IGF Germany 2017 in Berlin
Once a year, representatives of all nations convene in a changing global location to discuss digital policy. The occasion for this convention is the IGF – the Internet Governance Forum – which is held annually by the United Nations. Last year, all stakeholders from governments, business and civil society met in Geneva from 18 to 21 December. Various aspects of the Internet were discussed there – from security to infrastructure concerns to activist matters and central questions of ethics and policy in the digital age.
In Germany, a satellite event has been organised for several years, the IGF Germany. For the third time, the Rote Rathaus in Berlin served as the venue for the Internet policy debates of the IGF Germany. Last year, the entire day of the forum was dedicated to the topic of common digital welfare.
But what does common digital welfare mean, exactly? As a moderator, Theresa Züger, consultant for digital projects at mabb, got to the bottom of this question. In a panel, Sabine Frank of Google, scientist Volker Grassmuck, Ricarda Busse of Wikimedia Deutschland Foundation and Peter Batt of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior discussed the question of which kind of access and which goods of digital society should serve general public interest. In addition, the discussion dealt with the type of changes common digital welfare is subject to due to technical change.
In summary, the debaters emphasised that common digital welfare means collective welfare and serves the collective sovereignty of a community. Besides infrastructure and general access to the web, this also means access to and processing of data. Furthermore, common digital welfare comprises the provision of meaningful information in a digital public as well as the management of collective knowledge.
The panel constitutes the start of this debate in Germany, which will keep searching for answers by means of further discussions and, most importantly, political activity over the subsequent years.