What can we do with the internet

"Only together can we make the Internet a safe place"

Statement on “Safer Internet Day” by Volker Jung, member of the council and media officer of the EKD

The internet has become indispensable. Over half of all humanity is now online. Life is increasingly shaped by digital technology. For many people, this includes the smartphone, which is part of everyday work, enables close contact with family and friends and connects easily with people all over the world. More and more people are now also using voice assistants to query information or to place orders online. This makes some things easier, but it is also a gigantic gateway for third parties. You can collect personal data to an unprecedented level and thus invade your privacy. That is why it is good that there is “Safer Internet Day”. This day draws attention to the great challenge that comes with the many new opportunities. It's about protecting your own data and thus yourself. Everyone is jointly responsible for the data they disclose.

The connection to the Internet has become a matter of course in many areas. The resulting dependency becomes clear very quickly if the technology is refused to work or is consciously attacked. For example, the Frankfurt city administration was recently paralyzed for days by hacker attacks. A lot of data is lost in such attacks. Sometimes employees have to stay disconnected from the Internet for weeks for security reasons. Internet security is not just a question for large organizations. It concerns everyone and everyone.

Only together can we make the internet a safe place. It is important to exchange ideas across generations. It's about being aware of what happens to the data we generate when we use social media or play online games. The use of the net turns everyone into learners. We have to learn to use the network in a way that is good for us. What is good for us? This question needs to be rethought - in schools, in the church, in all areas of our lives. The question of the Safer Internet goes further than the question of protecting and securing data. It asks the question of how we as humans can live well together in the digitized world, so that we gain participation and freedom and do not create new injustices and dependencies.

Of course, all of this goes beyond purely technical issues. There is also the question of humanity and inhumanity on the Internet. It is about questions of visibility and invisibility, openness and anonymity on the web. Cyber ​​bullying, grooming, hate speech - there are ever new phenomena that violate people on the Internet. It is a task for everyone to make public things that happen in secret. This also includes creating an atmosphere and a legal space online in which victims do not have to feel left alone and perpetrators are exposed as such.

Together we have to agree that the network is neither a morally free area nor an area free from law. The protection of inviolable human dignity must also be the top priority here. For Christians, this is due to the fact that they understand all human beings to be loved by God and therefore worthy of protection. This includes publicly showing red lines and standing by anyone who needs help. Again, together we can make the internet a safer place. It's good that “Safer Internet Day” is a reminder!