EuroDIG 2018

5 Jun 2018 to 6 Jun 2018
Tbilisi, Georgia


Event report/s:
Claudio Lucena

The moderator, Mr Thomas Schneider (Ambassador of the Swiss Government and Co-Chair of the 2017 IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG)), opened the session with a set

The moderator, Mr Thomas Schneider (Ambassador of the Swiss Government and Co-Chair of the 2017 IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG)), opened the session with a set of questions about the prospective scenarios for the future of the IGF. The questions related to the role of the platform and whether it was still necessary, to the challenges of an adequate balance among stakeholders and high-level participation, and whether the forum should move towards a decision-making initiative with more concrete outcomes.

In response, the audience came up with suggestions. Participants highlighted that the Internet is not only vital for the ICT industry, but for many more stakeholders. The IGF community has to find a way to make both the industry and governments feel that it is important. Concentrating more on ‘hot’ topics could be an alternative in that sense. Attendants also argued that the IGF must be able to show concrete outputs, some form of consensus, or agreements supported by the community, even if not decisions, to convey a stronger general perception that the forum is relevant. One other comment stressed that the space has to be relevant to the business sector, and that if they get topics from these stakeholder group discussed, the chances that they will join and stay engaged are higher.

Mr Michael Rotert (Chairman, Association of the Internet Industry) stated that more commitment to the outcomes of the meeting from governments would foster a more solid future for the IGF. It would tell the audience  that what is discussed has implications and is taken seriously.

Mr Gunther Grathwohl (Counsellor, German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, IGF2019 Organising team) said that the German government believes in the IGF as a global infrastructure that provides wealth and innovation, and thus it should be kept free, open, and non-discriminatory, extending these effects to people around the globe. He also said that the German government remains very much open to any idea or measure that would make the meeting more relevant and engage more stakeholders. He said that the IGF needs a place where the multistakeholder view is in the DNA of its citizens, and that Berlin was one of the best places in the world to push that spirit forward.

Mr Raúl Echeberría (Vice President of Global Engagement, Internet Society) said that it is time for the IGF to move to the next level. He mentioned that the Internet Society is working with governments and other partners in implementing concrete initiatives in what they call ‘multistakeholder in action’, and that for this to happen it is necessary to demonstrate that the model works, producing tangible outcomes that are recognised as useful. As an example, Echeberría called for the sessions to be less generic, to target specific problems. He stressed that we should not be afraid of trying ways that make the meetings evolve, and make them more inclusive and diverse. He concluded by saying that the IGF must be able to show signs of improvement this year.

Ms Lynn St Amour (Chair, IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Committee (MAG)) started by saying that 80% of the MAG members are currently serving their first year, and that they are committed to making a difference and moving forward. She said that they added a step to the process this year – a call for issues – an idea from regional IGF processes. They want to use this to shape the agenda looking at inputs that are relevant to all stakeholder groups. St Amour stressed that they are working hard to build an agenda that is more focused, more cohesive, with fewer tracks and fewer redundancies, feeding one from the other, to ensure the MAG has a consistent review and builds a tighter sequence of workshops. She concluded by saying that we have to find ways to use the wealth of knowledge that comes out of these processes to advance concretely the issues that are more critical and to make initiatives more actionable, always listening to the community.

Aida Mahmutović

This session aimed at triggering a debate on the current state of affairs regarding surveillance and laws when it comes to Internet rights or human rights in the digital world.

Different approaches by different political systems were highlighted. Government regulation and its positive or negative effect on people’s rights online was placed at the centre of the conversation. 

The moderator, Mr Alexander Isavnin (Head of International Cooperation, RosKomSvoboda) gave an introduction to the session, saying that the Internet was developed and grew successfully without any government interference, and that today, laws and international treaties have led to broad Internet development, with pros and cons. Among the pros he mentioned: communication secrecy enforcement, consumer rights protection, business development protection, (inter)national security, and sustainable development.  He said that the Internet is successful without regulation, and that cons included: new options for mass surveillance, excessive identification and data retention, content blocking, imitation of law enforcement activities, corruption, protectionism, law enforcement agencies (LEA)/government exceptions, and extensive regulations. 

Ms Natalia Goderdzishvil (Ministry of Justice of Georgia) said that Internet rights are conventional human rights in the digital era. If there is no control over the legitimate power of the government, ‘we will end up with the digital 1984’. She said that states should reasonably balance private and public interests, while protecting and ensuring rights. ‘This is the only way to achieve the exercising of rights as well as specific public purposes.’ She also noted the need for the publicity, transparency, and accountability of government activities. Laws should be constructed in such a way as to enable humans to exercise their Internet rights and not just to have boundaries when an authority starts defining human rights. She concluded that it is about who controls the information and how it is processed. In Georgia, e-government agencies have more control over citizens data when it comes to its usage and processing, than the law enforcement. 

Ms Martina Ferrancane (Research Associate, European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)) gave the trade and data flow perspective. In the World Trade Organization (WTO) there is a commitment by Member States to liberalise trade of goods between countries. ‘The reason that we are fragmenting the Internet today is because each country has their own value’, said Ferrancane. Content blocking and regulation creates an impact on the communications infrastructure. She asked if there is a need to change the way in which infrastructure is designed in order to respond to the needs of countries to impose their regulation within their national borders.

Mr Peter Kimpian (Data Protection Unit, Council of Europe) spoke about surveillance and the protection of human rights within the rule of law. He noted that the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism foresees the access to data by law enforcement only under certain conditions. The Data Protection Committee recently adopted a guide on the use of data by the police. He reminded those present that an international court, which can make binding decisions on member states, has established the legal requirements for surveillance. 

There was an observation from the audience that governments can do a lot without listening to everybody’s communications. They can also guarantee access to the Internet and make sure it is ‘up-to-date and functional’. When it comes to the regulation, the big question is ‘how do we regulate?’. Security is a common good, and ‘when we start factoring systems we create a perfect entry point for criminals and for abuse’. It is important for individuals to communicate, but at the same time if regulation works in a problematic way ‘we may actually decrease the common good rather than increasing it’. 

Another audience member reminded the rest that international law gives everyone the right to privacy, but that for the law enforcement, anonymity is challenging. ‘Facebook and Google have far more data on everyone in the room that any law enforcement agency, but we still use them.’

Aida Mahmutović

This session discussed issues surrounding freedom of expression (FoE), as an element at the centre of every democratic society.

The speakers talked about the limits of, and control over individuals expressing themselves freely online, and they tackled the question of copyright reform, and whether it restricts the freedom of expression, or enables the original content creators to enjoy it. Mr Cristian Urse (Head of Council of Europe Office, Georgia) moderated the session.

Mr Giacomo Mazzone (Head of Institutional Relations and Members Relations South, EBU-UER European Broadcasting Union) reported from Plenary 2 on fake news. He said that the session clearly pointed to the important issues that should be discussed in more depth. The key speech noted that fake news and misinformation have a big impact on democracy and on the lives of citizens. The European Commission is looking for effective remedies, that would not hurt crucial European values. The question on who controls the controllers was raised. In 22 out of 28 countries, the media are the least trusted institutions, and in this regard, improvements should be made. During Plenary 2, Mazzone explained, Google’s representative gave a list of the possible technical solutions to the problem. They looked into an algorithm solution or technical implementation that could solve the issue of fake news, however, not everyone in the session was in agreement with their proposals. 

Ms Irina Drexler (National Campaign Coordinator, No Hate Speech Movement) spoke about the ‘No Hate Speech Movement’ in Romania, which was initiated by the Ministry of Youth and Sports together with nine other NGOs that work actively on human rights issues.  She mentioned ActiveWatch, an organisation which monitors the press in Romania, while advocating for the following three pillars: Human rights and FoE, anti-discrimination, and media education. She stated that the media in Romania has greatly contributed to the polarisation of society. Drexler then spoke about the polarisation which exists among the press itself, between the ‘good press’ and the ‘bad press’. When it comes to social networks, several courts ruled that the media outlets need to take down articles that are critical of the ruling party, which was a clear violation of the FoE of journalists. On a positive note, Drexler said that ‘there is a more active role that the national council on audio-visual has been taking in 2017’. She underlined the fact that investigative journalists and their families are often attacked.

Ms Natalia Mileszyk (Author, Communia Association and Public Policy Expert, Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation) discussed whether copyright is a tool to restrict the FoE in the light of ongoing EU reform. She explained why it is important to talk about copyright in a FoE session. In her view, copyright is a way of restricting and limiting someone’s ability and possibilities to publish materials online. Article 13 in the proposed EU directive aims to implement a filtering obligation for platforms that host user-generated content. ‘In the European Union (EU) there is an agreement that there should be something like a notice and take-down if there is a copyright infringement.’ Around eighty organisations sent a letter to EU officials, arguing that having a private entity ‘to monitor everything we do online’ was harmful for the FoE. In the EU, copyright is perceived as another digital single market agenda, and that it is not related to human rights regulations. This shows the importance of ‘always be[ing] aware and conscious about human rights’. 

