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  • Act responsibly. Enable sustainability.
  • 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report
2018 Corporate Responsibility Report

Creating awareness

We want to be a reliable partner in the digitalized world. This is why we work to raise awareness of the opportunities and challenges that digitalization brings and encourage public dialog. This led us to join forces with the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and five other companies to form the “Corporate Digital Responsibility Initiative”. As an IT company, we are also aware of our special responsibility with regard to developing and using artificial intelligence (AI), which in 2018 prompted us to draw up our own guiding principles on the ethical use of artificial intelligence. Furthermore, we emphasize our determination to implement digitalization responsibly with our commitment to the Charter of Digital Networking.

“MEDIA SURE! BUT SECURE.” pools activities on opinion forming and trust online

The digital revolution is changing almost every area of our lives. It is affecting the everyday routines of all generations. We aim to play our part in enabling everyone to make positive, active and equal contributions to these changes. This also means using digital media responsibly and critically. We are therefore advocating opinion forming and trust building online using the Deutsche Telekom initiative “Media sure! But secure.”

Under the umbrella of, we have brought together a range of activities to boost the media skills of children, young people, and adults of all ages. Information is available for everyone to find on their own online, but there are also activities that involve problem-solving in teams. Special guidelines are also available for disseminators such as teachers and volunteers. The content covers core issues such as data protection and security using educational methods tailored to suit a range of target groups, but also includes less familiar topics such as “digital legacy”. The information includes everything from the legal frameworks and technical background to practical examples and application guidelines. All materials are provided in at least three language versions – German, English and simple language.

The “Teachtoday” initiative, which we have been responsible for since 2014, and the associated children’s magazine “Scroller”, are also part of “Media sure! But secure.” Our new activities relating to the “1001 TRUTHS img initiative have also been brought under the umbrella of “Media sure! But secure.” This initiative is primarily targeted at adults, and addresses the latest digital issues. The idea came about at a campaign day in July 2017, co-hosted by Deutsche Telekom AG and the Deutsche Telekom Stiftung. One of the aims was to inform participants about the differences between half-truths, hoaxes, and facts posted online and to raise their awareness of the need to question the reliability of sources. The “Media sure! But secure.” platform also addresses these issues. The team that is responsible for the platform uses innovative, didactically effective formats to develop the material together with state-of-the-art technologies to create the modules. We showcased “1001 TRUTHS” img on “Digitales Ehrenamt” day (Digital Voluntary Work Day) during the 2018 Woche des bürgerschaftlichen Engagements (Community Volunteering Week) and at the 2018 Deutscher Arbeitgebertag (German Employers’ Day).

The initiative also occupied a guest slot at our first vacation programs for young people, run in our flagship store in Düsseldorf during October 2018. This innovative program offers a wide range of activities for young people between the ages of 14 and 21, including interactive workshops on topics such as virtual reality and digital responsibility. The concept was co-devised and organized by a number of Deutsche Telekom units, the retail company Telekom Shop-Gesellschaft, and Code+Design Initiative e.V..


New guiding principles on human responsibility for artificial intelligence

AI plays a role in an increasing number of ICT img products and services. We already use it on a daily basis – be that in internet searches or navigation systems. AI offers many advantages, but also presents new challenges. For instance, how do we ensure AI is always developed with the focus on benefiting humanity? How do we tackle the changes to the working environment brought about by AI? Under the auspices of Compliance, in 2018 we introduced guiding principles for the ethical use of artificial intelligence. These explain how Deutsche Telekom defines “responsibility” in relation to AI. They also describe how we wish to develop AI-based products and services in the future. Having said that, our guiding principles are meant as a starting point for developing rules to govern responsible approaches to AI in collaboration with our employees and external interest groups. We also debated the potential and challenges of AI in a panel discussion at our AI Day, held at the Group headquarters in Bonn, on December 5, 2018. Some 300 guests came along to discuss the subject with Deutsche Telekom Board of Management member Claudia Nemat, Prof. Christian Bauckhage from the University of Bonn, Senior Director of Corporate Research at Nuance Nils Lenke, and robot ethics expert Dr. Janina Loh from the University of Vienna. The members of the panel all agreed that our understanding of “ethics” is not static, but instead evolves over time.

Devising Corporate Digital Responsibility

In 2018, we and five other companies signed up to the “Corporate Digital Responsibility” initiative launched by Federal Minister for Justice and Consumer Protection Katarina Barley in May of that year. The aim is to steer the digital revolution in a direction that benefits society. This includes ensuring the process of digitalization not only spawns new technical solutions, but also promotes values such as justice, participation, trust, autonomy, transparency and sustainability. In October 2018, we discussed specific plans for the initiative with Katarina Barley and the other partners, drafting preliminary principles and cornerstones for responsible commercial behavior in the digital world. The first step taken by the members of the initiative was to agree a common understanding of “responsibility” in this context. This included tightening the basic terminology used with regard to Corporate Digital Responsibility, drafting initial common guiding principles, identifying specific fields of action, and agreeing the next steps forward. The initiative is due to be broadened to admit other interested parties in the future. In addition to this, we have also been involved in other dialog and stakeholder forums addressing digital responsibility, such as the Charter of Digital Networking and an event run by the Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation entitled “Corporate responsibility in the digital era”, not to mention our own expert groups.

Safety first – our commitment to secure handling of data

Deutsche Telekom works continuously on providing even clearer and more transparent information on data protection for internet users, and on raising their awareness of the need to handle data securely. The advice portal, for example, provides information on online risks and protective measures. Our Teachtoday initiative and our commitment to “Deutschland sicher im Netz (Making Germany safe on the Net)” also help foster more secure and competent media usage. We also explain how internet users can maintain an overview and control over their own data in the section on “Responsibility” on our Group website and in a specially developed self-learning module about this topic on the new 1001 TRUTHS img platform. There are also freely accessible workshop concepts that disseminators can use to address this subject in schools or seminars, for example. We are using these measures to boost media users’ digital self-determination.

We also ensure the maximum possible data protection and security with regard to our own products and services. We protect our infrastructure, and with that our customers, with state-of-the-art cyber defense measures. To ensure binding high standards throughout our Group, we have also installed a series of our own rules and guiding principles. Furthermore, we regularly have our activities audited and certified to recognized standards.