Monthly Report 03/2024 — Executive Summary

Monthly Report 03/2024 — Executive Summary

Current Happenings in the Internet Governance Context in March 2024

G7 countries want to strengthen AI at MSMEs

On 15 March 2024, the annual conference of digital ministers from the G7 countries took place in Verona and Trento. The focus was once again on artificial intelligence, i.e. the implementation of the Hiroshima Artificial Intelligence Process (HAIP). The principles and code of conduct of the HAIP are to be applied beyond the G7 states. A report is planned to be submitted by the end of 2024, including proposals on how AI can be used more widely by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). The commitment to an "open, free, globally interoperable, reliable and secure Internet” was reaffirmed. "...We object to fragmentation of the Internet's technical infrastructure, which directly undermines the Internet's global function. We express concern for any proposals that undermine the Internet’s inclusive and global multistakeholder system of governance." Among others, Brazil, Korea, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates as well as ITU, OECD, UNDP, UNESCO and the UN Tech Envoy were invited.

EU and UN discuss framework conditions for AI

On 14 March 2024, the Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI) of the Council of Europe adopted a draft framework convention on artificial intelligence with the votes of non-European Council members such as the USA, Australia, Canada, Japan and some countries of the Global South. The convention is intended to ensure that "activities within the lifecycle of artificial intelligence systems are fully consistent with human rights, democracy and the rule of law." AI is defined as a "machine-based system that for explicit or implicit objectives, infers, from the input it receives, how to generate outputs such as predictions, content, recommendations, or decisions that may influence physical or virtual environments". The treaty supplements the EU's AI Act but opts for a more general approach that makes it easier for non-EU states to give their consent. Civil society organisations criticised the draft as "much agreement for nothing" and pointed out that the treaty does not contain any requirements for private companies and excludes AI in weapon systems. The draft will be submitted to the Committee of Ministers in May. It will enter into force after the 5th instrument of ratification has been deposited. Observers compare the AI Convention with the Budapest Convention against Cybercrime of 2001, which now has over 70 ratifications. The participation of developing countries in the negotiation process means that the AI Convention has the potential to become a global instrument.

At the initiative of the USA, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on artificial intelligence that calls on all UN states to create conditions that ensure that human rights standards are taken into account in the development and use of AI. AI must contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and prevent the digital divide from deepening. The resolution addresses all stakeholders and demands that "all states, the private sector, civil society, research organisations and the media, to develop and support regulatory and governance approaches and frameworks related to safe, secure and trustworthy use of AI."

GDC on the way to zero draft

The multi-stakeholder consultation phase for the Global Digital Compact (GDC) ended on 8 March 2024. Over 100 governments and almost 500 non-state actors have had their say in the preparatory process, which has been running since mid-2022. The co-chairs of the GDC process, Sweden and Zambia, have announced a "zero draft" for the beginning of April. A final draft is to be produced in three rounds of intergovernmental negotiations by 16 May 2024, which is to be adopted at the UN Future Summit on 23 September 2024 in New York as an annex to the UN Pact for the Future. It is still unclear whether and how non-governmental stakeholders will be involved in the final negotiation process and will be able to comment on the final draft.

Program for NetMundial+10 is ready

On 25 March 2024, the Brazilian registry published the program for the NetMundial+10 conference. More than 800 interested parties responded to the call for an Expression of Interest (EOI), including almost 100 government representatives. Around 500 experts can take part in the conference live, 100 from each stakeholder group. The High Level Executive Committee (HLEC) has launched a global consultation on the content of the planned "Final NetMundial+10 Declaration". The envisaged document is primarily intended to further develop the multi-stakeholder internet governance model through recommendations on how the extended cooperation between governmental and non-governmental stakeholders (Protocol of Protocols) shall be implemented. It shall further emphasise that the 2014 principles must also be applied to new challenges in the digital sphere such as AI governance, data governance and cyber governance. NetMundial +10 will take place back-to-back with the G20 Digital Economy Working Group on 29 and 30 April 2024 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in São Paulo.

The future role of ICANN under discussion

Almost 2,000 experts, including 1,158 live participants, attended the 79th ICANN meeting in San Juan from 2 to 8 March 2024. The focus was on the next gTLD round, DNS Abuse, Universal Acceptance (UA) and data protection. Discussions centred on how ICANN should position itself in the global internet governance negotiations (GDC & WSIS+20). The line put forward by that ICANNN should take on more of a passive observer role was criticised by members of the ICANN community, who advocate a more proactive role for ICANN. The search for a new CEO for ICANN continues. A time horizon has not been specified by the CEO Search Committee.

Wolfgang Kleinwächter

Professor Emeritus of Internet Policy & Regulation at Aarhus University