16.06.2023

Cooperation can defeat digital colonialism

Cooperation can defeat digital colonialism

The speakers of the session were General Director of Non-Commercial Organization Dialog Vladimir Tabak, General Director of Non-Commercial Organization "Digital Economy" Sergey Plugotarenko, President of InfoWatch Group Natalia Kasperskaya, President of OpenLink Group (Serbia) Milos Jovanovic, Head of International Business Center of FANAP Holding (Iran) Hossein Zarean, Chairman of the Board of the Russian IT Development Fund Alexander Pavlov and Russian Federation Trade Representative in the Republic of Indonesia Alexander Svinin. 

In the year 2022, the whole world will see clearly that the digital space can be just as unipolar as the real world with its administrative borders.  The issue of digital sovereignty and the protection of national digital space has become more relevant than ever for most countries that are not willing to accept the existing status quo. Russia, as a holder of unique experience and expertise in preserving digital sovereignty, can lead the process of forming new technological and political alliances, offering as a solution for strengthening statehood the concept of sustainable digital dialogue as a standard for developing digitalization and a new model of cooperation in the digital environment. 

"When we talk about information sovereignty, we are really talking about the right of the state to form its own information policies. And we are now at the stage of an information war that clearly has no end in sight. So our information sovereignty is very difficult to defend at the moment - after all, we do not have the right to do so.

The battle for information sovereignty requires a thorough approach to identifying and countering disinformation, which has become a full-fledged weapon of modern hybrid warfare. According to Non-Commercial Organization "Dialog Regions" only for the period from January to May this year in the Russian segment of the Internet was found 1.6 thousand unique fakes and 5 million more copies of them - 10% and 42% more than for the same period in 2022. In this regard, the organization has launched an information system for monitoring audiovisual materials (deepfakes) based on speech recognition in real time - software "Zephyr". 

In Natalia Kasperskaya's view, digital colonialism is a new form of enslavement of countries through information technology. "The concept of sustainable digital dialog is not just a call for the purchase of Russian equipment instead of American equipment, for example. This is a desire to build relationships in the form of dialog, not in the system of pressure from above, which means creating opportunities for countries to develop their own technologies," she noted. 

There is a legitimate question that arises - what can Russia do to counter the American concept of a ready-made product that is easy to use? The president of the InfoWatch group of companies believes that the answer is components of software modules that can be developed in different countries. And software can be distributed with the possibility of finalizing these products in the country itself, so that the end users can understand how they work and, if necessary, change something with the permission of the manufacturer. This is another element of the Anglo-Saxon distribution of IT solutions that is difficult to counter, but can be countered by aggressive economic and political pressure. Cooperation and openness are the way out. These include technical training, where Russia ranks among global leaders. 

"Russia can really become a country that, even on its own, can build a strong digital ecosystem, a strong landscape of ICT solutions," Sergey Plugotarenko said confidently. His optimism is based on the Russian IT industry's surprising resilience to the challenges of recent years. First, it was a pandemic that boosted the digitization of various sectors of the economy, where instead of the predicted 5-10 years, the count ended in months. Now there is a new challenge for the field: replacing the departing leading Western IT companies and their solutions. 

"We've got a pretty systematic approach to solving problems and consolidating the entire industry. And this begs the question: are all solutions exportable? It used to be that we looked to the West for this kind of thing, but now other markets have become relevant as well. That is why Autonomous Non-profit Organization “Digital Economy” has created a new direction for the support and development of domestic technologies, solutions and leaders in the field of digital technologies and technological independence - the Technology Leadership Center," he concluded. 

Summing up, Vadim Gluschenko said that very many countries now face a choice between digital sovereignty and digital dictatorship (i.e. bowing to those who impose their attitudes in the digital space). "I wish all countries that are still hesitating, that have not yet chosen their path, to join our sustainable digital dialogue, because it is equal, it takes into account the interests of all participants, and, as an old Chinese proverb says, one wrong step can cost a thousand years of regret," he noted. 

SPIEF-2023 will be held June 14-17 in St. Petersburg. The main audience of the Forum are heads of large Russian and foreign companies, heads of state and political leaders, prime ministers, deputy prime ministers, ministers and governors.  Over the years, the Forum has become the world's leading platform for communication between business representatives and discussion of the key economic issues facing Russia, emerging markets and the world as a whole. This year, 17,000 people from 130 countries and territories have said they plan to participate.