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Bundestag Election 2021: Demands for a Digitally Sovereign Society


Digital civil society organisations make four demands for a digitally sovereign society to politicians for the 2021 federal election. Among them is the Free Software Foundation Europe, which works to ensure that software developed with public money shall be published under a Free Software licence.

On 1 April 2020, civil society organisations working for an independent digital infrastructure and free access to knowledge called on politicians: Learn from the crisis - strengthen digital civil society! (German) In an open letter, the undersigned organisations also made concrete recommendations for action. However, far too little has happened since then. The past year has made it clear that politics and public administration are overwhelmed with their own digital transformation and are setting priorities in digital policy that do not meet the needs of society. We are far from a digitally sovereign society.

Public Money? Public Code!

That is why a broad spectrum of organisations, including the Free Software Foundation Europe, has once again come together at digitalezivilgesellschaft.org to support politics with their expertise. With four demands, the network shows how digitisation can succeed for a digitally sovereign society - and calls on the parties in light of the federal elections to make digitisation for the common good a central topic.

Four demands to the federal government

  1. Digital Sovereignty: politicians must anchor the digital sovereignty of society as the highest maxim in digital policy. Instead of a digital ministry, we need a mission for the coming legislative period that elevates digital sovereignty to a guiding principle and is drafted and evaluated together with representatives from civil society, science and business.
  2. Participation and Transparency: civil society must finally be given the same opportunities as business and science to contribute its expertise. This is achieved through a civil society quota in political advisory bodies, communication and transparency on procedures of political decision-making processes, legally defined deadlines for consultations as well as machine-readable documentation.
  3. Public Money, Public Good: publicly funded solutions must be accessible to all under a free licence so that no knowledge is lost or problems are solved twice. This concerns software: We want legal foundations that require software developed with public money for public administrations to be published under a Free Software Licence (also know as Open Source). If public money is involved, the code should also be public! (Public Money? Public Code!). But also public administration data (Open Data) as well as free knowledge and open educational materials (Open Educational Resources).
  4. Sustainable Digitisation: digitisation can only succeed if the development of digital infrastructure is economically and socially viable. To this end, diversity in digitisation and the development and maintenance of secure, decentralised digital infrastructure for society must be promoted in the long term.

Launch event on 5 May 2021

At the launch event, Julia Reda (former member of the EU Parliament), Henning Tillmann (software developer and co-chair of D64) and Julia Kloiber (co-founder Superrr Lab) will discuss these four demands on 5 May 2021 from 18:00 to 19:30. The panel will be moderated by Katja Jäger (betterplace lab). Afterwards, all participants will have the opportunity to exchange ideas on solutions, measures and calls for action in four thematic rooms. FSFE's Alexander Sander will moderate the room on "Public Money? Public Code!". Further information and registration for the launch event will be available soon on digitalezivilgesellschaft.org.

Signatory organisations of digitalezivilgesellschaft.org: Free Software Foundation Europe, Superrr Lab, gut.org, betterplace lab, Social Entrepreneurship Netzwerk Deutschland e.V. (SEND), Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland e.V., Liquid Democracy e.V., iRights.Lab, Forum InformatikerInnen für Frieden und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung e.V. (FIfF), Chaos Computer Club, Bundesverband Smart City e.V., mediale pfade, Stiftung Erneuerbare Freiheit, Center for the Cultivation of Technology, neuland21 e.V., Arbeitskreis Digitalisierung der BUNDjugend, Verstehbahnhof, Bundesnetzwerk Bürgerschaftliches Engagement, Wikimedia Deutschland e. V., Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, D64, epicenter.works e.V., Digitale Gesellschaft e.V., Ashoka Deutschland e. V., Progressives Zentrum e. V.