The Cyber Security Coalition signs the Digital Inclusion Charter

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On behalf of the Cyber Security Coalition, director Fabrice Clément signed the 'Digital Inclusion Charter'. The aim of this initiative is to reduce the digital divide in Belgium by putting digital inclusion at the top of the agenda. "Cybersecurity is an indispensable ingredient of any digital inclusion initiative that aims to have an impact on the digital literacy of Belgian citizens", Fabrice Clément, director of the Cyber Security Coalition.

DigitAll, an ecosystem for digital inclusion 

Digital inequality leads to social exclusion. This is the conclusion of a report by the King Baudouin Foundation from June 2020. As many as 1 in 10 Belgian households have no Internet access at home. For low income families, this figure rises to almost 3 in 10. Many people also have no or inadequate digital skills. As many as 40% are at risk of digital exclusion. Finally, the report also points out inequalities in the use of essential services. Some 57% of Belgians with a low level of education, for example, have never used the Internet to submit essential documents to the government. In a time where digital is becoming increasingly important, the digital divide weighs heavily on the social integration of the most vulnerable. 

DigitAll is the new name of the Digital Inclusion Ecosystem launched by BNP Paribas Fortis in November 2020. The aim of the initiative is to narrow down the digital divide in Belgium by putting digital inclusion higher on the agenda. The ecosystem is currently working on three specific projects: a national awareness campaign to highlight the importance of digital inclusion, an estimation of the user friendliness of digital tools in the form of a digital inclusion index, and a mobile solution to teach digital skills to hard-to-reach target groups. 

Cyber security as a catalyst for digital inclusion 

Fear of using digital technology and services is a major cause of digital stress. Cybercrime undermines trust in the digital space which, in many ways, is much harder to regain than any monetary losses, especially in these vulnerable communities moving online for the first time. 

Making cyber security a fundamental part of digital inclusion can minimize this fear as an inhibitor to technology adoption. The Coalition’s mission is to continue to build a safer digital ecosystem to gain the trust of citizens who are currently digitally excluded. By purposefully integrating cybersecurity into digital inclusion programs, the Coalition can contribute to the DigitAll goal in a targeted way. 

🎧 Linde Verheyden, director public affairs at BNP Paribas Fortis and one of the founders of the DigitAll ecosystem, Christine Copers, innovation manager at FPS BOSA, and Arnaud Recko, sustainability coordinator at DNS Belgium and board member of Digital for Youth, explain what is at stake and what DigitAll aims to achieve.

Nine commitments 

Together with some 30 other parties, the Cyber Security Coalition has signed the Digital Inclusion Charter. The charter facilitates the development of a network around digital inclusion and contributes to a better awareness of the digital divide. 

The Digital Inclusion Charter includes nine concrete commitments to which the signatories subscribe: 

  1. Identify and share best practices to improve digital inclusion. 
  1. Identify constraints to digital inclusion and define common actions to eliminate those constraints. 
  1. Urge the top management of the own organization to own and drive the commitment. 
  1. Improve digital inclusion within the own organization by promoting internal education and sharing actions and progress. 
  1. Promote digital inclusion outside the own organization to increase the number of signatories to the Digital Inclusion Charter and to strengthen its impact. 
  1. Provide support to campaigns that aim to prioritize digital inclusion, as the general public is still insufficiently aware of the digital divide. 
  1. Gradually implement a procedure within the own organization to assess the extent to which digital inclusion is promoted among employees, customers and beneficiaries. 
  1. Undertake actions to increase trust in digital tools, improve the feeling of online safety/security and protect users from potential abuse. 
  1. Monitor the implementation of the Charter and, after three years, evaluate the Charter together with the other co-signatories to take stock of the situation and define possible follow-up actions. 

Closing the digital divide requires cross-sector collaboration. The Coalition is committed to strengthening the cooperation between its member organizations and the social organizations in the DigitAll ecosystem and to launching initiatives to help more citizens go online confidently and benefit from the Internet. 

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About the author

Cathy Suykens joined the Cyber Security Coalition in April 2018 as Operations Manager. She boasts a longstanding career in the financial services industry in different domains with various assignments abroad.