Monthly Report 05/2023 - Executive Summary

Monthly Report 05/2023 - Executive Summary

Current happenings in the Internet governance context in May 2023:

The G7 Summit of the heads of state and government in Hiroshima on 21 May 2023 supported the multi-stakeholder principle for Internet governance. The items on the agenda included artificial intelligence, digital trade and Russian disinformation campaigns in the Ukraine war. The G7 identified a "governance gap". Internet governance mechanisms were not keeping pace with technological developments. "We affirm the importance to address common governance challenges and to identify potential gaps and fragmentation in global technology governance. In areas such as AI, immersive technologies such as the metaverses and quantum information science and technology and other emerging technologies, the governance of the digital economy should continue to be updated in line with our shared democratic values". Fairness, responsibility, transparency, security, data protection and human rights are mentioned as basic principles. "We look forward to an inclusive, multi-stakeholder dialogue on digital issues, including on Internet Governance, through relevant fora, such as the OECD Global Forum on Technology (GFT) ... We commit to further advancing multi-stakeholder approaches to the development of standards for AI, respectful of legally binding frameworks, and recognize the importance of procedures that advance transparency, openness, fair processes, impartiality, privacy and inclusiveness to promote responsible AI. We stress the importance of international discussions on AI governance and interoperability between AI governance frameworks, while we recognize that approaches and policy instruments to achieve the common vision and goal of trustworthy AI may vary across G7 members." (Further Information)

At its 4th ministerial meeting in Lulea on 30-31 May 2023 under Swedish EU, Presidency, the US-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) discussed above all artificial intelligence, G6 standards, the role of online platforms and sanctions against Russia in the high-tech sector. Three new TTC working groups are to present papers on AI definitions, AI risks and AI standards. The regulation of online platforms should be coordinated. A "G6 Outlook" will develop guiding principles for this new "critical technology", which will serve as a basis e.g. for autonomous driving and quantum technology, among others. Measures were agreed against "foreign information manipulation and interference" (FIMI). (Further Information)

On 25 May 2023, UN Secretary-General Guterres published a Policy Brief on the Global Digital Compact (GDC). The GDC is to define guidelines (guardrails), especially for overcoming the digital divide, cyber security and artificial intelligence. The goal is to achieve an "open, free, secure and human-centred digital future". The Policy Brief opposes Internet fragmentation and supports the multistakeholder model. However, it leaves open how equal the cooperation between stakeholders should be. The Compact "would be initiated and led by Member States with full participation of other stakeholders". However, there are no procedures in the GDC process on how input from non-governmental stakeholders will lead to an impact in intergovernmental negotiations. The idea of a new "Digital Cooperation Forum" (DCF) is controversial. "The DGF would accommodate existing forums and initiatives in a hub-and-spoke arrangement and help to identify gaps where multistakeholder action is required.... Internet Governance objectives and actions would continue to be supported by the IGF and relevant multi-stakeholder bodies such as ICANN and IETF." It is completely unclear how a "hub-and-spoke arrangement" is supposed to work.

Another round of negotiations on Internet-based autonomous weapons systems took place in Geneva from 15 to 22 May 2023. Despite a majority of states pushing for an agreement, the GGE LAWS adjourned the matter again without a final agreement. The negotiated text provides for a distinction between a complete ban on fully autonomous systems (LAWS) and regulation of partially autonomous systems (PAWS). In the case of PAWS, final control over the development and use of such weapon systems remains in the hands of accountable individuals and institutions. The legal basis for their use should be the existing Geneva Conventions on international humanitarian law. (Further Information)

On 4 May 2023, the EU adopted a new anti-piracy recommendation to prevent illegal commercial distribution of sporting and concert events. The recommendation is monitored by the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights (EUIPO Observatory). (Further Information)

The EU used the 5th anniversary of the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation as an opportunity to present the GDPR as a global success story. A statement by EU Commissioners Jourova and Reynders on 24 May 2023 says, among other things: "The GDPR is future-proof. It is the foundation of the EU's arsenal of digital laws that shape the EU data economy... The GDPR is, and will continue to be, a major tool for the EU to rise to contemporary challenges, and set a gold standard of data protection, both at home and abroad." (Further Information)

Following the model of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council, the EU launched a similar dialogue with India on 14 May 2023. At the 1st EU-India TTC meeting in Brussels, three working groups were formed, including a "WG on Strategic Technologies, Digital Governance and Digital Connectivity" to address digital trade, trusted technologies and cybersecurity and to promote a "human centric approach to the digital transformation". (Further Information)

Wolfgang Kleinwächter

Professor Emeritus of Internet Policy & Regulation at Aarhus University