Ground Rules for a Sustainable Digitalization

(1) A healthy environment and planet, the protection of human rights and a good life for all are more important than digitalization.

(2) Digitalization is nothing new per se, let alone a break in our social, economic and political lives, but follows trends that have been ongoing for decades. To be  sustainable, digitalization must serve the common good within the planetary boundaries. It has to be decoupled from the exploitation of people and planet. This can only be achieved if digitalization does not promote further deregulation and privatization, or the growth of a few all-powerful state and corporate monopolies. In order to be truly relevant for all, digitalization has to be anchored in global democratic discourses.

(3) The non-digital world must continue to exist freely. Not everything that can should be connected. Not everyone and every place has to be part of the digital development.

(4) Any technical and digital advancements have to serve humanity and subject to fundamental and human rights, rule of law and democratic principles. Governments and private actors need to be hold accountable.

(5) Digital technologies can be tools for mass surveillance, with the power to silence free speech and freedom of information. They are also the basis for an ever growing business model. Thus, the control of data has to lie with people providing the data. Governments and international or regional institutions, such as the EU, have a responsibility to protect the rights, privacy, self-determination and autonomy of its citizens and ensure a free basic democratic order. Governments and corporations must follow the principle of data minimization. Governments have to prosecute offences against data privacy violations by commercial enterprises and government intuitions. Data-driven business models need to be regulated properly.

(6) Even in a tech- and algorithm-based world, responsibilities of decisions must always lie with and be controlled by humans. In order to ensure sovereignty of decisions and self-determination of individuals we need to have transparency on commercially and state-run technology, and especially on algorithms. We need public discussion on what happens once algorithms excel human comprehension both in ethical and legal terms as well as in terms of responsibilities of governments and private entities.

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