A digital agenda for change
– MWC Barcelona 2019
Last week I attended Mobile World Congress 2019. MWC Barcelona is the largest mobile event in the world, bringing together the latest innovations and cutting-edge technology from more than 2,400 leading companies. The conference programme contains visionaries and explores the hottest topics influencing the industry today.
I attended the Ministerial Programme; an integral part of MWC Barcelona which brings together ministers, telecom regulators, data protection authorities, city mayors, international organisations and CEOs from around the world to discuss key technology developments and policy trends in the mobile sector.
Centred on the theme of the Digital Citizen, the programme explored what the digital transformation delivers for citizens globally, the impact of new technologies on long-term economic growth and the opportunities and challenges with 5G on the horizon.
Digital development is a key platform for delivering an advanced and inclusive society
GSMA intelligence foresees that six billion citizens will have mobile subscriptions by 2025. That is one billion more than today. Mobile devices are increasingly bridging the social and digital divide; however this does not automatically guarantee greater inclusion. Tackling this is a key issue in emerging countries where many initiatives are focusing on bringing connectivity to women and children. With this new connectivity it is important to differentiate between ownership and usage in order to ensure that people and communities that are newly connected receive – and use – the content and services available to them.
Digital technology will have a significant impact on society’s progress for generations to come
Huawei Deputy Chairman, Rotating Chairman, Mr Ken Hu spoke at the conference and presented how his company expands the definition of the digital revolution in three steps; Connectivity, Application, and Skills, with a focus on building skills on every level in society; Government, Business and Community.
Mr Hu mentioned that the usage of content is essential for inclusion and for economic growth. This is very true, especially as change will only continue to increase in speed. 5G is approaching fast and technology is increasingly enabling people to do amazing things to make our world better. This is great, however being online requires education in internet safety, and with intelligent connectivity, which affects everything and everyone, on the rise, safety will only become more paramount. Despite this it was disappointing that nobody mentioned children specifically and the measures that we need to put in place to ensure children’s safety online – already in the connectivity phase, which Hu talked about.
A Digital Declaration
During one of the keynote sessions, Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA, spoke of a regulatory framework, the Digital Declaration, that will boost security and form a constructive collaboration between stakeholders as we move further into the era of significant technological advances.
More than forty CEO’s have signed the declaration already. For businesses the declaration reflects a commitment to an open and accessible internet for citizens around the globe. Signatories are expected to take steps to reduce online harassment and cyber threats, and to respect the privacy of their customers while being secure and transparent in their use of personal data.
My hope is that the Digital Declaration will also be the holistic plan needed to protect connected children that are at risk of becoming victims of sexual abuse. To ensure a brighter future for these children, the Digital Declaration must (!) include measures to deal with offenders who use the internet to sexually abuse children. Further my hope is that more businesses, if not all, will see it as a given to be responsible employers that not only make sure that the connectivity that they provide is safe, but that this also extends to their own IT environments.
For the kids growing up in this era we have to demand that network providers consider the integrity of children depicted in child sexual abuse material, and champion that they do everything in their power to make sure that their ethical business standards result in services clean from child sexual abuse material.
Writing the rights of children into this issue is not just a moral obligation, it is good business sense. Children are people and it is a human right for victims of sexual abuse to not be re-victimised and further exploited online if businesses, government and civil society fail to make enough of an effort to remove the material.
We cannot let lack of effort and will be what hinders children to grow up to be well functioning happy adults. Children’s rights in the digital world need to be part of every conversation!
Photos from GSMA, MWC Barcelona 2019