Monthly Report 04/2023 - Executive Summary

Monthly Report 04/2023 - Executive Summary

Current happenings in the Internet governance context in April 2023:  

Cybersecurity, cross-border data flows, Internet governance and artificial intelligence were focal points of the 2023 meeting of the G7 Digital Ministers (29 to 30 April 2023 in Takasaki City). The concrete projects discussed included the hardening of digital infrastructures (submarine cables, Low Earth Satellites/LEOs), "Data Free Flow with Trust" (DFFT) and the compatibility of regulatory initiatives related to artificial intelligence. The G7 ministers committed to the multistakeholder model of Internet governance and called on like-minded states to support the "Declaration for the Future of the Internet" (April 2022) and the activities of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), which addresses Internet shutdowns, network restrictions and mass surveillance. The IGF was described as the "leading multistakeholder forum for discussion on Internet policies" and was expected to play a role in the development of the Global Digital Compact (GDC). The G7 plan to present a study on "Existing Practices against Disinformation" (EPaD) at the IGF in Kyoto in October 2023. Digital platforms should not develop the spreading of misinformation into a business model. Moreover, "digital identification systems" were required. A G7 Taskforce on Governance for a Digitalized Society is to develop recommendations until the next G7 meeting in 2024 in Italy. (Further Information)

The preparation of the Global Digital Compact, coordinated by Sweden and Rwanda, were continued on 13 April 2023 in New York with a "Thematic Deep Dive" on Internet governance. The discussions resulted in a confrontation. The USA and the EU advocated the multistakeholder model. Russia called the model a ploy by the West to ensure the dominance of private corporations, called for government oversight of the Internet and criticised ICANN for not being an international organisation under US jurisdiction. In July 2023, the seven Thematic Deep Dives are going to be compiled into Issue Papers and forwarded to the GDC Ministerial Conference in mid-September 2023 in New York. (Further Information)

On 19 April 2023, a "High Level Advisory Board" (HLAB) presented a report on the preparation of the UN Future Summit planned for 2024, which includes a chapter on digitalisation. The board, chaired by former Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, proposed a "Global Data Pact" and the creation of a "Global Commission on Just and Sustainable Digitalisation" with four tasks (human rights; data governance; inclusive and sustainable digitalisation; capacity building). It should also address the dangers of ICTs (digital harms). Civil society organisations pointed to the risk of duplication with the IGF.

At the 5th round of negotiations for the preparation of a UN Convention against Cybercrime from 11 to 21 April 2023 in Vienna, the second part of the Consolidated Negotiation Document (CND), which now consists of over 100 articles, was discussed. (Further Information)
Especially the chapter on international cooperation (mutual legal assistance, extradition, cross-border investigations by law enforcement agencies, access to data, etc.) revealed points of conflict. A "zero draft" should be available by the 6th round of negotiations at the end of August 2023 in New York. The conclusion of the negotiations is planned for January 2024. There is great scepticism that compromises can be reached in the critical areas (definition of cyber crimes, rule of law procedures, human rights).

On 18 April 2023, NATO organised the largest ever digital warfare manoeuvre(Locked Shields) with over 3000 participants from 38 countries. The world's largest cyber defence exercise was organised by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn. It involved protecting computer systems from real-time attacks and simulating tactical and strategic decision-making in critical situations. (Further Information)

On 17 April 2023, the EU Commission opened a "European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency" (ECAT) in Seville. It is to organise oversight of the use of algorithmic systems for the implementation of the Digital Services Act. (Further Information)
On 18 April 2023, the EU Commission presented a proposal for a "European Cyber Solidarity Act" (CSA) and the establishment of a "European Cybersecurity Skills Academy". The CSA, with a budget of €1.1 billion, includes the establishment of a "Network of 'Security Operations Centres'", i.e. platforms for the detection of cyber threats, as well as a "European Cyber Emergency Mechanism" that can react to threats. Private companies are to be involved in a 'European Cybersecurity Reserve' in the event of major cyber attacks. EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: "Cybersecurity is a must-have. To protect our societies, to protect us as citizens. And to protect our economy. Almost 30% of Europe's small and medium size businesses have experienced cybercrime at least once over the last 12 months. With Russia's war against Ukraine, we have also seen the growing role of state-sponsored cyberattacks." (Further Information)

Wolfgang Kleinwächter

Professor Emeritus of Internet Policy & Regulation at Aarhus University