Q2/2022 - Executive Summary

Q2/2022 - Executive Summary

Developments in the Internet Governance Environment April to June 2022:

The Internet is increasingly getting drawn into the global geo-strategic conflicts of 2022. The war in Ukraine has accelerated the polarisation in the Internet governance discussion that has been emerging for years, and with it the process of a "bifurcation" of the Internet.

  • On the one hand, there is the concept of a free, open, trustworthy, secure and unfragmented Internet, in the shaping of which all stakeholders participate equally in their respective roles. On the other hand, there is the concept of a state-controlled Internet, based on the principle of "cyber sovereignty", according to which each government can regulate its "national Internet segment" to protect "national security" and "public order". The two concepts come into fundamental conflict, especially when Internet issues are concerned that are relevant in socio-political aspects.
  • On the technical level, the "One World - One Internet" philosophy based on the "multistakeholder governance model" still dominates. But at the level of applications, the Internet is increasingly becoming a "splinternet" in a world with 193 national jurisdictions. The coordinates in the global Internet governance ecosystem are increasingly shifting in favour of the government level.  Two decades ago, non-governmental institutions such as the networks of the technical community and digital civil society as well as the growing transnational private companies were at the centre of the global Internet debate. Today, the technical community and civil society have lost considerable influence. And even the large private Internet companies are less and less able to escape state regulation.

In the second quarter of 2022, this development was particularly visible in the following processes and events:

  • The signing of the "Declaration for the Future of the Internet" initiated by the U.S. government on 28 April 2022 in Washington;
  • The 2nd meeting of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council on 15-16 May 2022 in Paris;
  • The adoption of Internet-related legislation (Digital Markets Act & Digital Services Act) by the European Union at the end of June 2022;
  • The summit meeting of the five BRICS countries in Beijing on 24 June 2022;
  • The G7 Summit on 26 June 2022 in Elmau;
  • The G20 Digital Economy Working Group meeting on 26 June 2022 in Indonesia;
  • The nomination of Indian diplomat Amandeep Singh Gill as "UN Technology Envoy" on 10 June 2022;
  • The ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) in Kigali from 6 to 16 June 2022;
  • The arrangement concerning the future of a digital economy agreement at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference on 16 June 2022;
  • The cybersecurity negotiations at the UN at the end of June 2022.

The "Declaration for the Future of the Internet" (DFI) signed by 60 governments in Washington on 28 April 2022. [1]

  • Originally, the Biden administration wanted to launch an "Alliance for the Future of the Internet" as part of its "Summit of Democracy" in December 2021. This "alliance" was to be formed from "like-minded states" and position itself against the further "autocratisation" of the Internet. Critical objections stating that with such an "alliance" the USA would itself be promoting the unwanted global fragmentation of the Internet ultimately led to the idea to draft a constructively formulated "declaration". That declaration was to be understood more as an "invitation" than as an "exclusion".
  • The Declaration reaffirms the ideals of the founding fathers of the Internet. It formulates six criteria (open, free, global, interoperable, trusted and secure) and five principles (freedom and human rights, global Internet, Internet for all, cybersecurity and multistakeholder governance). It condemns Internet censorship, mass surveillance and the misuse of the Internet for cybercrime and disinformation campaigns. It criticises autocratic Internet governance models. However, the Declaration also deplores growing tendencies towards economic centralisation on the Internet and emphasises the "regulatory autonomy" of governments in the field of digitalisation.
  • While the Internet community largely agreed with the content of the Declaration, the process was largely criticised. Although the Declaration advocated the multistakeholder governance model, it had been negotiated exclusively between governments. Different from the similarly designed NetMundial Declaration of 2014, non-governmental representatives had no opportunity to contribute to the process. The follow-up is also unclear. The Declaration does not contain any procedures for implementation. Regular compliance reports or review conferences are not foreseen. [2]
  • It is also noteworthy that of the 193 UN states, only 60 governments have signed the document. That China, Russia and Iran did not sign the document was to be expected. But democratic countries that play an important role for a global Internet policy, such as Brazil, India, Singapore, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Switzerland, have not signed the Washington Declaration either.

In addition to initiating the Washington Declaration for the Future of the Internet, the Biden Administration has stepped up its efforts to realign its international Internet policy. This includes increased promotion of new regional networks, especially in the Indo-Pacific region, and the restructuring of responsibilities in the US State Department.

