AI and Digital @ UNGA 78

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AI and Human Reporting from UN General Assembly 78

Last week, Diplo’s experts and AI system followed UN General Assembly 78 (UNGA 78). In this hybrid approach, we produced an overall summary of the UNGA General Debate and an in-depth analysis of inputs on AI and digital issues. Transcripts and analyses of national statements delivered at the UNGA are also available.

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AI and Digital Issues @ UNGA 78

Compared to 2022, this year UNGA brought a sharp rise in AI coverage in national statements. It reflected a growing public interest in AI, triggered mainly by the launch of ChatGPT.

In total, 94 speakers covered digital themes, including the Secretary-General of the UN, the Holy See, and the EU. Overall, digital technology-related discussions constituted 2.51% of all language corpus produced by UNGA 78 speeches.

AI was featured in 39 speeches made during UNGA 78. Leaders also explored topics such as digital development (44), cybersecurity (23), content policy (7), economic considerations (4), and human rights (6).  

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In addition to the gist of digital coverage in national statements, you can consult full texts of statements at the Digital Watch Observatory’s dedicated page.

AI and Expert Analysis

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AI at UNGA 78: The topic on everyone’s lips
Focus on the transformative potential of AI and the urgent need for global cooperation in dealing with AI risks, including lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). Read more.
artificial intelligence ai and machine learning ml
AI at UNGA 78: The topic on everyone’s lips
Focus on the transformative potential of AI and the urgent need for global cooperation in dealing with AI risks, including lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). Read more.
innovative business technology
Technologies at UNGA 78: Caution and optimism blended in discussions
Calls for responsible advancement and international cooperation to tackle tech-related challenges resonated throughout discussions. Read more.
innovative business technology
Technologies at UNGA 78: Caution and optimism blended in discussions
Calls for responsible advancement and international cooperation to tackle tech-related challenges resonated throughout discussions. Read more.
desktop flatlay laptop notebook pen and cash money lying on black background
Digital economy at UNGA 78: Growth and development
Discussion on digitalisation as a driver of economic growth and prosperity… Read more.
desktop flatlay laptop notebook pen and cash money lying on black background
Digital economy at UNGA 78: Growth and development
Discussion on digitalisation as a driver of economic growth and prosperity… Read more.
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Cybersecurity at UNGA 78: Leaders addressed the evolving threat landscape
Focus on cyber threats amplified by AI and other new technologies… Read more.
cybersecurity concept data protection digital technology there is padlock prominent shield left abstract circuit surrounding binary fractal code perspective design 1
Cybersecurity at UNGA 78: Leaders addressed the evolving threat landscape
Focus on cyber threats amplified by AI and other new technologies… Read more.
New SDGs Digital Transformation
Digital development at UNGA 78: Shaping the future through inclusion and capacity building
Highlighting the digital divide, inclusion, impact on climate change and supporting rights of future generations… Read more.
New SDGs Digital Transformation
Digital development at UNGA 78: Shaping the future through inclusion and capacity building
Highlighting the digital divide, inclusion, impact on climate change and supporting rights of future generations… Read more.
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Content governance at UNGA 78: Misinformation, disinformation and hate speech
The global surge of misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech, often amplified by AI and social media, poses a dire threat to social stability, democracy, and overall well-being… Read more.
fake news and misinformation concept image consisting of two internet cables on a laptop
Content governance at UNGA 78: Misinformation, disinformation and hate speech
The global surge of misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech, often amplified by AI and social media, poses a dire threat to social stability, democracy, and overall well-being… Read more.
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Human rights at UNGA 78: Calls for a human-centric digital future
Concerns over surveillance, calls for humanist traditions, and pleas for a human-centric tech approach resonated. Read more.
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Human rights at UNGA 78: Calls for a human-centric digital future
Concerns over surveillance, calls for humanist traditions, and pleas for a human-centric tech approach resonated. Read more.

More on UNGA 78

UNGA78 side
Governing AI for Humanity: The role of UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on AI
The event on Governing AI for Humanity focused on the role of AI in accelerating progress towards the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). Here is our AI-generated report. Read more.
UNGA78 side
Governing AI for Humanity: The role of UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on AI
The event on Governing AI for Humanity focused on the role of AI in accelerating progress towards the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). Here is our AI-generated report. Read more.
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Diplomatic and AI hallucinations: How can thinking outside the box help solve global problems? – Diplo
Diplomatic and AI hallucinations: How can thinking outside the box help solve global problems? Every September, the UNGA offers a unique lab for studying the Read more.
shutterstock 1660018615
Diplomatic and AI hallucinations: How can thinking outside the box help solve global problems? – Diplo
Diplomatic and AI hallucinations: How can thinking outside the box help solve global problems? Every September, the UNGA offers a unique lab for studying the Read more.

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Digital on Day 6 of UNGA78

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Digital on Day 6 of UNGA78: A digital revolution for development

Welcome to our daily coverage of the General Debate of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA). This summary provides a comprehensive overview of how digital issues were tackled during day three of discussions on 26 September 2023. For real-time updates and in-depth reports on UNGA78, follow our live coverage on the Digital Watch Observatory‘s dedicated page through DiploAI reports, written by our AI reporting tool. Stay tuned for the final summary and data analysis from the entire General Debate!

Development: Digital revolution to achieve SDGs

In his speech, India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, emphasised the transformative role of digital public infrastructure and the democratisation of technology as national objectives. Jaishankar highlighted the importance of digitally-enabled governance and delivery.

Secretary of Relations with States of the Holy See, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, emphasised that alongside technological advancement, there should be a parallel commitment to safeguarding our common home. He advocated for the responsible use of new technologies to combat the global crisis of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. Gallagher echoed the injustice that those contributing the least to pollution often bore the brunt of climate change’s adverse effects, i.e., developing countries. Hence, Gallagher stressed the urgency of taking action to protect the world we inhabit.

Tandi Dorji, Bhutan’s minister for foreign affairs, underscored countries’ willingness to engage constructively in preparing for the Summit of the Future. He also advocated for the work towards the elaboration of a Global Digital Compact, aimed at accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A notable achievement highlighted by Bhutan was the enactment of the National Digital Identity Act, making it the first nation worldwide to establish a legal framework for Self-Sovereign Identity, serving as a cornerstone for delivering digital services to its citizens.

Omar Hilale, chair of the delegation of Morocco, emphasised the necessity for international solidarity and cooperation in scientific research, particularly in areas such as AI, healthcare, energy transformation, and disaster management. Morocco called for the promotion of resilient societies through equity and social justice, underlining the importance of a multilateral system centred around the UN.

Damiano Beleffi, chair of the delegation of San Marino, focused on the significance of digital education and highlighted their support for the outcomes of the 2022 UN Transforming Education Summit. San Marino called upon member states to ensure the global spread of digitalisation, particularly in developing countries.

Stanley Kakubo, minister for foreign affairs of Zambia, drew attention to the potential of digital technology, particularly AI, to enhance citizens’ quality of life. They envisioned AI applications in healthcare and agriculture to bridge gaps. Zambia stressed the importance of forging alliances for technology development, sharing digital resources, and establishing regulations to promote social and economic development. They called for the responsible and ethical use of digital technologies to ensure information security and integrity. Zambia also urged support and investment in digital infrastructure and the provision of affordable devices and internet services, particularly in least developed countries.

Maldives’ Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Khaleel, provided an update on the country’s progress toward the 2030 Agenda, emphasising the pivotal role of physical and digital connectivity in achieving these goals. He noted that the country is undergoing a digital revolution with the proliferation of online education, telemedicine and e-payment systems, with the aim of bringing services closer to its citizens.