Mr Wolfgang Benedek (Professor of International Law, University of Graz) spoke about the challenges for intermediaries respecting freedom of expression. He said that nowadays, companies act more as gate-keepers and have the responsibility and accountability of intermediaries. He spoke about the right to be forgotten or the right to be erased, and noted that the existing information on how platforms implement this in practice is not clear. The Google transparency report showed that 686 000 reports have been made and these refer to 2.5 million URLs out of which 44% have been de-listed, which gives a clear idea of the high de-listing rate. The criteria are often used in an intuitive way. Benedek wondered how to organise self-regulations in a way that they would not have a chilling effect on the FoE, and that the process in general would be foreseeable and also legal, in the sense that it takes human rights into account as well as providing an effective remedy.  He concluded by saying that standards and practices on content moderation should be publicly available and the users informed. Restrictions should be based on principles. 

Mr Pearse O'Donohue (Director for Future Networks, Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission) discussed how to tackle illegal content while ensuring the FoE and access to information. He said that the European Commission issued a recommendation on measures to tackle illegal content online, such as material promoting terrorism, child pornography, etc. ‘We have a set of policies, but now we set out a set of overarching principles and objectives in line with the Charter.’ O’Donohue also mentioned that the Commission could not put itself in a position to decide on what disinformation and fake news are. It is important to be in a position to rapidly adjust when mistakes are noticed, but it is also important to balance between the implications of online dis-information for democracy, versus the FoE. He noted the potential problems with regard to an outright ability to express oneself and the rights of holders of copyright. When it comes to the press, he noted that quality journalism is essential for maintaining democracy. 

Mr Giorgi Gvimradze (Head, News and Current Affairs Department, Georgia Broadcasting Corporation) spoke about religious feelings versus the FoE. Speaking as a media representative, he admitted that there is no public space for a qualitative and academic discussion of this issue. While it is ‘more or less possible to define’ what FoE is, there is no clear understanding about what the religious feelings are. When it comes to the FoE, it is not about ‘who is guilty?’, but about the violation itself, ‘who is violating what, what is a work of art?’. He said that while criticism of some religious beliefs, practices and theology are accepted, at the same time, the same issues in religions of minorities are referred to as Islamophobia or antisemitism and are criticised. The traditional media has more resources and should take advantage of the digital platforms and bring responsibility to it, he concluded.

Aida Mahmutović

This session aimed at tackling the new challenges to ensuring the protection of human rights, especially the right to privacy and the protection of personal data, that come with new technologies.

With the everyday developments of the Internet of Things (IoT), the collection of personal data and its misuse is made easier. The session discussed the issues of the ethical use of data, a privacy centric approach – the so-called ‘privacy by design’, and reflected on the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which became applicable on 25 May 2018. Panellists from different stakeholder groups discussed the issues from their point of view.

Ms Ceren Una(Regional Policy Manager for Europe, Internet Society) moderated the session. Mr Pearse ODonohue (Director for Future Networks, Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission) sent a clear message at the beginning that ‘Privacy is everywhere. In everything we do, privacy should the centre issue’. He stated that the GDPR has triggered both praise and criticism. It is important to take into account small companies in terms of compliance costs, and to ensure that everyone understands, and complies with, the privacy requirements. He noted the there is clear data that shows that trust and security are one of the biggest inhibitors of the development of the Internet in wide terms. Digital technologies have the power to facilitate better living conditions. In addition, security has to be a central part, therefore both security by design and privacy by design need to be put in place.

Ms Ani Nozadze (Head of International Relations Department at the Office of Personal Data Protection Inspector of Georgia) noted that the GDPR is trying to provide solutions from a legal perspective. She noted that this new legal regulation became necessary because of increased collection and usage of individuals’ data by companies and organisations, without them also ensuring proactivity, regulation, transparency, and accountability. Taking into consideration the challenges that come with development, including development on the legislative level, such as the GDPR and other European legislations, the data protection authority (DPA) in Georgia offers guidance and advice in the form of free consultations to companies and organisations. She said that a recent survey in Georgia showed that ’81% of Georgian citizens think that personal data protection is a very important issue’. 

Mr Jean Gonié (Digital Policy Group Director, VEON) shared a private company’s point of view, and noted that privacy has became a top priority for everyone, including companies, telecoms, banks, hotels, etc. He stated that compliance is about accountability, and privacy is about demonstrating trustworthiness. Companies have to be in a position to clearly show that what they are doing is the right thing for their users, otherwise their work becomes ‘useless’. 

Mr Jörn Erbguth (University of Geneva, Geneva School of Diplomacy) advised against putting any personal identifiable information in plain text on blockchain. As for ensuring privacy on blockchains, he mentioned encryption, hash-values, zero knowledge proofs, homomorphic encryption, or specialised blockchains as some of the technologies that provide a high level of privacy and ensure privacy by design, which even an administrator cannot circumvent. ‘There are possibilities to use privacy enabling technology, even in the domain of public blockchain, which will ensure privacy even above current standards.’

Ms SusanneTarkowski Tempelho(Founder, BITNATION) said that nothing personal should ever be put on blockchains apart from hashes. She noted the difference between positive rights and negative rights. When it comes to ensuring privacy, she noted the importance of encryption and the freedom to create better software that people find useful: ‘Keep your hands off my code. Don’t make lives impossible.’ She noted that there is no radical privacy or radical transparency, but that there is plausible privacy. 

Mr James Ferron, a former UK government employee and now BITNATION employee, spoke from the audience noting that technologies are peer-to-peer and encryption enables everyone to control their own data. Within the EU there is a lot of fear about encrypted technology, however, encryption gives everyone the possibility to reclaim their privacy and sovereignty.

It was also noted by the audience that education and information are important for users to understand the importance of privacy and the issues surrounding it. 

Two youth fellows in the audience spoke about privacy. One noted that while she personally cares about privacy a great deal, a lot of her young peers do not. The second fellow noted that he takes a decision on what to share ‘with the world via any service I use. I don’t pay much attention to what I share if I agree with the Terms of Use’.

Claudio Lucena

The moderator, Mr Vladimir Radunović (Cybersecurity and E-diplomacy Programmes Director, DiploFoundation) started the session by asking the audience what issues they believed to be to most pressing ones in facing the difficulties brought by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

He then collected these issues as questions to be addressed in the next part of the session. Participants formed subgroups in which specific aspects of the GDPR were discussed and brought to the full audience after being addressed by the group during 30 minutes of exchange and interaction. The specific points focused on by the subgroups were data controllers and processors, social media and GDPR, ICANN and the WHOIS service, data protection authorities, consent and data subjects rights, and international data transfers. The debate in each subgroup was facilitated by one of the key participants, who made a brief introduction justifying the choice and the relevance of each subset of aspects, presented initial questions, encouraged and coordinated the debate, and then summarised the main views of each group to the audience.

Mr Cláudio Lucena (Researcher, Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Portugal) reported that the group discussing GDPR repercussions in social media agreed that these platforms bring much more people into an environment where privacy and data protection are relevant. There was a concern though, that the necessary public capacity building and awareness initiatives were not yet in place or widely known. The group considered the balance between freedom of expression and the protection of personal data  to have been adequately addressed in the GDPR through the public interest exception, but feared that objective mechanisms and tools to achieve this balance were unclear.

Ms Adriana Minović (Curator, DiploFoundation) reported that her group addressed issues regarding data controllers and processors, and agreed that resources for local data protection authorities were scarce and that authorities would most probably adopt the path of reacting to notification, and discovering what to do and the concrete ways to move as situations develop. That, coupled with misunderstandings and discrepancies in the interpretation of issues that remain unaddressed on a national basis, will be serious obstacles to implementing GDPR.

Ms Nana Rapava (Office of the Personal data Protection Inspector, Georgia) led a group that discussed the role of data protection authorities and stressed that the output of the interaction could be summarised in two basic questions, one referring to why there was a general unpreparedness to deal with the GDPR when there was enough time to arrange the transition and the implementations of changes for the purpose of compliance, and the other referring to why data protection authorities, specifically speaking, were on the same page. The group also raised the question of whether the European Union has done a good job of explaining the GDPR to the world at large, noting that internal implementation teams at data protection authorities in many places still lack the expertise to work in the new model.

Ms Elena Plexida (Government and IGOs Engagement Senior Director, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)) facilitated the group that went over the issue of the WHOIS service within the ICANN scope. She mentioned that it was important to clarify in the scope of this discussion that the service does not operate a centralised database, that the enforcement of ICANN contracts always face a limit which is national law, and that there is a currently open question if the service as it is today still falls within the remit of ensuring DNS stability or if it has simply over time become a different usage of the collected data. The group concluded that WHOIS is an important tool for the security and stability of the Internet, and as such there is a duty of care on the community to maintain it, while ensuring the right balance between privacy and security. The group also said that it was necessary to have a clear path with respect to the next steps, with ICANN steering the process.