  • The more politically and militarily oriented new alliances QUAD (US, Japan, Australia and India) and AUKA (Australia, US, UK), already created in 2021, include an extensive cybersecurity component. On 5 May 2022, a new "Global CBPR Forum" was initiated between seven members of the APEC group. CBPR stands for "Cross Border Privacy Rules" and is intended to lead to compatible legislation on data handling. The forum explicitly distinguishes itself from the APEC members Russia and China. In addition to the USA, the new forum includes Canada, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan. [3]
  • On 4 June 2022, Nathaniel Fick was appointed new Ambassador-at-Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy at the US State Department. [4] Fick heads the newly created Bureau for Cyberspace and Digital Policy and reports directly to US Secretary of State Blinken. Fick's nomination must still be approved by the US Congress. Fick, a former naval officer, held the position of CEO of the cybersecurity firm "Endgame" in the recent years. He was also co-chair of the US Council on Foreign Relations' Task Force on the Future of the Internet. In its report published at the end of June 2022, this Task Force called for a radical reorientation of US Internet foreign policy. The hope that a globalisation of the Internet would promote American values had not been fulfilled. One had to face that in reality the Internet was politically fragmented in 2022 and that autocratic tendencies were on the rise. To respond to this situation, a new offensive confrontation with the opponents of the free Internet had to be organised. "The era of the global Internet is over", the study says.

At the G7 Summit in Elmau on 26 June 2022, two topics relevant to the Internet were discussed. One was Internet freedom and the fight against Russian disinformation campaigns on the Internet. The other was a comprehensive support package for developing countries to overcome the digital divide.[5]

  • In Elmau, the heads of state and government of the leading western industrialised countries supported the "Declaration for the Future of the Internet" and called on other states to sign it. However, the G7 leaders did not succeed in getting the heads of state of the BRICS members India and South Africa, who had travelled to Elmau for the summit, or this year's G20 chair, Indonesia, to sign. The "2022 Democratic Resiliencies Statement" signed in Elmau by the G7 and the presidents of the invited five emerging economies advocates for a free and open Internet but avoids a reference to the Declaration.[6]
  • The G7 countries agreed on a comprehensive support program for developing countries in the amount of 600 billion dollars. The "Build Back Better" program, already adopted at the 2021 G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, is intended to form a counterpart to China's "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI). The BRI includes the project of a "digital silk road" with which China wants to expand its influence, especially in Africa. A large part of the 600 billion dollar package of the G7 is therefore to be invested in the development of the digital infrastructure in developing countries. The aim of the investment is to help these countries achieve the UN's sustainable development goals by 2030 and become less dependent on China.

A few days before the G7 Summit in Elmau, the presidents of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) held this year's summit as a virtual meeting. In 2022, the BRICS presidency rests with China. In his speech, China's President Xi Jinping repeated the request to globally reshape the Internet on the basis of the principle of "cyber sovereignty".[7]

  • In the Beijing Declaration of June 2022, the five presidents give the issue of "cyber security" a priority role. The United Nations is to play the central role here, in particular with regard to the negotiations on the development of norms for state behaviour in cyberspace (OEWG) and the work on a new UN convention to combat cyber crime (AHC).
  • Increased digital cooperation within the BRICS countries was also agreed. The PartNIR mechanism (Partnership for the New Industrial Revolution) is to be expanded, especially for e-commerce, cloud computing and artificial intelligence. The BRICS Digital Task Force shall try to win over further countries for digital cooperation within the framework of the new "BRICS+ Program".

The Indonesian G20 Presidency is increasingly overshadowed by the geo-political consequences of the Ukraine war. Numerous ministerial or expert meetings end without a joint final declaration. The preparation of the G20 Digital Ministers Meeting planned for July 2022 is also affected by this situation.[8] The 2nd meeting of the G20 Digital Economy Working Group (G20 DEWG) on 27 June 2022 focused on cross-border data flows and the future of the framework agreement for a global digital tax agreed at the G20 Summit in Rome in November 2021. It is becoming more and more apparent that the introduction of the digital tax – originally scheduled for January 2023 – will be postponed to 2024. The negotiations on a global digital trade agreement, which are being conducted in the WTO, have also been put off and are now expected to be concluded by the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in late 2023 or in 2024.

Under the French EU Presidency, important digital policy legislation was adopted in the second quarter of 2022.

