G7/G20 Digitalisation Task Force Position

March 1, 2017

As the result of the interaction with the G20 Civil Society (C20) stakeholder, the CSISAC is taking the lead to facilitate the coordination of society participants engaging in the G7/G20 work on digitalisation. With this purpose, the Civil Society G7/ G20 Task Force on Digitalisation has been constituted, to contribute to the G7/ G20 process with a civil society perspective on the digitalisation process. As a first deliverable, the Digitalisation Task Force has prepared the following position, to be delivered to the G20 Sherpas in their forthcoming meeting:

Digitalisation represents an unprecedented opportunity to improve social and economic prosperity. However,

  • while 80% of the population in developed countries have broadband access through their smart-phones, more than half of the global population -3.9 billion people- still do not have access to the Internet, where women in the developing world are 50% less likely to be online than men1, and ethnic minorities 40% more likely to be affected by digital discrimination2,
  • digital disruptions are increasingly registering many negative effects, including job losses and income inequality3, mass surveillance or political de-legitimisation,

The countries taking part in the G20 representing as they do 80% of the global GDP and the 64% of the world's population have a primary responsibility in overcoming these issues. The relevance given to digitalisation by the 2017 G20 German Presidency, following up on the Hangzhou outcomes, provides a favourable context to address these challenges. In order to contribute to that goal, the Civil Society G7/G20 Task Force on Digitalisation 4 has identified the following recommendations for adoption by the G20 members:

  1. Build digital resilience: foster data protection, privacy and encryption by default/ design,
  2. improve sustainability: enable universal and affordable, full Internet access, skills and use,
  3. assume responsibility: establish a means for compensation for digital disruptions.

In order to facilitate the implementation of these recommendations, the Task Force invites the G20 to take note of the underlying rationale, and to adopt the corresponding international guidelines, standards and legal frameworks, as follows.

1. Building Resilience in the Digital Environment

Building resilience means developing a digital environment that individuals and organisations can trust. No trust, no trade. To build trustworthiness in the digital products, services and infrastructures, personal data and privacy needs to be protected, the safety of the digital environment needs to be assured, and transparency needs to be provided to enable accountability of algorithmic decission-making. With this objective, the G20 members should:

  • Foster a policy making approach that favours strong security and encourages encryption by default/ design for the digital communication and protection of data, adopting the OECD Guidelines for Cryptography Policy. In addition, information security policies should make available measurement and analysis to enable an informed assessment about the safety of the digital environment, taking as reference the OECD Recommendations on Digital Security Risk Management, and the OECD Recommendations on the Protection of Critical Information Infrastructures.
  • Recognise the nature of privacy as a fundamental right and strengthen privacy enforcement and data protection by governments, corporations and individuals towards ensuring the safety of personal data, and ending arbitrary or unlawful mass surveillance or interception of electronic communications adopting the OECD Privacy Guidelines, the Civil Society Madrid Declaration, the provisions of Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the United Nations General Assembly Resolutions on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age, the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy of the Human Rights Council, and the positions on this issue of the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe.

2. Improving the Sustainability and Equity of Digitalisation

Improving sustainability and equity means fostering a deployment of digitalisation which is compatible with the dynamics of the affected ecosystems, where human rights and the democratic rule of law sets the standards for the governance of human societies. With this objective, the G20 members should:

  • Foster investments in digitalisation to ensure universal and affordable, full Internet access and use in the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda, prioritising women and other digitally excluded groups, and including provisions to evaluate their impact on the ecosystem and on human rights. Current figures for 58 low- and middle-income countries show that only one-third have internet that is affordable for the majority of their people5. This assessment should include a focus on the mining and manufacturing regions involved in the industrial production of electronic devices, on the effects of digitalisation in the full range of human rights worldwide including privacy, freedom of expression, and also economic, social and cultural rights6. Built-in obsolescence and proprietary standards should be excluded from public procurement, in favor of open source and open standard technologies and those with longer life cycles, and improved energy efficiency.
  • Adopt a sustainable multi-stakeholder approach that ensures participation parity for all involved stakeholders, and compliance to the democratic rule of law, improving the models of the bodies currently setting the standards and legal frameworks that are driving digitalisation, and taking as reference the NETmundial Internet Governance Principles, and the OECD Council Internet Policy-Making Principles.

3. Assuming the Responsibility of Digital Externalities

Assuming responsibility means addressing the potential harmful effects of digitalisation. Individuals and organisations should be protected from eventual digital failures, and the economic impact of digital disruption should be compensated for to ensure inclusiveness. With this objective, G20 members should:

  • Develop an accountability model that identifies all the actors involved in the provision of digital services and products, identifying their technical and legal obligations, and establishing principles of compensations to the various actors in the case of failure, taking as reference the OECD Recommendations on Consumer Protection in E-commerce, and on Electronic Authentication.
  • Develop an economic model where the profits of digitalisation contribute to support social protection systems capable of compensating for the displacement of individual purchasing and savings capacity, so as to ensure the coverage of basic needs and the acquisition of skills for job transition and to harness the new technologies and modes of production.

About the G7/G20 Civil Society Digitalisation Task Force

The G7/G20 Civil Society Digitalisation Task Force was established in 2017 to provide a channel for civil society participants involved in digitalisation to engage in the G7/ G20 process. Recognizing the role of the OECD Committee on the Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) as the main provider of digitalisation policy in the G7/G20 context, the task force works as part of Civil Society Advisory Council of that committee (the OECD CSISAC).

The CSISAC is the voice of civil society at the OECD CDEP. The CSISAC facilitates the exchange of information between the OECD and civil society participants, leading to better-informed and more widely accepted policy frameworks. The formal recognition of this Advisory Committee by the OECD in 2008 was the result of an effort initiated in the 1990s to promote participation parity in global policy-making.

Today, the CSISAC is the main venue to channel the participation of civil society in the OECD work on the digital economy, joining the efforts of more than 200 organisations, activists and scholars worldwide. You can learn more about the CSISAC visiting our website7, or by writing directly to the CSISAC liaison at <liaison@csisac.org>


This paper has been prepared by CSISAC Liaison Suso Baleato, based on the input provided by the CSISAC membership, including Marc Rotenberg, Claire Milne, Amie Stepanovich, Wolfgang Kleinwächter, Michael Gurstein, Renata Ávila, Jeremy Malcolm, Roger Clarke, Martin Schmalzried, Deborah Brown, Maryant Fernández, Pam Dixon, Susan Grant, Valeria Milanes, Harry Halpin, Anriette Esterhuysen, Dennys Antonialli and Alejadro Segarra.



Women in the developing world are 50% less likely to be online than men. See: http://webfoundation.org/about/research/digital-gender-gap-audit/ Figures based on 2016 research.


Politically excluded ethnic groups have 40% less connectivity than favored ones. See http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6304/1151


See the reports of the OECD Committee on the Digital Economy https://www.oecd.org/internet/ministerial/


Based on 1GB of mobile data priced at 2% or less the average monthly income. Based on 2017 figures. See: http://a4ai.org/affordability-report/