Current Happenings in the Internet Governance Context in June 2024

Current Happenings in the Internet Governance Context in June 2024

Interoperability and security for AI

The 36-page "Apulia G7 Leaders' Communique" of the G7 Summit on 14 June 2024 reaffirms the commitment to an "open, interoperable, safe, secure, resilient, human rights respecting use of cyberspace" when it comes to cyber security. The fight against cyber criminals, in particular against ransomware, and against Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference (FIMI) is to be stepped up. Multistakeholder cooperation is to be promoted. With regard to AI, reference is made to the "Hiroshima AI process". AI regulation must promote innovation and minimise risks. Different regulatory approaches should not undermine global interoperability. The UN, OECD/Global Partnership on AI (GPAI) and the "Bletchley Process" are important platforms for strengthening AI safety and AI governance. Governments should sign the "Political Declaration on Responsible Military Use of AI" adopted in The Hague in 2023. Pope Francis had called on the G7 leaders to ban AI-based autonomous weapons systems. "On this issue in particular, I would insist that in an armed conflict, it is urgent to reconsider the development and use of devices such as so-called "lethal autonomous weapons" in order to prohibit their use... No machine should ever be able to choose to take the life of a human being. Human dignity itself is at stake."

Cyber security and peace

On 21 June 2024, the UN Security Council held a thematic meeting on cyber security in New York. UN Secretary-General Guterres emphasised the "growing links between cyberspace and global peace and security." Cyber criminals were undermining security. The global damage caused by extortion software amounted to US$ 1.1 billion (2023). 76 governments took the floor. Non-governmental representatives such as the Director of the Cyber Peace Institute (CPI), Stéphane Duguin, were also allowed to speak. German Minister of State Tobias Lindner called for a greater role for the UN Security Council in the peaceful resolution of cyber conflicts. "Germany would welcome efforts by the Security Council to mainstream cybersecurity threats into its agenda".

At their annual meeting in Nizhny Novgorod on 10 June 2024, the foreign ministers of the ten BRICS states called for the rapid adoption of the UN Convention on Cybercrime and for the development of a "universal legal framework" on cyber security. The aim, so the ministers, was an "open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment". Disinformation should be combated "by ensuring free flow of and public access to accurate fact-based information, and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of opinion and expression as well as digital and media literacy in order to allow for meaningful connectivity, in accordance with applicable national and international law.

Global Digital Compact

The 2nd version of the Global Digital Compact (GDC) was published in New York on 26 June 2024. It was largely viewed positively. Irritating proposals made by China and the G77 on 10 June 2024, such as the revitalisation of the process of "enhanced cooperation", were not included. Instead, the multistakeholder principle for internet governance and the role of the IGF have been strengthened. This is reflected in particular in Article 27: "We recognise that the governance of the Internet must remain global in nature, with the full involvement of all states and other stakeholders in accordance with the Tunis Agenda. We reaffirm multilateral and multistakeholder approaches to Internet governance and the central role of the IGF for multistakeholder discussion on public policy issues related to the Internet, as well as the NETmundial principles." Proposals for new institutions for AI governance and a GDC follow-up (new UN Secretariat and High Level UN Conference 2027 in New York) continue to be criticised.

822 participants registered for EURODIG (17 - 19 June 2024) in Vilnius. Keynote speakers were the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, and Tomas Lamanauskas, ITU Deputy Secretary General. The "Vilnius Messages" include ten specific recommendations for the GDC and WSIS+20.

ITU discusses new technologies

The regular meeting of the ITU Council took place in Geneva from 4 to 14 June 2024. The focus was on new technology developments such as G5/G6, Quantum and AI as well as digital infrastructure in the global South and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The conflict with ICANN no longer played a role. For the first time, a UN Secretary-General took part in an ITU Council meeting. He advocated overcoming the digital divide and applying the multistakeholder principle in AI: "Governments, industry, academia and civil society must develop rules and guidelines for AI safety – together, and before it is too late." The ITU Plenipotentiary Conference will take place in Qatar in November 2026, WTSA in New Delhi (November 2024) and WTDC in Baku (October 2025).

IGF, GGE Laws and CSTO

The 2nd Open Consultations for the 18th IGF in Riyadh took place in Geneva from 26 to 28 June 2024. 86 of the 203 proposals for workshops were confirmed. Registration will begin on 1 August 2024.

On 6 June 2024, informal consultations took place in Geneva with NGOs on the negotiations on autonomous weapons systems (GGE LAWS). The negotiations have been at a standstill for ten years and no progress has been made.

On 21 June 2024, the foreign ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) adopted a statement "on expanding cooperation in international information security" and called "to take steps to prevent conflicts in the digital sphere and to develop a universal international legal instrument regulating countries' activity in cyberspace." The CSTO is a military alliance of former Soviet republics led by Russia.

Wolfgang Kleinwächter

Professor Emeritus of Internet Policy & Regulation at Aarhus University