  • The focus was on the adoption of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA). [9]With these two laws, the EU wants to place transnational Internet companies in particular under greater obligation to abide by fair competition rules. The DSA also contains precise provisions on how social networks must deal with illegal information content. Under the French presidency of the Council of the European Union, significant progress has also been made on the EU's other legislative projects – Data Governance Act, AI Regulatory Package, Chips Act, etc.
  • The EU is thus continuing the course, pushed above all by EU Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, of being a "norm maker" rather than a "norm taker" in the global Internet governance ecosystem. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had reaffirmed in several speeches in Q2 2022 that the EU sees itself in a special role to write the global "digital rulebook".
  • This strategy seems to be successful. More and more countries are taking the EU rules on the Internet as a model for their national Internet legislation. Even in the USA, calls are increasing that demand EU rules to be used as a model for issues such as privacy protection or the promotion of fair competition. The reference to "regulatory autonomy" in the "Declaration for the Future of the Internet" resulted from pressure exerted by the EU and was accepted by the USA. The discussion at the 2nd meeting of the US-EU Technology and Trade Council in Paris in May 2022 of the previous conflicts between the EU and the US was also characterized by a rather constructive spirit.[10]
  • However, critics such as "Politico" magazine warn the EU of a "Chinese trap". In an article dated 28 June 2022, Konstantinos Komaitis argues that the strong emphasis on European digital sovereignty and the comprehensive regulation of the Internet plays into the hands of Chinese Internet strategy.[11] In fact, the Chinese government has adopted many text passages from European legal acts in recent legislative proposals, for example on data protection or artificial intelligence. What looks like a positive input, however, turns out to be counterproductive in reality. In Europe, state Internet rules can be reviewed and overturned by independent courts if they are not compatible with guaranteeing individual human rights and fundamental freedoms. Authoritarian states that do not have separation of powers lack mechanisms such as independent courts, free media, open civil society and protection of minorities.

At the NATO Summit in Madrid on 29 June 2022, NATO's cyber strategy was specified in greater detail. The statement was reaffirmed that a cyber attack on a NATO state also constitutes an attack within the meaning of Article 5 of the NATO Treaty and could thus trigger the collective defence of the Alliance. NATO leaders further declared their intention to invest extensively in new technological weapons developments to bring both defensive and offensive NATO cyber capabilities to a level that will deter any potential enemy. The NATO Investment Fund was increased to one billion dollars. On 6 April 2022, the NATO charter for the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) was signed.[12]

On 7 June 2022, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Russian government held an expert workshop on information security in Yugra, Western Siberia. At the conference, SCO Deputy Secretary General Grigory Logvinov drafted an eight-point program that, among other things, emphasises the military component of information security, relies on the principle of national "cyber sovereignty", calls for a "decentralisation" of the "global digital space" and advocates the protection of personal data in the "metaverse".[13]

Negotiations to strengthen international cyber security within the UN framework continued in the second quarter of 2022 at three levels.

  • From 30 May to 6 June 2022, the second regular round of negotiations of the Ad Hoc Committee (AHC) on the elaboration of a UN Convention on Cybercrime took place in Vienna. The aim of this round of negotiations was to exchange views on the individual possible articles of a future convention. Numerous countries submitted concrete proposals. The exchange of views took place in a constructive atmosphere, despite the differences in content that became apparent. However, the actual negotiations have not yet begun. The UN Secretariat will not present a first draft text that is worth to be discussed until the end of 2022 at the earliest.[14]
  • On 22 June 2022, the Chair of the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG), Burhan Gafoor, presented his first draft report in New York. This version does not yet contain any proposals for substantive agreements but sums up the discussion so far. It will be discussed at the next regular session in New York in July 2022.  A new dispute has arisen over the participation of non-state actors in the formal sessions of the OEWG. NGOs that are not accredited to ECOSOC can attend the sessions on condition that no UN member state objects. For the July session, Ukraine has now raised objections to several Russian NGOs and companies, including the cyber security firm Kaspersky. In turn, Russian governments have objected to the participation of 21 NGOs and companies, including the Davos World Economic Forum, the Global Forum for Cyber Expertise (GFCE) and Tech Accord.
  • In June, two further informal consultations of the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (GGE LAWS) took place in preparation for the next formal negotiations in Geneva in mid-July 2022.[15] The subject of the consultations was human control of autonomous weapons systems, ethical considerations, responsibilities and risk analysis. The goal of the negotiations is still controversial. The USA wants a legally non-binding "Code of Conduct", many developing countries want a legally binding convention.[16]

After a vacancy of more than one and a half years, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appointed the Indian diplomat Amandeep Singh Gill as his UN Technology Envoy on 10 June 2022. The creation of this new post had been announced in the "UN Roadmap for Digital Cooperation" in June 2020. The Special Envoy is practically the "right Internet hand" of the UN Secretary-General

  • As a result of internal disputes within the UN Secretariat, the post initially remained under the provisional leadership of the Deputy Director of UNDESA. Amandeep Singh Gill was Co-Director of the UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (HLP) and Chair of the Governmental Expert Group on Autonomous Weapons Systems (GGE LAWS). Amandeep Singh Gill's main task is to implement the Roadmap and prepare the Global Digital Compact (GDC).[17]
  • The "Global Digital Compact" is to be adopted by the UN World Summit on the Future of the planet earth in September 2023. In June 2022, the UN launched an open multistakeholder consultation on the GDC. All stakeholders are invited to give input until 30 September 2022. There is a questionnaire for this purpose.[18] The GDC is also expected to dominate the discussion at the 17th IGF in Addis Ababa at the end of November 2022. The procedure for producing the final draft text is still unclear. This will be determined by the 77th UN General Assembly by December 2022. Whether non-state stakeholders will be involved in this process is still an open question.

