Round Table - U-shape - 60 Min
The use of data is growing rapidly and has an impact on almost all areas of society. On the one hand, data enables the development of new, innovative services and enhance efficiency in the private and public spheres. On the other hand, the increasing concentration of data in large technology firms or in governments creates certain risks and dependencies - both for individuals and companies, but also for the general public. The question arises how can the rights of individuals in the digital space be guaranteed, while at the same time enable the use of data for the benefit of the economy and the society?
Against this background and in the framework of the Swiss Federal Council’s “Digital Switzerland Strategy”, the network “Digital Self-Determination” was formed in 2019. It consists of committed actors from all stakeholder groups in Switzerland who aim to promote a digital ecosystem, where individuals can actively participate and use their data to support political, social or economic projects.
During this Open Forum, members of the “Digital Self-Determination” network will present their work to enhance the civic and economic participation in the digital space, based on the values of individual self-determination and will elaborate on concrete use cases (in particular energy and health/Covid-19 crisis) to promote high-quality data spaces that allow reliable data exchange between all stakeholders. The Open Forum will provide sufficient time for an open discussion and questions.
Furthermore, the session also has the purpose of gathering international inputs and views on this initiative, with a view of considering the development of an international network.
1. Welcome by moderator
2. Swiss national network
General overview & vision:
- Ambassador Roger Dubach, Deputy Director of the Directorate of International Law, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Switzerland, confirmed
- Concrete use cases:
- Energy: Matthias Galus, Swiss Federal Office of Energy, confirmed
- Fundamental rights in the health use case: Kerstin Vokinger, University of Zurich, confirmed
3. Comments from an international perspektive
- Mark Findlay, Singapore Management University, confirmed
- Marco-Alexander Breit, German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, confirmed
- Anriette Esterhuysen, Chair of the IGF Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group, confirmed
- Urs Gasser, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, confirmed
4. Comments and questions from participants
5. Wrap-up & next steps
- Ambassador Thomas Schneider, Director of International Relations, Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), Switzerland, confirmed
Livia Walpen, Federal Office of Communications, Switzerland
Dominique Keller, Directorate of International Law, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland
Andrin Eichin, Swiss Federal Office of Communications
Livia Walpen, Swiss Federal Office of Communications
Dominique Keller, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 13: Climate Action
Digital self-determination is a human-centered and rule-based concept that aims to encourage citizens to become active as co-creators of their digital environment. One of the issues discussed was the relation between digital self-determination and digital sovereignty. While digital self-determination concerns the actor (individual, company, public cooperation), digital sovereignty relates to the question of infrastructure. Access to the digital infrastructure (clouds, hardware, etc.) on a national or international level is a prerequisite for the exercise of digital self-determination. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that suitable and high quality infrastructures and platforms are established, which are widely accessible, not only in highly developed industrial states, but also in developing countries.
Another issue discussed was the relation between regulation and innovation and the right balance thereof. It was stated that too much regulation eliminates the competition that is essential for the development of high quality products (infrastructures) as mentioned above. However, the aspect of social inequality and structural discrimination was also emphasized. It is important to design data rooms in an inclusive and fair manner in order to allow equal participation and access.
The discussion then lead to the question of which data can be seen as resources (“data as the new oil” vs. “data as the new air”). Data can be seen as a resource of its own kind: their existence is global, they are of a high instrumental value and they can be used in various manners. For the view of data being a resource sui generis speaks the fact that they cannot be consumed. On the contrary: the value of data increases the more it is shared. In this context, the great value of data sharing was pointed out.
Finally, the aspect of digital self-determination in developing countries was mentioned, where the perspective is a different one, but where strengthening local and regional initiatives is even more important. It was emphasized that the further development of digital self-determination must be considered in the context of human rights.
The concept of digital self-determination has multiple dimensions:
Ø Digital self-determination as a defensive property right and as a right to choose in the digital space
Ø Digital self-determination as an individual as well as a collective right
Ø Digital self-determination between human empowerment (“digital citizenship” and questions about infrastructure
Ø Digital self-determination between control over data and self-determined data sharing
Ø Digital self-determination concerning personal data and/or data in general