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Declaration calls for responsible leadership in the digital era

Its principles call on businesses to respect the privacy of digital citizens and to handle personal data securely

A new form of responsible leadership is needed in the digital age, believes the GSMA
A new form of responsible leadership is needed in the digital age, believes the GSMA

Forty business leaders have backed a digital declaration launched by the GSMA at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which aims to serve as a guide to acting ethically in the digital era.


They span several industry sectors and include representatives from: Bharti Airtel, China Mobile, China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, IBM, KDDI, KT, LG Electronics, Mobile World Capital Barcelona, NTT DOCOMO, Orange, Samsung Electronics, Sharp, SK Telecom, Sony Corporation, STC Group, Telefónica, Turkcell, Verizon, Vodafone and Xiaomi.


Confronting shared challenges


The declaration is a cross-industry movement of CEOs confronting the shared challenges that the digital world is bringing and which will further accelerate with the arrival of 5G networks. It is set against a backdrop of consumers rightfully expecting more from digital services, while their trust in businesses is being tested.


The principles call on businesses to:

  • respect the privacy of digital citizens;
  • handle personal data securely and transparently;
  • take meaningful steps to mitigate cyber threats;
  • and ensure everyone can participate in the digital economy as it develops whilst combatting online harassment.

The GSMA, which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, believes that, taken together, these commitments will ensure the internet is kept as an "open platform for expression and a driver of innovation".


“Social, technological, political and economic currents are combining to create a perfect storm of disruption across all industries,” said Mats Granryd, director general, GSMA. “A new form of responsible leadership is needed to successfully navigate this era.


“We are on the cusp of the 5G era, which will spark exciting new possibilities for consumers and promises to transform the shape of virtually every business. In the face of this disruption, those that embrace the principles of the Digital Declaration will strive for business success in ways that seek a better future for their consumers and societies.


"Those that do not change can expect to suffer increasing scrutiny from shareholders, regulators and consumers.”


The first business leader to sign the declaration was Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Indian telecommunications services company, Bharti Airtel, who said it is imperative for industry to make the required investments to build a sustainable digital ecosystem and maintain citizen’s trust “through transparent and responsible conduct with regard to privacy and data”.


The GSMA is inviting business leaders from any sector to join the Digital Declaration and ask themselves what role they can play in creating a better digital society. Further information on the Digital Declaration, including details of CEOs that have already joined can be found here.


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