Monthly Report 09/2022 - Executive Summary

Monthly Report 09/2022 - Executive Summary

Current happenings in the Internet governance context in September 2022:

On 26 September 2022, the ITU General Assembly, which is held every four years, was opened in Bucharest. On the agenda is the program for 2023 – 2027. The conflict between ICANN and ITU over domain name and IP address governance remains virulent. Russia, in particular, is demanding ITU to be granted control over the DNS. The ITU should recognise the sovereignty of states over their „national Internet segment“. China had recently caused renewed unrest with proposals for a new Internet protocol (New IP) and an expanded address protocol (IPv6+). The election of the new ITU governing bodies was therefore considered to set directions for the future role of the ITU and its relationship with ICANN. On 28 September 2023, the American Doreen Bogdan-Martin won with 132 votes against the Russian Rashid Ismailov (25 votes). Also elected were the new ITU Deputy Secretary General Tomas Lamanauskas (Lithuania) and the Directors of the ITU Sectors for Standardization/ITU-T, Seizo Onoe (Japan), Radiofrequency Spectrum/ITU-R Mario Maniewicz (Uruguay) and Infrastructure Development/ITU-D Cosmas Zavazava (Zimbabwe). Germany had applied for the position of ITU-T Director with Thomas Zielke from Federal Ministry for Economics and Climate Action (BMWK), but received only 12 votes. The ITU is an intergovernmental organisation. Non-governmental stakeholders can participate as „Sector Members“ in working groups, but they have no vote in the General Assembly. The ITU conference will end on 14 October 2023.

The final declaration of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Samarkand dated 16 September 2022 includes several paragraphs on Internet Governance.  The SCO heads of state and government, including the presidents of China, Xi Jinping, Russia, Vladimir Putin, and India, Narendra Modi, call for a „safe, fair, and open information space built on the principles of respect for state sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries." They emphasise the need „to regulate the Internet and the sovereign right of states to manage it within their national segment." They reject the militarisation of cyberspace. UN negotiations on cybersecurity (OEWG) and cybercrime (AHC) are supported. SCO governments are urged to deepen their digital cooperation, especially in eCommerce and R&D, and accelerate the digital transformation of society. In 2023, India will assume the SCO presidency. India will also be the chair of BRICS in 2023.

The G20 Digital Ministers meeting in Bali on 1 September 2022 ended in disaster. For the first time since the inception of these annual ministerial conferences in 2016, there was no final declaration. The Indonesian hosts had presented a „Bali Package“ with recommendations how to strengthening connectivity after Covid-19, on digital education and cross-border digital data trade in four meetings of the „G20 Digital Economy Task Force“ (DETF) since February 2022. Adoption failed because the parties involved could not agree on a formula in the preamble to condemn the Ukraine war. At the G20 summit in November 2022, the heads of state and government are to decide on the future of the „Bali Package“.

On 9 September 2023, the 3rd round of negotiations to draft a new UN Convention on Cybercrime ended in New York. After agreement being reached on the basic structure, several groups of states have submitted initial draft texts. The main points of contention are the definition of criminal acts in cyberspace and cross-border law enforcement procedures. The Chair of the „Ad Hoc Committee“ (AHC), Algerian Ambassador Faouzia Boumaiza Mebarki, will present a first consolidated draft for discussion before the 4th session (January 2023 in Vienna). Further meetings are planned for April 2023 (Vienna) and August 2023 (New York). The convention is expected to be ready for signature by 2024.

On 20 September 2022, the 77th UN General Assembly began in New York. The focus was on the war in Ukraine. Many speeches referred to the „cyber component“ of this war. The UN was called upon to assume a constructive role against, for example, disinformation warfare, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, and the application of norms of international law in cyberspace. UN Secretary-General Guterres proposal to ban Internet-based autonomous weapons systems received little response. The „UN Summit on the Future“ planned for 2023, in which a „Global Digital Compact“ (GDC) is to be developed, was postponed until September 2024. However, a preparatory ministerial conference is to be held in September 2023. Meanwhile, the UN Tech Envoy appointed in June 2022, Amandeep Singh Gill, has begun global GDC consultations. The current deadline for input is 31 December 2022.

Wolfgang Kleinwächter

Professor Emeritus of Internet Policy & Regulation at Aarhus University