OECD Ministerial On Internet Wraps Up: Openness A Concern 24/06/2016 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch 2 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)The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) should not wait 8 or 10 years before its next Internet Ministerial, said OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria at the closing session in Cancun Mexico yesterday. Gurria called for a faster pace for government and regulators to adapt to the digital markets. Better data on the data economy will help, as reflected in the new Cancun Declaration. OECD ministerial in Cancun The Cancun Declaration [pdf] of the third Internet-related Minister Declaration of the 34 OECD members and some partners, is more general than the Seoul Declaration of 2009, focusing on openness and trust. The list of the 34 OECD members is here. Information Flows and Data Protection “Support (for) the free flow of information” made the top of the list of commitments in the short declaration, echoing concerns by those warning against the creation of digital walls expressed during the three-day conference, for example by US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. At the same time, fears over the complete erosion of privacy in a world of unlimited data flows were addressed with commitments to human rights online and promises to “develop privacy and data protection strategies at the highest level of government.” International arrangements that promote effective privacy and data protection across jurisdictions would be supported, the Cancun Declaration underlines. Sensitivities with regard to the free flow of data, illustrated in the closing statement of French Minister of Digital Affairs Axelle Lemaire, were even addressed with switching to the notion of “free flow of information” instead. Lemaire in her closing statement in Cancun re-iterated: “without trust the digital economy cannot flourish.” Civil Society Finds Commitments Insufficient Marc Rotenberg, member of the Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (CSISAC) Steering Committee and President of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), answering questions from Intellectual Property Watch wrote: “It is for the ministers to say why this change was made. Our hope is that it reflects a commitment to the open exchange of information and ideas, which civil society favors, and not simply the transfer of personal data, which remains a great concern of Internet users around the world.” “A policy that favors the free flow of information favors the people. A policy for the free flow of data favors the machines,” said Rotenberg. CSISAC in its concluding statement in Cancun called the official Declaration of Ministers in Cancun insufficient in several respects. “The threat that the digital economy poses to human rights, including privacy and freedom of expression, was insufficiently addressed in the Ministerial Declaration,” the CSISAC statement says. “Particularly with the rise of the Internet of things and the use of artificial intelligence for secretive decisions concerning the rights and freedom of individuals, the OECD must focus on the emerging challenges in the Digital Economy.” The technical community, represented through the Internet Technical Advisory Community (ITAC), in their final recommendations warned against government decisions about the internet that are “coloured by fear, distrust and uncertainty” and reminded governments that there is no absolute security. It would be best to oblige, but also enable companies to support users rights, they recommend, and provide users with the “skills needed to protect themselves and other users.” Concrete Projects for OECD For the OECD, there were two concrete projects emanating from the Cancun Declaration, said Andrew Wyckoff, director of Science, Technology and Innovation at the OECD. OECD Secretary Genera Angel Gurria “The first is a clear mandate for better data on data,” he said. Secretary General Gurria pointed out that currently the OECD has much more data on the dwindling agricultural sector (4 percent of GDP) than the booming digital and data-driven sector. The organisation is tasked in the Cancun Declaration to collect data on data and “contribute to developing new metrics for the digital economy, such as on trust, skills and global data flows.” The second concrete project for the OECD according to Wyckoff, is the use of “multi-disciplinary capabilities of the OECD to look beyond the ICT sector to look at how to make policies in everything from tax and trade to transport ready for the digital era.” Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Junji Suzuki brought one task to Cancun for the OECD, calling on the organisation to analyze existing regulation of commercial drone flights. “We have to reform our regulation,” he said, and Japan would like see existing approaches. Broken Promises and an Attempt to Tap into Untapped Capacities The OECD has already developed a complete suite of guidelines for internet policy makers, US Deputy Secretary of State Daniel Sepulveda said in his closing address in Cancun. He underlined the two newest additions to the suite – guidelines for consumer protection in e-commerce and guidelines for digital security risk assessment. The OECD has also developed documents on privacy protection in trans-border networks. But implementation is lacking, participants from civil society pointed out during the panel discussions. Even with regard to infrastructure development which has been consensus since the earliest internet ministerial, OECD countries are behind. Gurria, during the opening of the conference, pointed out that the percentage of investment in broadband infrastructure decreased between 2001 and 2013 from 3.4 to 2.7 percent. OECD Hackathon: No Oxymoron One untapped resource was tapped for the first time at Cancun, an OECD policy expert described talking to Intellectual Property Watch: for the first time 170 young people came to an OECD Internet Ministerial – all hackers. Proposed and partly funded by Oracle, At&T and some other members of the Business and Industry Advisory Council, the OECD and the Mexican government had its first Hackathon. Laurie Patterson, an engineer at Oracle who has organised many Hackathons for her company and customers, said it was the first instance of a Hackathon alongside such a high-level political event – with learning effects for politicians who could stop by the techie youngsters who competed for four official and several company excellence awards. The idea was to show how innovation works, she said, but she got educated, too, mainly on the need to bridge between those with technical understanding and those who are expected to make the rules. Image Credits: OECD 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 firstname.lastname@example.org."OECD Ministerial On Internet Wraps Up: Openness A Concern" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.