At the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) from 6-16 June in Kigali, Rwanda, which is held every four years, the 193 member states of the ITU agreed on a "Kigali Action Plan". This plan shall help to bridge the digital divide by 2030 and to provide access to the Internet for the three billion people who are still offline. The "Partner2Connect Digital Coalition" has committed to contribute $25 billion for digital infrastructure projects in Kigali.[19]

  • During the conference, the Chinese proposal put forward by Huawei to look into an extended Internet address protocol (IPv6+) caused quite a stir. IPv6+ is supposed to bring added value, especially for 5G applications and cloud services. However, the proposal was not discussed further and is not mentioned in the final declaration.
  • The WTDC was already overshadowed by the election campaign for the future leadership of the ITU. Doreen Bogdan-Martin, the Director of ITU-D, which organised the WTDC, is one of the two candidates to succeed the Chinese ITU Director General Houlin Zhao, who will leave in September 2022. The other candidate is Russian Rashid Ismailov. Ismailov was Deputy Minister of Communications and Mass Media in Russia in the 2010s and is now CEO of Vimpel-Communcations, a private Russian telecommunications group. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the DONA Foundation led by Bob Kahn.[20]

The negotiations for a global agreement on electronic commerce and trade in digital data going on for years have been postponed again at the 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Although several chapters of a possible treaty had been agreed upon before the WTO Ministerial Conference, no consensus could be reached on the overall package. On 16 June 2022, WTO members agreed to extend the 1999 Moratorium on Customs Duties on Cross-border Electronic Transmissions until 31 December 2023. The expiry of the Moratorium is linked to the new agreement, which is now expected to be adopted by the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in 2023 or 2024.[21]

On 4 April 2022, the new Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI) of the Council of Europe was constituted in Rome. The Committee has the task to develop a framework convention on artificial intelligence by 2023. The CAI can draw on more than two years of preliminary work by a Council of Europe working group (CAHAI). CAHAI has already drafted various options for possible AI regulations, closely coordinating them with the envisaged EU regulations on artificial intelligence. The Committee is chaired by Swiss Ambassador Thomas Schneider, former Chair of ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)[22] In a statement on 4 April 2022, several civil society organisations, including Algorithm Watch, Access Now and Global Partner Digital (GDP), called for any future binding legal instrument to be compatible with the Council of Europe’s human rights standards.

On 3 May 2022, UNESCO's World Press Freedom Day, the OSCE Office for Freedom of the Media in Vienna, together with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression of the UN Human Rights Council, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the African Commission, issued a statement on the Ukraine war. It expresses concern about the functioning of the Internet infrastructure in Ukraine, highlights the difficult role of journalists and condemns the misuse of the Internet for Russian disinformation campaigns.[23]

After two virtual meetings, the European Internet Governance Forum EURODIG took place in Trieste from 20 to 22 June 2022 as a hybrid meeting. More than 500 participants had registered. The topics included cyber security, the multistakeholder model for Internet governance, European digital sovereignty and the Declaration for the Future of the Internet. The recommendations of the conference will be forwarded as "Messages from Trieste" to the UN-hosted IGF in Addis Ababa in November 2022.[24]

The Cybersecurity Tech Accord, initiated by Microsoft, published a study on global cyber security on 23 May 2022, which deals in detail with cyber attacks in the context of the Ukraine war. On 24 May 2022, Tech Accord hosted a workshop on "The Technology Industry and the Age of Hybrid Warfare" at the Davos World Economic Forum.[25]

On 7 April 2022, the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) published its annual report for 2021. The GFCE is primarily concerned with cyber capacity building. The number of its members has now grown to 157 institutions and companies. In 2021, the concept of "regional hubs" was expanded, especially in the Pacific-Asian region. New are the initiatives "Women in International Security and Cyberspace Fellowship" and "Cyber Financial Inclusion Working Group".[26]

