Forty global businesses including Nokia, LG and Telefonica are signatories to the GSMA’s Digital Declaration, a set of principles that serve as a guide to act ethically in the digital era. The GSMA, the trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators, launched the declaration at the World Economic Forum in Davos at the end of January.
The Digital Declaration is a cross-industry initiative of CEOs confronting the shared challenges they face. 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, and ensure everyone can participate in the digital economy as it develops, whilst combatting online harassment.
The ultimate aim is that when taken together, these commitments will ensure the internet is kept as an open platform for expression and a driver of innovation.
Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA, said that the public has a lack of trust around the way organisations handle data and the declaration is intended to go some way in rebuilding that trust.
He said: “It is all about rebuilding trust. We do not trust industry. We do not trust governments. We do not trust politicians, but business leaders are still enjoying a little bit more trust.”
Granryd called on business leaders who have good intentions to sign up to the declaration. He said that by doing so they are essentially saying: “We are going to treat data with the utmost respect. We are going to protect your data against cybersecurity threats.”
Bharti Airtel was the first company to sign up to the declaration. Its chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal 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 industry to make the required investments to build a sustainable digital ecosystem and maintain citizens’ trust through transparent and responsible conduct with regard to privacy and data.”
Granryd also drew attention to the need for multilateral action on guidelines for ethical and responsible business behaviour. He said: “The Digital Declaration is a global initiative because it cannot be in one country or a continent. It needs to be global.”
However Granryd did admit that his organisation would have no way of enforcing adherence to the guidelines and it would be up to the corporations to follow them. “It is creating a baseline because we don’t have one today and that is the first starting point,” he said.