June proved to be another intensive month for cybersecurity, privacy, data protection, and net neutrality. The IG Barometer revealed that new cybersecurity attacks, the anticipated announcement of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, and controversy surrounding the EU’s Digital Single Market strategy and data protection reform, were among the main highlights.
These developments, and other developments that took place in June, were discussed during the monthly briefing delivered by Dr Jovan Kurbalija, DiploFoundation director and Geneva Internet Platform head. The briefings are organised by the GIP every last Tuesday of the month, live from Geneva and simultaneously as an online webinar.
The main events for June included:
3-5 June: The South Eastern European Dialogue on Internet Governance (SEEDIG) and EuroDIG were held in Sofia, Bulgaria.
7-8 June: The G7 Summit took place in Germany. An analysis of the outcome document showed only a few references to digital issues, while the major focus was on security, climate change, and other issues.
10-11 June: The Stocktaking Session in New York marked the start of the Preparatory Process for the WSIS+10 High Level Meeting in December.
15 June-3 July: The 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council is taking place. The new Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy is expected to be announced on 3 July.
17-19 June: The annual Octopus Conference, focusing on cooperation against cybercrime, with an interesting discussion on the needs of law enforcement when it comes to cyber issues.
21-25 June: ICANN 53 was held in Buenos Aires; as expected, debates on the IANA transition and accountability stream took place.
The main developments
Cybersecurity has remained highly relevant in digital policy. June was far from uneventful, with two major attacks carried out on the Office of Personnel Management of the US Federal Government, and on the computer security company Kaspersky. The cyberattack on Kaspersky, in which a very advanced form of malware was used, marked the end of the unspoken rule that the cybersecurity industry should not be attacked.
Cybersecurity also remains high on government agendas. While NATO Secretary General clearly removed any ambiguity on the applicability of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty to cyberattacks, Kurbalija explained how cybersecurity also was a top priority for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), under whose auspices the Vienna Cyber Diplomacy Day was organised last week. The signals are that Germany, who will assume chairmanship from Serbia next year, will also place cybersecurity high on the agenda.
With regards to the global IG architecture, June’s stocktaking session has paved the way for the WSIS+10 high level meeting in December 2015. The meeting featured the traditional division in discussion on participation: should the process be government-driven? What should be the role of stakeholders? To what extent should WSIS principles be applied? The agreement is for the process to be led by governments with the extensive involvement of non-state actors.
Developments on the IANA transition process, especially after ICANN’s 53rd meeting, were explained by Nigel Hickson, ICANN Vice-President of Intergovernmental Organisations Engagement. Hickson explained that the chartering organisations approved the Naming Community’s (CWG-Stewardship) proposal which is now with the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG). The ICG is expected to synthesis the three proposals from the Naming Community, the Numbering and Protocol Parameters communities.
The parallel track of accountability proceeded with a face-to-face meeting in Buenos Aires, in which the accountability architecture proposed (based on four building blocks: an empowered community, the Board, the Bylaws and the Independent Review Process) was discussed. More meetings will take place in the next few weeks. ICANN’s next meeting will take place in October in Dublin.
Meanwhile, the process is likely to go beyond the original 30 September deadline, possibly until mid-2016.
On online privacy and data protection, the Human Rights Council’s 29th session discussed the appointment of the new Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, with three shortlisted candidates from Estonia, Malta, and Spain. The announcement on the chosen candidate is expected to be made on 3 July.
Another important development is related to the annual report of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, on encryption, anonymity, and the human rights framework, which established a clear link between freedom of opinion and privacy. Kurbalija explained that these two areas are often emphasised separately, with some countries (such as Germany and Brazil) being more vocal on their support of privacy and data protection, while other countries (such as Sweden, UK, and the Baltic states) being more vocal about freedom of opinion. The report bridges these two fields, explaining that they cannot be separated, as ‘encryption and anonymity, and the security concepts behind them, provide the privacy and security necessary for the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age.’
The debate on human rights also gave rise to another development: traditional human rights are increasingly being discussed in the light of the digital world. Kurbalija explained that this ‘digitalisation’ of human rights discussions will require more expertise at the Human Rights Council on Internet-related issues, and we can expect to see more unifying of issues in other areas such as child online protection.
In the EU, the Council reached a compromise on the text of the proposed data protection regulation after more than 3 years of negotiations, and trialogue talks with the European Parliament can now start. However, the proposal was met with criticism over the watering down of data protection rules.
Similarly, the EU’s plan to end roaming charges by mid-2017 also attracted controversy as it was revealed that the plan could include a trade-off: giving up net neutrality in return for putting an end to roaming charges. This would signify a pro-telecom industry approach to net neutrality.
Meanwhile, it was a relatively quiet month for e-commerce (and jurisdiction and domain names). A ruling by the Swiss Federal Tax Administration – that no VAT applied to Bitcoin – led Switzerland to be one of the first countries to step such a step. It remains to be seen whether this will pave the way for similar decisions.
What to expect in July and August
A number of events are planned:
1-2 July: First WSIS+10 preparatory meeting in New York, followed by informal interactive WSIS stakeholder consultation
3 July: The appointment of the new Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy by the UN Human Rights Council
6-10 July: ECOSOC substantive session in New York, including the three-day ministerial meeting of the high-level political forum on sustainable development
9-10 July: SCO BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia – with the possibility that BRICS countries may extend their cooperation to the cyber field
13-16 July: Financing for Development: Time for Global Action, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – development cooperation as support in the implementation of the SDGs
19-24 July: IETF 93 meeting in Prague
(Visit the GIP website for more details on each event)
From the Geneva Internet Platform
DiploFoundation and the Geneva Internet Platform featured in Recipes for Peace, Rights and Wellbeing, a cookbook written by the partners of the International Geneva Perception Change Project. Diplo’s activities and those of other organisations were described through analogies with cooking, food, and recipes.
Earlier this month, a two-day event on Jurisdiction and Dispute Resolution in the Internet Era: Governance and Good Practices was organised by the University of Geneva in cooperation with GIP and the Geneva Center for International Dispute Settlement (CIDS), on 17-18 June.
The discussion on Law of the Sea – Law of the Internet: Inspiring Analogy?, on 19 June, saw interesting analogies related to jurisdiction and the Law of the Sea. How does the analogy to the internal waters, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone, and the high seas translate to the digital world?
The Vienna Cyber Diplomacy Day on 26 June gathered over 40 diplomats, computer specialists, and academics to discuss the impact of the Internet on the changing landscape in which diplomacy operates, the emergence of new Internet topics on diplomatic agendas, and the use of new digital tools for diplomatic activities.
View the recording of the briefing:
Download the presentation. Join us for the next briefing on 25 August; registrations are now open. The briefing will be delivered live in Geneva, and online for remote participants.