Recap: Pub­lic Dis­cus­sion Event by DIVSI and iRights.Lab

For­mer Fed­er­al Pres­i­dent of Ger­many Joachim Gauck had a pub­lic dis­cus­sion with renowned experts in Berlin about trust in dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

On 21st Novem­ber 2017 at the invi­ta­tion of the Ger­man Insti­tute for Trust and Secu­ri­ty on the Inter­net (DIVSI) and the think tank iRights.Lab, spe­cial­ists from the fields of eco­nom­ics, pol­i­tics and civil soci­ety debat­ed on prob­lems and solu­tions regard­ing Trust in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the Dig­i­tal Age. On behalf of the DIVSI, the iRights.Lab had just finalised a com­pre­hen­sive study on the same sub­ject.

In his open­ing remarks, patron of DIVSI Joachim Gauck con­clud­ed that it is the “old/​new prob­lem of secu­ri­ty vs. user friend­li­ness or com­fort” which calls for new approach­es by all stake­hold­ers involved. Refer­ring to the find­ings of the study, he insist­ed that the trust of con­sumers can only be increased through the offer of prod­ucts or ser­vices that com­bine those aspects.

Fol­low­ing this, Jutta Gurk­mann, Head of Con­sumer Pol­i­cy Ver­braucherzen­trale Bun­desver­band, stat­ed in her keynote that while it takes years to build up trust, it only takes sec­onds to destroy it again. She also point­ed out that var­i­ous com­pa­nies still han­dle user data in a reck­less man­ner. To her, it is impor­tant to see trust and secu­ri­ty not as an insu­per­a­ble con­tra­dic­tion. Gurk­mann then called on com­pa­nies to final­ly under­stand that data secu­ri­ty and data pro­tec­tion is a chance, not a bur­den. Only this will enable them to sur­vive as sov­er­eign play­ers in a digi­tised and glob­alised world.

The sub­se­quent panel dis­cus­sion con­sist­ed of the fol­low­ing experts:

  • host: Geral­dine de Bas­tion (inter­na­tion­al pol­i­cy advi­sor spe­cialised in dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and media)
  • Ulf Buer­mey­er (Chair­man of the Gesellschaft für Frei­heit­srechte e.V. (GFF))
  • Dr. Luc Méri­ochaud (Head of Deutsche Bank Labs Con­ti­nen­tal and East­ern Europe)
  • Prof. Dr. Nor­bert Pohlmann (Pro­fes­sor for infor­ma­tion secu­ri­ty at the West­fälis­che Hochschule and Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Insti­tut für Inter­net-Sicher­heit – if(is))
  • Dr. Mario Rehse (Head of Pub­lic Affairs Unit­ed Inter­net AG)
  • Matthias Kam­mer (Direc­tor of DIVSI)

Ulf Buer­mey­er made clear that trust is impor­tant because for the user of a com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vice it is impos­si­ble to ver­i­fy if and how his per­son­al data is pro­tect­ed. That is why trust can only be built up through data pro­tec­tion that is as high as pos­si­ble. This trust is also becom­ing an increas­ing­ly impor­tant fac­tor in the finance indus­try, Luc Mérichaud point­ed out.

Mario Rehse referred to the NSA scan­dal from 2013 and the asso­ci­at­ed cit­i­zens’ loss of trust caused by pub­lic insti­tu­tions. Matthias Kam­mer made the audi­ence aware of the results of a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion that was car­ried out for the study. Accord­ing to that, the major­i­ty of the Ger­man peo­ple see the process of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion as pos­i­tive. How­ev­er, when it comes to the shar­ing of impor­tant and con­fi­dent infor­ma­tion, con­sumers want to keep hav­ing the choice between dig­i­tal and ana­logue means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

At the end of the debate, the pan­el­lists agreed that in the dig­i­tal age trust and secu­ri­ty will only be accom­plished if all stake­hold­ers coop­er­ate. They are mutu­al­ly respon­si­ble for break­ing fresh ground in order to achieve an increased level of trust.