WSIS+10: Roles, Responsibilities Remain Hot; Cybersecurity Treaty Demanded By Many States 16/12/2015 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch 3 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Between a lot of applause this week for the first post-WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) decade and especially for the negotiated agreement for the coming 10 years, some cracks appeared. These tell how differently regions still view roles and responsibilities for critical infrastructure management, and also the discrepancy between declaration and deployment of principles of the information society. In a notable statement, Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation, warned that governments still have to learn how to govern the connected. The WSIS+10 high level meeting taking place this week (15-16 December) in New York is supposed to take stock of the first decade of developments in information and communication technology after the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS), the first UN summit on digital life 2003 in Geneva and 2005 in Tunis. WSIS+10 side event Following the climate conference in Paris and the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in September, a UN consensus on how to further push information and communication technologies (ICT) makes sense, many delegations said. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pointed out: “ICT can be an engine that can achieve the global development goals. They can power this global undertaking.” He added, “In 2015 we embarked on a journey of climate action, a journey of sustainability and prosperity, and a journey of communities sharing this one planet. The internet must help to drive this journey.” The WSIS will be the key platform as a means to achieve the SDG and enhance the role of the UN Working Group on Information Society. Critical Internet Resources – Controversies “The management of critical internet resources (CIR) remains a controversial issue,” said Jose Antonio Marcondes de Carvalho, vice minister for environment, energy, science and technology of the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations during the opening session. Brazil while pointing to its pioneer role for multi-stakeholder governance sided with those who wanted to have multilateral governance side by side with multi-stakeholder concepts in the WSIS10 document. “We are pleased in reaffirming the validity that the management includes both multilateral and multi-stakeholder concepts,” Carvalho said, adding that depending on different issues both are necessary. The transfers of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) from unilateral United States control to a broader base could solve the narrower CIR issue. But discussions about what role the governments should be given remains. China recommended “multilateral, inclusive, democratic and transparent” internet governance. While being supportive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) model, China also cautioned against an imbalance. “This model should not tip to one side,” giving more weight to non-governmental actors while “edging out governments,” the Chinese official said. The South African Minister of Telecommunication and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele, more generally warned against potential “unbalanced control of what is in essence a global infrastructure.” Decision-making in internet governance has to reflect that the next million users coming online would be in developing countries, said Secretary J.S. Deepak of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology in India. Role of States Even in Europe there are some differences of opinion over the question of the weight of governments’ in the multi-stakeholder cooperation. Close neighbours Germany and France seemed not in accord on that in New York with Stefan Schnorr from the German Ministry of Economy declaring: “The internet should never be in danger of being in control of just one stakeholder, be it business, governments or any other group.“ David Martinon from the French Foreign Ministry argued that private actor engagement was indispensable for states, but that “only the state can defend the public interests” and “dismissing the general interest and concerns of states will have no legitimacy.” In a much-applauded statement during a side event organised by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Baker of the Mozilla Foundation said there are questions around how multilateral institutions interact with a multi-stakeholder organisation like the internet. “The larger question is, what does governance look like in the digital age?” she said. She promoted the idea of bringing more voices into the governance process and said, “Each government will have to learn in a connected area.” The internet is an “odd resource” which need a lot of hard work, also with regard to technical excellence. But it is no broadcasting medium, a pipe for distributing content, as many still think. With regard to the question, “which Web do we want,” she made a strong plea for openness. “It must be competitive and open. It must be open for people who join later.” Its basic layer must be framed as a public resource and remain open for people to build on and innovate. Commercial and non-private parts of the network nevertheless also are necessary. The growing emergence of monopolies on the internet nevertheless was seen by some NGOs as one of the negative developments over the first WSIS decade. Openness and open source technology will bring people in developing countries online, underlined South Africa’s telecom minister. Cybersecurity and the Fallacies of “Securitization” Strong calls for multilateral action on cybersecurity were made by many governments during the conference. China called for a “code of conduct.” “Cybersecurity should be jointly defended in order to effectively address new cyberthreats and terrorism,” the Chinese representative said, and invited UN members to the second Chinese Internet Summit in Wuzhen this week. Martinon of France promoted the internationalisation of the France-based Council of Europe Convention of Cybercrime instead of starting anew. While a multilateral instrument on cybersecurity has long been on the list of several governments, including China and Russia, the topic also seems to be getting more traction at the UN, a result of recent terror attacks around the globe. UN Secretary General also mentioned cybersecurity prominently in his speech. Meanwhile, Anriette Esterhuysen, executive director of the Association for Progressive Communication, said in her short assessment of the achievements of one decade of WSIS work that the “securitization “of internet policy was perhaps the most damaging development. “Many governments are approaching internet governance from the perspective of fear,” she wrote, answering questions from Intellectual Property Watch. She pointed to a number of new national cybersecurity laws, for example in Pakistan or South Africa, that are “limiting the use of the internet.” Even a country like Switzerland currently is considering blocking legislation, seen as ineffective at best, according to the Internet Society (ISOC) chapter Switzerland. The development goes against what Esterhuysen herself sees as the one of the huge successes of the WSIS process: the commitment of many countries, also during the session in New York, to the notion that offline fundamental rights also have to be protected online. Implementation, as Baker said is hard work. “When the technology works, it is like magic,” she said. With access for everybody and human rights granted, too, that is just as true for internet politics as internet technology. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Monika Ermert may be reached at email@example.com."WSIS+10: Roles, Responsibilities Remain Hot; Cybersecurity Treaty Demanded By Many States" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.