DThe federal government wants to play a greater role in shaping the global digital age. The “Strategy for an International Digital Policy”, which the Federal Cabinet decided on Wednesday, should provide the compass for this. “Together we want to protect the free Internet and campaign against censorship and network blocks worldwide,” said Federal Digital Minister Volker Wissing (FDP), whose ministry developed the strategy.

The strategy is a “plea for democracy and freedom, prosperity as well as sustainability and resilience in the global digital age”. More than 100 participants contributed to the preparation of the 16-page paper, including scientists, representatives of digital and business associations and employees of international organizations.

The strategy sets out nine principles on which Germany's international digital policy should be based. At the top is the protection of fundamental and human rights “online and offline”. The paper states that authoritarian states are increasingly blocking the Internet in order to cover up their own human rights violations, influence elections or censor unpopular opinions.

“Values-based technology partnerships”

The increase in disinformation campaigns as a strategic tool by anti-democratic actors, illegitimate foreign influence, unfounded and fundamental rights-contrary surveillance and data misuse, as well as hate speech on the Internet, damaged democratic discourse and trust in the rule of law.

The Federal Government wants to ward off such dangers primarily with its EU partners and through cooperation in international committees. When designing digitalization, “value-based technology partnerships” were used, according to the strategy paper. Cooperation with the United States is also “extremely important” in the digital sector.

The strategy also includes a chapter promising to create prosperity in a globalized digital economy. However, the importance of regulation is primarily described. Germany and the EU are “pioneers” here. New norms, principles and standards must be added, “especially for new and disruptive digital technologies such as artificial intelligence”.

The strategy for international digital policy is the latest of almost a dozen technology policy strategies from the traffic light government. These include the national data strategy or the AI ​​strategy, the gigabit strategy and the cybersecurity strategy. However, if you look at the implementation, there are problems in many places. One year after the adoption of the national digital strategy, only eleven percent of the projects had been completed, according to an interim report by the digital association Bitkom from summer 2023.