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Jack Ma of China's Alibaba Group joined United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation in a live conversation in New York on Monday to discuss global digital cooperation for a safer and more sustainable future of the digital industry.
The global online event was seen as an opportunity to discuss how the public sector, private sector and civil society can work together to realize the potential of digital technologies for advancing human well-being, while mitigating the risks.
Ma, who is the executive chairman of Alibaba group and co-chair on the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, said that in the digital age, the bigger you are, the bigger responsibility you should have.
Ma said that his job has been "chief education officer," as he has been engaged in educating customers and government officers, and trying to convince them to keep abreast with technology development.
"If you do not pay attention to privacy, if you do not pay attention to data security, if you do not pay attention to human rights, if you do not pay attention to the interest of society, you might disappear very quickly," Ma said.
Today, mobile phones are much more powerful than any personal computer twenty years ago, Ma said, adding that if the government, private sectors and civil society work together, they could make smart policies.
Guterres, on his part, noted the importance of a people-centered approach, saying it is not only a government responsibility, but a societal responsibility.
The UN chief said that "I'm optimistic about this possibility of an inclusive multilateralism and the potential of dialogue and cooperation between the different key actors," adding that he thinks conditions are being created for effective smart regulation with the cooperation of everybody to avoid the risks that really exist.
At a time when around half the world's population still has no access to the Internet, the panel calls for efforts to ensure every adult has affordable access to digital networks, as well as digitally-enabled financial and health services, by 2030.
Women and marginalized groups must be supported, said the Panel, with specific policies adopted to ensure their full "digital inclusion," while internationally recognized ways to measure inclusiveness must be established.
Communities, organizations and individuals working on issues ranging from digital inclusion, digital rights to security, governance also joined the online conversation during the webcast at the UN headquarters.