Current Happenings in the Internet Governance Context in January 2024
"Zero Draft" for "Pact for the Future"
The immediate preparations for the UN Summit of the Future and the Global Digital Compact (GDC) are gathering pace. On 26 January 2024, the first "Zero Draft" for the "Pact for the Future" was published. On 29 January 2024, an initial consultation was held in New York under the leadership of the German UN Ambassador, Antje Leendertse, in her capacity as Co-coordinator of the Summit for the Future. The 20-page draft contains a Chapter 3 entitled "Science, Technology, Innovation and Digital Cooperation". However, the chapter avoids substantial statements on digital cooperation and refers to the GDC for this topic; the GDC is attached to the Pact for the Future as an annex. The GDC consultations will begin in New York in February 2024.
Misuse of AI as a risk factor
At the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos from 13 to 19 January 2023, cyber security and artificial intelligence were in the limelight. In the WEF's annual "Global Risk Report", the misuse of artificial intelligence ranks second and cyber attacks fifth. The topic of artificial intelligence was discussed in five sessions. A somewhat more relaxed approach to the current AI hype is becoming apparent, particularly with regard to regulation. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and many existing regulations can be creatively applied to new AI-supported services, says the WEF report. On the fringes of the Forum, it was announced that a branch of the WEF Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) is to be established in Berlin. The new Global Government Technology Centre Berlin (GGTC Berlin) will be located at the GovTech Campus Germany.
Planning for NetMundial+10 is starting
On 20 January 2024, CGI.br provided more detailed information for the NetMundial+10 conference. It will take place on 29 and 30 April 2024 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in São Paulo. A Multistakeholder Steering Committee consisting of 40 members will begin its work at the beginning of February 2024 and discuss the program and draft documents.
Final spurt for UN Convention against Cyber crime
On 29 January 2024, the final round of negotiations to draft a UN convention against cyber crime began in New York. The consolidated draft published on 6 November 2023 still contains numerous square brackets and is still controversial. In a letter dated 23 January 2024, more than 100 civil society organisations expressed fundamental concerns and called on democratic governments not to sign the treaty in its current form. They criticise the vague definitions of cyber crimes, the unclear procedural rules for cross-border criminal prosecution and the overall lack of human rights safeguards. At an expert seminar at Columbia University on 22 January 2024 in New York, the lack of transparency in data exchange between law enforcement authorities was criticised. The risk was high that a convention in this form would not lead to more cyber security, but to more surveillance and control.
Education to counter hate speech and disinformation
24 January is the "UNESCO International Day of Education". For 2024, UNESCO has called for teachers to be better equipped to deal with hate speech and disinformation. "The accelerated spread of hate speech is a threat to all communities. Our best defence is education, which must be at the heart of any peace efforts. It is our collective duty to empower learners of all ages to deconstruct hate speech, and lay the foundations for inclusive, democratic and human-rights respecting societies. To succeed, we need to better train and support teachers who are on the front lines in overcoming this phenomenon," said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
Cyber Working Party and Digital Coordinator for an overhaul of EU digital policy
Belgium took over the EU Presidency on 1 January 2024. One of the priorities is to restructure the responsibilities for EU digital policy. Digital topics are cross-cutting issues and are discussed in around 150 EU working groups, which leads to frictional losses and duplication as well as to slower decision making. Belgium proposes strengthening the role of the Cyber Working Party as a central coordinating body and appointing a high-ranking Digital Coordinator. This requires a decision by the EU Council of Ministers. "The problems indicated are the fragmentation of the topics covered in international initiatives like the EU-US Trade and Technology Council, with no technical body having clear ownership of digital diplomacy, resulting in member states' limited involvement. The technical nature of digital technologies and the diversity of international fora covering these issues are seen as increasing the complexity and need for coordination. Thus, the Belgian proposal is centred around the principles of political ownership, effective engagement of EU countries, coherence between internal and external policies and keeping up with international development."