Laudation by Ursula von der Leyen / Awards ceremony in the Axel Springer Journalists Club in Berlin
Shoshana Zuboff, the US economics scholar and author (“The Age of Surveillance Capitalism”), received the 2019 Axel Springer Award on the evening of November 7, 2019. The long-standing critic of a data-driven internet economy accepted the prize in person at a ceremonial evening event billed as “An Evening for Shoshana Zuboff” in the Axel Springer Journalists Club in Berlin. Christoph Keese, CEO Axel Springer hy GmbH, led through the evening and chaired a discussion with guests from business, politics and the media about the manifold impacts of the data economy on all areas of social and economic life.
The laudation in honor of the fourth winner of the Axel Springer Award was given by Ursula von der Leyen, designated President of the European Commission: “In the last 20 years we have gradually immersed ourselves in a worldwide web that has brought us enormous and unimagined benefits. But like any major change and opportunity, this has also created new risks and concerns. And this is why we need the work of people like Shoshanna Zuboff.“
In her speech, she also addressed the challenges facing Europe as a result of advancing global digitalization: „Europe will have to work hard to increase its weight in the digital age. Long-term success is also a question of sovereignty. Technologically, we have to develop European solutions and standards (AI, 5G, next generation Cloud). To protect the individual, we need a dual-approach: increasing the digital literacy of our citizens and creating the necessary rules for companies to ensure a responsible attitude towards data. Last but not least, it will also be a matter of upholding the high standards of the rule of law and cultural openness that make Europe so attractive to the best talents of the digital age. If we meet these conditions, Europe has a fair chance of shaping the digital world.“
Mathias Döpfner: “Shoshana Zuboff is receiving the 2019 Axel Springer Award because she takes a courageous and clear stance in her analysis of the problematic aspects of the digital economy and rightly reminds us that we have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to regulating technology companies. And especially thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we must remember the threats to freedom posed by the uncontrolled collection of information. Against the background of the debate on 5G, the subject is highly relevant.”
In her speech, Shoshana Zuboff stressed the importance of social responsibility: “Users and tech companies are living in an arms race. We hide ourselves by installing privacy software on our browser. Then the tech companies develop new ways to find us. And so we look for new ways to hide ourselves. Even though we’re way too used to it now: This is not normal. We have to realize that data protection is not a private matter. Data protection is a social, societal matter.
With Shoshana Zuboff, Axel Springer is honoring an outstanding personality with the Axel Springer Award for the fourth time. A personality who is innovative in a very special way, who creates and changes markets, influences culture and at the same time lives up to her social responsibility. The prize recognizes achievements and encourages further steps. The first recipient of the award was Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, in February 2016. In May 2017, it was inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. In April 2018, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon Inc. and owner of the Washington Post, was honored with the Axel Springer Award.
The Axel Springer Award is a non-material prize that is not endowed. The board of Axel Springer SE chooses the laureate based on proposals by company employees or from the public. Find more information about the Axel Springer Award here.
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