Level up: methods for localizing digital policy and norms

7 Dec 2021 14:45h - 15:45h

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Societies around the world are coming to the conclusion that digital governance is important and should be done in a way that takes into account different local particularities and upholds human rights standards while fostering democratic societies. At the session moderated by Mr Daniel O’Malley (Digital Governance Specialist, Center for International Media Assistance, Washington, D.C.), panellists discussed the methods to localise policies and norms.

Ms Marushka Chocobar (Peru Government and Digital Transformation Secretary) spoke about the localisation of digital policy in a sense which focuses on cultural diversity, geographical challenges, situations, and diverse conditions in each territory. Chocobar shared Peru’s experience in improving digital governance resulting in an active digital ecosystem in all regions, the recognition of real needs for internet inclusion, and eventually the identification of leading social actors in this ecosystem that join the effort to accelerate the closing of gaps. Chocobar listed four general recommendations. First, keeping a permanently open digital channel for citizens’ opinions on various matters and particularly the progress of national policies. Second, promoting citizen innovation spaces through innovation labs. Third, establishing other mechanisms of interaction, and fourth, permanently publishing open data to allow innovation, public sector accountability, and transparency.

Ms Olga Kyryliuk (Programme Manager, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative) pointed out that the current discussion around localising digital policies is probably a continuation of digital sovereignty, but may be wrapped up in a bit better cover and better promoted by states around the world. Kyrikluk explained how nowadays more and more democratic states are actually talking about localising digital policies, which can be hardly criticised as they offer a high-quality standard for the protection of personal data privacy, and also try to show that they are a powerful actor in this entire internet governance ecosystem. Kyryliuk also highlighted that with the localisation of policies, we come to this inevitable conflict of laws and jurisdictions, because we still lack legal interoperability when it comes to the internet and digital technologies. Kyryliuk concluded that it is very important to bring all stakeholders on board when we talk about shaping digital policies for better law enforcement and respect of human rights.

Ms Sheilah Birgen (Country Lead of Innovation, UK’s KTN Global Alliance Africa) highlighted the fact that a lot of countries are copying each other’s policies and laws in data protection, cybersecurity, and even digital tax laws and how this lack of multistakeholder process faces an implementation challenge. Birgen stressed that the policy drafting needs to be decentralised and involve multistakeholder engagement.

Mr Richard Wingfield (Head of Legal at Global Partners Digital) explained governments’ frustrations about the inability to reach global solutions or global standards on many issues, pushing to legislate domestically to serve the interests of their citizens. Wingfield mentioned the lack of a global policy on platform regulation, dealing with disinformation, taxation, regulation of AI, and robotics. He highlighted that there are concerns that the solutions could not be human rights compatible, such as mandatory surveillance being introduced in some of the new forms of platform regulation and a great degree of control over what people say and do online. Wingfield finally shed light on his belief that the technical management and governance of the internet should not be under government control alone.

By Ines Hfaiedh

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