AI: Addressing ethical dilemmas

Many people are concerned about AI, noted Chair of the Delegation of Canada, Robert Rae, adding that Canadians are no exception. Minister for External Affairs of Cameroon, Lejeune Mbella Mbella, emphasised the need to confront this challenge, while Denis Ronaldo Moncada Colindres, minister for foreign affairs of Nicaragua, underscored the universal right for all people to benefit from the advancements in science and technology like AI, as technologies are fruits of human intelligence. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, minister for external affairs of India, further highlighted that the New Delhi G20 outcomes prioritise issues related to the responsible harnessing of AI.

Secretary of Relations with States of the Holy See, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, expressed the pressing need for serious ethical contemplation regarding the integration of supercomputer systems into daily life. Entrusting decisions about an individual’s life and future to algorithms is unacceptable, he stressed. This is also valid in the development of the use of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), Gallagher noted. 

The use of LAWS in armed conflicts must align with international humanitarian law, Gallagher stated and advocated for negotiations on a legally binding instrument to govern their use. Until such negotiations are concluded, the Holy See called for a moratorium on their deployment. Gallagher underscored the importance of ensuring meaningful human oversight in weapon systems, citing the unique capability of human beings to assess the ethical implications and responsibilities.

In the pursuit of addressing these challenges, the Holy See extended support for the establishment of an International Organization for Artificial Intelligence. Its mission would be to facilitate the exchange of scientific and technological information for peaceful purposes, promoting the common good and integral human development.

Security: Enhancing security in the digital world

Jamaica recognises the threat posed to peace and security in the digital space, Kamina Johnson Smith, minister for foreign affairs and foreign trade of Jamaica, noted. The country is actively working to enhance its domestic cybersecurity capabilities and is also involved in multilateral efforts to address cybersecurity issues. Additionally, she expressed Jamaica’s honour in leading the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) efforts towards the development of a UN Convention on Cybercrime.

Marc Hermanne Gninadoou Araba, chair of the delegation of Benin, acknowledged that addressing modern challenges, including cybersecurity, requires reforms supported by clear and resolute political determination.

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DW Weekly #129 – 25 September 2023

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Dear readers,

Momentum for a new international AI governance body under the UN is growing. Last week’s UN General Assembly debate showed that it’s a matter of when, not if. In other news, OpenAI was sued for copyright infringement again, while competition authorities kept busy with new AI principles, merger reviews, and antitrust practices.

Let’s get started.

Stephanie and the Digital Watch team


Countries worried about AI risks; UN ready to host global AI body

If you want to know which policies are top priority for any country’s leader, just go through their address during the UN General Assembly’s annual debate

As anticipated, more than one-third of country leaders who addressed last week’s debate (which concludes tomorrow) spoke about their concerns over AI risks. Failing to tackle the risks will undoubtedly spoil any benefits that AI has to offer.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who opened the debate, is urging new forms of governance for emerging threats. He’s been among the first to mention AI at the UN’s general debate; now, he says, it’s on everyone’s minds. And he’s right.

A global entity on AI. Guterres believes that a new UN agency might hold the key to effectively governing AI. In July, he told the UN Security Council that he welcomed calls from member states for the creation of a new UN body for AI, inspired by entities such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

Reiterating these models as inspiration, last week he added: ‘The UN stands ready to host the global and inclusive discussions that are needed, depending on the decisions of member states.’

Which countries support a new AI body? French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first to call for an IPCC for AI; European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has also lent her support

After last week’s debate, the list of countries in favour of a new AI body and supporting the UN’s work has continued to grow. Spain offered to host ‘the headquarters of the future International Artificial Intelligence Agency’. South Korea said it would support the creation of an international organisation under the UN by organising a Global AI Forum. Others shared their support more generally: No one country can single-handedly address AI governance. (For more coverage, head to our UNGA 78th session reporting page).

Tech companies are also in favour. In May, ChatGPT-maker OpenAI called for a new AI watchdog akin to the IAEA (though, to be precise, they want it to handle future superintelligence rather than tackle existing AI). In August, researchers from Microsoft and a few non-profit centres called for an International AI Organization (IAIO) that could work with national and regional regulators to develop standards and certify jurisdictions (rather than directly overseeing AI tech companies).

Until then? The UN’s next step is the newly-established High-Level Advisory Body on AI, whose membership will be announced in the coming weeks. In an interview, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, Amandeep Gill (who also believes that a new UN agency is the answer to help steer this disruptive technology) said that the 32-member body will be asked to present the Secretary-General with options for the international governance of AI by the end of the year. They will then be asked to develop more detailed recommendations by mid-next year. By next September’s Summit of the Future, Gill hopes that the conclusions of the high-level body will help member states decide on whether and how they should support a new UN agency.

It’s just the beginning. It’s not a secret that things at the UN take a long time to develop. The fact that so many countries are in favour is a strong recipe for success, but that’s just the start. 

Countries will need to determine the new body’s mandate and how far it will be allowed to go. An overly ambitious mandate could halt progress in its tracks – as the lethal autonomous weapons (LAWs) discussions showed us – and as the UN negotiations on a new cybercrime treaty hint at.

A light touch could make it toothless, but will have better chances of taking off. The work of the Council of Europe’s Commission on AI and the G7’s Hiroshima process are good examples of finding common denominators, and building on them.

No longer if. For those few countries who haven’t yet made up their minds about whether the world needs an AI governance framework, the UK’s address may be just what they need to hear:

‘At this frontier, we need to accept that we simply do not know the bounds of possibilities… We are as Edison before the light came on… or as Tim Berners-Lee before the first email was sent. They could not – surely – have respectively envisaged the illumination of the New York skyline at night… or the wonders of the modern internet… but they suspected the transformative power of their inventions.’ 

It is no longer a matter of if, but rather a matter of when and how.

Digital policy roundup (18–25 September)

UK’s competition authority proposes new AI principles

The British anti-trust regulator, the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA), has proposed seven principles to guide the development and deployment of AI foundational models (the technology that’s been trained on vast amounts of data to carry out a wide range of tasks and operations). 

The principles were issued as part of the CMA’s review of existing models, and will go through an iterative process based on consultations with stakeholders.

Why is this relevant? First, the principles come ahead of the UK’s AI Safety Summit in November. Any measure that the UK introduces during this time will influence the guidance the country provides to the nations it will host. Second, beyond the summit, the CMA thinks AI regulation will still be needed as AI develops further (as long as the regulations are proportionate). Although it’s in line with British lawmakers’ call for new rules, this won’t appease parliamentarians who have been urging for new rules to be introduced before November.


OpenAI sued for copyright… again

Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is among a group of writers who filed a class-action lawsuit against OpenAI last week in a federal court in New York. The Authors Guild, a writers’ organisation, and the 17 authors are accusing the company of utilising their books without permission, to train ChatGPT. 

‘The core of these algorithms revolves around systematic theft on a massive scale,’ the lawsuit states. The authors are requesting a prohibition on the usage of copyrighted books, as well as damages.

Why is it relevant? It seems that new copyright lawsuits are being filed every week, adding to the long list of litigation: Just a fortnight ago, OpenAI (and Microsoft) faced two new cases in California. But it also looks like companies are ready to fight back. Microsoft is arguing that the authors have failed to demonstrate that Llama’s software code or output substantially resembled their works. Plus, Microsoft says the company used the copyrighted material under the fair use doctrine. 

Case details: Authors Guild et al v OpenAI, District Court, Southern District of New York, 1:23-cv-8292


International Criminal Court says it has been hacked

The International Criminal Court (ICC) said its network had been hacked, seeing unusual activity at the end of last week. A few days later, the court was still operating with disruptions to email and document-sharing, the ICC confirmed in a statement sent to the press.

The court, renowned as one of the world’s most prominent international institutions, deals with sensitive information regarding war crimes. It refrained from providing any further details on the severity of the hack, the status of its resolution, or the potential perpetrators behind it.