Mr Tapani Tarvainen (Vice President, Electronic Frontier Finland) and Ms Ana Kapanadze (CEO, Privacy Logic Group) gathered a group to analyse the changes in the structure of consent, and explore the concept of explicit consent, the ways of demonstrating the obtention of consent, and what should be enough for information about consent to be considered intelligible and the data subject to understand the whole process. They also questioned whether the new obligations meant that controllers and processors should become more precise about organisational and technical measures. They brought from the discussion the idea that the actual empowerment of the user vis-à-vis the new approach to the notion of consent is still highly uncertain and one of the main issues concerning the implementation of the GDPR. The group also highlighted that the identification of data subjects in general and the identification of minors in particular must be a serious concern. There is a fear that data controllers will not be able to consistently verify age; there is a perception that different age verification tools have failed because of a lack of public interest.

The discussions coordinated by Ms Martina Ferracane (PhD student, Hamburg University) focused on international data transfers. Ferracane reported that the group showed a concern that decisions regarding adequacy were still highly political; they were not sure if it is a good thing. They pointed out that it is necessary to determine whether decisions that were implemented before the GDPR are still a basis for transferring data abroad until they are revised again by the European Commission. They highlighted raised issues concerning the adequacy of the protection of data which is brought inside the EU from countries which are outside of it. One further issue related to certification procedures and more specifically to how to keep it a dynamic process, rather than a one-time achievement, after which companies could stop improving.

Finally, still reporting from a group that focused on international effects of the GDPR, Mr Peter Kimpian (National Expert, Data Protection Unit at the Council of Europe) mentioned that Convention 108 of the Council of Europe can bring an appropriate level of data protection, and that they are promoting it internationally as a binding instrument. He said that the GDPR is looked at as an external leg of the privacy acquis which also comprises the directive and case law. The group raised the issue of extraterritorial applicability and direct enforceability of the whole protective framework of the GDPR in countries which are not members of the EU but which are signatories to Convention 108. They noted that this is an open question, but argued that it could be important in bringing third countries closer to GDPR norms and the standards and mechanisms reflected in it.

To sum up, the moderator pointed out that except for the broader question of why people in general are not yet ready for the GDPR, all the other questions and issues raised at the beginning of the session had been touched on and addressed, if not answered in the group work and interactions.

Adriana Minović

Mr Roberto Gaetano (Chairman, Board of Directors, Public Interest Registry (PIR) introduced the panellists and the moderator, Prof. Ramaz Kvatadze (Executive Director, Georgian Research and Educational Networking Association (GRENA)).

Moving forward, he explained the very concept of universal acceptance. He said that today there is a huge debate on whether the Internet is reaching everyone and whether everyone has the same possibilities when using it, given the differences in language, characters, and writing systems. Therefore, universal acceptance is not only a problem of internationalised domain names (IDNs) and domain names, but also that of search engines, e-mail address internationalisation, and similar issues that we might miss from this conversation. 

The first panellist, Mr Patrik Fältström (Chair, Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC)), started his presentation by trying to elaborate on what is the actual problem that was discussed. Everything started with the question of how to bring more people online. In order to do so, we need to enable people to communicate, and that means to create and share audio, video and text. It is really important to enable people to enter information in their own language, which requires good script and character support in all applications. Also, providing people with the possibility to translate and transform information with the help of text to speech or speech to text, and to use it in multiple languages, would contribute to higher participation. This would be of great help to people with disabilities.Hence, among all discussions about domain names, search engines and other issues, we should not forget this bigger picture when we speak about universal acceptance.

The next panellist,Mr Dušan Stojičević (Marketing Director for Eastern Europe, Gransy) stated that the problem is not with standards, but rather the lack of implementation of standards. From his professional experience, he stated that the number of people who are interested in using Cyrillic domain names is still very low. In addition, there is also the fact that there are insufficient financial resources for the registries and registrars to invest in IDNs. In the end, he still thinks that the biggest challenge is in people’s habits and the fact that people are used to standard keyboards and scripts. Hence, there is no significant demand for these in local languages. 

The discussion continued with questions from the participants. Once more, the problem of implementing standards that have been in place for a long time, was emphasised. Representatives from Georgia stated that they have a very low number of people using IDNs. Moreover, given the current technical issues with the implementation of standards and scripts that some of the participants raised, it is evident that this problem requires more patience and work. the session was concluded with the thought that we might have a ’chicken and egg’ due to the lack of deployment in the practice. In the end, we should have in mind that preserving diversity on Internet is what makes it open and this is why IDNs are important. 

Su Sonia Herring, Claudio Lucena, Ilona Stadnick

The session started with introductions by co-moderators Mr Peter Koch (Senior Polocy Advisor, Denic), Mr Frédéric Donck (Managing Director, European Regional Bureau, Internet Society) and Ms Tatiana Tropina (Senior Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law).

The interactive format of the session was explained and the audience was split into three groups representing the perspectives of the manufacturer, the user, and the policymakers when discussing the different aspects of the Internet of Things (IoTs);privacy, security, and economics.

The group on policymakingunder thefacilitation of Tropina, built their discussions around the experience of the UK government in supporting the research and development of IoT and engaging with businesses and citizens to advance UK leadership in IoT applicability. The goal of their initiative is to propose commercial incentives for manufacturers to ensure the development of IoT for healthcare services, transportation and smart cities. The group came to the idea that privacy and security by design should be a priority for IoT devices and software. However, policymakers should work with the industry to set standards at the global level to ensure a cross-border flow of IoT technologies and devices, and most importantly, to prevent counterfeit which would endanger security and privacy tremendously. For this reason, it would be good to involve international standardisation organisations. Finally, the group agreed on the necessity to find reliable metrics for checking the progress of IoT deployment and how it really contributes to economic growth.

The second group’s discussion was led by Koch and focused on the manufacturer’s perspective, with most of the discussion being on security. However, as businesses, their foremost priority is to sell products, and it was roughly agreed that economics was the driving factor behind having security or privacy on the agenda for IoT manufacturing. Following the roll-out of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), privacy and security became an economic consideration as well. Since businesses mainly run on consumer/user demand, the group also argued that demanding security was the consumer’s responsibility at the end of the day. The layers of security, from the design and manufacturing of the microchips to software, were discussed, and companies who take on all layers of production were mentioned as examples of efforts to increase product security. Another point made was that the IoT was not only there for end users and was not always connected to the Internet, but a big part of the industry was built upon business to business applications for logistics, manufacturing, transportation, environmental monitoring, industries and so on.

The third group focused on the user’s perspective andstarted the discussion by trying to formulate the questions that they saw as relevant to making informed decisions relating to connected products and devices, whether security was a concern, and how a consumer can learn about quality and security when it comes to devices whose technical functioning is not necessarily intuitive. Some of the other points raised by the discussion group include:

  • One of the key topics was whether users were ready to pay more for secured IoT devices, and participants agreed that price was a relevant component but not the only issue to be considered.
  • Information regarding the safety and security of connected devices need to be clear, objective and intelligible for non-experts,an excessive burden on vulnerable users who normally lack the necessary expertise will not improve the overall cybersecurity environment.
  • Whether through formal certification or informal mechanisms, users want devices to be tested and the results publicised, so as to ensure diversity and confrontation of views, as well as diversity of sources that are independent and, if possible, officially verifiable.
  • Children’s toys and devices may be a good starting point to raise awareness regarding the importance of privacy and security of connected devices, since people to tend to raise their concerns and awareness efforts when these interests are at stake.

The session continued with discussions comparing the messages and perspectives of policymakers, users and manufacturers. The question of the responsibility for security was debated in depth. Users put economics over security, which determine sector trends in IoT so education and awareness should be a priority. A solution can be that governments impose security by design on manufactures which would solve the security issue. Another important point to consider is imported products; is it a solution to tightly regulate imported IoT and have certifications? Participants from a technical background stressed that security is not a state, it constantly evolves, which poses an issue on who is responsible of security issues. In 10 or 20 years, if a manufacturer is long gone but the products are still in use who will governments and users address? Industry set standards can be a solution to these issues just like the CE standards for various products.

Final remarks included that current disclosures and disclaimers that come with connected devices were not sufficient. Additional regulation to the existing privacy regulation will likely be needed for the IoT. And in the near future, if there is a lack of consideration for privacy and security in the IoT, they may simply not be allowed on the European market.

Su Sonia Herring

Moderator Ms Rinalia Abdul Rahim (Managing Director, Compass Rose Sdn Bhd) introduced the flow of the workshop, based on interaction with participants following context setting by key participants. 

Mr Vint Cerf (Internet Pioneer) talked of the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI) that seem to mainly rest with developers and their moral responsibility, attention to bias, and constant questioning of all possible outcomes. Mr Olivier Bringer (Deputy and Acting Head of Unit, Next Generation Internet Unit, Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission) followed by setting the European context on AI and related technologies, noting heavy investment in AI, and its effects on the job market. He mentioned existing frameworks on privacy and cybersecurity, adding that more needs to be done policy-wise. Bringer stressed the importance of transparency and of having at least a basic understanding of incoming technologies for healthy development. The AI Initiative’s report was considered a crucial step to further strategise legal frameworks and decide whether an ethical component should be introduced.

