Digital Watch newsletter - Issue 25 - October 2017

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IG Barometer for October

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

same relevance

Countering terrorist content was a special focus of the G7 Interior Ministers’ meeting (Ischia, Italy, 19‒20 October). The ministers discussed the issue with representatives of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, and agreed that the private sector should find solutions for removing content within 1‒2 hours. The G7 also committed to 'explore the design and implementation of a global law enforcement platform, hosted by Interpol' to investigate terrorist content. This was the first time that the Internet industry was invited to a G7 meeting.

Sustainable development

same relevance

In a joint meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and Second Committee of the UN General Assembly, the UN Deputy Secretary-General warned that despite profound potential for accelerating progress on the SDGs, technology risks exacerbating existing inequalities if technological progress is not managed well.


increasing relevance

A new ransomware, Bad Rabbit, spread around the globe using the help of a leaked NSA exploit exposed by a hacking group, security researchers confirmed.

A new report has said that 'basic IT security' could have prevented British hospitals from being attacked by the WannaCry ransomware outbreak in May. Meanwhile, the British security minister said that ‘it was widely believed in the community and across a number of countries’ that North Korea was behind WannaCry.

Yahoo! has confirmed that all 3 billion accounts were hacked in 2013. Last December, the company had said that data from over 1 billion accounts were compromised back then; this month’s confirmation triples the number of the largest breach in history.

The security protocol used to protect the majority of Wi-Fi connections around the world – known as the WPA2 protocol ‒ has been broken.

E-commerce and Internet economy

increasing relevance

Several countries have tabled a number of papers in preparation for the 11th Ministerial Conference (MC11) of the WTO, taking place in December, in Buenos Aires. Read our analysis on page 7.

Russia is proposing a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency. Concerns with money laundering and tax evasion are the main reasons for the proposed regulation, which is expected to be introduced by the end of the year. In Ukraine, a new proposal aims to legalise all cryptocurrency transactions in the country.

At a meeting of the European Council, EU leaders agreed that companies needed to pay their fair share of taxes, and referred to the need for a global level playing field ‘in line with the work currently underway at the OECD’. This is considered a setback for the French President, who is planning to secure an EU agreement on revenue tax, independent of the OECD. Meanwhile, the OECD has received public comments on new international tax rules. The comments will contribute to an interim report, to be launched in April 2018 at the G20 Finance Ministers' meeting.

The European Commission has found that Luxembourg provided illegal tax benefits to Amazon of around €250 million. The company needs to repay the sum as back taxes. It is expected to appeal.

Following a decision by Transport for London not to renew Uber’s licence in the UK capital, the company has filed an appeal, which is expected to take months to be decided. In Norway, Uber decided to suspend its unlicensed service UberPOP in Oslo, to give time for new regulations to be introduced in the country.

Digital rights

same relevance

The pan-European data regulator, the Article 29 Working Party (WP29), has set up a taskforce to tackle concerns over user data sharing by Facebook and WhatsApp. Meanwhile, the regulator issued new guidelines on personal data breach notification under the GDPR.

The Dutch registries for .amsterdam and .frl gTLDs have decided not to provide public access to Whois records containing information about the registrants of domain names, as this would go against Dutch privacy law.

Cameroon faced another Internet shutdown amid renewed protests in its Anglophone regions.

Jurisdiction and legal issues

increasing relevance

The US Supreme Court has decided to review Microsoft’s search warrant case, while Ireland's High Court announced it would ask the CJEU to determine whether the Standard Contractual Clauses introduced in the EU-US Privacy Shield provided enough data protection to European users.

In Australia, Google lost its appeal of an Australian court decision which held that Google had defamed a user by 'publishing defamatory material about her in its search results'. Once Google was notified with a request to remove the defamatory material from its search results, it was dutybound to act within a reasonable time.

London is planning a new cyber court to tackle cybercrime and fraud in the financial sector.


same relevance

North Korea established a new Internet connection via the Russian TransTeleCom’s network, which now handles around 60% of North Korea’s traffic. Until now, the country was connected to the global Internet solely through China Unicom.

The ICANN Board has issued a new resolution on .amazon, asking the Governmental Advisory Committee whether it has any new or additional information regarding its previous advice that the applications for .amazon should not proceed.

Net neutrality

same relevance

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) has announced new initiatives on net neutrality. It decided to develop a net neutrality opt-in measurement tool, to be used by national regulatory authorities (NRAs) and end-users to measure the quality of Internet access services. It also adopted a net neutrality regulatory assessment methodology, aimed to assist NRAs in monitoring and supervising the implementation of the Open Internet Regulation.

