Digital Watch newsletter - Issue 46 - January 2020

Digital policy developments in January 2020

Digital policy is constantly evolving to keep pace with technological and geopolitical developments: the landscape is packed with new initiatives, evolving regulatory frameworks, and new legislation and court judgments.

In the Digital Watch observatory we decode, contextualise, and analyse these developments, offering a digestible yet authoritative update on the complex world of digital policy. The monthly barometer tracks and compares the issues to reveal new trends and to allow them to be understood relative to those of previous months. The following is a summarised version; read more about each one by clicking the hyperlinks, or by visiting the Updates section on the observatory.


Global IG architecture

increasing relevance


E-commerce and Internet economy

increasing relevance

The USA and China signed the ‘phase one’ trade deal, expected to de-escalate their ongoing trade war.

New EU rules on consumer protection in the digital economy came into force.

Uber will cease operating in Colombia from 31 January. In California, the company made a number of changes to its app in response to a new law pertaining to the status of platform workers.

Canada issued guidance for cryptocurrency exchanges.



same relevance

Damage to undersea cables disrupted Internet services across parts of Africa and the Middle East.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed a fund to bridge the rural digital divide.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the California Attorney General asked for additional time to review the .org sale proposal.


Net neutrality

decreasing relevance

India’s telecom regulator issued a consultation paper on Internet traffic management, among other things.


New technologies (IoT, AI, etc.)

same relevance

Policy discussions in Geneva

Each month Geneva hosts a diverse range of policy discussions in various forums. The following updates cover the main events in January. For event reports, visit the Past Events section on the GIP Digital Watch observatory.


IGF 2020 First Open Consultations and MAG Meeting | 14–16 January 2020

Discussions during the first round of open consultations and MAG meeting of the IGF 2020 cycle focused on issues related to the structure and programme of the 15th IGF meeting (to be held on 2–6 November 2020 in Katowice, Poland). Three thematic tracks were proposed for IGF 2020: data, inclusion, and trust, with the additional themes of environmental sustainability/climate change and the digital economy also likely to be accommodated in the programme in one way or another. Other points on the agenda included the timeline for the traditional call for workshop proposals, the continuation of the 2019 best practice forums, and the further integration of national and regional IGF initiatives in the IGF 2020 programme.


Geneva Blockchain Congress | 20 January 2020

The second Geneva Blockchain Congress was titled ‘From laboratory to market via ethics, regulation and governance’. It brought together international standard-setting bodies, governmental representatives, and private companies for a full day of discussions on issues such as blockchain applications in e-identity and e-voting, and the use of ledger technology in the fight against illicit trade and counterfeiting activities. Of particular interest were issues related to the governance of blockchain and the emerging trends related to stablecoins and CBDCs.


How to Govern Digital Interdependence - Geneva Day at the World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos | 21 January 2020

Hosted by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Geneva Day featured a series of high-level events dedicated to connecting leaders in attendance at the WEF in Davos with Geneva-based global governance institutions. The panel ‘How to Govern Digital Interdependence’ addressed the interplay among governments, businesses, and the various professions in the digital realm. The session also saw discussion of the Digital Trust Label and the formal launch of the Swiss Digital Initiative Foundation.


5th Geneva Engage Awards | 29 January 2020

The annual Geneva Engage Awards recognise excellence in social media and online engagement activities in the International Geneva community. This year’s winners were: the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (International Organisations category), The New Humanitarian (Non-governmental Organisations and Associations), and the Permanent Mission of Norway (Permanent Representations to the UN in Geneva). Also recognised was the IGF’s innovative and effective use of digital technologies in conducting meetings.


Geneva Seminar: Joint Statement Initiative on Electronic Commerce | 29 January 2020

Organised by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and CUTS International, the seminar explored the history of and recent developments in the exploratory talks and subsequent negotiations among a group of 71 World Trade Organization (WTO) member states on electronic commerce (following two joint statements issued in December 2017 and January 2019). The event offered Geneva-based delegates from developing and least-developed nations an opportunity to discuss the implications of these talks and negotiations for their countries.


Issue 46 of the Digital Watch newsletter, published on 31 January 2020 by the Geneva Internet Platform and DiploFoundation | Contributors: Katarina Anđelković, Andrijana Gavrilović, Jovan Kurbalija, Marília Maciel, Nataša Perućica, Vladimir Radunović, Sorina Teleanu | Editing: Abe Davies | Design: Aleksandar Nedeljkov, Viktor Mijatović, and Mina Mudrić, Diplo’s CreativeLab. Get in touch:

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