Mr Claudio Lucena (Professor and former Dean, Law Faculty at Paraiba State University, and Research Fellow, Research Center for Future of Law,) emphasised that AI is not a monolithic, blanket technology, and specific approaches must be adopted. Lucena pointed to a possible re-coding of the rule of law according to varying sectors and jurisdictions, such as national strategies being implemented across the globe including robotics commissions. 

From the audience Mr Patrick Penninckx (Head of Department – Information Society, Council of Europe (CoE)) took the floor underlining that AI is already having direct effects on daily lives in various countries, so policies need to catch up as soon as possible. He further elaborated that if AI is going to be used in law, a common framework is a must. Efforts by governments and intergovernmental organisations are not enough without sufficient co-operation with the technical community and the private sector. 

Views were voiced that it is not feasible to expect adherence to ethical codes from developers, which was opposed by Lucena. The burden of development needs to be shifted; the excuse ‘I’m just an engineer’ does not work when it comes to AI -related technologies.

Mr Christian Djeffal (Project Lead for IoT and eGovernment, Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society) compared the race of AI development to an arms race. The importance of international agreements, such as the Declaration to Cooperate on Artificial Intelligence signed by 25 EU countries and Norway, gains more gravity. Djeffal stressed how vital interdisciplinary teams were in relieving the burden of development that is on engineers. He mentioned the need to formally educate engineers on ethics and voiced support for formation of interdisciplinary teams. 

One participant raised the social contact aspect of a future where AI is heavily used, and of research displaying human contact’s profound impact on the psychological wellbeing of human beings. Another mentioned the safety aspect of autonomous machines and vehicles, using the example of the Uber self-driving car which killed a person. We need to consider whether all automation is actually safer for humans while reconsidering assumptions.

Co-moderator Ms Maarit Palovirta (Senior ManagerRegional Affairs Europe, Internet Society) introduced the second part of the panel which focused on stakeholder perspectives. Ms Mariam Sharangia (Specialist of Strategic Development,Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency) talked of the government’s perspective which focuses on privacy. The goal is to create very specific frameworks regarding privacy. When it comes to AI, the Georgian government is implementing encouraging policies for start-ups and other businesses that focus on AI. However, these efforts need to be supported by modernising education to prepare the workforce. 

Ms Clara Sommier (Public Policy & Government Relations Analyst, Google) talked of the business perspective, noting that they are training their developers on fairness. She mentioned that there are millions of people who hate their jobs and AI may help by doing those jobs for people. Including and not leaving anyone behind with training in digital skills, and a project that helps a million Europeans find a job were pointed out by Sommier. She also underlined the big role to be played by humans, as jobs we cannot anticipate currently are being created in place of those certain to disappear. 

Ms Leena Romppainen (Chair, Electronic Frontier Finland) took the floor to talk of the civil society perspective using positive and negative examples from science fiction for reflection on possible future scenarios. She also talked of work in the future becoming more difficult with more complex jobs for humans as simpler tasks are taken over by AI. Unintended and unexpected consequences of the development of AI and robotics are unavoidable. Djeffal took the floor once again, mentioning the already visible effects of algorithms on the work force, such as downscaling, which may mean that even if people do not lose their jobs, they will be paid less while some of their work becomes automated. He also commented on the value of the work of the European Commission as it is a great example of detailed, concrete explanation related to AI.

Ms Annette Muehlberg (Head, ver.di Digitalisation Project Group) remarked that how we live and work should be our decision and not a matter of scoring by machine learning algorithms. She made clear points for the need for AI to be accountable, transparent, modifiable in short, and not a black box. Muehlberg also recognised the good that can come through AI to improve the lives of workers and citizens. She pointed out that we are already facing issues on the use of algorithms where human input is not considered; there is no chance to integrate human knowledge while working with algorithms as the latter is always seen as right.

Final remarks included a participant posing the question: ‘If a machine learns something about a person that they themselves do not know, who does that data belong to?’ Bringer stressed that budgetary allocation to digital skills in the next EU budget was very large. One participant raised the issue of the obligation to share trade secrets that will arise in the future of AI, while another noted that as many algorithms are being treated as trade secrets, transparent practices would prove very difficult. Muehlberg tackled this topic by making a distinction between algorithms that rule public goods and services versus private ones.

Claudio Lucena

The moderator, Mr Bernhard Hayden (President, Young Pirates of Europe) started the meeting by clarifying that the objective of the session was to fi

The moderator, Mr Bernhard Hayden (President, Young Pirates of Europe) started the meeting by clarifying that the objective of the session was to figure out the expectations and to identify the benefits and harms of copyright reform in Europe. He urged participants to come up with reflections on what they imagined would be the worst and best aspects of the legislative initiative.

Ms Natalia Mileszyk (Author, Communia Association and Public Policy Expert, Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation) highlighted that the copyright regime in place was structured around the year 2001, before many of the current issues had taken shape. She mentioned that the characteristics of the digital environment make it increasingly difficult to differentiate users from creators, stressing that many people, especially the youth, often see themselves on both sides of that relationship. Mileszyk called for a change in narrative from conventional groups of intellectual property rights holders, arguing that users are confused by copyright, and that the path to reform might be preventing the EU from attaining the intended position of global leadership in issues like artificial intelligence. The reform, she noted, is showing signs of being part of a privatisation of the law enforcement process in the EU, in which large platforms are more empowered. But since they are not legally obliged to take into account the interests of users and creators, they can base their decisions on business reasons, and not on openness and other values that will benefit and promote the public interest. On the general prohibition in the reform concerning the use of snippets without a licence, Mileszyk wondered if copyright was an adequate tool to solve the problem of a very restricted number of entrepreneurs. It bears the risk of severe discrepancies among states, each of them trying to implement and tackle what they see as an infringement.

Ms Ekaterine Egutia (Deputy Chairperson, National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia)shared the real-life experience of Professor William Fisher, whose on-line lecture about copyright was blocked on YouTube. Her concern is thatautomatic content blocking algorithms and tools that work as ex antearbiters pose a problem, since they could hinder legitimate use of protected material.

Mr Nikoloz Gogilidze (Chairman, National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia (Sakpatenti)) pointed out that income is often generated by regional, national and local authors, and then this income is collected by platforms which are located in a different place. He called for new tools to help balance this situation, ensuring that copyright holders have the necessary incentive to create and produce more work, stressing that threats appear when legislation does not respond. He mentioned content-sensitive automation monitoring and removal measures as additional tools to improve enforcement, to be implemented by service providers. The providers would absorb the cost of this monitoring, shifting it from the authors who currently bear it Gogilidzeacknowledged the risks these tools pose to freedom of expression, of information and of access, which is the reason why he called for these prospective filters to be as objective and clear as possible.

Ms Karmen Turk (Attorney-at-Law, Triniti) called the audience’s attention to the fact that the Electronic Commerce Directive expressly prevents member states from imposing a general legal obligation to monitor service providers, and that the copyright directive should not be able to circumvent this restriction unless the discussion on other one is reopen. She also reflected that law must have an objective, and that this reform seems to aim at market failure, an attempt to protect the conventional press publishing business models. If that is the case, Turk concluded, these legislative initiatives must provide evidence that the proposed model is more efficient and that the proposed trade-off will be reasonable.

MrTapani Tarvainen (Vice-president, Electronic Frontier Finland) stressed that the burdens of automated content control tools might be too heavy on open and essentially collaborative projects such as Github and other academic initiatives, arguing that having to implement the filter would simply kill them. He said that the reform seemed intended to destroy small independent disruptive operators and protect big players. Tarvainen mentioned the dilemma of conventional media outlets searching for a prohibition of snippets, since they need search engines to attract traffic.

Mr Giacomo Mazzone (Head of Institutional Relations and Members Relations South, EBU-UER European Broadcasting Union) argued that the aim of the reform according to what the sector understands from it is to charge large operators who earn a lot of money from their service, and who are not currently under the same obligations of conventional broadcasting operators. He said the system in force treats traditional operators and new business models in a totally different way. He mentioned EU broadcast operators as an example, saying they can be sued anywhere, while Google initially only has to take content down. Mazzone stressed that each publisher or country alone cannot resist big platforms and that the digital disruption is changing the way we benefit from our rights. He asked the audience what the future of information would be if no media news operator had the economic resources to provide the tools for a more solid production of independent content. Mazzone showed his concern about a practice according to which large global platforms suffocate the conventional news businesses and then buy them. He added that digital illiteracy contributed to this negative situation and concluded by saying that if the idea is to protect smaller bloggers, the legislation should be made clearer and directed only to more powerful operators.

Jana Mišić

This session explored challenges related to the Domain Name System (DNS).

This session explored challenges related to the Domain Name System (DNS). The moderator, Mr Laurin Weissinger (DPhil student, University of Oxford) called for an open discussion on issues such as (geo)political shifts and disagreements, technical and architectural issues, and the fight against the DNS abuse.

