Current Happenings in the Internet Governance Context in May 2024

Current Happenings in the Internet Governance Context in May 2024

USA puts focus on digital solidarity

On 6 May 2024, the US Department of State presented an "International Cyberspace and Digital Policy Strategy". The paper is based on the "National Cybersecurity Strategy" of 1 March 2023. The strategy presented by US Secretary of State Blinken focuses on the principle of "digital solidarity". This involves partnerships with like-minded countries and stakeholders. Three "guiding principles" (security, rule of law and sustainable development) are to form the basis for four fields of action. "1. Promote, build, and maintain an open, inclusive, secure, and resilient digital ecosystem; 2. Align rights-respecting approaches to digital and data governance with international partners; 3. Advance responsible state behaviour in cyberspace, and counter threats to cyberspace and critical infrastructure by building coalitions and engaging partners; and 4. Strengthen and build international partner digital and cyber capacity, including capacity to combat cybercrime." On 12 May 2024, the White House published a second implementation plan for the national cyber security strategy. This plan contains over 100 individual tasks for government agencies and aims to work closely with the private sector, the technical community and civil society.

The discussion about rules for AI and its use continuous

The debate on artificial intelligence continued unabated in May 2024:

On 21 and 22 May 2024, the AI summit organised by British Prime Minister Sunak in London's Bletchley Park in November 2023 was taken up in Seoul.The "mini AI summit" was moderated by the heads of government of the UK and Korea. One item of discussion was a "Scientific Report on the Safety of Advanced AI" prepared by an independent group of experts; the paper provides the first ever detailed assessment of the potential risks posed by the new technology. In the "Seoul Declaration for safe, innovative and inclusive AI" signed by 25 governments at the AI summit, two new core AI principles, innovation and inclusion, were added to the safety principles mentioned in the "Bletchley Declaration". In a "Seoul Statement of Intent", it was agreed to create a network of AI safety institutes. 16 leading global tech companies from the USA, China, the EU and the UAE have committed themselves in "Frontier AI Safety Commitments" not to develop and use high-risk AI models. Transparent structures are intended to enhance responsibility and safety. The AI summit will take place in France in 2025.

On 8 and 9 May 2024, the first US-Chinese AI consultations took place in Geneva in total secrecy. The talks had been agreed between President Biden and President Xi in San Francisco in November 2023. The agenda, results or a date for a second round of consultations were not made public.

On 30 and 31 May 2024, the ITU held its annual "AI for Good Summit" in Geneva. Applications for healthcare, transport and education were presented. A high-level political discussion panel, including vice ministers from China, the USA, Japan, Korea, the EU and the Council of Europe, emphasised the need to design emerging AI governance mechanisms in such a way that they meet national or regional needs while remaining globally compatible at the same time.

On 17 May 2024, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe formally adopted the "Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law" in Strasbourg. It is the first legally binding international AI treaty and supplements both the EU AI Act and the US AI Executive Order. It is open to all states to join in.

UN presents new draft of Global Digital Compact

On 15 May 2024, the UN published a revised draft of the Global Digital Compact. It takes former criticism into account and now relies more on existing structures and less on new institutions. This includes, for example, strengthening the IGF in the subsequent implementation of the GDC. The draft still does not contain any conceptual ideas for the practical organisation of the multistakeholder model. The relationship between UN institutions in Geneva (IGF Secretariat) and New York (UN TechEnvoy and UNDESA) remains unclear. The GDC is to be adopted in September 2024 in New York within the scope of the UN Future Summit.

High-carat participants at ITU WSIS Forum

Almost 10,000 experts, including 45 ministers, took part in the ITU's annual WSIS Forum in Geneva from 26 to 31 May 2024, both offline and online. In more than 200 sessions, the forum discussed almost all of the current internet governance topics. Different from the IGF, the program is planned by the relevant UN organisations and leaves little room for open and controversial discussions. The approximately 100-page "Output Document" recommends, among other things, that the upcoming WSIS Review Conference (WSIS+20) in 2025 shall strengthen existing structures such as the IGF and link the WSIS Action Lines more closely to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (WSIS Plus).

OEWG discusses digital technologies and global security

On 10 and 11 May 2024, an informal meeting of the OEWG took place in New York in the form of a "Global Roundtable on Information and Communications Technologies Security Capacity-Building". It provided an opportunity for non-state stakeholders, who still have limited access to the formal OEWG meetings, to express their views. UN Secretary-General Guterres said: "More than ever, global security depends on the security of digital technology. We need to ensure that States fully implement the agreed norms of responsible behaviour in their use of digital technology. This is the only way to protect not only people, but the infrastructure they depend on. And we need to support developing countries to increase their digital security capacity.The next formal OEWG meeting on cyber security will take place in New York in July 2024.

G20 Working Group requests global regulation of social networks

At a meeting of the G20 Working Group on Digital Economy on 1 May 2024 in São Paulo, Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa, who also co-chairs the IGF Leadership Panel, called for global regulation of social networks. "The absence of regulation on social media platforms paves the way for a substantial surge in hate speech and the rampant spread of disinformation. We need regulation to ensure information integrity".

Cybersecurity temperature reaches unprecedented level

On 6 May 2024, the Tech Accord published its annual findings on global cyber security in the form of the "International Cybersecurity Thermometer" introduced in 2023. The "cybersecurity temperature" had risen to 101 degrees last year, higher than ever before in history, says the report.

Wolfgang Kleinwächter

Professor Emeritus of Internet Policy & Regulation at Aarhus University