Why is it relevant? The ICC is working on its first-ever policy on cybercrime, which it plans to release in the coming months. The ICC’s lead prosecutor, Karim Khan, also recently confirmed that his office will be collecting and reviewing evidence of cybercrimes as part of its ongoing work. He thinks that some of the states’ conduct we see today could have the attributes of grave crimes that the ICC was established to prosecute. Considering the sensitive information the court handles, criminals might have viewed these recent developments as extra fodder.

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UK set to approve Microsoft’s Activision deal

The UK’s CMA said that Microsoft’s new restructured deal to acquire Activision Blizzard appeared to address the concerns the CMA had raised. It looks like the deal will be approved by the CMA. 

As part of a new agreement, Microsoft has granted Ubisoft, the French video games publisher, the rights to stream Activision games from the cloud for 15 years. 

Why is it relevant? The UK held off on its go-ahead, despite the fact that the deal was approved by its US and EU counterparts earlier this year. The authority’s chief, Sarah Cardell, couldn’t resist telling Microsoft off: ‘It would have been far better, though, if Microsoft had put forward this restructure during our original investigation. This case illustrates the costs, uncertainty, and delay that parties can incur if a credible and effective remedy option exists but is not put on the table at the right time.’

Intel hit with EU antitrust fine in decades-old case

Intel was fined EUR376 million (USD400 million) last week in an EU antitrust case over the chipmaker’s anti-competitive practice of blocking rivals.

The European Commission had originally imposed a fine of EUR1.06 billion in 2009 after it ruled that Intel had engaged in two specific illegal practices – one known as conditional rebates (providing hidden rebates to computer manufacturers for purchasing CPUs from the company) and the other, naked restrictions (paying manufacturers to halt the release of products containing CPUs from rival companies). In 2022, the European Court of Justice overruled the 2009 commission decision on Intel’s rebates practices, but confirmed the naked restrictions. Last week’s fine reinstates the penalty for this remaining breach.

Why is it relevant? The European Commission doesn’t hesitate to fine companies for anticompetitive practices, even when it involves companies operating in critical sectors vital to the EU, such as semiconductors. Since it’s only one infraction, though, it’s a (much) lower fine.

The week ahead (25 September–2 October)

Ongoing till 26 September: The high-level debate of the UN General Assembly’s 78th session comes to an end tomorrow.

Ongoing till 13 October: The digital policy issues that are being tackled during the 54th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) include cyberbullying and digital literacy.

AI governance: An update on what’s ahead

8–12 October: AI discussions are set to take centre stage at the upcoming Internet Governance Forum (IGF2023) in Japan. As the host country, currently leading the G7, expect Japan to provide updates on the G7 Hiroshima AI Process. 

1–2 November: The UK’s AI Safety Summit will focus on tackling AI risks. And after weeks of rumours, the UK government has now confirmed that it extended an invitation to China.
12–14 December: The Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) will hold its annual summit in India.

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Some good news: Fewer people without internet access
New data from ITU shows progress in internet connectivity. The latest statistics for 2023 indicate a global reduction in the number of individuals without internet access to approximately 2.6 billion, down from 2.7 billion in 2022. The news arrives at a time of heightened attention to the role of digital technologies in advancing the realisation of the 2030 Agenda.

Stephanie Borg Psaila – Author
Director of Digital Policy, DiploFoundation

Virginia Paque – Editor
Senior editor – Digital Policy, DiploFoundation

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Digital on Days 4 and 5 of UNGA78

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Digital on Days 4 and 5 of UNGA78: Change, complexities, and fears

Welcome to our daily coverage of the General Debate of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA). This summary provides a comprehensive overview of how digital issues were tackled during days four and five of discussions on 22 and 23 September 2023. For real-time updates and in-depth reports on UNGA78, follow our live coverage on the Digital Watch Observatory‘s dedicated page through DiploAI reports, written by our AI reporting tool.

Technology: One of the biggest challenges and fears

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology and its impact on global affairs, nations around the world have voiced their perspectives on the roles and implications of technological advancements. In this diverse chorus of voices, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, prime minister, minister for defence, home affairs, and external communications, minister for Rodrigues, outer islands, and territorial integrity of Mauritius, underscored the profound changes brought about by the ICT revolution. Robert Abela, prime minister of Malta, reflected on the fear of technology’s dominance, while Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa, prime minister and minister for foreign affairs and trade of Samoa, emphasised global solidarity in addressing technology-related threats. Terrance Micheal Drew, prime minister and minister for finance, national security and immigration, health, and social security of Saint Kitts and Nevis, recognised the confluence of international complexities and new technologies, while Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, minister for foreign affairs and international cooperation of Djibouti, acknowledged both the promise and fears associated with technological innovation. 

AI: The tide that cannot be held back

The most discussed digital topic of 22 and 23 September was AI. 

Mia Amor Mottley, prime minister, minister for national security and the public service, and minister for finance, economic affairs, and investment of Barbados, recognised that AI often takes a backseat in global discourse, overshadowed by the pressing drama and crises surrounding climate change. However, as North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski cautioned, AI, although newly emerging, is already causing significant changes in our lives.

Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves, painted a sobering picture, declaring that the risk levels associated with human-induced disasters, including climate change and AI, have reached unprecedented levels. Gonsalves noted that AI is one of the contemporary drivers of insecurity and conflict. He questioned the global response to these existential threats. 

Oliver Dowden, deputy prime minister and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and secretary of state in the Cabinet Office of the UK, also emphasised mitigating the risk of extinction from AI. Dowden shared vivid examples of the dangers AI can pose, from teens hacking bank details to terrorists targeting government systems and cybercriminals manipulating voters with deepfakes and bots. Moreover, Dowden raised the alarm about frontier AI, which surpasses human understanding and presents unique risks of misuse, misadventure, or misalignment with human objectives. 

Hamza Abdi Barre, prime minister of Somalia, expressed deep concerns about new technologies like AI, highlighting the terrifying threats they may pose, while Tobias Billström, minister for foreign affairs of Sweden, underscored the challenges AI presents for international security and human rights. 

Demeke Mekonnen Hassen, deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs of Ethiopia, called for the responsible use of new technologies like AI to ensure they benefit humanity, a sentiment echoed by Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, who emphasised AI’s potential to bring more freedom, prevent wars, and enhance people’s lives. Samuel Matekane, prime minister and head of government and minister for defence, national security, and environment of Lesotho, also warned against losing sight of the need to address threats to people’s rights, safety, and privacy.

Vivian Balakrishnan, minister for foreign affairs of Singapore, addressed the necessity of preparing for the risks and equitable distribution of benefits in the digital and AI era, with a particular focus on concerns related to autonomous weapons. Balakrishnan emphasised that AI is set to profoundly change our traditional military doctrines and strategic deterrence. Notably, the rapid deployment of AI-driven weapons will significantly reduce decision-making time for leaders, potentially sidelining human involvement. This raises the risk of unintended conflicts or escalated hostilities. Furthermore, while nuclear escalation remains a concern, the introduction of AI in conflict scenarios has magnified this risk considerably.

Gaston Alphonso Browne, prime minister and minister for finance, corporate governance, and public-private partnership of Antigua and Barbuda, highlighted his deep concern that organised criminal groups might illicitly use autonomous weapons. Browne backed the recent appeal made by the UN Secretary-General to establish a binding legal framework to prohibit the use of lethal autonomous weapon systems by 2026 in response to these challenges.

Amid these considerations, Mottley (Barbados) emphasised the paramount importance of ensuring that AI, particularly generative AI, is harnessed for positive purposes rather than nefarious ones.

