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Digital Society Institute

Digital Society Institute (DSI)

About us

Who we are

The Digital Society Institute (DSI) at ESMT was founded in 2016 with a mission to bridge technology and society through research, education and capacity building activities that place digital trust, privacy and human rights at the center of digital development. The DSI has built a strong reputation for conducting applied research at the intersection of technology, society and the economy, becoming a trusted source for expert advice on different aspects of digitalisation, such as secure digital identities, digital diplomacy, internet governance, EU digital and tech policies and German IT law. Expanding the scope of its work, the DSI is working towards becoming a leading knowledge hub on digital technology, regulation and cybersecurity issues, with a special focus on European technology policies and regulation.

What we do

The DSI offers interdisciplinary solutions to some of the most urgent problems of our time: this ranges from insights into the digitalisation of public services and the rapid automation of industry in Europe, to developing policy recommendations in response to the rising influence of emerging technologies on countries’ internal and external policies. DSI researchers are featured in academic journals and leading press, contributing on the latest technological issues, including eGovernance, digital platforms, international law, internet governance and cybersecurity. The DSI conducts numerous research projects, working with companies and public institutions, and regularly hosts workshops and conferences, featuring leading international speakers, public officials and hundreds of attendees from diverse backgrounds.

Event highlights

Shaping Cybersecurity Conference 2024
The Future of European Digital States - Building on Best Practices from Estonia
Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights
SyntAIgration: Thinking Beyond Cyber
Past Event

Shaping Cybersecurity Conference 2024

China's Cyber Challenge

June 17, 2024 | ESMT Berlin | Audimax
Recent Event

The Future of European Digital States - Building on Best Practices from Estonia

ESMT Berlin | 16 April 2024
Past Event

Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights

ESMT Berlin | 18-19 December 2023
Past Event

SyntAIgration: Thinking Beyond Cyber

Berlin | October 18-20, 2023

DSI in the news

Sanction the use of cyberweapons, not the weapons themselves

April 5, 2024 | ESMT Press
A recent analysis by Helene Pleil, research associate at the Digital Society Institute (DSI) at ESMT Berlin, alongside colleagues from Technical University Darmstadt, outlines that rapid technological progress, a lack of political will and uniform definitions, as well as the dual use of cyber tools, are the main challenges facing effective cyber arms control which is vital for foreign and security policy. As cyberspace is increasingly used in conflicts, cyber arms control needs to be addressed as well.

"Advancing European Cyber Resilience and Defence"

January 18, 2024 | Directions Blog
Directions Blog featured a post by Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar, Director of the Digital Society Institute (DSI) at ESMT Berlin, examining the escalating cyber threat in Europe and providing strategic insights on how to address the growing cybersecurity challenges.

"Von Cybersicherheits-Sprechstunden bis Notfallübung"

January 4, 2024 | Tagesspiegel Background
In the first issue of the year, Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar, Director of the Digital Society Institute (DSI) at ESMT Berlin, shared her predictions and expectations for cyber policy and diplomacy in 2024.

Subscribe to our monthly Cyber Policy Digest [GER + ENG]

Selected Publications

Challenges for cyber arms control: A qualitative expert interview study

September 1, 2023 | Journal Article
Thomas Reinhold, Helene Pleil, Christian Reuter (2023)

Handels- und Kooperationsvertrag der EU mit Großbritannien: Thematische Zusammenarbeit auf dem Gebiet der Cybersicherheit

November 30, 2022 | Book Chapter
Isabel Skierka, Henning Christian Lahmann (2022)

Digitale Identitäten

September 21, 2022 | Book Chapter
Isabel Skierka (2022)

DSI Talks, Panels, Interviews - Watch it all on YouTube

Supporting Partners

Research and Development Partners

Academic Partners

Media Partners


Digital Society Institute
ESMT Berlin
Schlossplatz 1
10178 Berlin

Phone: +49 170 4807442
E-Mail: DigitalSocietyInstitute[at]