Why trust matters in the digital age

The success of the global economy depends on common standards that build trust in digital technologies, writes Catherine Chen.
Catherine Chen, President of the Public Affairs and Communications Department at Huawei | Source: Huawei

By Catherine Chen

Catherine Chen is a director of the board at Huawei Technologies

27 May 2021

In recent months, the world has faced an exceptional challenge, uncertainty, and complexity. A pandemic swept the globe and the way in which the economy operates was profoundly affected. All forms of digitalisation accelerated sharply.

The new norm has placed added value and emphasis on building and maintaining trust, which provides the basis of collaborative action and innovation. The interplay between societal norms and technology will be one of the key drivers of economic growth over the next decade.

This interplay is embodied in two ways. The first reflects how we choose to regulate digital technologies and their uses. Digital technologies have an absolutely incredible potential to drive economic growth, but their unregulated use would not be conducive to long-term prosperity and freedom.

Regulations that allow this technology to be implemented efficiently and effectively are essential but should be made objectively and evolve rapidly. There is much discussion of the right approach to adopt. And yet, given the issues at stake, regulators and governments need to move quickly to avoid being left behind by innovation. In this regard, Germany’s recent IT Security Act 2.0 presents an excellent step forward. It provides a clear legal framework and a sound basis for further improving the IT security of critical infrastructure.

The second way is in the standards that we adopt. The global economy is interconnected to an extent that would have seemed unimaginable a generation ago and will only become even more enmeshed and digital. The success of this new global economy must be built on common standards that build trust, allowing services and products to be deployed to a broader market more easily. Much of the success of the European Union has been built on the operation of its internal market.

“The interplay between societal norms and technology will be one of the key drivers of economic growth over the next decade”

But the success of economic development in a digital age depends on widespread adoption of both regulations and standards. If a regulation is adopted and implemented unilaterally, then some companies may simply avoid trading with or in the country concerned. As all parts of our global economy become increasingly interlinked, our efforts to find the best path to regulatory success must become increasingly global. In particular, our increasingly digital and mobile economy demands a focus on security related trust and dialogue. We must ensure that digital and cyber sovereignty are mutually respected, that user privacy and security are respected, and that data is allowed to flow across borders in a secure and orderly manner.

The global focus now must be on driving widespread adoption of truly common technical standards, and regulatory and legal frameworks that reflect nations’ specific values and norms. The adoption is essential to unlock the economic growth that will meet the needs of the global economy.

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