Report from the Honorary President

2022 – Phasing out of virtual meetings!

Some peers may have been quite content to carry on interminably with virtual meetings and working from home. For our association, however, this was not an option, given that we tend to live and breathe on the strength of our networking and pick up on people’s thoughts on technical and political matters affecting the Internet industry. Of course, special consideration was given to Covid-related health issues and precautions were taken for the entire eco team. If I look at my calendar from 2022, the appointments up to April were almost exclusively virtual. After that, however, they were mostly hybrid events – where people either showed up in person or participated via telephone or video conferences. Much as I love digitalisation, I personally find video conferences in the eco environment to only be optimal on rare occasions, and my preference is on-site attendance.

In February, a virtual meeting took place for new employees. This was a novel experience, as we otherwise wouldn’t have got to “meet up” for the first time, due to Covid and the fact that we were all working from home. For me, this was a virtual gathering that certainly made sense.

In 2022, a major topic in my sphere was the new German State Treaty on Gambling and the associated establishment of a “Joint Gambling Authority of the Federal States (GGL)”, a public law institution based in Halle. The central task of the GGL is to regulate the German online gambling market by reviewing and authorising cross-state gambling offers on the Internet, as well as ensuring that the authorised gambling providers comply with the rules to protect players from gambling addiction and manipulation. A first interim report on the work of this authority is to be prepared at the end of 2023. Then we will get to see how this authority deals with illegal gambling offers and how many licences will already have been issued up until that point. However, it can already be said that the new German State Treaty on Gambling is actually still a protective treaty for the lottery monopoly and completely disregards data protection. In 2022, the 7th Federal Congress on Gambling took place in Berlin with eco’s participation. My entire presentation appeared in the Spiegel magazine under the “Contributions to Gambling” issue 3/2022.

The German Internet Governance Forum (IGF-D), suffered from staff changes and virtual meetings in 2022. On-site meetings are those that allow it to function most effectively; in this landscape, virtual or hybrid events are not proving to be very effective. Therefore, “real” events will resume in 2023. The topic of IGF also includes European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG). In the year under review, due to Covid, a hybrid event was organised again in Trieste, with this following on from the 2021 hybrid event. The core questions below were covered in the “focus areas”:

  • Digital sovereignty – is Europe going in the right direction to keep the Internet safe and open?
  • Reality check – do we implement effective regulations and set the right standards to solve the problems of the future?
  • Coming next – outlook on new technologies and can existing governance bodies cope with them?
  • Internet in troubled times

More information on the website

The international IGF took place “in the appropriate format” again, with Ethiopia being the 2022 host country, while the venue was the UN headquarters in Addis Ababa. The 17th IGF had the overarching theme “Resilient Internet for a Shared Sustainable and Common Future”.

More information can be found at:

Just a reminder: in 2019, Germany hosted the event in Berlin.

In addition, eco events and the AGM also took place again as “regular” events. The highlights in 2022 were the AGM, the award ceremony in Cologne and the summer party in Berlin.

Last but not least, to round off 2022, there was also a “real” eco Christmas party in Cologne, where those that we had only met at a virtual event at the beginning of the year could be met in person. A convivial end to a “hybrid” year that raised hope for the coming 2023.

Prof. Michael Rotert
eco Honorary President