We have much to gain, noted Netanyahu (Israel). The speaker highlighted many positive use cases of the technology: 

Imagine the blessings of finally cracking the genetic code, extending human life by decades, and dramatically reducing the ravages of old age. Imagine healthcare tailored to each individual’s genetic composition and predictive medicine that prevents diseases long before they occur. Imagine robots helping to care for the elderly. Imagine the end of traffic jams with self-driving vehicles on the ground, below the ground, and in the air. Imagine personalized education that cultivates each person’s full potential throughout their lifetime. Imagine a world with boundless clean energy and natural resources for all nations.

Imagine precision agriculture and automated factories that yield food and goods in an abundance that ends hunger and want. I know this sounds like a John Lennon song, but it could all happen. Imagine that we could achieve the end of scarcity, something that eluded humanity for all history. It’s all within our reach. And here’s something else within our reach. With AI, we can explore the heavens as never before and extend humanity beyond our blue planet.

Xavier Espot Zamora, head of government of Andorra, also noted that AI can help us improve our living conditions, while Billström (Sweden) noted that AI and other emerging technologies can accelerate our efforts on the SDGs.

If leaders make the right decisions, Abela (Malta) noted optimistically, AI can have a positive impact on societies.

Multilateral action on AI: The way forward

According to Dowden, the UK is determined to be in the vanguard, drawing from its heritage of the industrial revolution and the computing revolution, as well as the UK’s current circumstances with frontier companies, world-leading universities, and some of the highest investments in generative AI. However, Dowden acknowledged that the most important actions would be taken internationally, as tech companies and non-state actors often have country-sized influence and prominence in AI. ‘This challenge requires a new form of multilateralism,’ Dowden highlighted. 

Other nations’ representatives echoed the call for common action and international cooperation. Pendarovski (North Macedonia) emphasised that without a joint pact for the future, no single country or group of countries can adequately respond to the challenges posed by AI. Abela (Malta) underscored the need for global action, recognising that technology is evolving rapidly and has vast potential. He asserted that failing to work together on AI is not a viable option. Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, minister for foreign affairs of Iceland, stressed the need for close multilateral cooperation to address the profound questions raised by AI and prevent it from becoming a destructive tool. 

Nanaia Mahuta, minister for foreign affairs and local government of New Zealand, stressed that international rules and limits on autonomous weapons systems are needed, as well as establishing clear norms to address the responsible use of other new and emerging technologies, including AI. Enrique Austria Manalo, secretary for foreign affairs of the Philippines, noted that the country is working with partners for rules to govern lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS). The Philippines is hosting an Indo-Pacific meeting on LAWS in December.

Some countries also highlighted the role of the UN in tackling AI: Mottley (Barbados) emphasised the necessity of establishing an appropriate regulatory framework and expressed support for the actions of the Secretary-General in this regard. Billström (Sweden) highlighted the importance of shaping a shared vision for new technologies, such as AI, to be rooted in the values of the UN Charter, to harness their potential and mitigate associated risks. Yvan Gil Pinto, minister of the people’s power for foreign affairs of Venezuela, emphasised that the regulation of AI should become a strategic priority for the UN. Dowden (the UK) noted that the AI revolution is a test for the UN to collaborate effectively on an issue that will profoundly impact humanity and the planet’s future.

Arnoldo Ricardo André Tinoco, minister for foreign affairs and worship of Costa Rica, highlighted the need for new governance frameworks for the militarisation of new technologies. He noted that Costa Rica will present a resolution to the UN General Assembly on the matter of autonomous weapons systems, together with Austria and Mexico. Manalo (the Philippines) called for UN partnerships that guarantee that new technologies are not weaponised or misused in any way to subvert democracy and freedom.

Balakrishnan (Singapore) stressed that global dialogue about LAWS must be started, and must be started under the auspices of the UN. Balakrishnan also welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to convene a high-level advisory body on AI. Balakrishnan is optimistic that the UN and the multilateral system will be able to establish norms on fast-emerging critical technologies. 

Dowden (the UK) noted that governments should cooperate with the best academics and researchers to evaluate technologies. Netanyahu (Israel) noted that the perils of AI can be avoided by combining the forces of human and machine intelligence to usher in a brilliant future.

Development: Nations address the digital divide and advocate for equal access to technology

Abela (Malta) stressed the urgent need to address the digital divide. This emphasis extends beyond just closing the gap in digital access, as Malta also prioritises equipping citizens with essential digital skills. Abela (Malta) also called for global collaboration to reduce this divide, recognising it as a collective responsibility transcending borders. Balakrishnan (Singapore) advocated for the adoption of the Global Digital Compact, emphasising the importance of bridging the global digital divide. Singapore commits to supporting small states in digital development, highlighting inclusivity in the digital age. The launch of the Digital Force platform for collaboration among small states further illustrates their commitment.

Jugnauth (Mauritius) advocated for collaborative efforts in harnessing digital tools, believing that international cooperation can accelerate digital development. He also highlighted the significance of increased investment in education, treated as a global public good, to nurture the required digital skills in the digital age. On a similar note, Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, stated that Georgia’s commitment to allocating resources for digital literacy and bridging the digital divide reflects an understanding that access alone is insufficient.

Manasseh Damukana Sogavare, the prime minister of the Solomon Islands, stated that the nation emphasises infrastructure resilience, digital connectivity, and technology transfer. He underscored the need for robust technological infrastructure to support digital access and the transfer of knowledge and technology from more developed regions to less developed ones. On the same note, Mata’afa (Samoa) acknowledged the potential of a digitised world to connect remote communities

Matekane (Lesotho) emphasised the significance of digital access in the modern era, particularly in healthcare. Additionally, Matekane noted the positive effects of digital access at the national level, particularly among youth, including girls and women, which resulted in heightened civic engagement. However, he acknowledged challenges in providing full digital access in rural areas due to infrastructure and affordability issues, which perpetuate inequalities. Lesotho is committed to addressing these disparities for greater inclusivity. Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi, minister for foreign affairs of Indonesia, echoed the need for developed nations to fulfil their responsibilities, particularly in areas like climate financing, green investment, and technology transfer. Marsudi stressed that technology and innovation should be accessible to all, not limited to a select few. Ensuring developing countries have access to secure digital technologies, including AI, is crucial for sustainable future growth.

Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, minister for foreign affairs of Bahrain, highlighted its significant achievements in digital transformation. Bahrain has assumed the role of leading the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) and has secured membership in the Council of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Moreover, Bahrain has gained recognition as a prominent player in the field of e-government, achieving the top global ranking for internet accessibility. Furthermore, Bahrain is undertaking a national strategy to support the advancement of the fourth industrial revolution and the digital economy. 

John Rosso, deputy prime minister and minister for immigration, lands, and physical planning of Papua New Guinea, underscored the importance of ICT for e-Government. Nabil Ammar, minister for foreign affairs, migration and Tunisians abroad, underscored that Tunisia is committed to digital transformation while also prioritising social protection for all citizens. Saleumxay Kommasith, deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs of Lao PDR drew attention to the outcome of the G77 and China Summit, where heads of state and governments of developing countries echoed that science, technology, and innovation, including ICT, have become fundamental in addressing global challenges and advancing the 2030 Agenda. 
Finally, Reem Ebrahim Al Hashimy, minister of state for international cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, highlighted plans to launch a digital platform for humanitarian support that utilises advanced technologies for disaster response.

Security: International partnerships needed to tackle cyber threats

In the evolving landscape of global security, nations addressed a spectrum of challenges and opportunities stemming from the digital age. Pham Minh Chinh, prime minister of Vietnam, underscored the complexity of non-traditional security threats, such as threats to cybersecurity, while Pendarovski (North Macedonia) noted that cyber threats have already become part of our lives. 

Various countries highlighted cybercrime as a concern. Jugnauth (Mauritius) acknowledged the cross-border challenge cybercrime poses. Mata’afa (Samoa) underlined the imperative of protecting citizens from cyber fraud and attacks. 

Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, noted that terrorist threats are taking new shapes due to the misuse of ICT. Manalo (the Philippines) raised concerns about new forms of warfare, including cyber and space-based warfare.

Raymond Ndong Sima, prime minister of Gabon, noted that solutions to contemporary threats, particularly cyber insecurity, must be reinvented. Tinoco (Costa Rica) emphasised the urgent need for new governance frameworks to combat cybercrime and bolster cybersecurity. Pinto (Venezuela) advocated for the strategic prioritisation of cyberspace protection and the fight against cybercrime to safeguard sovereignty and prevent destabilisation.

A few representatives noted that solutions to cybersecurity issues should be international in nature. José Ulisses Correia e Silva, prime minister and minister of reform of Cabo Verde, underscored the significance of international partnerships to confront cybercrime. In Mahuta’s (New Zealand) view, digital challenges such as cyber threats and online extremism should be addressed through collaborative efforts involving governments, civil society, and industry, exemplified by initiatives like the Christchurch Call to Action. Another collaborative effort is the UN Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on ICT Security, chaired by Singapore, whose representative highlighted that the group has made steady progress and can offer useful lessons for other areas. Mata’afa (Samoa) also emphasised the importance of OEWG’s work and called for international assistance to fortify critical infrastructure and financial institutions against cyber threats.

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This page provides detailed and real-time coverage on cybersecurity, peace and security negotiations at UN Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies 2021–2025. Read more.
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This page provides detailed and real-time coverage on cybersecurity, peace and security negotiations at UN Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies 2021–2025. Read more.

Sociocultural: Fake news and freedom of speech

In the contemporary landscape, the influence of fake news is an undeniable force, and nations worldwide are grappling with its ramifications. Pendarovski (North Macedonia) acknowledged the insidious nature of this phenomenon. However, North Macedonia is not alone in its concerns. Mottley (Barbados) voiced deep concerns about the impact of fake news on the very foundations of democracy, emphasising the vital need for accurate information as a foundation for a healthy democracy. Al Zayani (Bahrain) drew attention to the need to prevent the misuse of freedoms and media platforms, particularly in matters related to religious contempt, extremism, terrorism, and intolerance. Finally, Gylfadóttir (Iceland) stressed the importance that society make a clear distinction between individual freedom of expression and state-sponsored propaganda or artificially generated misinformation. Iceland emphasised that human rights and freedom are meant for individuals and not for automated bots.

Economic: Digital economies prioritised for prosperity

Abela (Malta) emphasised Malta’s achievements in leveraging digital technology and dismantling trade and tariff barriers to venture into sectors once inaccessible to smaller nations. The conclusion drawn by Malta is that it is important to avoid using protectionism. Similarly, Chinh (Vietnam) noted that Vietnam aims to transition into a green, digital, circular economy, promoting innovation, reducing trade barriers, and seeking free trade agreements. Silva (Cabo Verde) stated that Cabo Verde wishes to transform itself into a digital nation and diversify its economy. Kommasith (Lao PDR) highlighted a preference for a digital economy over resource-driven economies. In this context, the Lao PDR has adopted its National Digital Economy Development Vision and Strategy.

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Digital on Day 3 of UNGA78

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Digital on Day 3 of UNGA78: Bringing a digital focus to SDGs

Welcome to our daily coverage of the General Debate of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA). This summary provides a comprehensive overview of how digital issues were tackled during day three of discussions on 21 September 2023. For real-time updates and in-depth reports on UNGA78, follow our live coverage on the Digital Watch Observatory‘s dedicated page through DiploAI reports, written by our AI reporting tool.

Development: Bringing a digital focus to SDGs

Countries underscored the central role of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in their development agendas. These statements resonated with a broader interpretation of the SDGs in connection to ‘digital’, emphasising the critical importance of addressing digital transitions, reducing inequalities, promoting gender equality, and harnessing technology for sustainable development and well-being. Several countries recognised the profound significance of integrating digital advancements into their development strategies to achieve broader global goals. 

As we summarise what countries said, we also link their statements with the relevant SDGs.

President of Timor-Leste, José Ramos-Horta, emphasised the challenges faced in the digital age, particularly by women and children who continue to experience extreme poverty and deprivation of basic freedoms. This aligns with SDG 5 (gender equality), which aims to empower women and girls and promote their rights. Ensuring equal access to digital opportunities can contribute to achieving this goal.

Serbia acknowledged the importance of the fourth industrial revolution and new technologies for development. The country is actively investing in infrastructure, economic reforms, and improving the business environment, focusing on digitisation and education. The emphasis on digitisation and reform aligns with SDG 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure), which promotes technological progress. The focus on investment in infrastructure and education aligns with SDG 4 (quality education), which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education.

President of Dominica, Luis Rodolfo Abinader Corona, highlighted the role of ICTs in accelerating the realisation of the 2030 Agenda. This relates to SDG 9. Effective use of ICTs can facilitate progress in multiple SDGs.

President of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, pointed out the widening North-South digital divide, financial crises, and energy transition. This is connected to SDG 10 (reduced inequalities) and bridging the digital divide can contribute to reducing other disparities as well.

President and Head of State of Nauru, Russ Kun, emphasised the need for support and technical expertise in utilising digital technologies for healthcare. This aligns with SDG 3 (good health and well-being), which aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all. Using e-medicine and digital technologies can improve healthcare access and outcomes. Nauru also discussed the potential of reviewing education delivery models and improving ICT infrastructure in schools; which is directly connected to SDG 4 – which also aims to ensure inclusive education. Integrating technology into education can enhance learning opportunities and prepare students for the digital future.

President of Albania, Bajram Begaj, recognised the need for comprehensive policy commitments to drive various transitions, including digital. This aligns with multiple SDGs, including SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), SDG 2 (zero hunger), and SDG 9. Comprehensive policies can facilitate progress across these areas.
Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, highlighted the importance of investing in infrastructure, education, and the green and digital transition. This aligns with SDG 4, SDG 7, and SDG 9. These investments can contribute to sustainable development in various aspects.

AI: Balancing challenges and opportunities

Our world is marked with complex realities, and disruptive technologies like AI that need to be tackled,  Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria, Alexander Schallenberg, noted. AI, particularly in military contexts, has evolved into a focal point for global geopolitical rivalry, President of the European Council of the European Union, Charles Michel, noted. Prime Minister of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, underlined that the dual nature of AI demands informed discussions on its potential misuse. The technology must be regulated in a multilateral way, he underscored.
Nevertheless, amidst these challenges, there are positive developments to consider. President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, highlighted that Serbia has established an AI institute, which aims to assist the growth of the knowledge-based economy in the field of AI.

Security: Less focus on cyber threats

Only two counties mentioned cybersecurity during Day 3 of the discussions, which is a slight decline from 5 countries on Day 2 and 6 countries on Day 1. Prime Minister of Kuwait, Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, acknowledged new risks in cybersecurity and highlighted the need for a collective approach to addressing security issues, underscoring the Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and Togolese Abroad of Togo, Robert Dussey, acknowledged that the African cyberspace is vulnerable to cybercriminals.

Digital behemoths China and France: Curiously silent

Upon noticing that the two digital behemoths, China and France, did not address digital issues during the General Debate, we decided to delve into our database of General Debate reports, dating back to 2017 to check if this silence is curious or to be expected.

2022: China acknowledged that societies are becoming increasingly digitalised. France did not mention digital issues.

2021: China expressed its commitment to advancing cooperation in the digital economy. France underlined that universal human rights must be upheld in the digital realm and highlighted plans for the EU’s Digital Markets Act. The country invited partners to join the Christchurch Call to Action and establish a new digital order.

2020: China did not mention digital issues. France emphasised the need for new governance to protect the digital space from capture, piracy and manipulation, highlighting its involvement in initiatives like the International Partnership for Information and Democracy and the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI). France stressed the importance of concrete actions from major operators and platforms and a commitment to regional legislation and regulation if these commitments are not met. The country also reflected on the significance of the post-Cold War era and the necessity to rethink global value chains, particularly in strategic sectors like health, digital technology, and AI.

