The overall state of the internet is good. This is one outcome of a study to assess internet development
conducted by an HBI team led by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulz
and Prof. Dr. Matthias C. Kettemann
on behalf of the German Commission for UNESCO. For the study, the team applied the UNESCO Internet Universality Indicators and, on this basis, examined the current state of the Internet in Germany in terms of human rights, openness, accessibility and multi-stakeholder participation. The report also includes recommendations and advice on how digitisation can be further developed and is now available as an open access publication in German and English.
Download as PDF (German | English)
Press Release of the German Commission for UNESCO
Findings from the Study
CATEGORY R – Rights
There is potential for improvements both in the area of the E-Government Development Index (EGDI) and in relation to the E-Participation Index (EPI) – these are being sought by the Federal Government’s new Chief Information Officer. However, this will depend on which interest groups and specialist groups are involved in the development of strategies for a digital future, including in the area of open data and open educational resources. The consideration of different interest groups and diverse perspectives is to be welcomed here.
CATEGORY O - Openness
An open Internet is of key importance for dynamic digitalisation. Germany is among the top ten countries in the Network Readiness Index, which measures the potential of different countries to make (innovatively) use of the opportunities offered by information and communication technology (ICT), although Germany’s good economic output is particularly decisive for Germany’s good position in the ranking. Every fifth newly founded company has strong digital relevance.
There is development potential in the area of the expansion of digital administrative services as part of the implementation of the Online Access Act and the promotion of digital innovations in administration, especially through the expansion of user-friendly digital administrative platforms for the population and for companies. However, improving the environment for start-ups by increasing the number of customised financing instruments (e.g. through more venture capital), closer interlinking of start-ups and medium-sized companies and funding for women business founders and people with an immigration background would be advisable.
CATEGORY A - Accessibility to All
According to various sources, between 91% and 94% of households in Germany use the Internet. 100% of young people (16–24 years of age) now use the Internet. The costs for Internet access are still high in an international comparison, but are falling slightly. While the number of social media users hardly changed in 2019 compared to 2018, the duration of use of social media increased significantly.
The broadband expansion in Germany is clearly lagging behind in an international comparison; although the speed of Internet connections in Germany has doubled overall in the past three years, there are definitely strong regional fluctuations with regard to rural regions and the eastern federal states as well as small towns with fewer than 10,000 people.
CATEGORY M - Multi-Stakeholder participation
Germany is effectively helping to shape the guidelines of future Internet governance internationally and is constantly and strategically advocating Internet governance based on the multi-stakeholder approach. Germany is a member state of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and one of the main supporters and advocates of Internet governance based on the participation of all stakeholder groups (multi-stakeholder governance).
CATEGORY X - Cross-cutting indicators
The Federal Government takes into account the interests and needs of all disadvantaged groups in national digital strategies and other government strategies with implications for digital Germany. Making the effects of digitalisation and the use of algorithmic systems non-discriminatory and thus helping to reduce gender inequalities is a central goal of the Federal Government. Measures must be taken here, including at the European regulatory level, to ensure transparency and accountability and not hinder innovation. However, there is an imbalance in the number of women and men in government positions dealing with ICT/Internet. The fundamental rights-sensitive handling of gender-specific hate speech and the complex of digital violence would benefit considerably from an increased collection of disaggregated data.
About the Study
The HBI conducted the study "The State of the Internet in Germany
" on behalf of the German Commission for UNESCO in July and August 2020 - partly by means of primary surveys and partly by contextualising existing studies. The comprehensive report on the state of the internet in Germany and the status of digital policy based on the Internet Universality Indicators (IUI) formulates recommendations on how digitalisation in Germany can be further developed.