Current happenings in the Internet governance context April to June 2018:
In the second quarter of 2018, the trends that have been observed in the global Internet governance debate since 2017, further solidified. On the institutional level, cross-national governmental organisations are gaining importance. As to content, the dominant topics are cyber security, digital economy, human rights (data protection and freedom of expression), and more recent technological developments in the areas of critical Internet resources, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence.
At the same time, it is becoming clear that the willingness of governments to find consensual, universal solutions to pressing Internet problems, and to create appropriate political or legal framework conditions at the global level, continues to decline. However, the gap caused by the stalemate of international intergovernmental negotiations apparently provokes fresh action from the non-state actors. This becomes obvious in the „Cybersecurity Tech Accord" initiated by Microsoft, the "Tech Against Terrorism" initiative with the "Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism" (GIFCT), the announcements by the industry for voluntary commitment with regard to artificial intelligence or the discussions on norms and negotiation processes within the framework of the "Global Commission on Stability in Cyberspace"
The most important events in Q2/2018 include the following:
- At the G7 Summit in Canada, two policy papers were adopted, one on the future of artificial intelligence and one on defending democracy against cyber attacks. (La Malbaie, June 2018);
- The resolutions of the G7 Ministersof the Interior to intensify the fight against cyber terrorism and cyber crime (Toronto, April 2018);
- The Joint Communiqué of the Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which was signed, inter alia, by the Chinese president Xi, the Russian president Putin and the Indian president Modi, expresses the SCO’s dissatisfaction with the existing Internet-governance mechanisms for managing critical Internet resources (Tsingtao, June 2018);
- At the Cyber Security Summit of the Munich Security Conference (MSC), the former President of Estonia, Toomas Handrik Ilves, called for establishing a "Cyber NATO" that goes beyond the transatlantic sphere (Tallinn, May 2018);
- In a so-called "Cybersecurity Tech Accord", more than 30 large Internet companies, including Microsoft, Facebook, Nokia, Oracle, Cisco, Symantec, British Telecom, SAP, Telefonica, have agreed on basic principles to protect Internet users against cyber attacks. This is seen as a first step towards implementing Microsoft's proposed elaboration of a complex mechanism in the form of a new "Digital Geneva Convention" (Redmond, April 2018);
At the inter-governmental level, the following major activities in Q2/2018 are particularly worth to be mentioned:
- Following the G7 Summit in Charlevoix in May 2018, two documents that are relevant to Internet governance were published: the "Charlevoix Common Vision for the Future of Artificial Intelligence" and the "Charlevoix Commitment on Defending Democracy from Foreign Threats". The previous meeting of the G7 Ministersof the Interior in Toronto in April 2018 focused on the fight against cyber terrorism and cyber crime;
- Within the G20 framework, the Energy Ministers agreed at a meeting in Baroliche on 15 June 2018 to further digitise the energy market while at the same time minimising the risks of misuse of IT technology, e.g. for cyber attacks on energy suppliers;
- At the summit meeting of the ten member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Tsingtao in June 2018, the existing system of Internet governance was criticized. Participants called for establishing new Internet governance mechanisms within the framework of the United Nations;
- The annual session of the UNCSTD in Geneva in May 2018 noted with regret the failure of the UNCSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation (WGEC II) and returned the topic "Enhanced Cooperation" to the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly for further handling;
- The ITU Council met in Geneva in April 2018 and set the course for the upcoming ITU General Assembly, which is scheduled for October/November 2018 in Dubai;
- UNCTAD held its annual eCommerce Week in Geneva in April 2018 with numerous workshops and featuring the 2nd session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on eCommerce and the Digital Economy, which is working on rules for digital commerce in addition to the WTO;
- The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) met for its 38th session at the end of June 2018, which again focused on the protection of privacy and freedom of expression in cyberspace;
- The 2nd meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts on Emerging Technologies in the Area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (GGE-LAWS), held in Geneva in April 2018, discussed definitions for that type of new cyber weapons and possible approaches to corresponding international regulation, including a moratorium on killer robots;
- The Global Commission on the Future of Work of the International Labour Organization (ILO) discussed in Geneva in May 2018 the main features of its final report, which is expected by the end of the year;
- The Trump Administration in the USA has started to define its Internet governance policy more clearly. The US Department of State published a new strategy paper on cyber foreign policy [link] in May 2018, and the US Department of Commerce launched a public consultation on the international aspects of Internet governance in the same month;
- At a national Internet conference in Beijing in April 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for China to develop into a global cyber superpower and for the UN to play a central role in creating an international framework for Internet governance;
- In a speech held in Moscow in May 2018, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov complained about the unwillingness of the Western states to cooperate with regard to Russian initiatives aimed at strengthening global cyber security and announced new Russian initiatives for the upcoming 78th UN General Assembly in autumn 2018.
At multistakeholder and non-state level, the following major activities in Q2/2018 are particularly worth to be mentioned:
- The IGF Secretariat and the MAG have started concrete preparations for the 13th Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which will now take place in Paris from 13 to 16 November 2018;
- The 11th EURODIG took place in Tbilisi; there were more than 700 registrations from over 60 countries;
- In April 2018, 34 companies agreed on a so-called "Cybersecurity Tech Accord", which is intended to advance the discussion initiated by Microsoft on a digital Geneva Convention;
- At its meetings in Bratislava in May 2018 and Tel Aviv in June 2018, the Global Commission on Stability in Cyberspace (GCSC) discussed further norms for stability-enhancing behaviour of state and non-state actors in cyberspace as well as concepts for future international negotiation processes for Internet governance;
- The Munich Security Conference (MSC) hosted this year's Cyber Security Summit at the end of May 2018 in Tallinn, where former Estonian President Toomas Ilves called for establishing a Cyber NATO;
- In April 2018, the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF) presented a new study on the (industrial) Internet of Things (IIOT) and intensified its lobbying activities for establishing an "Internet Policy Panel of the United Nations" under UN Secretary-General António Guterres;
- The broad spectrum of Internet governance issues was discussed at numerous multistakeholder Internet conferences. In particular, the annual conferences RightsCon (Toronto, May 2018), CyCon ((June 2018 in Tallinn) and CyberWeek Israel (Tel Aviv, June 2018) have gained supra-regional international significance and achieved a high status.
"Cyber terrorists can cripple our most sensitive systems. They can even take over, literally take over, some of those vital systems. And it is not something that is theoretical in the future. It’s already happening in the present, as you well know. You wouldn’t be here. You wouldn’t have companies. There wouldn’t be this thriving business if there wasn’t this amazing threat to our banks, our airplanes, even our weapons. The only way we can address this enormous challenge is to keep running ahead, to be ahead. This is a supreme test for our civilization. It is going to be tested not only by criminal organisations, by terrorists, but by other states."
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, CyberWeek, Tel Aviv, June 15, 2018