2019: China did not mention digital issues. France expressed concern about rising trade tensions and the impact of technological changes. France also highlighted the unprecedented global scientific collaboration to identify and tackle challenges, including those associated with technological revolutions.

2018: China acknowledged the UN’s role in addressing non-traditional security challenges, particularly in areas like cyberspace. The country further emphasised the importance of upholding state sovereignty, following rules, and honouring responsibilities in the realms of cybersecurity. It strongly condemned terrorism and insisted that Security Council resolutions are diligently enforced to combat cyberterrorism, terrorist financing, and disseminate radical ideologies, addressing the roots of terrorism. France emphasised the importance of collective action in establishing contemporary rules for the digital transformation era, particularly in reconciling AI development with ethical guidelines. It pointed out that we can only maintain sovereignty and equality among nations through such collective efforts. France also called for the involvement of major non-state actors, particularly digital giants, in addressing issues like taxation and responsibility in countering information manipulation.

2017: China did not mention digital issues. France underlined the importance of combating terrorist use of the internet and their funding sources. France also announced plans to host a conference in 2018 to address this issue.

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Digital on Day 2 of UNGA78

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Digital on Day 2 of UNGA78: AI – Not a lawless domain

Welcome to our daily coverage of the General Debate of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA). This summary was generated by humans and provides a comprehensive overview of how digital issues were tackled during day two of discussions on 20 September 2023. For real-time updates and in-depth reports on UNGA78, follow our live coverage on the Digital Watch Observatory‘s dedicated page through DiploAI reports, written by our AI reporting tool.

Technologies: Caution and optimism blend in discussions

Speakers on Day 2 were cautious when it came to discussing digital technologies, yet  acknowledged the potential positive impact of emerging technologies. Suriname’s president Chandrikapersad Santokhi recognised the increasing reach and impact of digital technologies, the Marshall Islands’ president David Kabua acknowledged the role of new advances in enhancing connectivity between people, and Slovakian president Zuzana Čaputová highlighted the potential benefits in areas like connectivity, public health, and climate change.

But there were also several warnings issued. Mongolian president Khurelsukh Ukhnaa pointed out that rapid technological advancements pose a challenge, Chilean president Gabriel Boric Font noted that new technologies could also be sources of new injustices, Sao Tome and Principe’s Prime Minister Patrice Emery Trovoada highlighted how digital technologies could exacerbate inequality, wealth concentration, and domination, while Slovakia cautioned against the potential threat emerging technologies pose to democratic values.

As Suriname emphasised, it is crucial to harness the advantages of the technological revolution to create an accessible, transparent, safe, and secure digital transformation environment. Chile also noted that while societies must make progress, they must do it in a responsible way, making sure that new technologies benefit, not threaten, people.

AI: not a lawless domain

Speakers on Day 2 echoed the messages of Day 1 that AI must be regulated. A grim picture of a world with unchecked AI was painted by the President of the Council of Ministers of Italy Giorgia Meloni:

The applications of this new technology may offer great opportunities in many fields, but we cannot pretend to not understand its enormous inherent risks. I’m not sure if we are adequately aware of the implications of technological development whose pace is much faster than our capacity to manage its effects. We were used to progress that aimed to optimise human capacities, while today we are dealing with progress that risks replacing human capacities. Because if in the past this replacement focused on physical tasks so that humans could dedicate themselves to intellectual and organisational work, today the human intellect risks being replaced with consequences that could be devastating, particularly for the job market. More and more people will no longer be necessary in a world ever dominated by disparities, and by the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few. This is not the world we want. And so I think we should not mistake this dominion for a free zone without rules.

The president of the Government of Spain Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón emphasised the need to establish a foundation for regulating AI. Rumen Radev, President of Bulgaria, advocated for a human-centred and innovation-driven approach to our digital future and AI, anchored in principles of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Yoon Suk Yeol, president of South Korea, underscored the importance of providing clear guidance for the governance of AI. Monaco’s Prince Albert II highlighted the global duty to create a framework of ethical norms and global governance for AI, emphasising the urgency of completing ongoing efforts in this regard. Chile asserted the obligation for all to reach multilateral consensus and establish an ethical framework for the development and utilisation of emerging technologies like AI. Italy warned against treating AI as a lawless domain and calls for global governance mechanisms that ensure ethical boundaries are upheld, emphasising the practical application of ‘algorethics’, which focuses on ethics for algorithms.

Concrete actions were also outlined: the Korean government plans to host the ‘Global AI Forum’ and to collaborate closely with the ‘High-Level Advisory Body on AI’ being established by the UN to provide a network for communication and collaboration among global experts. Monaco expressed support for this body. Italy noted that it plans to put AI issues, including algorethics, on the G7 agenda in 2024. Spain expressed its commitment to supporting the Secretary-General’s Envoy on technology, providing resources and know-how in the development of multilateral AI governance. Spain also expressed willingness to host the headquarters of a potential international AI agency.

Development: developing countries must not be left behind

Several countries on day 2 emphasised the transformative power of digitalisation and advanced technologies. Namibian president Hage Geingob and South Korea highlighted the importance of bridging the digital divide. South Korea, in particular, plans to play a leading role in bridging the digital divide by supporting the digital transformation of countries with limited digital penetration, noting that the digital divide is a major cause of the economic divide.

Namibia advocated for not leaving developing countries behind in the digital revolution. Namibia also stressed that access to technology can bridge gaps in education, healthcare, and economic development, ultimately propelling nations towards progress. In that line, Eswatini’s King Mswati III highlighted Eswatini’s efforts to increase opportunities for learning and skills development through the integration and use of digital technologies. Romanian president Klaus Werner Iohannis emphasised the role of digitalisation, innovation, and new technologies as enablers of sustainable development. Latvian president Edgars Rinkēvičs underscored their commitment to international cooperation in advancing digitalisation and development efforts. Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone, prioritised cutting-edge technology and infrastructure programmes as part of its national development trajectory. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, President of Botswana, emphasised the need to prioritise tangible priorities for infrastructure development, particularly in transit transportation, ICT, and energy sectors. Paul Kagame

President of the Republic of Rwanda emphasised the significance of inclusive digital public infrastructure, highlighting their recent initiative in collaboration with ITU and UNDP.

When it comes to UN initiatives, Namibia welcomed the recently unveiled plan known as UN 2.0. Underscoring that this ‘Quintet of Change‘ aims to provide the UN states with cutting-edge capabilities in data, digital innovation, and expertise. Meanwhile, Bulgaria stated the Global Digital Compact should harness the potential of digital technologies to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs. Spain drew attention to the adverse aspects of the digital revolution, shedding light on concerns regarding inequality, wealth concentration, and domination that can arise due to the rapid advancement of digital technologies.

Security: Cross-border cooperation needed to tackle cyber threats

The cross-border nature of cybercrime is acknowledged time after time at the UNGA General Debate, and this debate was no exception. Mongolia emphasised the transformative potential of digital technology but also underscored that it has reshaped threats to global peace and security. Mongolia, Spain and Najib Mikati

The President of the Council of Ministers of the Lebanese Republic echoed the need for enhanced cooperation across borders to address a wide spectrum of global challenges, including cyberattacks. Mongolia also expressed support for the work of the UN to combat cybercrime, including the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Cybercrime.

Several concrete examples were discussed, including cyberattacks faced by Moldova, which its president Maia Sandu, attributed to Russia. Additionally, Monaco highlighted the use of AI by malicious actors in launching cyberattacks, particularly in critical sectors such as healthcare and humanitarian operations.

