December 22, 2016
The German Presidency of the G20 is setting a focus on digitalisation, as expressed by the term's motto "Shaping an interconnected world". A C20 process is to be deployed towards integrating the civil society perspective in the G20 dialogue. However, at this point, the proposed thematic priorities for the civil society process do not include any specific topic on digitalisation, which could lead to the exclusion, from the G20 process, of civil society groups working worldwide on digital rights issues. The CSISAC will be taking the opportunity of the OECD-G20 dialogue to foster digital inclusion, privacy and security in the German Presidency of the G20.
In several fora including the most recent sessions of the OECD CDEP and the Internet Governance Forum, the German Presidency has expressed their plan to give a focus on the impact of digitalisation, as expressed by the Presidency motto "Shaping an interconnected world". This focus on digitalisation is consistent with the ongoing global policy dialogue, particularly with the outcomes of the June 2016 OECD Ministerial on the Digital Economy in Cancún (México), and the September 2017 G7 Summit on the Information and Communication Technologies (Japan). The prominence of the digital topic is also consistent with the outcomes of the 2016 G20 Hangzhou Summit, where digitalisation ranked in the first place of the substantial topics discussed in the communiqué. In addition to the Presidency motto, the prominence of the digital agenda can be seen in the OECD-G20 dialogue enacted as the result of the Hangzhou Summit. Recent developments, including robotics, artificial intelligence, high frequency trading, the Internet of Things, Internet mediated commercial activity, social networking platforms, mass surveillance, data breaches, or infrastructure failures, have shown the relevance of this phenomenon for the civil society. This remarkably includes topics like privacy and security online, access to the Internet, digital consumer protection, children online, unemployment, cryptography, skills, ageing, identity theft and many other topics where hundreds of civil society organizations worldwide are contributing with their expertise to improve the global policy dialogue from a multi-stakeholder approach.
A Civil Society process will run in parallel with other tracks -women, labour unions or business- to enrich the G20 dialogue. At the current point, the C20 process is apparently disconnected from both the priorities of the G20 dialogue as a whole, the Presidency's focus, and the ongoing digitalisation process. In the absence of a digital track in the C20 process, the ongoing dialogue between governmental representatives and civil society participants would get interrupted, as that would imply no role for the organizations working on digital rights. The exclusion of the civil society participants working in the digital area would impede the expertise developed by scholars, activists and non governmental organizations to contribute to the G20 dialogue, from the perspective of inclusion, data protection and human rights as priorities. That decission could be harmful for the ongoing multi-stakeholder dynamics for the governance of digital issues, and isolate the G20 from the global dialogue on the topic.
All together, this makes the inclusion of a digital track in the G20 dialogue a necessary improvement to ensure a constructive alignment between the C20 process and the G20 dialogue towards fostering a civil society perspective in the outcomes referring to the digital agenda. "Inclusion, Privacy and Security in the Digital Economy" could be a possible framework to be supported by the CSISAC and its members.