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Lena-Sophie Müller receives For..Net Award 2020

Lena-Sophie Müller, managing director of the initiative D21, is to receive the 7th For..Net award for 2020 for outstanding commitment to public welfare and digitalisation. The prize has been awarded annually since 2013 by the Research Unit for IT Law and Network Policy (For..Net) at the University of Passau. As last year, the award is sponsored by juris GmbH of Saarbrücken.

'Public welfare and digitalisation' is the title of the 15th international For..Net symposium, which was to have been held on 23 and 24 April 2020 at the Redoutensäle in Passau. At the symposium, Professor Dirk Heckmann, head of the Research Unit for IT Law and Network Policy, intended to discuss aspects of digitalisation that go beyond commercial Internet services: health protection, environmental protection and citizens' rights. Now, the symposium has fallen victim to the Corona pandemic, as have all other public events at the present time. "The topics, however, in particular health protection and citizens' rights, are more relevant than ever", emphasises Professor Heckmann. "Meanwhile, there is talk of a real surge in digitalisation as a result of Corona."

In Lena-Sophie Müller, we are honouring a personality who, like hardly anyone else in Germany, brings together economy, politics, science and society in a qualified and committed way.  

Professor Dirk Heckmann, Research Centre for IT Law and Network Policy at the University of Passau

This year, as a consequence, the 7th For..Net award has been awarded independently of the For..Net symposium for the first time. The jury has chosen a personality who is up among the established names on the German digital scene: since 2014, Lena-Sophie Müller has been managing director of the Verein Initiative D21 e.V. , Germany's largest non-profit-making partnership of economy and politics for the digital society. In this position, it is her aim to highlight the societal implications of digitalisation in Germany and help shape them in a positive way. The D21 digital index, for example, which she presents each year as an overall picture of the digital society, is of great significance. And the working groups she has initiated in respect of digital ethics, digital education and the innovative state also look into questions of digitalisation oriented toward public welfare. The 37-year-old political scientist previously worked at the Fraunhofer Institute FOKUS in Berlin. In 2018 she was appointed as an expert to the Select Committee of the German Bundestag on Artificial Intelligence, and in 2019 to the Digital Council at the Federal Ministry of Defence. In 2015 she received the e-government communication award.

"In Lena-Sophie Müller, we are honouring a personality who, like hardly anyone else in Germany, brings together economy, politics, science and society in a qualified and committed way. Her ability to inspire people for the opportunities generated by digitalisation, always applying ethical standards as she does so, makes her an ambassadress for public welfare in digitalisation", said Professor Heckmann, initiator of the award and chairman of the jury, in his statement on the jury's selection. 

Professor Dirk Heckmann

Professor Dirk Heckmann

conducts research in IT law

Which data merits protection and why?

Which data merits protection and why?

Professor Dirk Heckmann holds the Chair of Law and Security of Digitization at the Technical University of Munich and heads the Research Centre for IT Law and Network Policy at the University of Passau. He is also a member of the federal government's Data Ethics Commission and serves, among other functions, as a constitutional judge in the Bavarian Constitutional Court. From 1998 to 2019 he held the Chair of Public Law, Security Law and Internet Law at the University of Passau.

The award winner herself is clearly delighted: "The For..Net award is an honour and an incentive for me to pursue my commitment to these goals. The current situation as regards Corona shows us quite clearly once again: those who can cope digitally have a definite advantage. So all the more, my aim with Initiative D21 e.V. is to create the necessary framework conditions with politics and the economy so that everyone can benefit from digitalisation in the best possible way."

The plan now is to present the award, a sculpture by the Passau artist Josef Nistler, at a ceremony as soon as circumstances permit.

Text: Katrina Jordan

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