Co-moderator Mr Chris Buckridge (External Relations Manager, RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC)) put forward the question of focus: Should we focus on the technical challenges of the DNS or on improving how the Internet community uses the DNS system? Buckridge reminded participants that when the DNS is being mended, it remains in use as the core of the Internet and users’ access should not be endangered.  

The focus of Ms Alexandra Kulikova (Global Stakeholder Engagement Director – Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)) was that the Internet today is the result of the so-called network effect. The more people use the DNS system as it is, the more our global Internet depends on it. According to Kulikova, in order to mitigate the potential harm of the 'network effect', we need to be aware of the pressures on this 30-year-old system. 'The DNS system is constantly evolving', Kulikova said. She reminded the audience that ICANN is researching new emerging identifier technologies such as blockchain and Digital Object Architecture (DOA). The stability of the Internet as it is today remains the responsibility of ICANN, and the Root KSK Rollover that was postponed in 2017, is set to take place in October 2018. 

Speaking from the law enforcement perspective was Mr Grégory Mounier (Head of Outreach, European Police Agency (Europol)). Mounier stated that 'criminals and malicious businesses online very frequently use the DNS to carry out their activities.' From less to more aggressive techniques such as launching attacks, stealing personal data, and hiding from the law, the abuses are difficult to prevent. Mounier recognised that it is important to strengthen security measures around the DNS to prevent domain shadowing, hijacking, and so on. However, these measures are a double-edged sword for law enforcement because they also add a layer of protection to the abuses. The main challenge remains developing new monitoring tools. The existing technology and data can measure the rate of abuse almost in real time, but when it comes to fighting abuse of DNS Registries, corresponding tools are lacking. The key is to gradually reduce the rate of abuse, and not stifle competition and DNS functionality. 

Mr Peter Koch (Senior Policy Advisor, DENIC) highlighted that the DNS system has become increasingly complex over the last 30 years. Adoption of protocols and capital changes of the Internet infrastructure cannot be demanded; changes have to come from the governing and policy-making side. Koch noted that regulation is not necessarily good or bad, but it should be well informed from both technical and informational perspectives. It should also consider long-term architectural consequences of even the smallest of changes made to the system. Addressing the concerns raised by Mounier, Koch noted that the DNS abuses are not a technical issue, but rather a wider issue of Internet abuse. According to Koch, the main challenge lies beyond the protocol itself. The technical complexity should not compromise the stability of the Internet. Regulation and standardisation need to be addressed carefully, because innovation and the changing of the parameters of the DNS system on a global scale can have negative consequences worldwide.

Mr David Tabatadze (IT Service Manager, Georgian Research and Educational Networking Association (GRENA)) underscored the main challenges as a lack of implementation, privacy concerns, data collection, governmental control, and the creation of the 'other Internets'.  Tabatadze added that the insufficient deployment of the DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) poses another complication to the future functionality of the DNS.

Su Sonia Herring

This session started with introductions of the key participants and a brief overview of digitalisation in Europe, by moderator Ms Ana Kakalashvili (Analyst, Institute for Development and Freedom of Information). 

Mr Michal Boni (Member of the European Parliament, Poland) took the floor by listing five crucial action points on the road to being a digital game changer for Europe:

  • 5G infrastructure development, especially for Internet of Things (IoT)
  • High performance computing network development
  • Development of artificial intelligence (AI) with human-centric principles
  • Modern, cross-border cybersecurity solutions
  • Redefining national education systems to develop digital literacy and skills, adaptability, and co-operation with new technologies

Boni stressed these points as opportunities to create competitive advantages for Europe through regulations, investments, and policies. The growing gap between developing technologies and human ability to adapt were underlined as critical, and tackling this phenomenon is possible through building digital skills for citizens of all ages in Europe. Challenges related to cybersecurity, such as the needs to harmonise cybersecurity certifications; stronger leadership from the EU; and dialogue and collaboration between all EU and non-EU countries were other points voiced by Boni.

The moderator continued the session by asking how national governments could make sure to enable and promote a digital culture. Mr Nikoloz Gagnidze (Chair, Georgian Data Exchange Agency) stated that e-governance is good governance, while the government’s role in making such services available for citizens is of fundamental importance. He stated that the Georgian government puts great importance on collaborating with various actors within and beyond the country for increased cybersecurity. The insufficient budget, high level of bureaucracy, and a disconnect between agencies were some of the main challenges faced on the road to digitalisation and increased cybersecurity, for the government and citizens of Georgia. Gagnidze also mentioned that they are currently working on further securing electronic communications between government entities and businesses with soon to be mandatory digital signatures. When asked about the usage of e-government services, Gagnidze stated that while usage remained low, this was also due to the fact that most current services were information oriented.

A session participant asked what was the best tool or device for civil society to push governments regarding digital issues, to which Boni replied that another obstacle was the lack of a common understanding of digital issues. Multistakeholder platforms, such as EuroDIG, are suggested as platforms to communicate messages from meetings held at the European Parliament, especially before elections.

Mr Raul Echeberria (Vice President for Global Engagement, Internet Society) talked about the pace of digitalisation in all human activity and highlighted the vitality of quick adaptability. He talked about the challenge this posed for large companies and institutions which are less flexible by nature. Disruption in the job market happened with previous milestones, such as during industrialisation, but the key difference is the high-paced development speed of most new technologies. Echeberria highlighted that innovation is not only needed by businesses, but crucial in public policy as well. He used examples of ride-sharing services’ disruptive effects on the sector being amplified by insisting on existing, and sometimes outdated, policies and regulations. He concluded by saying ’Governments need to collaborate and benefit from experiences and expertise of society across all sectors.’

Mr Melle Tiel Groenestege (Digital Policy Advisor, VEON Communications) talked about the challenges faced by the telecom sector, usually stemming from too many regulations. He pointed to strategising and creating frameworks before imposing direct regulation. Groenestege talked about the opportunities of a ‘platform-economy’. He gave the example of farmers who cannot reach certain information although they have mobile access. The company created a platform where all agriculture-related providers can upload information and content for farmers with smart phones. This and similar projects have proved fruitful for all the stakeholders involved. Groenestegealso underlined the importance of NGOs and civil society as business core interests do not always align with the public’s needs.  

Ms Katrin Ohlmer (CEO, Dotzon GmbH) took the floor and mentioned some important points for digitalisation:

  • Universal access to the Internet
  • Intuitive and easy to use services
  • Memorable and searchable names
  • Creating practices with citizens and not for them

Ohlmer gave examples from Europe of surveys, tried and tested strategies, and campaigns for increasing public engagement with online public services. The profound impact of easy to remember domain names, free Internet access in public spaces, creating services with the collaboration and feedback from citizens were noted as some of the best practices.

Adriana Minović

After a speech welcoming the participants to the first day of EuroDIG 2018, there was an open mic session for the participants to share their general impressions about the forum and the topics discussed there, in the form of messages.

Ms Sandra Hoferichter (Secretary General, EuroDIG) called on the participants to use this opportunity to express their views about the digital future.  

One common messages from youth participants was an appreciation towards the fact that, at EuroDIG, there are lot of young people who, over the next few days, will express their views on different points and engage in discussions with other participants. 

With regard to the EuroDIG messages – to be made available after the event, to reflect the main points and take-aways from the discussions – it was said by some that what is missing is the implementation of these messages, and their further discussion. This is why there is a need for a strategy on how to continue working on these messages after the event, especially with respect to their implementation. Some participants also pointed out to the importance of having something concrete done in relation to all the discussions and ideas presented at the event, of having some actual outputs or concrete conclusions. 

The global Internet Governance Forum (IGF), it was said, it also constantly working on improvements to put together a cohesive programme, and to have more concrete outputs. However, to be successful, this process also needs the support and participation of the community, to bring more focus and structure into the process. It was also emphasised that in order to be able to form more concrete outputs from IGF processes, more government representatives are needed in attendance, to have direct impact on policy shaping.

From the startup community, there were messages about the need for responsible discussion, in which government representatives also take part. Moreover, it was pointed out that there is a need for more discussion about the roles of private actors such as social networks, and intermediary providers. This is especially important in regard to their accountability and ensuring that they observe human rights and European values.  

In the end, it was once more emphasised why the multistakeholder approach is a must when speaking about Internet governance. Unlike 20 years ago when the Internet was purely a technical thing, today it is in every aspect of our lives. Being so, we need people with different expertise to be able to cover all its aspects and its dynamic nature. 

Ana Maria Corrêa

This session was moderated by Mr Vladimir Radunović (Cybersecurity and E-diplomacy Programmes Director, DiploFoundation) and it addressed the challenges related to platfo

This session was moderated by Mr Vladimir Radunović (Cybersecurity and E-diplomacy Programmes Director, DiploFoundation) and it addressed the challenges related to platform neutrality and discrimination in platform content. 

