Monthly Report 12/2022 - Executive Summary

Monthly Report 12/2022 - Executive Summary

Current happenings in the Internet governance context in December 2022:

The 17th UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held in Addis Ababa ended on 4 December. Over 5,000 participants from 170 countries attended more than 300 sessions. The IGF was opened by Ethiopian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Abiy Ahmed and UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Under the heading "Resilient Internet for a Shared Sustainable and Common Future", the agenda was dominated by topics such as the digital divide, cyber security, human rights, Internet fragmentation and artificial intelligence. The discussion items included the "Global Digital Compact", which the UN wants to develop by 2024 and whose key points were presented by the new UN Tech Envoy, Amandeep Singh Gill. The "Addis Ababa Messages" and a statement of the IGF Parliamentary Track "Addressing cyberthreats: National, regional and international approaches" were adopted. (Further Information)
The Parliamentary Track was launched at the 14th IGF in Berlin 2019 and adopted the "IGF Jimmy Schulz Call".

The 4th OECD Digital Ministerial Conference held in Gran Canary ended on 15 December 2022. It adopted a "Declaration on a Trusted, Sustainable and Inclusive Digital Future", four recommendations on cyber security and a declaration on government access to personal data stored on servers of private companies. The declaration commits to a human-rights-based "human centric approach", affirms the multistakeholder principle for Internet governance and promotes an "open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, accessible, affordable, secure and resilient Internet". It recommends "a strategic, whole-of-government and whole of society policy approach to create the conditions for all stakeholders to manage digital security risks". The declaration on government access to data formulates seven principles. While respecting data protection, access must serve legitimate purposes, be necessary, proportionate and appropriate. In the case of access requiring secrecy, the judicial reservation can be waived, depending on the depth of the interference. Exceptions must be legally defined, limited in time and subject to abuse control. (Further Information)

The 77th UN General Assembly adopted six resolutions in December 2022 dealing with Internet governance issues: four on cyber security and cyber crime, one on the right to privacy and one on digital development. The resolutions on cyber security renew the mandates of the OEWG and AHC. New is a resolution on the development of a "Programme of Action" (POA), which is intended to implement the eleven cyber security standards of 2015. The POA could be developed into a universal negotiating platform for cyber security after the expiry of the OEWG's mandate, which extends until 2025. The resolution on "ICT for Development" deals with the implementation of the "World Summit on the Information Society" (WSIS) and calls for a faster pace in overcoming the digital divide. Five billion Internet users are a lot, but three billion people are still offline.

On 5 December, the 3rd meeting of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) ended in College Park, Maryland. Led by EU Vice-President Margrethe Vestager and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, discussions included protecting digital infrastructure such as overland and deep-sea cables, developing common standards for trustworthy artificial intelligence (AI), and building resilient supply chains for semiconductors. A "Talent for Growth" task force shall arouse young people’s enthusiasm for digitalisation. The EU expressed concerns that the new US law to reduce inflation could have a negative impact on digital development in the EU. Reaffirmed were the values for an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet as they are enshrined in the "Declaration for the Future of the Internet" (April 2022). (Further Information)

On 15 December 2022, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola and Czech EU Council President Prime Minister Petr Fiala signed a "European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles". The Declaration contains 24 principles in six chapters. With the document, the EU aims to secure European values by 1. putting people at the centre of the digital transformation; 2. promoting solidarity and inclusion through connectivity, digital literacy, fair working conditions as well as access to online digital public services; 3. affirming freedom of choice and a fair digital environment; 4. promoting participation in the digital public space; 5. enhancing cybersecurity and 6. promoting sustainability. An annual report on the implementation of the Declaration will be submitted to the European Parliament until the "European Digital Decade" ends in 2030. (Further Information)

On 1 December 2022, India took over the presidency of the G20 from Indonesia. Prime Minister Modi has announced that the topic of "digitisation" will be a priority. Developing countries that are not members of the G20 are to be invited to participate in the implementation of the "G20 Digital Bali Package". There have also been changes of leadership in the other intergovernmental networks. The G7 presidency was passed on from Germany to Japan (the G7 Digital Ministers' Meeting will take place in Takasaki in April 2023), and the BRICS presidency moved from China to South Africa. (Further Information)

Wolfgang Kleinwächter

Professor Emeritus of Internet Policy & Regulation at Aarhus University