SEEDIG – internet governance processes in South Eastern Europe: Challenges and opportunities

7 Dec 2016 14:00h - 15:30h

Event report

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The SEEDIG side event was moderated by Ms Sorina Teleanu from DiploFoundation. She introduced the very concept of SEEDIG as a sub-regional IGF initiative, that is aimed at discussing Internet governance (IG) issues of relevance for countries in South Eastern Europe, and fostering cooperation among them. The session aimed to discuss the current model of SEEDIG , as well as recommendations for its improvement, topics that should be discussed at the annual meeting, and other relevant issues for the future of this initiative. There were numerous participants with different backgrounds at the session, including NGOs, private sector entities, registries of country code top level domains (ccTLDs), and international organisations, such the Council of Europe (CoE), European Commission, RIPE Network Coordination Centre, and the IGF Support Association. This diversity in the participants’ background reflected the huge interest for IG issues in the region and their relevance for the global IG scene.

In the first place, all participants agreed that SEEDIG is good example of a multistakeholder IG process which brings together the relevant community at regional level. Since IG is manifested in so many different issues it is impossible to gather all of them under one umbrella. That is why initiatives such as SEEDIG are of importance, to help address all these issues in more detail. Given that most of the problems in IG are always local, national and regional initiatives are a good way to define the problem and present it to the world.

One of the important facts that was highlighted during the session is the support offered to SEEDIG by international organisations, which is a great asset for such a young initiative with respect to its credibility. Representatives of the Council of Europe stated that, apart from international support, it is also important for SEEDIG to gather trusted actors form different backgrounds and to work on micro-financing. Moreover, it was mentioned that the Council is very interested in IG initiatives, since the Internet penetrates all areas of their work (citizens and democracy, freedom of expression, accessibility, discrimination, etc.), and this is why the organisation has, a four year strategy for IG that addresses all these issues. Be that as it may, it is important to follow these initiatives not only at global level but on a local one as well. From the perspective of the European Commission, IG initiativessuch as SEEDIG are seen as a dynamic and active process that contributes to the dialogue about the Internet, bringing in a regional perspective to the global debate.

With respect to the accompanying activities of SEEDIG, the moderator stated that there were surveys and monthly summaries about the state of play of IG in the region, as well as the SEE hub for monthly IG briefings.

Moving forward to recommendations for improvements of this process, participants mentioned the following points:

  • Find a balance between discussing local issues as well as global issues.
  • Coordinate with other institutions and organisations, especially when it comes to organising the annual meetings.
  • Attract different stakeholders, especially members of parliament, since they are the ones who create legislation. In that respect, representatives of the EU Commission emphasised that each year, they send more and more EU parliamentarians to follow the IGF, but that unfortunately, national parliamentarians do not follow these topics much lately.
  • Under this initiative, try to identify the problems that the region faces, and then look for stakeholders that can help.
  • Bring more stakeholders into the process, and find ways to more actively engage the stakehoder groups which are less present (such as the private sector and governments). 

Lastly, the participants suggested some topics that could be on the next SEEDIG agenda such as: the Internet of Things, jurisdiction and the role of national courts, the digital divide, privacy, data protection, cybersecurity,  etc. However, a general remark was made to try to be more specific with respect to the topics to be addressed in the framework of SEEDIG activities.

At the end of the session, Teleanu mentioned that efforts are underway to give SEEDIG a legal status, by creating a support association that would act as an institutional home to the initiative, and would facilitate its activities.

by Adriana Minović