Web Foundation, Partners Urge UN to Make Digital Trust and Security a Priority 

His Excellency Volkan Bozkir, President of the United Nations General Assembly
His Excellency Volkan Bozkir, President of the United Nations General Assembly

The World Wide Web Foundation and a number of its partners have published an Open Letter to the new President of the United Nations General Assembly, VolkanBozkir (of Turkey), urging him to make digital trust and security a priority for his presidency.

The letter specifically calls for a global statement on digital trust and security to be endorsed by member states of the UN. The statement sends a clear signal that world leaders in government, industry, and civil society are committed to closing the trust deficit in the digital age and securing progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, the letter calls on the United Nations to provide a platform for all stakeholders to participate in such deliberations.

Calling on the UN to promote and safeguard the digital technologies that now underpin society, the letter noted that the world faces a historic challenge and it is now more critical than ever that technology is both available to all as a matter of social and economic justice but also used in the right way and in pursuit of common good.

The signatories reminded the UN General Assembly that as representing the collective conscience and will of the international community, it “has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to ensure the digital domain is universal, safe, meaningful and trustworthy so it can promote social and economic progress for all.”

The letter toldHis Excellency VolkanBozkir: “As you usher in the historic 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, we urge you to make digital trust and security a central pillar of your presidency. We commend the historic achievement of the Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations. For the first time, all member states committed to improve digital cooperation and ensure safe and affordable digital access for all citizens. Progress must not stop there. At a time of crisis it is essential that the world steps up efforts in this space, not least to support the development and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, an endeavour on which the role of digital technology is fundamental.”

The partners called on his leadership to advance the digital agenda, and called on all member states to reinforce and expand upon these commitments in a global statement on digital trust and security as called for by the Secretary-General in his Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.

The letter reminded him that “Our daily lives, economic prosperity, security, and social progress hinge on a safe and secure digital environment that is affordable, accessible, and reliable,” adding,“ICTs increasingly underpin access to nearly all essential services, including food, water, energy, and healthcare, as well as critical government functions, such as issuing identification and conducting elections.

Prioritizing digital trust and security, the letter noted, will provide more visibility and energy to the UN processes already underway aimed at advancing a rules-based digital order, including the Group of Governmental Experts in the Field of Information and Telecommunications and the Open-Ended Working Group.

The partners said they eagerly awaited the results of the work off the experts and hope to support their efforts to advance global cyber norms. As those and other processes advance, they encouraged leadership at the United Nations to abide by the language in the 75th anniversary declaration to “provide a platform for all stakeholders to participate in such deliberations.”

They warned: “We must learn from the lessons of history not to let one crisis breed another,” saying “progress towards a safe, open, and secure cyberspace is needed now more than ever to meet and surmount the challenges we face.”

The letter said civil society, technical communities, Think tanks, industry and eminent digital personalities have found common ground on the need for global action on digital trust and security and therefore believe that governments can join the call, endorse a global statement, and ensure a safe and secure digital future for everybody.

The partners reminded the UN that in his Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, the Secretary General makes clear that, “future generations will judge whether the present generation seized the opportunities presented by the age of digital interdependence.” The partners concluded the letter saying they stand willing to join governments and other stakeholders to advance this global imperative, adding “Together, we can deliver a digital future that is safe, secure, and inclusive.”