Editor   06 Feb 2017   Webinars, Internet Governance

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Although the first month of the year was uncharacteristically quiet in terms of digital developments, all eyes were on the US President Trump’s first days in the office and the impact of his executive orders on global digital policy. At the same time, the cyber-saga between the USA and Russia continued.  The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) started preparations for its 12th annual meeting.

These and other developments, trends, and regional updates – summarised in the IG Barometer for January and in Issue 17 of the Geneva Digital Watch newsletter - were the subject of our latest Internet governance briefing, which took place 31 January 2017. Leading the briefing, Dr Jovan Kurbalija gave an overview of the top trends observed during January 2017:

  • US President’s first days in office leave a mark on several main issues. The executive order of enhancing public safety limits privacy protection only to US citizens, and could invalidate the US-EU Privacy Shield.  A new chair is appointed for the Federal Communications Commission, and he is expected to initiate a review of net neutrality rules.
  • The IGF community wraps up its 2016 intersessional work with the publication of the final outputs of the Policy Options for Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion(s) initiative, and the four best practice forums on gender, Internet Exchange Points, Internet protocol version 6, and cybersecurity. Preparations are launched for the IGF 2017 cycle, as stakeholders are invited to submit contributions on what worked well last year, and what can be done to improve the overall IGF process this year.
  • The USA-Russia cyber-saga continues. A report by US intelligence services concludes with ‘high confidence’ that the Russian President was behind an influence campaign aimed at the US Presidential election. Russia denies the accusations.  At the same time, three cybersecurity specialists connected to Kremlin are arrested in Russia over allegations that they were spying for Washington.

Several predictions for 2017, in terms of digital developments, were also presented during the briefing. They were summarised in the following ten trends: cyberpolitics: between conflict and cooperation; encryption: security and privacy; content policy, fake news, and violent extremism content; powerful interplay: artificial intelligence – Internet of Things – big data; data governance and data localisation; digital trade and the Internet economy; ICANN after the IANA transition; digital policy shaped by court decisions; connecting the dots among digital policy silos; and digital realpolitik: from values to interests. A more detailed presentation of these ten predictions is available in Dr Jovan Kurbalija’s  Digital Politics in 2017: Unsettled Weather, Stormy at Times, with Sunny Spells.

The next Internet governance briefing is on 28 February. Registrations are open.

An overview of the main Internet governance events held in January and planned for February was also part of the briefing. More details are available in Issue 17 of the Geneva Digital Watch newsletter.

During the interactive section of the briefing, two issues were raised: the ongoing work on consolidating ICANN’s accountability mechanisms and the debates surrounding ICANN’s jurisdiction;  and expectations from the G7 and G20 events this year and their impact on global digital policy.

Regional perspectives from GIP hubs

Local hubs in Brazil, Tunisia and South Eastern Europe shared regional updates and perspectives.

The Rio hub, represented by Luca Belli from the Center for Technology and Society of the Getulio Vargas Foundation School of Law, gave an overview of the discussions held at the hub’s meeting, and which included perspectives from Mexico and Brazil. In Mexico, the telecom regulatory authority plans to launch consultations on net neutrality and connectivity; collected input would feed into the process of elaborating federal legislation on electronic communications and broadcasting services.  With regard to Brazil, it was noted that the issue of blocking web applications, which kept the headlines throughout 2016, would most likely continue to trigger debate in the country. Other issues that will most probably feature high on the Brazilian digital policy agenda in 2017 include privacy and data protection, and data caps in fix Internet access. A  video of regional updates and perspectives from Brazil is available.

Representing the Tunis hub, Houssem Kaabi, member of the IGmena community, spoke about a new bill launched by the Tunisia government on the issue of biometric identity cards. The bill was criticised by experts and civil society actors, who expressed concerns on several main issues: the security of the data stored on the card, the absence of a legal framework for the collection of data, and the lack of a procedure for data subjects to be able to access their own data. For more details, see the video of regional updates and perspectives from Tunis.

During the South Eastern European hub, an overview was given of the main Internet governance and digital policy developments that occurred in both December and January in the region. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the hacker group ‘Anonymous Bosnia’ attacked the website of the Federal Police in Bosnia and Herzegovina, leaving it inaccessible. A new law came into force in Croatia detailing measures aimed at reducing the costs of implementing broadband networks. A study by the Ministry of Public Administration in Montenegro revealed an increasing number of cyber attacks in 2016, especially on information systems of state bodies. In Serbia, two mobile virtual operators start providing electronic communications services, while Turkey announced plans to build a domestic search engine and email service, to be compatible with national culture and value. More details are available in the December 2016 and January 2017 summaries of developments and activities related to Internet governance and digital policy in South Eastern Europe. The recording of the South Eastern Europe hub meeting is also available.


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