High-level internet governance exchange on data governance and safety

25 Nov 2019 11:00h - 12:40h

Event report

[Read more session reports and updates from the 14th Internet Governance Forum]

The first panel discussion addressed digital rights and the management of data. The panellists emphasized the need for trust in data management and privacy, balancing sovereignty and Internet use, and the involvement of people under 18 years of age in discussions regarding data and privacy.

The need for the free flow of goods and services, as well as data, requires the protection of the rights of individuals, stated Mr John Denton (Secretary-General, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)). The ICC has launched a campaign, Internet for All, addressing the balance between sovereignty and free Internet use. Mr Jonathan Kallmer (Executive Vice President of Policy, ITI) raised the idea of reconciling legitimate national considerations and values with global imperatives. Kallmer emphasised an open approach to the Internet and national, cultural, and language preferences. Mr Philipp Metzger (Director of the Federal Office of Communications, Switzerland) discussed the tension and balance between protecting the personal data of individuals and unleashing the economic opportunities of the Internet. He emphasised the need for individuals to decide on the use of their data and the issue of data protection in relation to e-identity. Ms Sonja Jost (CEO, DexLeChem GmbH) raised the question of data ownership, mentioning two approaches. In the first approach, data is very individual, private, and those who generate data own it. In the second approach, benefit is garnered for greater public benefit by linking data to public needs. Jost sees these two approaches as complementary, on the condition that individuals can decide freely on the use of their data and that the data used for public benefit is anonymous. Ms Sigrid Nikutta (CEO, BVG) presented the case of Berlin public transport company, which generates large amounts of data from traffic and customers. Nikutta stated that clear benefits accrue from using large amounts of data for the improvement of services and sustainable urban development. She emphasised the need to keep the trust of individuals sharing their data, and to maintain responsible use of data for the purpose intended.

The participants agreed with Mr Wolf Hisserich (CEO, Qwant Deutschland) on the need for trust in institutions and companies dealing with data security and privacy. Hisserich emphasised trust as one of the aspects for continued innovation.

Mr Mikhail Mamonov (Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, Russia) presented the Russian conservative approach to data management and emphasised that trusted networks, trusted data, and trusted infrastructure must work together.

Mr Duncan McIntosh (Director General, APNIC) presented the viewpoint of network operators and the consequences of data rights of services. McIntosh warned that an unwarranted increase in data regulation would mean an increase in costs to users and a risk of Internet fragmentation.

All of the participants noted the lack of representation of people under 18 years of age in data management and protection discussions, even though they represent a third of the Internet users worldwide.

In the discussion, the panellists addressed the separation of powers in data management, the challenges of its structuring, and the need for regulation. In conclusion, Denton highlighted current discussions on the creation of a world data organisation and a global, international framework for data management.

The second panel of this session discussed the right to online protection, especially for children, and the need for inclusive designs, capacity building, media literacy, support, and guidance in the digital environment.

Ms Beeban Kidron (Chair, 5 Rights Foundation) opened by stating that over one one billion children online must be considered. While the Internet was designed for all users to be equal, the reality is different. Underage users need to be recognised and their rights need to be applied to the digital environment, including rights related to their digital identity, data, and prevention of manipulation.

Ms Jutta Croll (Chair, Stiftung Digitale Chancen), taking a human rights based approach, echoed Kidron’s points by stating that children have rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, such as the right to access media, right to information, and freedom of expression. Croll also pointed out the need to design services, not only for competent users, but also for children and inexperienced users.

Ms Marie-Laure Lemineur (ECPAT) emphasised the fact that while standards to protect children and vulnerable groups are necessary, they are also subject to rights. In many cases, the protection of children has to do with human behaviour and not technology or proper standards.

Mr Bertrand de La Chapelle (Executive Director, Internet & Jurisdiction) pointed out that the more people become aware of abuses, the more initiatives arise to curb them. He emphasised the lack of co-ordination of these patchwork initiatives, which makes them unsustainable. La Chapelle stressed the importance of legal interoperability to address challenges.

Other participants emphasised the need for including mobile technology in considerations on inclusivity, consideration of inexperienced users, and the multilingual environment on the Internet.

The participants stated the need to keep a global mindset in efforts for inclusiveness.

By Pavlina Ittelson