To assist diplomats in grasping the complexity of this multidisciplinary and multistakeholder political environment, and to bring them up to speed on what to follow, when to follow it, and how to follow it, the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP), operated by DiploFoundation, offers a monthly Geneva Briefing on Internet Governance, besides other activities. The briefing webinars take place online on the first Tuesday of every month at 13:00 hrs (CET). Each briefing discusses the main developments in the previous month and looks at those envisaged along with global events scheduled for the coming month. The next briefing will take place on 2 September directly from the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul.
At the June webinar, we covered a number of emerging developments: extended debates around net neutrality in Europe, the ‘right to be forgotten’ and the case of the European Court of Justice against Google, highlights from the final report by ICANN's Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms, the negotiations stalemate within the CSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation, updates on the preparations of the IGF in Istanbul and the preparations for the WSIS+10 High Level Event.
Hoping for an easier IG summer (and desperately in need of a break ourselves) we scheduled the next webinar for first the Tuesday of September. July and August, nevertheless, appeared to be IG-loaded as well! Here is a light overview of main developments, which should make it easier for all of us to closely follow the ‘IG crescendo of the year’ in the following months.
The WSIS+10 High Level event in early June (10-14 June 2014) gathered 1600 participants from different sectors. It resulted in the High-Level Track WSIS Outcome document. After a successful World Telecommunication Policy Forum (2013), WSIS+10 was the second major multistakeholder event organised by the ITU. It is an important shift towards more inclusive policy processes. Some authors labelled it as a ‘Geneva multistakeholder approach’, referring to the key role of international organisations (ITU). This broad and inclusive approach showed the challenges in making decisions, including a delay in the adoption of the final document due to the opposition from one small NGO from Cameroon. For more information, please consult the GIP’s coverage.
As of early August, this dramatic plot appeared to be acquiring an (un)expected outcome: the UN General Assembly agreed on a draft resolution which saw the WSIS+10 event as a high level intergovernmental meeting to be held in New York in December 2015. Even, the venue matters. The debate will shift from Geneva, where the multistakeholder approach got momentum, to New York where one can expect a stronger inter-governmental approach. Signs of an emerging turmoil are evident already – non-governmental stakeholders will likely be very upset with turning what appeared to be a 10-year-long multistakeholder-building process back into an intergovernmental form, as Wolfgang Kleinwächter comments in his blog.
ICANN's 50th meeting was celebrated in London in June, attracting an amazing number of participants: over 3000 – including some high level officials including the Chinese Minister of Cyberspace Affairs Administration and the Vice-President of the European Commission. The need to improve ICANN’s accountability, and the modality of the IANA transition were major themes throughout the meeting, bringing a variety of views. The support of governments though the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) to ICANN’s work has again been brought into question due to the new gTLD: France, Switzerland, Portugal, and other wine-producing countries have raised serious concerns over the delegation of .wine and .vine domains, while the delegation of .Africa was discussed again. More information about ICANN's meeting in London is available in this blog.
In London, ICANN's CEO has come up with the announcement of a NETmundial Alliance – yet another initiative with unclear aims. Latter in July, the World Economic Forum announced the inaugural meeting to be held today, 28 August 2014, at the WEF. There are more questions than answers about the WEF initiative: does ICANN pass over NETmundial dynamics to the WEF? What should be the role of the WEF in designing future IG architecture? Some answers are provided at the WEF page. Others should be known over the next few days during the WEF inaugural ceremony and discussion at the IGF in Istanbul (2-5 September 2014).
In Strasbourg, at the European Parliament J-C Junker, the new President of the European Commission delivered the Policy Guidelines for the EC for the next five years. The main message from Junker’s speech is ‘It is about digital, stupid’. Digital and data are among the most frequently used terms in Junker’s speech. For a detailed analysis of his speech (including a linguistic analysis) please consult 10 points for the EU’s future digital policy.
Cybersecurity climbs higher and higher on the ladder of diplomatic priorities. As US-China political relations deteriorate, the USA accuses China of conducting cyber-espionage while China warns of a US arms race in cyberspace. Hackers are becoming ever more capable of collecting personal data and stolen credentials from corporations (in August the New York Times reported that the Russian crime group collected over 1.2 billion username and password combinations). At the same time, impressions from the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas - a top-notch annual gathering of cybersecurity experts - are that there appears to be a crisis in hiring security experts, as the demand of the private sector for experienced (rather than educated) professionals - especially hackers - surpasses the supply. Not least, there is a gap in bridging practice with decision-making, such as using cybersecurity measurements - of threats, risks, and readiness - for evidence-based policies (a topic which will be covered by the Geneva Internet Conference in November).
September will be marked by the 9th global IGF of the United Nations, this time taking place in Istanbul, 2-5 September. In his blog, Janis Karklins, Chair of MAG, reflects on the high interest from all over the world - over 3000 representatives have registered to participate. The main thematic tracks, within which over 100 sessions will be organised, include policies enabling access, content creation, dissemination and use, the Internet as an engine for growth and development, the IGF and the future of IG, enhancing digital trust, the Internet and human rights, critical Internet resources, and emerging issues. A new track - a best practice forum - aims to provide one set of more tangible outcomes from the IGF, this year focusing on spam, building a national Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT), local content development, child protection, and multistakeholder participation in national IG processes. It is expected that the highlights of the event will be a pre-day event on NETmundial results and follow-up, a main session on net neutrality, and a main session on the future of the IGF and IG. Remote participation will be available for all the sessions, either through one of the dozen remote hubs in cities around the world, or individually. The detailed programme and participation instructions are available at the GIP webpage devoted to the IGF.
Both the GIP and Diplo will be present and active at the IGF in Istanbul, with several of our own sessions and involvement in a number of other sessions. A detailed list of GIP and Diplo sessions is available here.
The next Geneva Briefing on Internet Governance webinar will take on Tuesday, 2nd September, at 13:00 CET, live from the IGF in Istanbul. For more information and to register, visit this web page.