The Federal Network Agency in Germany decided that Deutsche Telekom’s StreamOn service partially violates net neutrality rules, since the company does not treat video and audio services equally in consumers’ mobile phone tariffs.

New technologies (IoT, AI, etc.)

increasing relevance

Estonia is working on legislation aimed to address the legal status of AI systems.

An independent report commissioned by the UK government outlines recommendations to transform the UK into ‘the best place in the world for businesses developing and deploying AI to start, grow, and thrive’.

The United Arab Emirates has launched an AI strategy and appointed a State Minister for Artificial Intelligence. In its second annual report, the AI Now Institute at the New York University has called for more accountability in AI systems.

In its Policy Principles on AI, the Information Technology Industry Council advises governments to ‘use caution before adopting new laws, regulations, or taxes that may inadvertently or unnecessarily impede the responsible development and use of 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.

Launch of the Information Economy Report 2017

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) launched its Information Economy Report 2017: Digitalization, Trade and Development, at the Palais de Nations, in Geneva, on 3 October, 2017. The report looks at the trends in digitalisation and examines how information and communication technologies (ICTs) are impacting global trade and development. In addition, by providing data and statistics, the report aims to encourage policymakers to engage in evidence-based discussions on this topic, and to adopt legal frameworks adapted to changes in digitalisation. The report’s measurements of the digital economy point to its fast growth, especially within developing countries, but there are still major digital divides that need to be factored in. As such, it was noted during the event that, to tackle trade, development, and digitalisation issues, the dialogue between trade and Internet governance communities needs to be strengthened, and coordination needs to be improved across stakeholders.

UNCTAD Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-Commerce and the Digital Economy – First Session

The group’s first meeting took place from 4 to 6 October, in Geneva. In a context in which the digitalisation of economic activities and trade becomes increasingly relevant to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs), UNCTAD brought together governments and experts from international organisations and the non-government sector to discuss how developing countries can harness the benefits of e-commerce. The meeting also touched on the importance of strengthening physical and technology infrastructure in developing regions and of developing partnerships between developed and developing countries. Warnings about the disruptive potential of platforms on the economy and on labour standards were also advanced by some experts.

Can We Put Artificial Intelligence at the Service of Mankind?

The lecture, delivered by economist Jacques Attali at the closing of the 2017 Latsis Universitaires Prizes ceremony, focused on whether and how humanity can put AI at its service. Attali identified several shortcomings of AI, some of which not only stand as future pitfalls, but can already be observed (such as the impact of AI on the labour market). Maintaining that AI should be put ‘at the service of humanity’, Attali then enumerated the many ways in which this could be done in areas such as medicine, security, and even policymaking. He finished with a warning: despite the benefits of AI, humanity should not forego the task of developing its own intelligence, individually and collectively.

ITU-T Focus Group on Application of Distributed Ledger Technology: First Meeting

Held on 17–19 October, the first meeting of this group set up by the International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) was dedicated to identifying and analysing distributed ledger technology-based applications and services; drawing up best practices and guidance which support the implementation of those applications and services on a global scale; and proposing a way forward for related standardisation work in the  ITU-T study groups. The contributions focused on horizontal relevance use cases (data access control, security, and identity management) and vertical, industry-specific environments such as telecoms, fintech, energy, and supply chain management as high-priority. Four working groups were established: (1) State of the art: ecosystem, terminology & definitions, concepts; (2) Applications & services; (3) Technology reference framework; (4) Policy reference framework.

Geneva Digital Talks tackling technology, jurisdiction, and cybersecurity

Digital governance solutions for cybersecurity, and overcoming policy silos are among the aims of the newly launched Geneva Digital Talks, an initiative of the Canton of Geneva, digitalswitzerland, and the Geneva Internet Platform. They were launched on 12 October, with a panel discussion on the benefits of a multidisciplinary approach to cybersecurity.

The talks will contribute towards finding inclusive and sustainable digital governance solutions by encouraging the participation of Geneva-based organisations in global cyber discussions. Events discussing technology, policy, prevention, and jurisdiction in relation to cybersecurity are coming up in November:

Issue no. 25 of the Geneva Digital Watch newsletter, published on 31 October 2017, by the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP) and DiploFoundation. Contributors: Stephanie Borg Psaila, Guilherme Cooper Vicente, Jovan Kurbalija, Virginia Paque, Marilia Maciel, Adriana Minović, Roxana Radu, Vladimir Radunović, Barbara Rosen Jacobson, Sorina Teleanu | Design by Viktor Mijatović, layout by Aleksandar Nedeljkov, Diplo’s CreativeLab