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How is the Internet doing in Germany?

29/09/2020

Initial findings of UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators in Germany were debated at the German Internet Governance Forum 2020

UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators were centerpiece of discussion at a debate on the state of play and future of the internet in Germany, organized on 10 September 2020 at the 12th edition of the German Internet Governance Forum. Under the title “How is the Internet doing in Germany?”, webinar participants discussed to what extent UNESCO’s principles for Internet Universality – promoting an Internet based on Rights, Openness, Accessibility and Multi-stakeholder participation (ROAM) – are currently reflected in internet development and digital policy processes in Germany.

The ongoing national assessment of the Internet in Germany is based on UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators (IUIs) framework and was launched in 2020. The research project is led by the Leibniz Institute for Media Research of the Hans Bredow Institute (HBI) in Hamburg on behalf of the German National Commission for UNESCO.

At the webinar, initial findings were presented by Dr Matthias C. Kettemann, lead researcher for the project at HBI. Preliminary results indicate that while Germany scores high in many areas, such as Rights and Multi-stakeholder participation, there is still room for improvement in various aspects highlighted by the IUIs framework, especially in the context of increasing challenges worldwide regarding online freedoms. In Germany, this would include law enforcement of digital policies, the underrepresentation and lack of adequate protection of women and girls online, as well as the need for a more diversified IT infrastructure, which as of now is dependent on a few, private providers with implications for equal access to high-speed internet.

Other speakers at the meeting included Wolfram von Heynitz, Head of the Cyber Policy Coordination Staff at the Federal Foreign Office and Chairman of the national Multi-stakeholder Advisory Board (MAB) for monitoring the application of UNESCO's Internet Universality Indicators in Germany; Annette Mühlberg, German United Services Trade Union ver.di; Elisabeth Schauermann, German Informatics Society, Youth Internet Governance Forum; Lars Steffen, eco International, eco - Association of the Internet Industry, and Cédric Wachholz, Chief of Section for Digital Innovation and Transformation at the Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO.

The team at the Hans Bredow Institute will further discuss the results and recommendations of the assessment at an online validation workshop organized by the German UNESCO Commission on 5 November 2020, inviting the 14 members of the national Multi-stakeholder Advisory Board (MAB) for the assessment, and other interested parties. The final national report will be presented at the end of December 2020. Current developments can be followed at www.internet2020.de and www.wiegehtsdeminternet.de.

The Internet Universality ROAM-X Indicators framework was developed to assess and help improve national internet development and related governance processes, to ensure coherence with the Sustainable Development Goals. It is a set of 303 indicators that aim to assess how well national stakeholders, including governments, companies, and civil society, perform in advancing the ROAM principles of Rights, Openness, Accessibility, and Multi-stakeholder participation, as agreed by UNESCO Member States.

For more information on UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators and the ROAM-X framework, visit: https://en.unesco.org/internet-universality-indicators.