universities forward in the digitization of teaching,” said the researcher. Overall, however, there is “still room for improvement” when it comes to Internet use in this country, he gave an outlook on the results of the study, which is to be published this summer. Adolescents are around 100 percent online and the access speed has doubled. Germany is still lagging behind in broadband expansion and there are still major differences between cities and rural regions.
According to Kettemann, forms of exclusion and discrimination from the analogue world are generally reflected in the virtual one. In future network regulation, “human rights-oriented use” must therefore be in the foreground.
Germany: Limping digitization and lobbying of internet companies
The pandemic has also shown that large parts of the state and society are still lagging behind in terms of digitization, added Geraldine de Bastion, founder of the Global Innovation Gathering (GIG), which connects operators of maker and hacker spaces and innovation centers. There is no digital bed registration in hospitals, the school clouds do not work because the federal and state governments are entangled in federal structures. All of them ordered from online delivery services such as Amazon, which would be “not taxed” in this country. In network policy, consultation procedures with the digital civil society solidified in view of the “immense lobbying power of the Internet companies”.
“We can best shape the digital transformation with international partners,” said Regine Grienberger, cyber ambassador for the Federal Foreign Office, as the solution. To do this, however, it is first important to do your own homework and to promote a free and open Internet in the interests of peace and security.
Only free global internet brings advantages
The Commissioner for Cyber Foreign Policy reported that there is an increasing division in the UN ranks. With Germany, a group of “like-minded states” uphold the rights of the individual, such as freedom of expression and data protection, and rely on the rule of law and international law in cyberspace. The other has an “authoritarian understanding” and wants to extend control over the individual to the network. Mass surveillance prevails in these states, freedom of the press is restricted and freedom of expression is criminalized. For Grienberger, however, there is no question: “The advantages of digitization can only be used sustainably with a free global Internet.”
If the second alliance prevails, there is a risk of a loose network of authoritarian sub-networks, warned Julia Pohle, an employee of the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), of a spinning Internet. In this environment, the EU should not only try to differentiate itself from the USA and China with the concept of digital sovereignty. The Community must also develop and implement a “coherent European value-based strategy”. This can also have an external effect, as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) shows.
Include all interests in network regulation
HBI director Wolfgang Schulz emphasized that the principles of a free and global Internet are not “nice to have”, but elementary. Otherwise the Internet could not fulfill its functions for citizens and society. The study will help to show “where do we actually stand” and what could the Federal Republic learn from countries such as Brazil, Austria and France. In any case, the inclusion of all interest groups in network regulation according to the multi-stakeholder model, as practiced by the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), must be maintained.