IGF 2020 OF #28 Swiss Open Forum on Self-Determination in the Digital Space

Time
Friday, 6th November, 2020 (10:50 UTC) - Friday, 6th November, 2020 (11:50 UTC)
Room
Room 1
About this Session
During this session, members of the Swiss Digital Self-Determination network will present their work to enhance civic and economic participation in the digital space, based on the values of self-determination and will elaborate on concrete use cases to promote high-quality data spaces that allow reliable data exchange between all stakeholders. The session will also gather international inputs and views on this initiative, with a view of considering the development of an international network.
Theme

Round Table - U-shape - 60 Min

Description

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.

Agenda: 

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
Organizers

Livia Walpen, Federal Office of Communications, Switzerland
Dominique Keller, Directorate of International Law, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland

Onsite Moderator

Andrin Eichin, Swiss Federal Office of Communications

Online Moderator

Livia Walpen, Swiss Federal Office of Communications

Rapporteur

Dominique Keller, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

SDGs

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

1. Key Policy Questions and related issues
Our new digital reality challenges the way we understand and exercise our fundamental rights and liberties. On the one hand, the rapid growth of the use of data enables the development of new, innovative services and enhance efficiency in the private and public sphere. On the other hand, the increasing concentration of data in large technology firms or in governments creates certain risks and dependencies. To address these issues and to make self-determined decisions, it is of outmost importance – especially in a democratic society – that citizens have access to data, understand its value as well as the impact it can have on their life.
With the foregoing in mind, Switzerland is in the process of developing an approach which aims at allowing citizens, businesses and public bodies to actively participate in the development of the digital transformation: citizens should move away from passive users to self-determined, participants of digital reality, who can create and shape their own digital-environment. In order for citizens to intentionally take control of their data and benefit from data and its added value, new structures and trustworthy data spaces are needed to enable this effective participation. This includes – amongst others – a shift in perception of self-determination as a defensive property right towards a right to choose and participate.
2. Summary of Issues Discussed

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.

3. Key Takeaways

 

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