Round Table - U-shape - 60 Min
Data has become prevalent in most aspects of our lives. Virtually all the services and products we use as well as future innovations depend on data. Data also contributes to the continuous improvement of our living standards. It allows for better policy-making and it can be a powerful tool in addressing global and societal challenges such as climate change, the current energy crises and – as we have seen in the past – the fight against infectious diseases.
But there are also challenges when it comes to data. Key questions around how data should be handled, collected and analysed, under which conditions it can be shared, re-used and accessed have become matter of intense debate. Policy makers on national and international level are developing new data governance models to ensure that data uses allows for a sustainable, democratic and self-determined society.
In Switzerland, the concept of "digital self-determination" and “trustworthy data spaces” has been put forward to advance a vision of the future that is founded on people's autonomy and their freedom to manage the data they generate. The idea, defined in a government report, is to reinstate trust in data technology and to ensure that all people in the community are active actors in the digital space. Switzerland is in the process of developing a Code of Conduct for providers of trustworthy data spaces, which will contribute to strengthen user trust in complex data governance systems. The code is based on five principles: transparency, control, equity, efficiency and responsibility.
At the same time, the growth of national and unilateral approaches to data governance have led to an increasing regulatory fragmentation on an international level. This is further accentuated by the fact that there is currently no international process allowing a holistic and transversal discussion of data governance issues.
This session will aim to address the difficult questions when it comes to data governance. How can we reinvent ourselves in the digital age as our digital footprints expand? What are the key elements necessary to implement digital self-determination? How will we know and keep track on which data-driven decisions will affect us? What are the repercussions on the international level? How do we ensure that such efforts do not contribute to further regulatory fragmentation but can create a positive agenda for a future global framework? Which governance mechanism are envisageable and how could they be deployed?
This Open Forum aims to provide some answers to these questions by providing insights on legislative and regulatory activities as well as practical approaches on establishing reliable data environments while encouraging ethical innovation.
Federal Office of Communications
- Marilia Maciel, Head of Digital Commerce and Internet Policy at Diplo Foundation
- Magdalena Jozwiak, Associate Researcher CEPS and Fellow Datasphere Initiative
- Pari Estefani, is the co-founder and president of the Global TechnoPolitics Forum
- Ambassador Roger Dubach, Deputy Director, Directorate of International Law, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
Ambassador Thomas Schneider, Head International Relations, Swiss Federal Office of Communications
Targets: good data governance is essential for attaining a number of SDGs, inter alia, 8, 10, 11 and 16
The Swiss OFCOM organised an "Open Forum" on the topic of digital self-determination and trustworthy data spaces.
Political authorities at national and international level as well as civil society are developing new models of data governance in this respect. In Switzerland, we published a government report earlier this year on the concept of "digital self-determination" and "trusted data spaces". Our vision is a data society based on autonomy and freedom to manage one's own data. We want to restore trust in data technology and empower the actors in the digital space. To this end, Switzerland is developing a code of conduct for trusted data space providers.
The proliferation of national and unilateral approaches to data governance has led to an increasing fragmentation of regulation at the international level. This is accentuated by the fact that there is currently no international process for a holistic and cross-cutting discussion of data governance issues. This session aimed to address difficult data governance issues such as: How can we reinvent ourselves in the digital age as our digital footprints expand? What are the key elements needed to implement digital self-determination? How can we ensure that such efforts do not contribute to further regulatory fragmentation? What governance mechanisms are possible and how could they be deployed?
Magdalena Jóźwiak argued that personal data should be protected as a core value. Yet there is a dichotomy between private and public actors. The transparency of private companies is only based on voluntary disclosure. Many studies bring the importance of data governance to a constitutional level. The inclusion of digital self-determination is a way to balance the trends.
Roger Dubach recalled the difficulty of moving from a national to a global discussion. At the national level, Switzerland is developing a voluntary code of conduct, with the objective of building trustworthy and human-centred data spaces. The discussion at national level should help inform the international level and vice versa.
Pari Esfandiari pointed out that the issue of data governance is very controversial, with a geopolitical concern. There are various ideological perspectives on data, from the American approach of maximising use, to the European approach of protecting it and the national approach of controlling it. Pari reminded the audience that a single, global data governance regime is as essential as it is unlikely to be achieved at the moment.
Marilia Maciel noted that data regulation has moved away from the use of data as intellectual property to focus more on how data can be shared and used collaboratively. The Swiss proposal is in line with this. Little attention paid to the development aspects of data in trade-related discussions. The issue of transparency arises in this context, trade negotiations are very opaque. We only have an idea of what is being discussed, but no clear indication. And only governments participate, which excludes the idea of multi-stakeholder participation.