Content policy and human rights: Combatting disinformation and protecting human rights online

Chile and Slovakia recognised the transformative power of technology and social media. They share a common concern about the challenges posed by the spread of disinformation and hate speech. Failing to confront this issue might turn social media platforms, AI, and emerging technologies into factors that worsen the existing crises, stated Slovakia and called for their immediate regulation. 

Chile views technological development as a tool for unity, emphasising the need to protect vulnerable groups from disinformation and prevent further divisions at both national and international levels. They believe in harnessing the power of technology to bring people together rather than drive them apart. On a similar note, Slovakia stressed the importance of using technology with the dignity and rights of every individual in mind.
To tackle these issues, South Korea unveiled plans to introduce a Digital Bill of Rights. At the same time, Romania welcomed the Secretary General’s initiative for a Code of Conduct for information integrity on digital platforms.

Economic: Digital for economic growth

Discussions around digital economy topics emerged for the first time during this General Debate. For instance, Moldova expressed determination to strengthen its economy despite the challenges posed by a war in Ukraine, including facilitating the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises, reducing bureaucracy through digital services, and exploring export opportunities in the EU market.

Additionally, Eswatini noted that the recently introduced Africa Strategic Investment Alliance (ASIA) aims to support programmes by the African E-Trade Group (AETRADE), which is focused on creating a digital marketing platform for all African countries to promote trade using modern technologies.

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Digital on Day 1 of UNGA78

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Digital on Day 1 of UNGA78: Governing AI

Welcome to our daily coverage of the General Debate of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA). This summary was generated by humans and provides a comprehensive overview of how digital issues were tackled during first day’s discussions, which took place on 19 September 023. For real-time updates and in-depth reports on UNGA78, follow our live coverage on the Digital Watch Observatory‘s dedicated page through DiploAI reports, written by our AI reporting tool.

New technologies: Governing AI

As the norm, the UN Secretary-General’s General Debate opening speech was rifled with references to digital technologies. The SG paid special attention to new technologies which require new and innovative forms of governance, such as AI and lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). 

Generative AI holds much promise – but it may also lead us across a Rubicon and into more danger than we can control. When I mentioned Artificial Intelligence in my General Assembly speech in 2017, only two other leaders even uttered the term. Now AI is on everyone’s lips – a subject of both awe, and fear. Even some of those who developed generative AI are calling for greater regulation. – Antonio Guterres

US President Biden also underlined that emerging technologies need to be ‘used as tools of opportunity, not as weapons of oppression’. He stressed that AI technologies need to be safe before they’re released to the public and that countries and international bodies must cooperate to harness the power of AI for good.

Argentinian president Alberto Fernández noted that robotisation and AI force us to rethink education, processes of production, and the preservation of work, highlighting that confronting these new changes is the biggest challenge.

Slovenian president Nataša Pirc Musar noted that governing new technologies, including AI, must not impede economic, developmental, social, and research opportunities.

Speaking about calls for a global entity on AI, Guterres recalled that inspiration could be drawn from existing international organisations like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He noted the UN’s readiness to host ‘the global and inclusive discussions that are needed’, based on member state decisions. 

To advance concrete governance solutions, Guterres reiterated that he will appoint a High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence, which will provide recommendations by the end of the year. Slovenia expressed support. Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio underlined the Hiroshima AI Process on Generative AI, toward trustworthy AI.

The SG reiterated his call for a Global Digital Compact — between governments, regional organisations, the private sector and civil society — to mitigate the risks of digital technologies and identify ways to harness their benefits for the good of humanity. Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz noted that it is fostering exchanges on the Global Digital Compact to ensure that access to AI is not limited to richer countries, causing a deeper digital divide.


As the war in Ukraine wages on, its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed the effects of spreading the war into cyberspace in his address. He also noted that AI could be trained to combat well before it would learn to help humanity. In a similar vein, Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz noted the need for common rules for the use of generative AI as a weapon.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s president Jair Messias Bolsonaro, directed attention toward the fight against cybercrime. Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani highlighted risks such as deepfakes, privacy violations, hacking, phishing, identity theft, educational disruption via plagiarism, and human deception tactics. Czechia’s Petr Pavel also drew attention to the tactics of malicious actors and raised alarms about the use of cyberspace, disinformation campaigns, economic manipulation, political interference, and various tools aimed at disrupting democratic processes, undermining institutions, and weakening security.

Fumio expressed Japan’s commitment to supporting digitalisation in developing countries while ensuring robust cybersecurity measures.

Human rights

The SG voiced concerns about online surveillance and data harvesting, which have given rise to widespread human rights abuses on a scale previously unseen.

Bolsonaro called for a return to humanist traditions, emphasising the importance of inclusive policies at cultural, educational, and digital levels to uphold democratic values and preserve press freedom.

Pirc Musar advocated for a human-centric and human-rights-based approach to the development and deployment of technology. She proposed that the Global Digital Compact be centred around this notion, emphasising the need for all stakeholders, including private companies, to genuinely commit to this vision. 
Balancing digitalisation’s benefits with the protection of human dignity was highlighted by Fumio, stressing the importance of compatible international rules and a digital ecosystem that respects human rights.


The digital divide is a pressing global issue that exacerbates existing inequalities. This divide, which separates those with access to technology from those without, was highlighted by the SG as a matter of utmost concern.Turkmenistan’s president Serdar Berdimuhamedow sees vast potential in genetics and AI, ‘that could achieve prosperity for the whole humanity’. However, the gap between the possibilities and reality is widening. Similarly, Uruguay acknowledged the potential of ICT and AI as tools for integration and development but called for more action, urging global leaders to turn their words into tangible efforts. 

Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani emphasised the importance of keeping up with scientific and technical advancements and called upon nations to remove barriers hindering progress in this field. South Africa’s president Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa focused on harnessing digital and green technologies to enhance industrial production and agricultural yields, addressing developmental challenges while working towards the 2030 Agenda.

Nayib Armando Bukele, the president of El Salvador provided a concrete example of commitment to digital transformation – a recent agreement with Google serves as a clear example of their commitment to digital transformation, particularly in public services such as education and healthcare. Finally, Palau’s president Surangel S. Whipps Jr. underscored that success in the digital age is not determined by geographical size but by determination and adaptability.

Content policy

The SG cautioned about the grave consequences of hate speech, disinformation, and conspiracy theories proliferating on social media platforms, often amplified by AI. These issues are seen as significant threats to democracy and contributors to real-world violence and conflict. Similarly, Bolsonaro underlined the fight against misinformation, while Pirc Musar highlighted disinformation as one of the key challenges of our time. Pirc Musar underlined that big tech companies should take more responsibility for the content they host and moderate, therefore protecting users from harmful online content.

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DW Weekly #128 – 18 September 2023

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Dear readers,

The sense of urgency surrounding AI regulations that marked the start of the month continues unabated. The European Commission is advocating for a global framework (including an IPCC for AI to govern it), while the USA is deliberating over who should take the lead in regulating AI. And we haven’t even started Q4, which will accelerate things even more. Let’s get started.

Stephanie and the Digital Watch team


European Commission calls for an IPCC for AI (the concept’s not new though)

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen’s State of the EU speech (read or watch) last week, wouldn’t have been complete without a deep-dive into how to govern AI. 

The EU’s way ahead of the rest in developing AI regulations: The draft AI Act has reached the final stages of its legislative journey, although it will take years before the rules come into effect. And yet, the EU is not quite finished. It wants to do more – this time, on a global scale – by transposing the effectiveness of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to the AI realm.

The context: A global framework for AI

The EU is acutely aware that without similar rules in other major economies, the impact of its rules remains limited. It, therefore, wants others to align their policies and collaborate towards a collective goal. That goal is a new global framework on AI built on three pillars – guardrails, governance, and guiding innovation.

