A snapshot of consumer affairs and privacy topics at GSMA Ministerial Programme

The 2024 Ministerial Programme brought together policymakers, industry leaders, and experts to tackle critical policy themes shaping the trajectory of global digital economies and societies. Taking a closer look at the themes for privacy and consumer affairs there was a focus on empowering young users in the digital landscape, network shutdowns and bolstering global security. These discussions emphasised collaboration’s necessity to drive growth and foster inclusive development. Here are some key highlights and actions.

Achieving global security alignment

Harmonisation and standardisation efforts are critical for effectively addressing the vast landscape of cybersecurity challenges, thereby promoting resilience and interoperability across borders. Stakeholders explored strategies for enhancing international cooperation and ensuring a global risk-based cybersecurity framework in the digital ecosystem. They also underscored the pivotal role of AI in bolstering cybersecurity measures but stressed the need for a common language and definitions.                                                                            

Managing the impact of network shutdowns

Participants delved into the complex nature of service restrictions, emphasising the paramount importance of upholding fundamental human rights through open dialogue. Speakers preferred targeted measures against malicious actors instead of blanket network shutdowns. The critical need to minimise negative impacts and safeguard connectivity for all, irrespective of geopolitical events, to ensure inclusive and uninterrupted access to digital services, was also underscored.

Are data laws keeping pace with the digital ecosystem?

Our experts in this session highlighted the need for international frameworks to ensure equitable and consistent application across digital players. The transformative potential of data in reshaping economies and societies was emphasised, alongside the need to strike a balance between innovation and responsible use. Collaboration, adaptability, and multilateral engagement emerged as foundational principles in shaping regulatory environments that are equipped to address future challenges.

Empowering young users in the digital landscape

Recognising young people as early adopters and drivers of change, discussions delved into the opportunities and challenges they face in the digital realm. Mobile technology offers them myriad opportunities to learn, engage, and communicate, but aligning with the principles outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) General Comment 25 (GC25) is key. GC 25 emphasises the equal and effective access for all children to the digital environment in ways that are meaningful for them. For policy makers it is crucial to consider both the protection and participation of young people. Balancing safety measures with opportunities for meaningful engagement is key to empowering young users and fostering their digital literacy and citizenship.

The 2024 Ministerial Programme highlighted the interrelated nature of policy themes shaping the digital economy and society. Collaborative efforts are vital to drive progress and foster inclusive growth, from connectivity and security to data governance and digital inclusion. As we navigate the complexities of the digital age, a unified vision grounded in collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity will be crucial to shaping a future that benefits all stakeholders.