It was noted by some participants during the discussions that the debate around Internet neutrality should go beyond Internet Service Providers (ISPs), considering that different bias in online platforms can also lead to discriminatory treatment of their users. The lack of platform neutrality is particularly alarming due to the platform’s worldwide reach and dominance. 

Mr Michael J Oghia (Independent Consultant) pointed out that the goal of online platforms and private companies is to optimise the user experience. Consequently, they are less prone to disclose their algorithms, even in cases of possible discrimination, considering that algorithms and technology are protected by intellectual property rights. Someone from the audience counter argued, mentioning that when private companies reach so many individuals, on a global level, they should have some sort of accountability vis-à-vis our society. The responsibility of private companies has existed for a long time and could be used as model to reflect the limits between public interests and commercial ones.

Mr Arandjel Bojanović (President, Internet Society Serbia), mentioned that Facebook conducted an experiment in six different countries called ‘news feed’, which aimed to show to the users the stories that most mattered to them. Several journals and independent media complained that the visibility of their pages dropped massively. This example led to the following question: What are the limits for a private company to change their policies inadvertently? 

It was discussed that private companies need to have a minimum standard of fairness. Some in-house principles could be implemented to reach platform neutrality: (1) To put the users first (as the main driving force); and (2) Inclusiveness. Furthermore, it was mentioned that monopoly and transparency are concepts that impact platform neutrality. For example, it was argued that four of the first eight social media in the world belong to the same company. Because of that, platforms should not abuse their monopolistic position regarding neutrality. Further, more transparency would help to enforce competition law and allow people to make informed choices.

Ana Maria Corrêa

This session was moderated by Mr Jörn Erbguth (Consultant on Blockchain, Smart Contracts and Data Protection and lecturer, Geneva School of Diplomacy and Université de Ge

This session was moderated by Mr Jörn Erbguth (Consultant on Blockchain, Smart Contracts and Data Protection and lecturer, Geneva School of Diplomacy and Université de Genève) and addressed how blockchain decentralises trust, and remains independent from governments, public authorities and traditional business institutions.

Mr Olivier Bringer (Deputy and Acting Head of Unit, Next Generation Internet Unit, Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission), who is in charge of the next generation Internet initiative, mentioned that one of the goals of the European Commission (EC) is to build an Internet that citizens can trust and that serves mankind. The Internet has to be trustworthy, sustainable, secure and inclusive. One key technology for that is blockchain. It will allow more direct interactions and increase user control. It is a key building block of the future of the Internet. Blockchain technology started with cryptocurrency and the financial sector, and it is now being deployed in public administration, logistics, and healthcare. The EC has funded, and will continue to fund, projects to ensure and improve blockchain technologies. 

Ms Marian Turashvili (Head of project, National Agency of Public Registry in Georgia) reported that Georgia has implemented blockchain technology in property and land registry, and the next step will be to use the technology in the business registry. 

Mr Nestor Dubnevyc (Partner at, CLO Patentbot, Senior Associate at Juscutum Attorneys Association, Ambassador KyivLegalHacker) stated that he has been working on developing enhanced processes regarding the registry of trademarks and protection of intellectual property rights. According to Dubnevych, the use of blockchain will improve the Ukrainian economy. 

Mr Walid Al-Saqaf (Senior Lecturer, Södertörn University) believes that blockchain technology could have a great social impact. It can improve the detection of fake news or even preserve property rights. He mentioned that the Internet is instrumental to developing blockchain because of its transparency and decentralisation. In addition, blockchain has removed third party agency and has changed our current governance paradigm. Governments should use more blockchain technologies and should be careful not to over-regulate before fully understanding, implementing and testing it. If on the one hand, blockchain will replace human resources and compete with governmental authority, on the other, it will improve the transparency of government transactions.  

Ms Olga Duka (CEO, Zeus) stressed that blockchain technologies will impact the future of governance. Public services will go digital and blockchain will be used to ensure public and private transactions. Bringer added that the EC has been cautious in regulating blockchains. According to him, they have already invested around € 80 million on projects related to blockchain and the aim is to fund €300 million more until the end of 2020. Bringer also mentioned that there are some environmental issues at stake in the usage of bitcoin and other blockchains. Currently, the technology uses a lot of energy and there is a need to find creative solutions to it. 

Jana Mišić

The moderator, Ms Kristina Olausson (Policy Officer, European Telecommunication Network Operator's Association (ETNO)), opened the session by stating that the disparities in e-commerce between Eastern and Western European countries are decreasing.

This is reflected in the growing interest in e-commerce by governments, which started more intense discussion on this issue at the World Trade Organization.  

Mr David Lawrence Lee (Chief Executive Officer, European Business Association Georgia (EBA)), sought to inform the audience about the relevant updates in e-commerce in Georgia. As Lawrence Lee stressed, e-commerce is relatively underdeveloped but there are bright prospects for future developments. Georgia has high 4G coverage and the ease of doing business in the country is one of the highest in Europe. He remarked that the necessary foundations for e-commerce are in place, but that the uptake is yet to come. The main challenge is the lack of appropriate infrastructure, and startups often struggle to find funding. Lawrence Lee said that the EBA, which has 60 members, is helping their members to get more involved in e-commerce. The market is currently Europe-focused and there is potential for further co-operation between Georgia and Europe. As examples of good practice, he mentioned the GeorgianPost and Maleo. However, before advancing its co-operation with Europe, Georgia should set a new strategic path in economic development and clarify its objectives towards Russia and Europe.

Mr Tornike Jobava (Project Manager, Broadband for Development , Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA)), presented several projects implemented by GITA on strengthening e-commerce.  Agreeing with Lawrence Lee, Jobava highlighted the lack of infrastructure and access as the main issues for e-commerce in Georgia. High installation costs and the lack of relevant skills pose a challenge for doing business online.  According to Jobava, e-commerce capacity development programmes have proven to be a good first step in helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to be online. Tailored training programmes for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMs) have enabled upcoming entrepreneurs to maximise the benefits of e-commerce in Georgia and in Europe.

Mr Jonathan Cave (Senior Tutor in Economics, Warwick University, and Senior Research Fellow at Rand Europe), introduced a wider perspective on the relationship between developing countries and e-commerce. Cave said that 'There is a fragile balance between e-commerce and commerce' that can be distorted if consumers are not aware of 'channel biases'. 'Channel biases' refer to the preference of one type of purchasing, and e-commerce should not fully replace commerce, but complement it. Being aware of the 'consumer culture' is important and e-commerce as a policy objective should be a carefully used tool. Opening up the market for e-commerce in developing countries can also damage the local entrepreneurs once big global players enter the market. According to Cave, international development expertise and local experimentation should work together to find solutions that are country specific. 

In terms of improving the infrastructure, Cave highlighted an example from the United Kingdom, where better infrastructure led to faster broadband and increased the digital divide between the rural and urban areas.As main challenges to converging the Eastern and Western European markets, Cave underscored several points. First, in the European context, price discrimination based on geographical location should be addressed. Second, countries need to enable competition, but not at the expense of the consumer protection policies. Third, regulators should be aware of the dangers of obscuring the information needed for assessment, as well as of the hidden impact of algorithms. Finally, it was agreed that the multistakeholder platform was an appropriate approach to advancing e-commerce in Europe.

Ana Maria Corrêa

This session was moderated by Ms Maarit Palovirta (Senior Manager Regional Affairs Europe, Internet Society) and addressed how data is giving rise to a new economy.

This session was moderated by Ms Maarit Palovirta (Senior Manager Regional Affairs Europe, Internet Society) and addressed how data is giving rise to a new economy. The impact of international data flows on economic growth has been larger than that of traditionally traded goods. Favourable policy and regulation can enable the data economy to increase even more in Europe and elsewhere. 

Mr Levan Kobakhidze (Chief Digital Officer, Beeline Georgia) emphasised that competition in the data-driven world is global. Currently, there are 2.5 billion digital costumers around the world. Almost 2 billion customers transact through mobile devices. These customers have different usage behaviour patterns compared to traditional customers, and that has an impact on the telecom industry, which has had a tough time. Telecoms are declining in revenue because customers use much less traditional calls and sms. Customers migrated these services to the Internet. Telecoms have reacted to that in four different ways: (1) analysing customers’ data usage to improve their offer; (2) creating their own personal Internet platform; (3) providing free apps in cooperation with various industries, such as entertainment and food discounts; (4) re-marketing, using chat bots to have direct contact with the clients. 

Mr Pearse O’Donohue (Director for Future Networks, Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission) stressed that the free flow of data is essential for the data-driven economy and that the primary target of the European Commission (EC) has been to ensure that the European single market and the European Economic Area are one single data space. There are still restrictions and localisation requirements of different degrees, but the legal proposal which is at the final stage of negotiation would seek to remove the possibility for Member States to impose data localisation requirements, except in the very extreme cases of national security. Europe has to ensure a certain degree of transparency, openness and fairness in the relationship between platforms, particularly when they hold a dominant position in the market. The EC has been reluctant to regulate in this area, but it wants to ensure a level playing field. There are competition rules that could come into force in extreme cases. Businesses need to co-operate and help institutions to tackle abuse. The European Union has been accused of protectionism in introducing the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), but these rules aim to protect the personal data of the citizens, even if they pose some barriers. 

