2014 | 05 | 08

The Digital Agenda for Germany

Brigitte Zypries (BMWI), Dorothee Bär (BMVi), Annette Mühlberg (ver.di) and host and moderator Katharina Borchert (SPIEGEL ONLINE) discussed the digital agenda in Germany and the country's journey towards a digital society.

In his opening keynote address, Björn Böhning, Head of the Berlin Senate Chancellery, noted: "We are at a turning point: Is it possible to preserve the neutrality of the internet? The Berlin Senate's position is clear: for us, the fundamental pillars of the open internet are undiscriminating data transport and open access for all."

For her part, Brigitte Zypries sees a tangible need for Germany to catch up in terms of implementing the digital agenda. "On the European stage, we're in fifth place. We want to improve on that status." She referred to broadband expansion as an "important theme for the business location" and also spoke of plans to support startups and founders "with more money, expanded projects and tax incentives. We're already doing a lot in the field." Zypries also brought up the question as to how many citizens would be prepared to forgo certain technologies or use alternatives in order to protect their data.

Annette Mühlberg (ver.di) spoke of a massive loss of trust among citizens "as a result of the growing disparity between the rule of law and the actual business practices of companies." She argued that political decision makers must intervene in this field and ensure that citizens regain control over their data. As an example, she suggested that encryption technologies could become the standard and that support could be provided to networks that protect user data. Ultimately, Mühlberg argued, the focus must return to individual citizens.

Dorothee Bär spoke of a process of enlightenment that would ideally start in educating the public: "The idea of a person one day leaving no trace is associated with a tremendous degree of effort (...). The question arises as to what an individual will personally permit. Even if sheer convenience wins out, there's no reason not to be vigilant with one's own data." Bär sees Germany's most important current challenge not in the loss of trust but much more in the issue of nationwide broadband coverage. For her, the planned 50mbit set to be implemented by 2018 is a minimum requirement.