US Vote On Net Neutrality Could Affect The World, UN Rapporteur Says 20/12/2017 by Catherine Saez, 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 recent decision by the Trump administration in the United States rolling back the internet neutrality is of concern and in the long term could have effects beyond US borders, David Kaye, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, told a press briefing today. He also commented on the negative effect of the social media model, in particular Facebook on small independent media outlets, but said the issue of the control of the internet is not limited to Silicon Valley companies. Kaye spoke at a press conference in the margin of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), taking place from 17-21 December in Geneva. David Kaye, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression (center) Net neutrality, Kaye explained, is based on the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated the same regardless of the content. It is an essential principle to ensure that companies cannot distinguish between content that end users will see, he added. It is a “really important principle ensuring broad access to information by individuals,” he said. Without net neutrality principles, big media outlets, for example, may pay to have their content delivered through a faster internet. Smaller outlets might not have that ability. There is a concern that over time, companies will make decisions based on their business models rather than on content and the breadth of information to which people should have access in order to develop informed opinions. It is possible that the end of net neutrality in the US might affect the world, he said, for example if the American system restricts the ability of information from the US to go beyond its border. Kaye praised the strong net neutrality principles adopted in the European Union. Asked about political pressure that could be applied as a result of the end of the net neutrality, Kaye said there is no immediate threat. However, he said telecommunications providers used to be separate from content providers but there is a lot of convergence now, and there is a risk as content and infrastructure merge that pressure might restrict certain kinds of coverage. Facebook Model and the News Answering a question on the power of Facebook and such companies acting as distributors of news, and the fact that it is damaging the media, Kaye said the issue cannot be brought down to Facebook alone, but the model of the social media is problematic for many journalists. The Facebook model, and others, is potentially devastating for smaller media outlets, he said. “If you are a big outlet” and can gain access through Facebook, it actually might add value to the outlet distribution, but it is the opposite for small independent outlets, he said. IGF Now Focused on Content Kaye remarked on the multi-stakeholder format of the IGF. It is not a place where internet governance is only driven by states. According to Kaye, the IGF has evolved over the years. In the early years, IGF energy was devoted to architecture and access, and it now has moved to discussions about content. A number of issues discussed at the IGF deal specifically with how to manage content on the internet, he said. Questions remain about the way the internet is regulated, he said. A lot of people are wondering what companies are doing, and not only the Silicon Valley companies, such as Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, but other actors all over the world, such as WeChat in China. There are now a lot of actors regulating the digital space, and concentrating on Silicon Valley companies is missing a huge part of the problem, he said. There concerns about what companies are doing to moderate language, on terrorism and extremism, for example, even for legitimate reasons, he said. Governments are increasingly seeking to regulate the space, he said, which sometimes leads to internet shutdowns. Governments are also increasingly trying to get companies to regulate their space, and ask them to take down content, he added. Those movements are not necessarily nefarious, but there are increasing efforts even in democratic spaces by countries to re-establish their hegemony of what they see as public space. Image Credits: Catherine Saez 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 Catherine Saez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."US Vote On Net Neutrality Could Affect The World, UN Rapporteur Says" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.