• Declaration to tackle online harassment and boost privacy and security
  • Announced at Davos, initiative is backed by 40 tech CEOs
  • GSMA’s Mats Granryd: “A new form of leadership is needed”

world economic forum

Annual Meeting 2019 of the World Economic Forum in Davos

Copyright by World Economic Forum / Ciaran McCrickard

Ericsson, Sony, Verizon, IBM, Orange and Vodafone are among 40 technology bosses to declare responsible leadership in the digital era. 

The cross-industry movement, led by chief executives from the technology, media, broadcasting and telecoms industries, aims to tackle online harassment and increase privacy and security.

Some 40 business leaders signed the GSMA’s Digital Declaration launched yesterday during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to address the shared challenges of the digital world.

The backers

The 40 business leaders who have already committed to the declaration span several industry sectors and include representatives from:

Bharti Airtel, China Mobile, China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, IBM, KDDI, KT, LG Electronics, Mobile World Capital Barcelona, Nokia, NTT DOCOMO, Orange, Samsung Electronics, Sharp, SK Telecom, Sony Corporation, STC Group, Telefónica, Turkcell, Verizon, Vodafone and Xiaomi.

The declaration is set to serve as a guide for ethical operations with key pillars for organisations to follow as standard practice in today’s digital era.

The principles have been designed to help companies deliver what is critical to citizens, industries and governments globally.

Its principles call on businesses to:

  • Respect the privacy of digital citizens
  • Handle personal data securely and transparently
  • Take meaningful steps to mitigate cyber threats
  • Ensure everyone can participate in the digital economy as it develops whilst combatting online harassment

These commitments will ensure the internet is kept as an open platform for expression and a driver of innovation.

“The Digital Declaration fits into our vision to enable a progressive, free and enlightened society” - Stéphane Richard, chairman and CEO of Orange

It is expected 60% of gross domestic product will become digitised by 2020, according to the World Economic Forum ‘Our Shared Future’ report from December 2018.

With 5G expected to accelerate this change, the initiative comes as businesses and consumers are transitioning unprecedented change in the digital world.

“Backing the Digital Declaration fits into our vision to enable a progressive, free and enlightened society,” said Stéphane Richard, chairman and CEO of Orange, and chair of the GSMA.

“Orange fights digital exclusion with innovations that are accessible to the greatest possible number of people. We secure and facilitate our customers’ digital lives thanks to our expertise in cybersecurity and in digital identity.

“Joining the Digital Declaration provides us with a shared vision of acting responsibly as we help our customers enter the eras of artificial intelligence and of the internet of things.”

Mobile is the most widely deployed technology platform with more than five billion unique subscribers globally and representing approximately two-thirds of the world population.

This is forecast to grow 71% to six billion unique users by 2025.

The first business leader to sign the Digital Declaration was Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, he said: “A positive and enabling digital future is integral to a truly empowered and inclusive society.

Such a future can only be built through constructive collaboration and continuous dialogue among key stakeholders. It is imperative for the industry to make the required investments to build a sustainable digital ecosystem and maintain citizen’s trust through transparent and responsible conduct with regard to privacy and data.”

GSMA is an industry body that has worked with business leaders to shape the declaration to demonstrate the private sector’s commitment to responsible leadership at a time when policymakers are facing new challenges from the evolving digital ecosystem.

Technological, political, social and economic disruptors are combining to create a perfect storm of disruption across all industries.

GSMA director general Mats Granryd said: “A new form of responsible leadership is needed to successfully navigate this era. We are on the cusp of the 5G era, which will spark exciting new possibilities for consumers and promises to transform the shape of virtually every business.

“In the face of this disruption, those that embrace the principles of the Digital Declaration will strive for business success in ways that seek a better future for their consumers and societies. Those that do not change can expect to suffer increasing scrutiny from shareholders, regulators and consumers.”