Köln 07.04.2020

Digital self-determination – using openness to escape dependence!

How can openness and standardization strengthen digital self-determination? Holger Dyroff is a member of the Executive Board at the OSB (Open Source Business) Alliance – Bundesverband für Digitale Souveränität e. V. (Federal Association for Digital Sovereignty) and the CEO of ownCloud GmbH. In this interview he explains how we can move away from digital dependency.

Mr. Dyroff, what does the term “digital self-determination” mean to you?
The term represents independent digital offerings. On the one hand, this means that I as a buyer and a user can control my data within the offering. On the other hand, I’m also able to put the offering itself to the test at any time. If I want to, I can continue to run my applications elsewhere at any time, for example by working with another provider. This requires open source solutions and open standards.

Where do you currently see the greatest dependencies that digital self-determination could overcome?
Dependencies are everywhere where open standards are not being used. The business models implemented by the digital giants are designed to be dependent. This starts with operating systems and extends to applications, and all areas of IT. In general, dependencies are higher in public clouds than in your own data center.

What measures and offerings can be used to achieve digital self-determination?
Open standards and interoperability are the key, and this is exactly what the US Cloud Act contradicts. It makes US providers obligated to release data to US authorities no matter what country the data is stored in. Everyone can make an effort to avoid using services that store data and documents within the scope of the US Cloud Act. In contrast, European providers should invest specifically in offerings and create alternatives with a high degree of digital self-determination. Instead of convenience, individual initiative and creativity are required to reduce dependencies.

What kind of support would you like to see from business and politics?
I’d like to see greater promotion of open solutions and communities and better regulation of offerings that are not data protection compliant. This also includes much clearer positioning against the US Cloud Act. In addition, those responsible for procurement planning should focus on products and services with a high degree of digital self-determination so that the desire for more digital self-determination is not just hollow words. GAIA-X is a promising German and European idea; to make true the digital self-determination that comes with it, these ideas must now be brought to life.

Thank you very much for the interview, Mr. Dyroff!


Digital self-determination – using openness to escape dependence!