Thomas de Maizière: making Germany the centre of digital Europe

Thomas de Maizière, Federal Minister of the Interior in Germany outline's the government's vision of digital Germany in the post-Snowdon world.

Thomas de Maizière is Federal Minister of the Interior in Germany

WARNING: Liveblogging – prone to error, bias and inaccuracy. Will be updated/improved over the next 48 hours. EDITED HIGHLIGHTS of speech only – not a full transcript

Our attitudes to digital technology as and individuals and a society are marked by tensions:

  1. We want to use more and more technology, but we’re worried about losing control of our data.
  2. We are aware of the benefits of global networks, but we are worried about German data standards being watered down.
  3. We want the Government to stay out of the internet, but we do want them to protect our data privacy.

Government is only one actor in the digital world, but it does have an important role. It mustn’t make things impossible, but must step in when needed. We have to make decisions that will change the future, while keeping pace with change. This is a highly sensitive area. It’s both a mega and meta issue.

All of our infrastructure is operated by IT. It is our infra-infrastructure.

We are not so bold as to set the agenda for digital development. Rather we have a “to do” list of positive influences we can have.

  1. Ensure freedom and balance. Network use must not be restricted. It is for free expression and should enjoy special protection. My freedom ends when it encroaches on the freedom of others. Internet use must not be governed by giant corporate providers.
  2. Government shares responsibility for Internet as infrastructure. Government has to define the rules for the secure operation of infrastructure by private entities.
  3. Setting a climate for the favourable development of digital products and services. We are doing this – but we want to do better. We want Germany to lead Europe in digital technology.

Many of you will not praise this list of government responsibilities. You do not have to. We want to take a pragmatic approach, perhaps with co-regulation. We set the framework, you set the details within that. The Government defines minimum standards for all to meet, or redlines that no-one should cross. This allows us to remain flexible and respond to developments and risk – but brings legal clarity and certainty. The law remains open to development and innovation.

The internet does not to belong to the government or the citizen alone. It is a public space, for the benefit of all, but like all public spaces it need rules.