On November 6 & 7 The Hague Summit for Accountability in the Digital Age, took place. Over 150 delegates representing a global multi-stakeholder community gathered together at the iconic Peace Palace in The Hague to collaborate, share knowledge and hear from over 40 subject matter experts. The overarching theme of this year’s summit was ‘accountability online,’ specifically concerning Artificial Intelligence, (Social) Media & Journalism, and Cyber Security & Peace, topics that affect us all.

Today, technology is growing at a rapid pace and in this digital era where fake news and online bullying have become commonplace, ensuring a safe and accountable Internet is of paramount importance. Next to that, there is a cry internationally to develop practical solutions that combat the challenges of ensuring an accountable online environment and the accountable use of digital technology in regards to news, AI and Cyber Security.

“This summit has shown that there is an ever-increasing gap between the rapid pace in which technology is growing, and the analogue development of legal frameworks, that gap creates serious accountability issues. There is a need for 21st-century mechanisms to create solutions to meet today’s challenges. This summit has started to take concrete steps to close that gap. Known internationally as the city of Peace, Justice and Security, The Hague really is the place for debate and discussion when it comes to the interaction between technology, law and policy”, said Frits Bussemaker, Board Member of the Institute for Accountability in the Digital Age.


Deputy Mayor of The Hague Saskia Bruins opened the summit with a host of examples as to how the city is leading its own charge when it comes to technology and policy, this included the new development of the seaside boulevard in Scheveningen which will be used as a ‘living lab’ to test use the new 5G network and other applications for digital innovation. “We will also be able to find out whether our present frameworks and guidelines concerning data use and privacy are actually effective in practice … although we want to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the digital age, we also want to be accountable, responsible and open at the same time in our policies and in their application”, said Mrs Bruins.

When it came to the pressing question as to who should be in charge of any regulation or governance of the Internet there was much agreement between delegates and experts that only with international cooperation can a solution be achieved.

According to Dr Holger Hoos, Professor of Machine learning at Leiden University, when it comes to the regulation of Artificial Intelligence: “…we need to give the industry a role, and government a role….I believe accountability for the responsible use of AI should actually not go to government or citizens or industry alone. It should be done by all of them because they all have a stake in it, and they all have a special role to play.”

The two-day event included a number of roundtable discussions, which resulted in innovative and practical tools that are currently being compiled and will be shared in a report over the coming months.