Opening keynote 2019
19 June 2019 | 10:15-10:30 | KING WILLEM-ALEXANDER AUDITORIUM |
Consolidated programme 2019 overview
- Ms. Mona Keijzer, State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy of the Netherlands
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the Netherlands. And welcome to The Hague.
Did you notice a salty smell this morning? A waft of fresh sea air?
It’s only a twenty-minute walk from here to the North Sea.
A stretch of water that, for many centuries, has connected the Netherlands with the rest of the world.
Looking out over the sea always gives you a feeling of freedom.
A breath of fresh air at the beach gives you new ideas.
And it also makes you daydream about what’s beyond the horizon.
Now I need to stop waxing lyrical about the sea.
Otherwise you’ll all get up and head to the beach!
But I do see great similarities between the vast expanse of the sea and the ever-expanding internet.
An idea I’ll return to shortly.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It’s such an honour to have all of you here in The Hague.
To listen, think and talk about partnerships in the digital age.
I’m delighted that my own ministry is the host of this year’s EuroDIG.
I hope that the concrete outcomes of this conference will resound in the global debate, in the form of ‘Messages from The Hague’.
The Netherlands stands for economic growth, digital security and freedom.
These values are very much in harmony with the spirit of EuroDIG: a multi-stakeholder platform that enables debate between representatives of governments, companies and civil society organisations.
In a little over a decade, EuroDIG has grown in scale, professionalism and importance.
In that same decade, the internet has come to pervade every aspect of our society.
Back in nineteen-eighty-eight, the Netherlands was the first European country and the second country in the world, after the United States, to connect to the free, open internet.
On the one hand, that’s not so long ago. Considering the rapid progress the internet has seen since then.
On the other hand: nineteen-eighty-eight seems a lifetime ago.
Because this was also the last time that the Netherlands won the European Football Championship!
The men, that is.
Think about how much has changed since then.
We now get most of our news via the internet.
We share our precious moments on the internet.
And, increasingly, we’re dealing with the government on the internet, too.
Whether it’s applying for a permit or filing a tax return.
In fact, if you want to turn up the heating in your house, you don’t even have to be at home anymore.
One thing is clear: the internet is always evolving. And that’s also true for the rules and agreements relating to the internet.
They must be updated on a regular basis.
We constantly need to check whether current legislation is still sufficient to guarantee an open, secure and stable internet.
The underlying question of this year’s EuroDIG will be: who is in charge of the internet?
This discussion about the governance of the internet has a broad bandwidth.
Some people want to leave everything to the large range of stakeholders and believe they can arrange things from the bottom up.
Others want states to regulate the internet from the top down.
And in between these extremes, all kinds of positions are possible.
It’s no accident that EuroDIG has added the subtitle ‘Cooperating in the Digital Age’ this year.
Because cooperation is key.
After all, cooperation led to the birth of the internet.
And now that the internet has grown up, it’s becoming even clearer: cooperation is critical.
Many different actors keep the internet going: research institutes, standardisation and technical organisations, the business community, civil society, user organisations and governments.
But none of these parties have complete authority over the internet.
And none of them can substantially influence the way the internet works.
At least, that's how it should be.
The internet belongs to nobody and everybody at the same time. This makes the internet a fertile ground for creativity, free speech and flexible trade.
Cooperation is the very lifeblood of the Netherlands.
Did you get here via Schiphol Airport?
You may not be aware of it, but the airport lies three-point-four metres below sea level.
Like lots of other places in the western Netherlands.
The battle against water is at the very heart of Dutch identity. It’s not a battle you can win by working in isolation.
As early as the thirteenth century a unique local form of government emerged in the Netherlands: the water boards.
People needed to work together because it was in the public interest for everyone’s feet to stay dry.
You’ve just seen two Dutch pitches, the first one about the Dutch Internet Standards Platform and the other one about the Dutch Digital Infrastructure Association.
They have shown what cooperation looks like in the Netherlands today.
Here, governments, companies and other stakeholders prefer to work together.
We excel in that. And I’ll give you three more examples.
The first is the Secure Software Alliance.
Market players, universities and my ministry are working together to build a framework of standards for ‘agile secure software development’.
This alliance is aimed at developing software that is safe at every stage of the product lifecycle.
My second example is the Digital Trust Center, set up by my own ministry last year.
The Center provides companies with advice and alerts to help them make their online businesses more secure.
Everything from lone entrepreneurs to large corporations.
The Digital Trust Center also provides grants to partnerships of cooperating companies that exchange knowledge and solutions.
The first ten  partnerships have already joined the Digital Trust Center.
My ambition is to double this network by the end of this year.
The third example is the fight against online child pornography. Public and private partners are working together to remove child pornography from the internet more quickly and efficiently.
For example, new agreements have been made in the ‘notice and takedown’-procedure for the removal of child pornography.
This is done within twenty-four hours after a report is made to the Dutch Child Pornography Reporting Centre.
A database is also made available containing the hash codes of such material.
This allows companies to check their own servers and remove the footage or images in the event of a ‘hit’.
If IT companies still fail to remove child pornography, we then look at the scope for administrative enforcement, in addition to the possibilities criminal law offers.
All these examples are in keeping with the idea of the internet as an open and free space that must be constantly protected.
You set rules if self-regulation fails or appears to be ineffective.
Or if there is a strong demand for rules from society, because public interests are at stake.
So that’s why our attitude is: self-regulate where possible, legislate where necessary.
To protect the openness of the internet, the Netherlands has also played a pioneering role in Europe when it comes to net neutrality.
As early as twenty-twelve the Netherlands had laid down net neutrality in law.
We were the first country in Europe and the second country in the world to do so.
This national law was replaced in twenty-sixteen by the EU’s Open Internet Access Regulation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As I’ve already suggested, there are great similarities between the vast expanse of the sea and the internet.
Let me introduce you to Hugo Grotius, or Hugo de Groot, as we call him in Dutch. He lived and worked four hundred years ago, here in The Hague.
He wrote Mare Liberum, a law book about the principle of free trade at sea.
In short, he concluded that the seas belong to everyone, and that all countries should have free access to the sea to travel and trade.
That idea certainly appeals to me.
I’m from the most famous fishing village in the Netherlands: Volendam. There, the sea runs through our veins.
Moreover, I have a background in law.
And I’m proud of this great Dutch scholar, whose ideas still inform international maritime law.
Mare Liberum can also be seen as a metaphor for the internet.
We want an open, free, secure and stable internet. Not a splinternet, but open international digital waters.
The protocols that form the core of the internet are of vital importance for all countries and all users.
We must look at how we can secure this core of the internet worldwide: governments, companies and internet users together.
And when it comes to a well-functioning and secure Internet of Things, regulation is somehow needed.
In the meantime, citizens and entrepreneurs need to improve their own digital skills and become more aware of the importance of cybersecurity.
Only then will the internet remain a open sea for everyone to sail – or surf, rather.
A place with a proper balance between economic growth, digital security and freedom.
I wish you lots of success and inspiration as you think about these issues.
In our city of peace and justice, The Hague.
You may obtain even more insights during tonight’s social event.
Which is being held in a very appropriate place: a beach bar.
Overlooking the wide, open sea.
Find an independent report of the session from the Geneva Internet Platform Digital Watch Observatory at https://dig.watch/sessions/opening-keynote-ms-mona-keijzer-state-secretary-economic-affairs-and-climate-policy-netherlands.