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

Different assessments of economic and security policy issues in the digital realm continue to generate conflicts between Germany and the US. Yet both countries, and Europe more generally, need to address the societal implications of digitization. From the growing automation of industries and investigations into Russian influence operations to the increasing market dominance of (American) technology companies, conflicts linked to technological change play an increasing role in public discussions. More broadly, technological changes are at the heart of the erosion of public trust in liberal democracy and the subsequent protest votes that have emboldened populist forces.

In this heated political climate, establishing joint rules – for instance with regard to transatlantic data flows – becomes even harder. What is more, the US and Germany face a global environment in which authoritarian governments are advancing their own visions of how to regulate the digital sphere. As a consequence, countries such as South Africa or India no longer necessarily look to Germany, Europe, or the US for guidance on how to regulate new technologies.

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.

Organizer and Funders

The first three rounds of the Transatlantic Digital Debates were organized by the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) in Berlin and New America in Washington, DC with guidance from a diverse steering committee of experts from a range of stakeholder groups. The program was 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 Energy. Additional support was provided by IBM, Microsoft, and the Bertelsmann Foundation North America. The initial funding phase drew to a close in 2018. The program is now on hold, but may resume in 2020. Please check back in autumn 2019 for updated information.