The UN Global Digital Compact (GDC), Achieving a trusted, free, open, and Secure Internet: Trust-building


  • Allison Wylde Glasgow Caledonian University (London)



United Nations (UN), Global Digital Compact (GDC), internet, trust, institutional trust, cyber security, digital futures, future internet


A United Nations’ (UN) public consultation, underway, is reviewing requirements for the Global Digital Compact (GDC) to advance UN goals for an ‘open, free, and secure digital future for all’ (UN, GDC, 2022). Achieving the goals relies on proposed principles, including: connecting everyone; avoiding fragmentation; protecting data; applying human rights; accountability for discrimination and misleading content; regulation of artificial intelligence; digital commons as a public good; and ‘other’ areas. The purpose of this paper is to present an argument that trust must be included as a central ‘other’ principle. Although successful achievement of the GDC goals is contingent on building trust in each principle, a method for trust-building is not provided. Through leveraging well-established organization and conflict management trust-building literature the contribution of this paper presents a fresh conceptual framework, allowing trust and trust-building in the goals to be operationalized and assessed. In, addressing the research gap as to how build trust in the GDC goals as they are implemented, the novel trust-building process as presented helps policymakers, practitioners, and academics better address potential risks to the future internet, such as, increased; state isolation, sovereignty, and internet fragmentation. Limitations and calls for further research highlight that understanding state-level trust-building in policy is not yet mature. Further, scholars needs to better categorize the processes, dynamics and norms involved in state-level trust-building, helping to counter future internet challenges.