Home to two-thirds of the world’s population and 90 percent of its economic output, the G20 countries are a powerhouse that have yet to take on a coordinated digital agenda.
This could be about to change. Under the German presidency of the G20, digital concerns – from getting people connected to protecting people’s data once they are – have been made a priority through a new ‘Roadmap for Digitalisation’. Now the question is: will other G20 members like Brazil, China and Russia be willing to translate this initial support into firm G20 commitments that Argentina will continue to drive during the next G20 presidency?
As three leading organisations from the internet community, we are looking to the world leaders that will gather in Hamburg, Germany for the summit on 7-8 July, to set clear priorities for the G20 digital agenda.
They have good reason to. Digital industries have become central to all G20 economies and must form an integral part of their agenda. If the G20 are looking at their future prosperity and security, they must ensure the digital economy brings connectivity, opportunities and benefits for everyone, while guarding against the risk that digital technologies could drive inequality and exclusion. It is more important now than ever to lay the foundations for an effective, principle-based security framework that respects fundamental rights and ensures user trust. Unilateral or short-sighted solutions, such as on encryption, will fall short to address these challenges.
We believe that Germany’s presidency has set a good precedent for other G20 countries – and especially Argentina – to follow. The proposed G20 “Roadmap for Digitalisation” provides the right framing to address many of the digital community’s current concerns: from strengthening trust in the digital economy and consumer online protections, to bridging digital divides.
Now, to turn intention into action, the resulting agreement from the July summit (the communique) must acknowledge and elevate these issues as part of the overall G20 agenda and form an integral part of the official strategies and policies for G20 leaders. Priorities should include digital access and bridging the current divides, not just in terms of connectivity but also in terms of enabling meaningful access and empowering people. Infrastructure, skills-building and inclusion must be the drivers to shape an open, free and transformative internet – bringing sustainable development and opportunities to all.
Today, heads of state have a historical opportunity to lay the right foundations for a global digital agenda. We hope that they use it.
Cathleen Berger, Global Engagement Lead, Mozilla
Constance Bommelaer, Senior Director, Global Internet Policy, Internet Society
Craig Fagan, Policy Director, Web Foundation