Monthly Report 03/2023 - Executive Summary

Monthly Report 03/2023 - Executive Summary

Current happenings in the Internet governance context in March 2023:  

Internet Governance was one of the topics on the agenda of the 2nd Democracy Summit (28 to 30 March 2023 in Washington). Over 100 countries participated in the event, many of them represented by heads of state and government such as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. With the Democracy Summit, the USA wants to push back autocracies and strengthen democracy. 15 multistakeholder "Democratic Cohorts", including groups for technology or media and internet freedom, drew up documents on individual issues. (Further Information)
A statement against the abuse of commercial spyware was signed. In parallel, the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) adopted „Guiding Principles on Government Use of Surveillance Technologies“. Germany signed the FOC statement, but not the Democracy Summit statement.

From 7 to 10 March, the new IGF Leadership Panel (LP) and the "IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group" (MAG) The topics included the IGF 2023 in Kyoto, the Global Digital Compact (GDC) and WSIS+20.

  • LP and MAG urged the UN-nominated GDC Facilitators – Rwanda and Sweden – to involve all stakeholders in the drafting of the GDC. Switzerland proposed Multistakeholder Drafting Teams. A first draft will be discussed by a ministerial conference in September 2023.
  • The theme of the IGF 2023 is "The Internet We Want – Empowering All People". It comprises eight individual topics including AI & Emerging Technologies; Internet Fragmentation, Cybersecurity, Digital Divide, Global Digital Governance sowie Sustainability & Environment. The deadline for workshops is July 2023.
  • The Leadership Panel has formed four working groups: 1. Awareness-Raising and Outreach, 2. Inputs to the IGF, 3. Fund Raising, 4. Opportunities for Substantive Contributions and Guidance in the realm of cyber diplomacy. The MAG is represented by a liaison in each of the groups. (Further Information)

At the New York OEWG cybersecurity negotiations from 6 to 10 March 2023, progress was achieved regarding the measures for building confidence in cyber space (CBMCs). A "Directory of Point of Contacts" (PoC), i.e. a kind of "red phone" that can be contacted in the event of a cyber attack, is taking shape. PoCs already exist within the OSCE.

The negotiations on Internet-based autonomous weapons systems/GGE LAWS (7 to 10 March 2023 in Geneva) are stagnating. The point of contention is a ban on these weapons under international law. Regarding the description of "legal, ethical, humanitarian, social, security and environmental risks", an approximation could be reached. A proposal by the US to limit the ban to autonomous weapon systems that kill civilians did not find a majority.

Informal consultations on the UN Convention against Cybercrime (6 and 7 March 2023 in Vienna) brought together over 200 accredited NGOs. They fear Internet censorship and digital mass surveillance in the name of fighting cybercrime. It is proposed to focus on core areas such as illegal intrusion into other people's networks, manipulation of data and extortion software (ransomware).

Progress has been made on the EU Global Gateway project, which is the EU's digital strategy for the global south. The LAC-EU Digital Alliance for Latin America and the Caribbean was formed in Bogota on 14 March 2023. (Further Information)

From 13 to 17 March 2023, the ITU hosted its WSIS Forum with 2,700 participants from 150 countries, including 46 ministers. WSIS Chair Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Minister for Digital Transformation in Slovenia, emphasised three outcomes from the 250 sessions: access to networks, digital literacy and trust. (Further Information)

The new OECD Global Forum on Technology (GFT) is taking shape. The Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP) (22 to 24 March 2023 in Paris) adopted a concept paper, which states that the GFT should address cross-cutting issues in Internet development, involve all stakeholders and fill gaps in "existing forums" (including the IGF). The first GFT is scheduled for 7 and 8 June 2023 in Paris. (Further Information)

Wolfgang Kleinwächter

Professor Emeritus of Internet Policy & Regulation at Aarhus University