Digital Watch newsletter - Issue 36 - November 2018

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IG Barometer for November

The monthly Internet Governance Barometer of Trends tracks specific Internet governance issues in the public policy debate, and reveals focal trends by comparing the issues every month. The barometer determines the presence of specific IG issues in comparison to the previous month. Learn more about each update.

Global IG architecture

increasing relevance

During Paris Peace Week, French President Emmanuel Macron launched the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, a high-level declaration on developing common principles for securing cyberspace.

Facebook and Google have signed Tim Berners-Lee’s Contract for the Web, which appeals to governments, companies, and netizens to improve Internet accessibility, privacy, and confidentiality of user data, and to keep the Internet free and safe.

Sustainable development

same relevance

During the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference (ITU-PP18), member states approved a revised resolution on the use of ICTs to bridge the digital divide. The ITU is to continue its task of preparing indicators for measuring the digital divide, collecting statistical data, and measuring the impact of ICTs.

The OECD’s latest report on Bridging the Digital Gender Divide: Include, Upskill, Innovate reconfirms that women have less access to technology, services, and educational opportunities in information technology than men.


increasing relevance

Two new resolutions on cybersecurity issues – one proposed by Russia  and one by the USA,  – have been adopted by the First Committee of the UN GA.

The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC) has proposed six new norms for state and non-state behaviour in cyberspace.  According to its Commissioners, the GCSC may still work on the development of a few additional norms, but will now put more focus on exploring ways to steer other processes with its proposed norms.

The EU has updated its cyber defence policy framework, which now identifies six priority areas, such as the the development of cyber defence capabilities, promoting civil-military co-operation and international co-operation, and developing research and technology capacities.

E-commerce and Internet economy

same relevance

The workforce landscape is changing with the gig economy, and traditional social protection systems may no longer be adequate, according to a new OECD study. New rules for the gig economy are expected in the UK, while in Australia, the Fair Work Commission ruled that a driver for a food delivery company was an employee, and not an independent contractor.

Economic ministers at the 33rd ASEAN Summit agreed on new e-commerce rules that aim to facilitate cross-border transactions and promote confidence in the use of e-commerce.

The fourth largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin Cash, which emerged from a Bitcoin fork in August 2017, has split further, following a dispute over its consensus mechanisms. Visa will be deploying a blockchain-based digital identity system for cross-border payments.

Digital rights

increasing relevance

The UN GA’s Third Committee adopted a resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age, which calls on states to prevent privacy violations, and on businesses to inform users ‘in an intelligible and easily accessible’ manner about the collection, use, sharing, and retention of their data (including biometrics) that may affect their right to privacy.

Freedom House's report Freedom on the Net 2018: The Rise Of Digital Authoritarianism shows that Internet freedom has declined for the eighth consecutive year.

Facebook announced it will appeal the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office’s fine over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Google’s takeover of UK-based AI lab Deepmind has raised concerns over the company’s future access to patients’ health data collected from UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

Jurisdiction and legal issues

increasing relevance

Parliamentarians from countries forming part of the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News have signed a declaration on the Principles of the Law Governing the Internet.

France has reached an agreement with Facebook to allow government officials to monitor the company’s hate speech policies and removal procedures.

An Indian High Court ruled that an e-commerce platform is liable for counterfeit goods sold on its platform, even though the items are sold by third parties.


increasing relevance

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has received approval by the USA’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to send over 7000 very low Earth-orbit satellites to provide global Internet connectivity from space.

A resolution on self-driving cars by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) makes several recommendations for automated driving systems and their users.

Net neutrality

decreasing relevance

AT&T CEO is urging the US Congress to pass net neutrality laws in order to avoid a patchwork of state legislation.

US senators have asked major wireless carriers for a written statement regarding throttling of video services.

New technologies (IoT, AI, etc.)

increasing relevance

Countries announce new AI plans. Malta has established a task force to develop a national strategy on AI. The aim is 'to position Malta among the top 10 countries in the world with an AI policy'. Germany will invest €3 billion in research and development by 2025. The UAE has established a lab to develop regulations that will govern the use and applications of AI, 3D printing, and other emerging technologies.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe calls on member states to evaluate the impact of algorithmic systems on human rights and fundamental freedoms.  A second document warns about the ‘manipulative capabilities’ of algorithmic processes, and the risks of using large amounts of personal data for such process.

The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights has called for more transparency around AI.

Geneva digital developments

Many policy discussions take place in Geneva every month. The following updates cover the main events of the month. For event reports, visit the Past Events section on the GIP Digital Watch observatory.

Expert workshop on the ‘Geneva Dialogue on Responsible Behaviour in Cyberspace’

The event took place on 1 and 2 November within the framework of the ‘Geneva Dialogue on Responsible Behaviour in Cyberspace’ project which analyses the roles and responsibilities of states, industry actors and civil society, and academic and tech communities in contributing to greater security and stability in cyberspace.

The discussion identified good practices and possible gaps in existing efforts and put forward recommendations for overcoming such gaps. The dialogue complements existing initiatives and aims to provide additional insights and recommendations on how different actors can contribute to greater stability and security in cyberspace.

The first in a series of webinar discussions on responsible behaviour in cyberspace was held before the workshop, with the remaining ones scheduled for the first half of December. A final report is expected to be published by the end of the year.

Cybermediation: The impact of digital technologies on the prevention and resolution of violent conflicts

The event took place on 7 November at the Palais des Nations within the context of the 2018 edition of Geneva Peace Week. It discussed how digital technologies impact mediators in their activities, exploring the opportunities these technologies offer and the risks they pose.

The event is part of the Cybermediation initiative, launched earlier in 2018, to respond to the fact that conflicts increasingly have cyber dimensions and to the need for those who work to prevent conflicts to catch up with this trend. In particular, the discussion tackled the application of AI, social media platforms, and the engagement of the private sector in peace mediation.

UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

The 7th edition of the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights took place on 26–28 November, and featured discussions on topics related to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' Framework.

The Forum addressed different technology-related issues, with specific events on disruptive technology, on the role of  tech companies in the protection of human rights, and on the application of blockchain to scale up the principle of due diligence. The two discussions on disruptive technology covered issues related to the protection of human rights in the context of the ongoing developments in automation and AI.

Other events addressed the responsibilities of the private sector in ensuring the protection of human rights and advocating for stronger public policy deliberations within governments. Finally, the use of blockchain was explored as an application to scale up human rights due diligence in the case scenarios of supply chains.

Public International Law Day 2018

The event, on 27 November, was organised by the Directorate of International Law of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs , in co-operation with the Geneva Internet Platform. It focused on the application of international law in cyberspace.

Digital transformation and cybersecurity featured as main topics of discussion. To achieve an inclusive, free, and stable digital environment as a paradigm of peace and security and respect for human rights, innovative approaches are needed to face these digital developments. The event addressed the current challenges posed by digital transformation and cybersecurity threats, with a multi-disciplinary approach involving perspectives from the foreign policy and diplomatic field, the technology field, and the legal field.

Issue no. 36 of the Digital Watch newsletter, published on 6 December 2018, by the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP) and DiploFoundation | Contributors: Stephanie Borg Psaila (Editor), Stefania Grottola, Đorđe Jančić, Marco Lotti, Grace Mutung’u, Nataša Perućica, Vladimir Radunović, Sorina Teleanu | Design by Viktor Mijatović, layout by Aleksandar Nedeljkov, Diplo’s CreativeLab