Launch of Geneva foundation to promote ethics in digital world

Brad Smith, CEO of Microsoft, at the launch of the Swiss Digital Initiative in Geneva on September 1 Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

Geneva is set to host a new foundation to oversee the “Swiss Digital Initiative” – a public-private initiative aimed at promoting ethical standards and fairness in the digital world. 

This content was published on September 2, 2019 - 20:19

The board of the new foundation will be chaired by former Swiss cabinet minister Doris Leuthard. She will oversee the initiative, which will be formally launched at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos in 2020 with specific projects, said Mark Walder, founder of digitalswitzerlandExternal link

The news was reported at a conference in Geneva on Monday, which brought together senior business figures, academics and Swiss politicians. These included top managers from Microsoft, Huawei, Google, Nestlé, Roche and Credit Suisse, the heads of Swiss universities and Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich and Lausanne, as well as high-ranking United Nations representatives. 

The initiative was launched under the patronage of Swiss President Ueli Maurer. 

“We need public-private partnerships,” Maurer declared, adding that the new platform must build trust, transparency and encourage commitments. 

A policy paper discussed at the Geneva gathering had been prepared by an independent group of experts from Swiss universities. It said that while digital disruption is transforming the world, it must always serve people and place them at the centre. 

Leuthard added: “The common objective is to credibly promote the enormous potential of digital technologies so that they benefit everyone". Citizens must be able to trust these new technologies, hence the importance of clear rules, she added. 

The development follows the publication of “The Age of Digital Interdependence” reportExternal link in June by the High-level Panel on Digital CooperationExternal link, which was appointed by the UN Secretary-General. 

The report outlines a series of recommendations to the private sector, civil society, national governments and international organisations to ensure that the benefits delivered by digital technologies to societies and to each individual outweigh the challenges those technologies raise.  

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