The good thing about 2020? It is almost over.

It has been difficult and disruptive and I can’t count the times where I was just so exhausted, tired, frustrated, sad, angry, exasperated — at the world, at isolation, lockdown, the emotional drain, anything and everything.

Yet, as I wrote a brief recap for my colleagues at Mozilla to reflect on all the things we achieved in terms of sustainability, I suddenly had to sit back and realise that though I may be emotionally and mentally exhausted, I am also incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to pull off. And…


Here’s a checklist for increasing impact.

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Picture taken in Lisbon © Cathleen Berger

It’s generally accepted that democracy is in crisis worldwide, and that spaces for civic participation are shrinking. Meanwhile, the so-called “techlash” is polarising debates around how governments around the world should govern the internet and social media.

For years, I’ve heard people talk about fostering dialogue between diverse stakeholder groups and the importance of soliciting input from a wider range of voices. And yet, when it comes to developing comprehensive policies nearly everyone reverts back to engaging the networks and processes they know (and are comfortable with) instead of experimenting with new models for deliberation and decision-making.

I’ve worked across…


Would you be surprised if I told you #ricebunny and #metoo are the same thing? If so, I highly recommend listening to this Note To Self podcast that digs into the effects and manifestation of the me too movement in China — and that inspired me to write this post:

Harassment, hateful and violent speech, as well as their far-reaching, traumatising effects on people’s lives are part of our mainstream headlines these days. The majority of it is directed against women and underrepresented minorities. In a way, feminists will tell you that the inescapable onslaught of harassment on social media…


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© Cathleen Berger

“Smart Cities sind nachhaltiger und integrierter Stadtentwicklung verpflichtet”, heißt es in der Smart City Charta von 2017, die ohne Frage einen umfassenden und durchaus begrüßenswerten Katalog an Handlungsanleitungen bereit stellt. Aber inwieweit lässt sich diese Vision realisieren und wo stößt die Utopie auf Hürden im praktischen Umgang mit Daten?

— Es handelt sich um eine leicht gekürzte Fassung einer Keynote, die ich am 18. September 2018 in Frankfurt/Main in der Smart City Arena des Bundeskongresses für nationale Stadtplanung gehalten habe. —

In der Theorie haben “Smart Cities” durchaus Potential: “[sie nutzen] Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien, um auf der Basis von integrierten…


Privacy matters. Safeguarding it, though, has become costly: it is now a luxury to disconnect. These days, disconnecting is not just about unplugging and wellbeing, the lush idea of “digital-free” vacations. It is a critical and increasingly challenging aspect of maintaining our personal space.

A couple of months ago I initiated a brief Twitter poll asking people which technological development they considered most concerning with a view to privacy: the Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Cities, or digital government initiatives, such as digital ID?

Out of the 180 people who voted, a third opted for “None, privacy is dead”. Still…


The EU’s upcoming data protection rules will have a big impact on the realm of connected devices, from voice assistants to smart toasters.

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© “Convert GDPR”, cf. www.Convert.com/GDPR/

The Internet of Things: It’s that fascinating development where your smart fridge talks to your connected coffee machine and plots where to best hide your favourite mug. Right?

Not quite. But the sheer volume of IoT devices now on the market — from smart toothbrushes and toasters to WiFi-enabled vacuums — can make it seem that way. Indeed, according to current estimates, there will be 30 billion connected devices on Earth by 2020.

Questionable smart gadgets aside…


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© Mozilla, 2018

Eine neue digitale Kluft hat sich aufgetan. Gemeint ist nicht etwa unsere Sorge darum, dass fast die Hälfte der Weltbevölkerung noch immer offline ist, abgeschottet vom Internet aufgrund wirtschaftlicher oder geografischer Nachteile. Es geht darum, dass es mittlerweile Luxus ist, Technik zu entgehen, seine Geräte zu Hause zu lassen oder aber Kameras im öffentlichen Raum aus dem Weg zu gehen.

Während wir auf der einen Seite mit Hochdruck daran arbeiten, den Zugang zum Web zu demokratisieren, wird auf der anderen überdeutlich, dass das bewusste, temporäre Kappen dieser Verbindung mit einem hohen sozialen, politischen und wirtschaftlichen Preis verbunden ist. …


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Dies ist die Verschriftlichung eines Vortrags, den ich am 22. März auf Einladung des Goethe-Instituts als Auftakt für die Werkstattkonferenz Startklar?! in Berlin präsentiert habe.

Wer und was ist eigentlich Mozilla?

Mozillas Geschichte geht auf die Anfänge des Internets zurück. Ende der 90er Jahre als Internetzugänge langsam aus Forscherkreisen in eine breitere Öffentlichkeit überschwappten, prägten zwei Entscheidungen die Entwicklung des Webs und Mozillas nachhaltig: die Entscheidung, die Monopolisierung von Internet Explorer gemeinschaftlich herauszufordern und die Entscheidung, die eigene Codebasis offen zu publizieren.

Das mag aus heutiger Sicht wenig bemerkenswert klingen, war damals aber durchaus radikal.

Open Source ist eine Philosophie.

Denn Open Source steht nicht…


#NetzDG #socialmedia #hatespeech #fakenews #censorship #liability #enforcement #responsibility #territoriality #humanrights

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© Cathleen Berger, San Francisco

In 2017, Germany made international headlines as a potential new “free speech sheriff” when the parliament passed the “Act to improve the enforcement of the law in social networks”, or in German “NetzDG”, on June 30. The law entered into force on October 1, 2017 and requires affected platforms to be compliant by January 1, 2018.

These are the main stipulations of the act:

  • Its objective is to combat illegal and harmful content on social media platforms.
  • It only applies to platforms that a) have more than 2 million German…


The United Nations General Assembly just held its 72nd session in New York City. Leaders from all over the world were in town, including representatives from the 193 UN governments, as well as businesses and civil society. Apart from the main UNGA, there were plenty of other high-level gatherings organised in the margins — several of these focusing on the future of online life and digital technologies.

I had the chance to participate in some of them. I engaged in discussions around the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). …

Cathleen Berger

Strategy expert, focusing in intersection of technology, human rights, global governance, and sustianability

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