G20 IT Ministers Want Access For All, Commit To Conflicting Objectives 07/04/2017 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 Group of 20 (G20) ministers responsible for the digital economy today called for further efforts to advance access to the internet for everyone and close the digital gaps that still exist. Gathered in Dusseldorf, Germany, for the two-day IT related preparatory conference for the G20 Summit in Hamburg in July, the ministers signed a declaration on “Shaping the Digitalisation for an Interconnected World.” It was the first time that ministers for digital economy met in the G20 format. The declaration is available here. The G20 digitalization topic page of German Ministry of Economy is here. Access for all by 2025 was the main message from Dusseldorf. The ministers wrote they “will encourage the domestic deployment of connectivity to all people by 2025, in accordance with the respective nation’s strategic and developmental policy frameworks.” Connectivity as well as many other commitments in the 20-page final declaration are not new. Last year, the G20 in Hangzhou, China aligned itself with the Connect 2020 Agenda that sets out the goal to connect the next 1.5 billion people by 2020. Digital divides continue to persist across income, age, geography, and gender, the ministers wrote. The G20 countries did also recognise, according to the declaration, the potential for the digital economy to contribute to achieving the goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The declaration puts human rights online in a top spot, recognising “that freedom of expression and the free flow of information, ideas and knowledge, are essential for the digital economy and beneficial to development,” the ministers declare upfront. It makes also reference to the multi-stakeholder model and expresses support to the “multistakeholder processes and initiatives which are inclusive, transparent and accountable to all stakeholders in achieving the digitally connected world.” A “Roadmap for digitalisation” annexed to the main declaration, was said by the German hosts to be a major outcome. It lists a set of 11 issues to tackle for governments, from infrastructure development and the necessary policies for this, to the encouragement of IoT developments and the closing of the still existing gender gap. A second annex to the text is dedicated to “Digital skills in vocational education and training” and the last one to “G20 priorities on Digital Trade.” The latter points to e-commerce debates expected to be on the agenda of the WTO Ministerial in Argentina, at the end of the year. Between now and the G20 presidency of Argentina, a report shall identify “factors affecting Digital Trade readiness” and make proposals “for reducing barriers to Digital Trade and improving the performance of developing and least developed countries in this area.” German Minister of Economy Brigitte Zypries was satisfied, claiming, “with principles agreed on digital trade we succeeded to strengthen open markets and multilateral cooperations in the most important industrial nations and thereby support a fair trade system.” That rather optimistic description of the results contrasts at least somewhat with the lack of hard commitments. The digital trade annex in the first place recognizes a need to measure digital trade to “foster informed and evidence-based policy-making regarding Digital Trade.” The exchange will be continued in the Trade and Investment Working Group (TIWG). Privacy, data protection and consumer protection are supported throughout the declaration, as well as the protection of intellectual property. At the same time the problem of conflicting interests, geographically or between different industries and interest groups – the so-called tussle in cyberspace – are merely touched. Digitalization “can create challenges for inclusiveness, labour markets and structural adjustments,” the minister acknowledge, but only offer “appropriate domestic policy settings and international cooperation, for example sharing of best practices” as a tool. If this will be enough for “shaping digitalization” remains to be seen. On the plus side, Wolfgang Kleinwächter, professor emeritus for international law, internet policy and regulation at the University of Aarhus, said it was good that digital has for the first time been made a topic in its own right at the G20. But Kleinwächter, who attended the civil society part of the conference in Dusseldorf, noted that this first edition “ate rather humble pie.” Substantially, he said, it was much more an affirmation of the status quo and many controversial topics in internet governance or privacy had been excluded in order to not endanger the passage of the final document. With regard to the multi-stakeholder reference in the document, Kleinwächter said, there is a big gap between ideal and reality. G20 governments discussed the final declaration behind closed doors, and non-governmental stakeholders were even kept at a distance by choosing a different location for the multi-minus-government-stakeholder conference. Nevertheless, one can look ahead to Argentina taking over from this first G20 digital minister meeting, he acknowledged. 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."G20 IT Ministers Want Access For All, Commit To Conflicting Objectives" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.