The OECD Digital Economy Ministerial Meeting was held on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria on December 14 and 15, 2022. At the event, government officials from fifty different countries, including Switzerland, met with business leaders and civil society representatives to discuss topics such as artificial intelligence, data governance, the future of connectivity, cybersecurity and human rights in the digital age. The gathering concluded with the adoption of two ministerial declarations and a series of recommendations on cybersecurity.
The OECD Digital Economy Ministerial Meeting took place at a critical juncture where states are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and are now facing the consequences of war and a difficult economic outlook.
Basic principles for regulated government access to private data
On the first day – after two years of intensive negotiations – a ministerial declaration was adopted in which OECD members agreed for the first time on principles for regulated government access to personal data from private companies (Declaration on Government Access to Personal Data held by Private Sector Entities). At the end of the conference, a second ministerial declaration (Declaration on a Trusted, Sustainable and Inclusive Digital Future) was adopted. This declaration takes stock of the work done by the OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) in recent years and sets priorities and milestones for the future work of this committee. Ambassador Thomas Schneider from the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), who serves both as Chair of the Council of Europe’s Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI) and as Vice-Chair of the CDEP, was involved in a high-level panel discussion on combatting misinformation and disinformation online. He also attended a workshop devoted to exploring the ‘Going Digital Toolkit’, which the OECD created to facilitate analysis and development of national digital strategies.
Recommendations on cybersecurity
A number of recommendations previously formulated by CDEP working parties and subsequently adopted by the CDEP were officially endorsed at the conference. This included four recommendations on digital security made by the CDEP’s Working Party on Security in the Digital Economy (SDE). Switzerland actively contributed to the development of these soft law instruments. Federal Cybersecurity Delegate and SDE Chair, Florian Schütz, led a workshop where the various results were presented. The OECD’s approach to digital security is based on risk management and focuses on the most effective policy tools that may be used to address economic and social challenges. All member states are encouraged to implement the recommended measures and thus contribute to cybersecurity.
The CDEP is the OECD committee that deals with various issues pertaining to digitalisation. Its mandate includes developing policy strategies aimed at helping OECD Member Countries to leverage the potential of ICT and to stimulate the growth of an accessible, innovative, open, inclusive and trusted digital economy for sustained prosperity and well-being. OFCOM is the federal agency tasked with coordinating Swiss participation in this committee. The Swiss delegation to the OECD Digital Economy Ministerial Meeting was led by Ambassador Thomas Schneider from OFCOM.
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