Ms Martina Ferracane (Research Associate, European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) and Cyber Fellow, Columbia University) mentioned that the restriction of data flows is one of the main challenges to the digital economy, because it fragments the Internet. According to Ferracane, developing and developed countries have been restricting data flows and imposing increasing restrictions to the movement of data in four different ways: 1. Bans to transfer data across borders; 2. Local processing requirements; 3. Local storage; 4. Conditional flows. 

Ferracane stated that digitisation is threatening and transforming jobs. Investments in education should be made so that everyone can benefit from the digital economy. Redistribution is also an essential aspect of the transition to the digital economy, ensuring that people who are going to be left behind are supported. 

Ms Piret Urb (Counsellor, Division of International Organization, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Estonia) said that it is a challenge for governments to foster citizens’ trust in relation to the usage of personal data. The Estonian government has done a lot to gain its citizens’ trust. The data that the state has on its people is also visible to them on their ID cards. It gives the citizens ‘control’ over their personal data, because they are aware of what the states has in terms of information. Estonia has also recently created the innovative e-residency programme. 

Mr Jean Gonié (Group Director Public Policy, VEON) stressed that sustainable growth depends on a level playing field in terms of data usage. The understanding of the data value chain, the way that data is collected, stored and analysed by lawmakers, is necessary to achieve sustainable economic goals.  

Ilona Stadnik

At the beginning of the session, the moderator of the workshop, Ms Jacqueline Eggenschwiler (Member, EURALO Individuals’ Association), asked the audience to use the Mentimeter online tool to express their views on the most engaged stakeholders in the norm-building process. 

The word cloud showed the prominence of the tech community, the private sector and civil society. The co-moderator, Ms Tatiana Tropina (Senior Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law), noticed that this word cloud reflects people’s aspirations, rather than the real situation. 

Dr Wolfgang Kleinwächter (Member, Global Commission for the Stability of Cyberspace)continued by providing background information regarding the history of the emergence of cyber-norms. He noted that strong regulation would stifle innovation and development, but that it is necessary to stick to certain rules in cyberspace. In addition, governments cannot control cyberspace due to their lack of or limited technological knowledge, especially for attribution issues. Government have now ‘opened the door a little bit to the private sector’. However, the negotiation of legally binding norms is the states’ prerogative. 

Mr Maarten Botterman (Member, Board of Directors, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)) reflected on the role of industry and soft norms. Industry has its own interest to participate in norm-making, thus allowing their market to flourish. In so doing, industry sometimes develops soft norms to keep each other under self-regulation. As for civil society, ‘they may stimulate industry to come to norms, they may stimulate states to come to agreements, but they don't set the norms themselves’.

Mr Christoph Steck (Director Public Policy & Internet, Telefonica)provided several understandings of a norm: 1) Legal norms as regulation; 2) Self-regulation, when a particular stakeholder sets the norms of behaviour and adheres to them;  3) Co-regulation, when a third party (governments for instance) act as supervisors for self-regulating norms; and 4) Security standards for manufacturers and producers.

Ms Nata Goderdzishvili (Head of Legal Department, GeorgianData Exchange Agency) spoke from the government perspective and expressed skepticism regarding Microsoft’s proposal of a Digital Geneva Convention. ‘Big multinational companies can dictate international conventions… of course private companies have a big role in setting and applying specific standards, but it is the states who should agree on [standards]’. She noted that states have made good progress in cyber norm-building despite some failures, such as the UN Group of Governmental Experts (UN GGE) in 2017.

Ms Dominique Lazanski (Public Policy Director, GSMA)highlighted the issue of discrepancy in adopting cyber norms by certain countries, thus leading to a division in ‘western norms’ and ‘non-western norms’, so that ‘two different states are likely to be operating under their separate definitions of norms’. She mentioned, inter alia, the importance of information sharing during cyber-attacks, and the need for multistakeholder participation in the response to and mitigation of the attacks.

Jana Mišić

This session was part of the EuroDIG educational track and was moderated by Mr Arvin Kamberi (Multimedia Coordination, DiploFoundation). The goal of the session was to explain the basics of blockchain technology.

Participants who wanted to discuss more complex issues around this technology were invited to follow the plenary session, 'Blockchain – a competition to governments?'.

Mr Walid Al-Saqaf (Senior Lecturer, Södertörn University) explained in a simplified way, how blockchain technology works and why it is seen as revolutionary. The Internet has three main characteristics: it is decentralised, transparent (because the TCP/IP protocols are open source), and it is secure (we are confident that our data packets will be delivered along the network). These attributes allow us to communicate globally and on a massive scale. However, in the current system, when we send data via intermediaries, the content becomes duplicated. Blockchain technology does not allow for this duplication. Al-Saqaf stressed that blockchain is revolutionary because it allows for a decentralised, open, peer-to-peer (P2P) communication in which packages travel from one owner to the other directly. On a blockchain network, every transaction operates on the distributed application architecture and is recorded on the distributed ledger. 'No one can change the ledger records without the consensus of the whole network', Al-Saqaf noted. He reminded the audience that bitcoin is just one of the applications running on blockchain.

After the simplified explanation of how blockchain works, the audience participated in an interactive game that showcased how blocks inside a chain are created. Eight volunteers from the audience acted as 'miners' and block creators. They monitored all transactions and ensured the validity of the distributed ledger. Their trading currency was 'chocolate coins'. Through a series of transfers of the coin, the audience learned why blockchain is tamper-proof. 

Following the simulation, Mr Jörn Ergbuth (Blockchain and Data Protection Consultant) explained the system of smart contracts. Ergbuth noted that although there is no clear definition of the term, it has some main characteristics. Smart contracts are automated, online, secure, and always part of a code. The question is therefore, can code be law? According to Ergbuth, the essence of contracts is the mutually valid agreement, written in an understandable language, and smart contracts can be law. The benefit of smart contracts is that the ledger on blockhain is transparent, and the transaction is received, stored, and transferred once the transaction is confirmed and executed. Ergbuth also highlighted that smart contracts are small scripts on blockchain that can be used to do a series of contracts. Furthermore, smart contracts change over time and are still not perfectly developed. This raises the question for the multistakeholder model on how to govern smart contracts, and potentially, whether a central authority can be established to control their development and execution. Other open questions for smart contracts involve regulation, dispute resolution, privacy, and mediating their attractiveness for criminal business. 

Jana Mišić

This educational track provided basic training on how the Domain Name System (DNS) works, by explaining who governs it and how it operates, and why it is important for the wider debates in the Internet governance ecosystem.

The session was led by Mr Peter Van Roste (General Manager at the Council of European National Top-Level Domain Registries, (CENTR)) and Ms Alexandrine Gauvin (Communications Manager, CENTR).

Gauvin introduced CENTR as a forum for information exchange and dialogue among the country code top-level domain name (ccTLD) registries in Europe. Education and raising awareness about the DNS are important aspects of CENTR's work. She began the session by noting that the Internet is governed by the multistakeholder approach which gathers input from businesses, civil society, governments, research institutions, and non-governmental organisations. 

Van Roste started off by explaining how data traffic travels along the network. Every device has an Internet Protocol (IP) address which is assigned to the it. The Public Technical Identifiers (PTI), which is part of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), manages the IP addresses globally, and allocates address pools to Regional Internet Registries (RIRs). The regional address pool in Europe is coordinated by the RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC). Van Roste further explained the difference between a static IP and a dynamic one (every device gets a new IP address when it connects to the network). He also noted the different IP versions now in use: IP version 4 (IPv4) and IP version 6 (IPv6). Since there is only a scarce number of IP addresses that can be assigned, the newer version provides for more combinations and thus for more devices to be online. However, the older IPv4 is still more used globally than the IPv6.

Van Roste further explained the concept of top-level domains (TLDs) and the two main types: ccTLDs, such as .de for Germany or .ge for Georgia, which are managed locally and serve local communities; Generic top-level domains (gTLDs), such as .com or .org, which are managed by registries on the basis of contracts concluded with ICANN. 

Several main characteristics of the DNS were mentioned – decentralisation, hierarchy, stability, and layers. The DNS is hierarchical as it is organised in several layers that communicate with each other. For example, we have the rootzone maintainer (ex. PTI), the relevant TLD and its registry and registrars (ex. .eu and the EURid registry), and on the last level, the domain name registrant (ex. the European Commission as a domain name registrant for ). 

Van Roste expressed his support for the ICANN multistakeholder model, in which every stakeholder group has a voice. Reference was made to the so-called ‘Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA) stewardship transition’, a process that led to the creation of a multistakeholder oversight model for the PTI (as opposed to the previous model in which ICANN managed the DNS on the basis of a contract with the US government).