Due to Corona, the Davos World Economic Forum was postponed from January to May 2022. In more than 20 workshops, topics such as cyber security, digital transformation, artificial intelligence and the future of the Internet were discussed. A dominant theme was Web3 and the Metaverse. Pekka Lundmark, CEO of Nokia, predicted that in the 2030s with 6G, the smartphone would no longer be the most important end device in digital communication. With the Metaverse, people would become "digital twins" and many functions of the smartphone would move into "finger chips" or into "digital spectacles".[27]

  1. EU and international partners put forward a Declaration for the Future of the Internet, 28 April 2022, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_22_2695
  2. How to Save the “Past” in the “Future of the Internet”: Principles, Procedures and Problems of the Washington Declaration, https://circleid.com/posts/20220507-how-to-save-the-past-in-the-future-of-the-internet-principles-the-washington-declaration
  3. New Kid on the Block: The Global CBPR Forum, 2 May 2022, https://www.cdotrends.com/story/16393/new-kid-block-global-cbpr-forum
  4. Nathaniel Fick, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathaniel_Fick
  5. G7 Leaders' Communiqué, 28 June 2022, http://www.g7.utoronto.ca/summit/2022elmau/220628-communique.html
  6. 2022 Democratic Resiliencies Statement, 27 June 2022, http://www.g7.utoronto.ca/summit/2022elmau/220627-resilient-democracies.html
  7. BRICS-Gipfel, Beijing, 23 June 2022, http://brics2022.mfa.gov.cn/eng/
  8. Third G20 DEWG meeting focuses on cross-border data flow, 27 June 2022, https://en.antaranews.com/news/236349/third-g20-dewg-meeting-focuses-on-cross-border-data-flow
  9. Digital Markets Act und Digital Services Act https://emr-sb.de/themen/dma-dsa/
  10. EU-U.S. Joint Statement of the Trade and Technology Council, 2nd Meeting, Paris, 16 May 2022, https://circabc.europa.eu/ui/group/09242a36-a438-40fd-a7af-fe32e36cbd0e/library/14bf0332-62ee-411b-8c74-bea38cd79efb/details
  11. EU Internet regulations are falling into the ‘China trap’, 28. Juni 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-internet-regulation-falling-into-china-trap/
  12. NATO Summit, Madrid, 28 June 2022, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_196144.htm, and NATO sharpens technological edge https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_194587.htm
  13. SCO Deputy Secretary-General attends 5th International Conference on Information Security Infoforum-Yugra, 9 June 2022, http://eng.sectsco.org/news/20220609/842729.html
  14. Second session of the Ad Hoc Committee, Vienna, 30 May to 10 June 2022, https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/cybercrime/ad_hoc_committee/ahc-second-session.html
  15. 2022 Annual Progress of the OEWG, Zero Draft, 22 June 2022, https://reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/ict/oewg-ii/documents
  16. Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on emerging technologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), https://meetings.unoda.org/section/ccw-gge-2022_background_18546/
  17. Indian diplomat becomes Tech Envoy of the UN, https://www.heise.de/news/Indischer-Diplomat-wird-Tech-Gesandter-der-Vereinten-Nationen-7142208.html
  18. Global Digital Compact, https://www.un.org/techenvoy/global-digital-compact
  19. ITUWTDC, Kigali Action Plan, 6 – 16 June 2022, https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Conferences/WTDC/WTDC21/Pages/default.aspx
  20. Rashid Ismailov, https://www.dona.net/team/rashid-ismailov
  21. Development Committee welcomes MC12 decision on e-commerce work programme, 20 June 2022, https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news22_e/devel_20jun22_e.htm
  22. Inaugural Meeting of the Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI), 11 April 2022, https://www.coe.int/en/web/artificial-intelligence/-/inaugural-meeting-of-the-committee-on-artificial-intelligence-cai-
  23. Joint Statement on the Invasion of Ukraine and the Importance of Freedom of Expression and Information, 2 May 2022, https://www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/517107
  24. EURODIG, Trieste, 20 – 22 June 2022, https://www.eurodig.org/
  25. The Technology Industry and the Age of Hybrid Warfare, 23 May 2022, https://cybertechaccord.org/the-technology-industry-and-the-age-of-hybrid-warfare/
  26. Release of the GFCE Annual Report 2021, 7 April 2022, https://thegfce.org/release-of-the-gfce-annual-report-2021/
  27. World Economic Forum Davos 2022: War in Ukraine, Metaverse and Splinternet https://circleid.com/posts/20220530-world-economic-forum-davos-2022-war-in-ukraine-metaverse-und-splinternet

Wolfgang Kleinwächter

Professor Emeritus of Internet Policy & Regulation at Aarhus University