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The digitization of schools must continue at full speed – but with digital sovereignty

A funding gap in the Digital Pact for Schools or even a withdrawal of the federal government would be fatal. Holger Dyroff, co-founder and COO of ownCloud, believes that the states also have a duty to ensure that the digitalization of schools succeeds. They have to guarantee digital sovereignty in the implementation.

The so-called “Digitalpakt 2.0” is currently stirring up political emotions. The German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs recently announced that the second edition of the funding program for the digitalization of schools will not start until 2025. Since funds from the first Digital Pact can only be applied for until May 2024, this has sparked a firestorm of criticism. Teachers’ associations warn of a months-long funding gap that would further slow the already sluggish progress of school digitalization. State education ministers even fear that the federal government will pull out of the Digital Pact altogether.

That would undoubtedly be disastrous. The digitalization of schools must succeed, otherwise we will jeopardize the future viability of our country. An interim program for 2024 to bridge the gap seems appropriate, and then we need to go full speed ahead in 2025. For the digitalization of schools to be successful, however, the states also have a duty. As they build modern learning environments for their schools, they must make digital sovereignty a top priority. This includes, first and foremost, legal certainty. Using tools from the big US cloud providers is therefore out of the question.

After two failed attempts, the EU and the U.S. recently signed a new data protection agreement to ensure an adequate level of protection for personal data transferred from the European Union to U.S. companies. However, nothing has changed with regard to the fundamental problem, which is the possible access of U.S. authorities to this data. For this reason, data protection experts firmly believe that the European Court of Justice will once again overturn this agreement on the grounds that it is incompatible with the GDPR. If schools use U.S. cloud tools, they face many more years of legal uncertainty.

Another pillar of digital sovereignty is self-determination. This is guaranteed by open source and open standards. They provide federal states with maximum transparency and control, and allow them to swap out a piece of software for an alternative solution at any time, because they can easily transfer their data to it. In this way, they avoid the dreaded lock-in effect that makes them increasingly dependent on vendors and leads to skyrocketing costs. They also conserve already scarce public funds, which can be put to good use in other school digitization projects.

Holger Dyroff, COO & Co-FOunder, ownCloud, shares opinion about digital sovereignty

Holger Dyroff, COO and Co-Founder, ownCloud

How does ownCloud ensure GDPR compliance and a high level of data protection for your enterprise? Find out here.


July 19, 2023

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