European Governments Step Up Attention To Internet Governance 15/11/2018 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment 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)PARIS — In its thirteenth year, the UN-led Internet Governance Forum (IGF) finally seems to be able to turn the tide and get much-needed attention from powerful governments. Opened by a UN Secretary General for the first time since its inception and receiving the accolade of French President Emmanuel Macron, the forum looks toward a brighter future. But how to work as a multistakeholder body remains experimental in many regards. The French President’s speech (redacted English version here) of 12 November was the talk of the town at the UNESCO premises at which the 2000-participant, 100-panel event was cramped this year. Taking stock at the Internet Governance Forum IGF Back on Map with High-Level Support “Finally,” sighed attendee Marianne Franklin, the IGF has desperately needed attention and commitment by governments. For years, she said, governments that had gone with market laissez-faire now suddenly are throwing their weight around in the forum. “But they are not the only players in town,” she added. “France has put the IGF back on the map,” said Nigel Hickson, leading the activities of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the domain name system technical body, on international governmental organisations during the stocktaking session. This year’s IGF was held from 12-14 November. Franklin is one of the chairs of the Rights and Principles Dynamic Coalition, which has produced, translated and tried to promote a “Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet.” Developed bottom-up, the Charter might be seen as one of the success stories of the IGF, albeit waiting to be taken up by one or more governments to take the next step towards recognition as an international norm. Would that happen, it would give proof that the bottom-up multistakeholder model is working. L’etat c’est qui? A concern with Macron’s speech widely discussed during the three-day IGF was the President’s strong call for regulation and multilateral approaches on top of multistakeholder frameworks. Outgoing French Cyber Ambassador David Martinon highlighted what he perceived as a culture clash between parts of the IGF community and host country France. Martinon was astonished, he said, at the “deep mistrust” by parts of the IGF community of the state, while it was protection of its citizens the state was all for. In France, citizens in case of infrastructural failure would hold the state and not so much private companies accountable, he noted, and underlined that it was the state which is in charge of peace and war, also in cyberspace. “We don’t want the privatization of war and hack-backs. We want the state to be in control,” Martinon said. Putting France (and Europe) on the Map in Cybersecurity The “do not hack-back” provision is also one of the commitments stated in the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace presented by the French President on 12 November. The listed commitments on security include the prevention of “malign interference by foreign actors aimed at undermining electoral processes,” and also the “ICT-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sector.” Pointers to privacy and human rights in the commitments are lacking, and some IGF participants criticised that the Call had been dumped on the IGF’s table and the Paris Peace Conference will continue next year as an extra meeting, beside the IGF in Berlin. The diplomat who was one of the fathers of the IGF, former Swiss diplomat Markus Kummer, told Intellectual Property Watch: “Macron’s speech and announcements were a nice shake-up for the IGF in my opinion. If the IGF does not move and come up with solutions, work will go elsewhere.” Overlooked Consequences of Cybersecurity, Harmful Content Regulations “Of course they come up with bad policies in the absence of good ideas,” said Juliet Nanfuka, research and communications officer for the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), speaking in a session on “Community governance in an age of platform responsibility.” The loud call for better cyber security nevertheless has to be checked against the negative consequences that new cybersecurity legislation and legislation against unwanted and harmful content results in in some countries, warned Nanfuka. Tanzania, for example, has decided that users have to pay if they want to start a blog. Egypt has introduced the rule that everybody with more than 5000 followers is considered a media organisation and has to follow the respective standards. In both Uganda and Tanzania, cybersecurity legislation was used to stifle dissent, her colleague Ashnah Kalemera, CIPESA programme officer, warned during the main cybersecurity session. A representative of the Pakistan NGO Media Matters warned in a meeting on cyber harm by a Freedom Online Coalition group that cybersecurity, harmful content and anti-terror laws were used against journalists who found themselves in jail for example for exposing corruption. Cybersecurity legislation can kill, the stories of the activists suggest, a perspective lost in the official “Paris Call”. Multistakeholder Steps Still unresolved, observers said, is the tension that the IGF needs to do more than talking to succeed but cannot make multi-stakeholder decisions when one stakeholder, the government, goes off to make internet policy elsewhere. Some governments nevertheless tried to bring work to the IGF. Japan, which holds the 2019 Group of 20 presidency, entertained a discussions with former G20 presidency countries, Italy, Canada, Germany and Argentina to understand how they included multi-stakeholder elements in their processes. Also discussed was how the G7, G20 and the IGF could be linked up. The Dutch government brought an initiative to secure Internet of Things (IoT) devices and presented a roadmap for digital hardware and software security. A number of cities presented their smart city initiatives that try to consider how citizens’ data in more and more pervasive monitoring environments can and should be handled. The US National Telecommunications and Information Administration, member of the small US delegation which kept its low profile adopted last year with the abolishing of its State Department Cyber Czar position, proposed a new Dynamic Coalition on domain name system (DNS) issues. With regard to the domain name system, concerns of concentration have become a hot topic in the technical community. On to Berlin The Berlin hosts for the IGF14 kept a poker face to Macron’s flurry of announcements. Germany is said to be planning the next IGF for 26-28 November 2019 in Berlin. Germany presenting its program for 2019. Hosts for 2020 still in demand. “We cooperate on many issues like the Paris call. Other things are very new,” an official of the Ministry of Economic Affairs said during a session in which Germany presented its plans to go forward. Macron’s speech was highly redacted in its finally published form, taking out some of the more controversial ideas the French president had expressed. As the third host in Europe, the German government announced to make a commitment to bring more diversity to the forum by sponsoring participation from countries of the Global South with an amount of a “middle range six figure number,” an official said. Also the Germans, who for a long time were part of the camp that wanted to be very careful about upgrading the IGF to more than a discussion forum, now seem to have turned around and committed for example to continue having an IGF messages output document. Introduced by the Swiss, the French expanded these messages already. The IGF in Berlin could talk about how to go another step further, said internet governance expert Wolfgang Kleinwächter. The German government also sponsors inter-sessional work hosting the third edition of the Internet & Jurisdiction project, which works to find standards that could allow for some cautious steps into extraterritorial sharing of cyber lands. Another project is citizen’s dialogues on internet governance in the month before the next IGF, organised by Missions Publiques, a French agency, which did similar bottom-up outreach efforts for the topic of climate change. A multi-party group of German politicians, members of the Commission for Digital Affairs of the German Parliament, attending the IGF will consider an initiative to bring more members of parliaments to the IGF next year. “Why leave the space to the administration only?” said Manuel Höferlin. Will all this strengthen the IGF? UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his speech said that “discussions on internet governance cannot just remain discussions. Policy, and where relevant normative frameworks, must be developed to ensure impact.” He added, “The IGF needs to reflect on how it can have greater impact in internet governance.” Berlin is a hotbed of digital ideas, Franklin said, adding that she was hopeful the trend to open and strengthen the IGF would take on steam. The IGF2018 messages are here. The Report of the Chair is here. 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