About the Program

Digitalization is radically transforming our societies, creating new opportunities as well as regulatory challenges. There is a need to work towards a better understanding of these developments and define new global rules and standards that enable us to jointly shape our digital futures.

The Challenge

Privacy protection and corporate regulation not only create vast new opportunities – they also come with significant policy challenges. Despite sharing the vision of a free and open Internet, the governments of Germany and the US nevertheless differ in their approach to digital policy, with key divergences in areas such as data and privacy protection or corporate regulation. At the same time, digital authoritarianism is on the rise, with governments in China and Russia establishing their own concepts of “information security” by controlling information flows and leveraging the Internet as a tool for repression, manipulation and social polarization. These and other challenges make transatlantic cooperation all the more important and urgent if we want to protect the future of the Internet as a global common good.

The Program

The Transatlantic Digital Debates (TDD) program aims to support transatlantic political discussion and enhance cooperation. We bring together 18 young professionals - nine from the US and nine from Germany - from the public sector, civil society, business, media and academia who want to make a difference on these key challenges at the intersection of technology and policy.

Through workshops and conversations with leading decision-makers and experts from various sectors, the fellows engage in open and provocative discussions on the best approaches to shaping our rapidly changing digital societies and economies.

Above all, the program seeks to build trust among participants and establish a long-term network of individuals committed to shaping the future of digitalization. To this end, the project team aims to create a strong alumni community and engage former participants in future sessions. The project team also supports individual fellows and small groups of fellows in writing op-eds and blog posts on the issues discussed. Their writing and podcasts that reflect the discussions are shared through social media and external news outlets.

The Transatlantic Digital Debates program conducted four successful rounds in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2020, bringing together a total of 72 American and German fellows from a wide range of professional backgrounds.

Steering Committee

Members for the 2022 round include:

  • Benjamin Brake, Director General, Digital and Data Policy, German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport

  • Victoria Espinel, President and CEO, The Software Alliance

  • Stephanie Hankey, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Tactical Technology Collective

  • Stefan Heumann, Member of the Managing Board, Stiftung Neue Verantwortung

  • Andrew McLaughlin, Chairman of the Board, Access Now

  • Niklas Veltkamp, Managing Director, Digitalization and Innovation, Bitkom

Organizer and Funders

The Transatlantic Digital Debates are organized by the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) in Berlin and New America’s Open Technology Institute in Washington, DC with guidance from a diverse steering committee of experts from a range of stakeholder groups. The program is generously supported by the Transatlantic Program of the German Federal Government, with funding from the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. Additional support was provided by Microsoft.