Cyber Policy in Germany: The Risks and Opportunities of Digitization

December 4, 2013

On December 4, 2013, AGI hosted a seminar on “Cyber Policy in Germany: The Risks and Opportunities of Digitization” with DAAD/AGI Research Fellow Kathrin Ulmer, a Research Assistant at the Berlin-based think tank Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP). The discussion started by looking at the Grand Coalition treaty’s passages dedicated to cyber policy, which attempts to control the new territory between the power to connect and necessity to protect. Also discussed were the opportunities and challenges of the growing cyberspace and the increasing efforts to protect individuals’ as well as companies’ privacy and knowledge.

Digitization remains a source of tremendous opportunity, and in the treaty, the coalition partners agreed that Germany would aspire to be the country with the highest level of digital growth in Europe. Furthermore, it will increase its efforts in digital education and digital working and living, which favors working from home. The coalition also looks to continue pursuing innovation and increase Germany’s efforts to develop global software domestically, while ensuring privacy and protection.

However, digitization also poses great threats that require guidance by policies. First attempts were made by introducing a bill that requires companies to report their security incidents. But the fragmented approach to protection still allows for great improvements as companies, states, and individuals endure cyber-attacks daily.

The problem is extremely complex and needs to be defined before a strategic resolution can be found. Experts call Germany’s efforts so fragmented that the government does not know what it knows. A more centralized protection is needed, as countries as well the CSOs (Chief Security Officers) must work together to identify potential threats. The intensification of cyber-attacks has increased the already very high demand for data protection. Germany’s approach to solving this problem will be closely watched by European countries as well as the United States.

Finally, the panel agreed that cyber threats are extremely serious and many Internet users fail to see the importance of this situation. There is a cultural divide between German and American views on cyber threats, but both countries have to start realizing the daily risks they face. 

DATE: Wednesday, December 4, 2013
TIME: 12:00pm – 1:30pm
1755 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036