The challenges of digitalization for German Foreign and Security Policy (compl.)

Digitalization, as a central global challenge of the 21st century, equally relates to aspects of security, freedom, justice, the economy and society. While digitalization opens important economic perspectives, it also confronts politics with new challenges. The cyberattacks on TV5 Monde by an IS-affiliated group, increasing damage by cybercriminals and the NSA revelations have illustrated the importance and the inherent weaknesses of data security and data privacy. Given the increasing impact of cyberspace on everyday life, the German government has a particular interest in maintaining a peaceful, free, open and secure Internet.

A common European market with over 500 million consumers, therefore, requires not only high and common standards, but also a cyber foreign and security policy based on timely norms, which is well coordinated between national Ministerial portfolios. The Internet, which largely eludes traditional, national borders, has produced new approaches of intergovernmental cooperation, multi-stakeholder regimes and multilateral bodies, as seen in the domain of critical infrastructure protection or with regard to Internet Governance. The limited effectiveness of such approaches is, however, visible in the failure to establish minimum standards for governmental behaviour in cyberspace. There is still global anarchy in cyberspace, with all its inherent dangers.

How can the Federal Foreign Office, in coordination with other relevant ministries, shape German foreign and security policy? How, especially, can calls for security, privacy and economic growth – which are often seen as being diametrically opposed – be satisfied therein? How can the 21st century’s foreign economic opportunities be grasped without suffering a blow to German credibility regarding the protection of human rights in cyberspace? Which global internet principles should Germany further to safeguard its interests, for example in protecting critical infrastructures by combatting the black market on zero-day vulnerabilities? Where are the pathways for German politics to establish responsible principles of data security and data privacy at the European and global level? How can actors of the global south, the private sector and civil society be included to sustain a long-term and functioning multi-stakeholder approach?

To answer these questions, the project team will organise two workshops based on which it will compose a final study offering recommendations for German and European policy-making. The project is part of the SWP Research Division EU/Europe.

Project duration: May - December 2015

Head of Project: Dr. Annegret Bendiek
Research Assistants: Christoph Berlich, Tobias Metzger

Project funding: The project is funded by the Policy Planning Staff of the German Federal Foreign Office.

The publications listed below were not necessarily produced as part of the current project.