It was also noted that the founding fathers of the Internet established the technical layer in such a way that neither a single organisation such as ICANN, nor the multistakeholder model, would decide about country codes. When it comes to the allocation of country codes to countries or territories, ICANN follows decisions takes at the United Nations level, and does not decide itself what constitute a country or a territory. 

The two last points of the education track highlighted that most users globally do not know how this vital Internet component works, since it has for the last 30 years worked seamlessly. There was also a discussion on the practice of DNS blocking as a content policy measure. For example, in case of a court order or a governmental decision to prohibit access to certain websites, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are asked to re-direct users from the blocked websites to other webpage indicating the reason for the blocked access. This practice cannot fully stop users from finding another way to access those websites, but it can cause distrust in the DNS and Internet services. This is why DNS blocking is not a proper solution and should only be used as a last resort mechanism, it was argued. The DNS relies on the trust of the users, and Van Roste invited the audience to learn more about this core component which makes the Internet as we know it today.

Adriana Minović

Ms Claudia Luciani (Director of Democratic Governance and Anti-Discrimination, Council of Europe) opened the session by presenting the big picture about human rights and the challenges that new technologies are bringing.

She explained how the Council of Europe is dealing with these challenges in key areas: democracy, rule of law, and human rights. She referred to numerous mechanisms such as the programme for digital citizenship education, which aims to enable pupils to make informed choices. The Budapest Convention on Cybercrime is also an important mechanism that preserves the rule of law, by enabling trans-border access to data between authorities, while respecting data protection principles. Moreover, with its recommendations, guidelines, and Convention 108, the Council is addressing the new challenges that could jeopardise human rights, such as algorithms. 

Ms Nadia Tjahja (Steering Committee Member, Youth Coalition of Internet Governance, as moderator, emphasised that the focus of this session should be on information disorder, which goes beyond fake news. Here we should speak about misinformation, mal-information and disinformation, and how we can address these phenomena and whether there are effective remedies to do so. 

Mr Paolo Cesarini (Head of the Unit, Media Convergence and Social Media, Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission (EC)) reflected on the EC’s view on information disorder as a somewhat narrow category, focusing on disinformation. The key element in this view is the harm that can be caused to democracies as well as public policies. There is also the question of how to avoid information pollution when the nature of the Internet is such that everybody should be able to express their views. Since this phenomenon is evolving and promotion mechanisms will change, transparency should be one of the most important mechanisms. This transparency should refer to the flow of money that finances this information, political advertising, human versus automatic interaction, as well as the sources of this information in order to enable the user to recognise trustworthy sources. To cope with this phenomenon, resources will be required in order to promote media literacy, to support grass-root organisations, and for fact checkers to develop best practices for all groups of citizens. 

Moving forward, Ms Ana Kakalashvili (Analyst, Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information) addressed the regulatory attempts of governments to cope with fake news. Through highlighting examples of some countries, she raised the question of whether strict regulation is the right answer. Regulations in the area of free speech, that are not carefully designed, are even more dangerous than the very problem that they should solve. This is especially the case in countries with young democracies. In the end, she made a distinction betwen propaganda and fake news, by stating that propaganda requires different treatment and official recognition as such. 

Mr Patrick Penninckx (Head of Department, Information Society, Council of Europe) started with the question of trust and trusted information. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, the media is the least trusted institution. People are not able to recognise the difference between rumors and real journalism, and the number of people who trust social media as source of information is growing. Along with that, there is a current trend of people reading less and less. Even though the media has specific roles in this process, especially in regard to providing high quality journalism, it is also important to debunk disinformation not just by the media, but by all other stakeholders.

Ms Tamar Kintsurashvili (Executive Director, Media Development Foundation), who teaches propaganda research methods at the Ilia State University, stated that the problem is much wider than fake news or information disorder, because propaganda is part of hybrid warfare. This problem in not only present in countries with an undermined democracy, but also in democratic countries (for example in the case of elections). In order to properly address the issue, we need a collaborative approach, but also to regain trust and preserve the quality of media. 

Ms Clara Sommier (Public Policy Analyst, Google) explained how Google and YouTube are trying to address disinformation issues, and how so far, they have designed five different mechanisms. First, they are trying to promote quality and trustworthy content. Second, it is important to cut money flows, by disabling the advertising option for platforms that mislead users. Moreover, they work on empowering users via fact checking of tags. They have dedicated funds to supporting an industry that is working on innovative solutions to tackle this problem, such as via machine learning, as well as to support the press via a subscription option. 

At the end of the session, Ms Jutta Croll (Project Manager and Chairwoman, Digital Opportunities Foundation) concluded with a brief message in which she reflected on the concept of information disorder, its motives to harm democracy, and questioned whether regulatory mechanisms are an effective remedy.

Ilona Stadnik

The plenary session opened with a presentation of the Tusheti development project introduced by Mr Rati Kochlamazashvili (Executive Director of Tusheti Development Fund). The goal of the project was to provide Internet access to Tusheti, a remote northeastern region in Georgia.

The implementation involved a range of stakeholders, from governmental agencies to the local community, Internet services providers (ISPs) and international investors, thus proving the viability of a multistakeholder approach for the development issues.

Ms Mercy Tembon (Regional Director for the South Caucasus, Europe and Central Asia, The World Bank) praised the Georgian government on its successful efforts in digital development.  She went on to highlight the main areas in which the World Bank is partnering with the government of Georgia, theprivate sector,and civil society in supporting the expansion of broadband Internet. First, with the supportthey offer the government in defining a new national broadband development strategy to create theachievable targets and competitive market that will deliver wider coverage and more affordable prices to more Georgians. Second, with thefinancingof the Geni projecta programme which will complement and build on the examples like Tusheti, through the Georgian national innovation ecosystem. Third,withbuildingpotential partnerships which catalyse private investments to promote the emerging and independent operators of shared infrastructure, for example, data centres and telecom towers.

Mr Giorgi Cherkezishvili (Deputy Ministerof Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia) talked about governmental efforts: In 2016, they started the development of the broadband infrastructure in the country and established a dedicated agency for the rural areas with a lower population rate (less than 200 people per territory), something that is not commercially viable and is of no interest to the private sector. He stressed that ‘it’s important for the government to support, to promote and to create a demand to give a chance to all members of the society’.  

Mr Michal Boni (Member of European Parliament) focused on the importance of building a new digital literacy for overcoming the digital gap. The youth, as well as the elderly, need to be ready, equipped with digital skills, for new workplaces. Moreover, he pointed out that it is necessary to show to people the new digital public services, such as healthcare, and the opportunities that the Internet and new information and communications technology (ICT) tools bring for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). These will contribute to creating a demand for the access too.

Mr Raúl Echeberría (Vice President Global Engagement, Internet Society) noted that there is a huge gap in the opportunities enjoyed by people that are already connected, and those that are not yet connected, and that the world is working under the assumption that everyone is connected.‘We need to find a complementary strategy for connecting the people, and the community network approach is just one of those things that we can do’. It is not enough to just connect wires to the rural villages. He said that we need to work together with the people in those villages to find in what ways they can take advantage of this technology to improve their lives. Finally, Echeberria said that the regulatory and legal frameworks should be catalysers, not obstacles, for the development of access.

Ms Marta Capelo Gaspar (Director of Public Policy, European Telecommunications Network Operators) talked about the scarce resources for investing in development projects. ’We need to see that the revenue of the telecom companies is a good thing because of the increasing competition. But then, because of lots of regulations their capacity to invest has gone down.  And the resources of public states are also not unlimited. So, we really need to see how we can increase the reach of the traditional investors as well.’ In the end, she distinguished three main points to boost the investments from telecom operators – technology neutrality, promotion of all investments models, and a administrative cost reduction for all.  

Mr Melle Tiel Groenestege (Digital Policy Advisor, VEON) acknowledged that his company could have done more concerning the connectivity issue, and that they should learn how to expand their small pilot projects to a global operational level. He talked about his experience with companies partnering to provide connectivity in rural areas of Italy, reducing the final cost of Internet connection, thus making the access sustainable for the local population.

[Update] DiploFoundation and the Geneva Internet Platform will be actively involved in the meeting. Diplo staff members will participate as speakers and moderators in several sessions, and a team of GIP rapporteurs is preparing session messages and reports. The messages are available on the EuroDIG wiki, and the session reports will be published on this page during and after the event. Read more about our engagement.

The 11th annual meeting of the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) will take place on 5-6 June 2018 in Tbilisi, Georgia. EuroDIG 2018 will be hosted by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.

EuroDIG is an open, multistakeholder platform to exchange views about the Internet and how it is governed. Under the theme 'Innovative strategies for our digital future', representatives of governments, intergovernmental organisations, the private sector, the technical community, and civil society will come together to discuss public policy issues related to Internet governance. The two-day event will tackle issues such as access and literacy, development of the Internet governance ecosystem, human rights, innovation and economic issues, media and content, security and crime, technical and operational issues.

The meeting will be preceded by the Youth Dialogue on Internet Governance (YouthDIG), an initiative dedicated to preparing young people for their participation in EuroDIG.

Registration for the event is currently available

For more information, visit the event website.



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