What it means in practice is that Von der Leyen wants to see the EU’s upcoming AI Act exported to other countries. She proudly asserts, ‘Our AI Act serves as a global blueprint’, hence positioning it as the ideal guardrail.

How to get there: An IPCC for AI

The goal of a global framework is to cultivate a shared understanding of the profound impact AI has on our societies. The way this would be achieved (von der Leyen’s second pillar) is through a body similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose reports establish scientific consensus on climate change. 

Von der Leyen explains: ‘Think about the invaluable contribution of the IPCC for climate, a global panel that provides the latest science to policymakers. I believe we need a similar body for AI.’ Its aim would be to develop ‘a fast and globally coordinated response – building on the work done by the Hiroshima Process and others.’

In reality, the IPCC for AI is not a new proposal. The concept goes back to (at least) 2018, when French President Emmanuel Macron told the Internet Governance Forum (held in Paris that year) of his intention to create ‘an equivalent of the renowned IPCC for artificial intelligence’. 

At the time, Macron’s vision was ahead of its time. ‘I believe this “IPCC” should have a large scope. It should naturally work with civil society, top scientists, all the innovators here today […] there can be no artificial intelligence and no genuine “artificial intelligence IPCC” if reflection with an ethical dimension is not conducted.’

One could say that the idea of creating an exact replica of the original IPCC, refined for application to AI, was sidelined with the establishment of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), an international forum for collaborating on AI policies. Nevertheless, the current surge in interest and concerns surrounding generative AI has generated enough momentum to revive the original concept.

Who to rope in: The industry

Von der Leyen’s third pillar, ‘guiding innovation in a responsible way’, is the European Commission’s way of saying that until rules come into effect, the industry needs to agree on voluntary commitments.

Arguably, the EU is doing a good job at this through the AI Pact, a voluntary set of rules that will act as a precursor to the AI Act. European Commission Thierry Breton has advocated heavily among Big Tech companies to adopt these guidelines.

But more needs to be done locally: The EU needs to foster a homegrown AI industry, which is still lagging behind. In its latest initiative, the EU will launch an AI Start-Up Initiative, which, according to Breton, will give start-ups access to public high-performance computing infrastructure (and ‘help them lead the development and scale-up of AI responsibly and in line with European values’.)

Reality check

The EU has several feathers in its cap (see our recent article on the Brussels effect), but its global ambitions might be a tad premature in AI. First, the AI Act is not yet law. Second, the EU knows that many other countries do not share the same willingness for binding rules (see Japan’s update below).

At most, the EU can aim to export its values of human centricity and transparency to other countries, and advocate for them to become minimum global standards for the safe and ethical use of AI. It’s worth the effort.

Digital policy roundup (11–18 September)

US Senate judiciary hearings and closed-door meetings: AI debates continue

We’ve heard it all before: AI can be leveraged for good. But AI risks must be curbed. Governments must step in. 

US Senate hearing: All this (and more) was discussed during the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee’s latest meeting, led by Chairman Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ranking Member Josh Hawley (R-MO), which was attended by Boston University Law Professor Woodrow Hartzog, NVIDIA Chief Scientist William Dally, and Microsoft President Brad Smith. The hearing emphasised the need to curb the misuse of AI-generated deceptive practices in content used during electoral campaigns, and AI’s misuse for other criminal purposes such as scams.

AI Insight Forum: Lawmakers and tech industry leaders also gathered at Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s inaugural AI Insight Forum last week. The meeting was held behind closed doors, so we’ve had to rely on reports by journalists gathered outside the building. The main topic was how to address the pressing requirement for AI regulation given that, according to X’s (formerly Twitter) Elon Musk, ‘AI development is potentially harmful to all humans everywhere’. Musk also floated the idea of a federal department on AI. The unanimous agreement among the tech leaders was that the government needs to intervene

Why is it relevant? Despite the USA’s traditional laissez-faire approach, the outcomes from these discussions suggest a bipartisan willingness to legislate. But disagreements over how to do this run (too?) deep. At least, there is convergence around the need for a new regulator – either through the creation of a new agency or by mandating an existing government entity such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The general election is looming around the corner, so if there are any developments to be initiated, now’s the time.

Japan publishes draft AI transparency guidelines 

Japan, the current chair of the G7, has unveiled new draft guidelines on AI transparency. The voluntary guidelines, which Tokyo will finalise by the end of the year, will urge AI platform developers to disclose vital information about the purpose of their algorithms and what they see to be the potential risks. Additionally, companies involved in AI training will be asked to disclose the data they’re utilising to train their models. 

These guidelines were outlined during a government AI strategy meeting, where it was also revealed that the government intends to earmark 164 billion yen (USD1.11 billion) for AI next year. That’s an increase of over 40% compared to this year’s allocation.

Why is it relevant? Although Japan’s AI spending shows how serious the country is in a homegrown AI industry, it re-confirms the country’s preference for non-binding rules and, therefore, indicates that there is still a split in how G7 countries choose to approach AI governance. As the current G7 chair, Japan’s preference for a softer approach puts a damper on the EU efforts to establish its upcoming AI Act as a global benchmark. But it’s not all bad: At least the Japan-led G7 AI Hiroshima Process will try to find common denominators among these widely differing approaches (see more below on what to expect in the coming weeks).


Legal battle against Google’s search monopoly abuse kicks off 

The trial of the US Justice Department’s (DOJ) major antitrust case against Google kicked off last week, signalling the start of a months-long legal battle that could potentially reshape the entire tech industry. The DOJ had filed the civil antitrust suit against Google in late 2020 after examining the company’s business for more than a year.

The lawsuit concerns Google’s search business, which the DOJ and state attorneys-general consider ‘anticompetitive and exclusionary’ sustaining its monopoly on the digital advertising market. The case revolves around Google’s agreements with smartphone manufacturers and other firms, which allegedly strengthen its search monopoly.

Google has argued that users have plenty of choices and opt for Google due to its superior product.

Why is it relevant? It’s the first major tech antitrust trial since Microsoft’s 1998 case. If Google is found to have breached antitrust law, the judge could simply order Google to refrain from these practices or, more seriously for Google, order the company to sell assets. If the DOJ loses, it would undermine years of effort by the agency to challenge Big Tech’s power.

Case details: USA v Google LLC, District Court, District of Columbia, 1:20-cv-03010


TikTok fined millions for breaching GDPR on children’s data

TikTok has been fined EUR345 million (USD370 million) for breaching privacy laws on the processing of children’s personal data in the EU, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) confirmed. The DPC gave TikTok three months to bring all of its processing into compliance where infringements were found.

TikTok was found to have allowed specific profile settings to pose severe risks to underaged users. For instance, some settings were set to public by default (anyone could view the child’s content), while another setting allowed any public user to pair their account to a child’s user account and, therefore, to direct message them.

Why is it relevant? First, the DPC’s final decision is another blow to TikTok’s woes in Europe (there’s another ongoing case in the EU). Second, it’s among the largest fines imposed on a tech company under the GDPR.


Two new lawsuits allege copyright infringement in AI-model training

A group of writers have initiated legal action against Meta and separately against OpenAI, alleging that the tech giants inappropriately used their literary creations to train their AI models.

In Meta’s case, the writers say their copyrighted books appear in the dataset that Meta has admitted to using to train LLaMA, the company’s large language model. In OpenAI’s case, ChatGPT generates in-depth analyses of the themes in the plaintiffs’ copyrighted works, which the authors say is possible only if the underlying GPT model was trained using their works.

Why is it relevant? First, the lawsuits add to the growing number of cases against AI companies over copyright infringement, broadening the legal minefield surrounding AI training. Second, it adds pressure on regulators to bring intellectual property rules up to speed with developments in generative AI. The USA is already mulling new rules, pending a public call for comment

Case details: Chabon et al v OpenAI et al, California Northern District Court, 3:2023cv04625; Chabon et al v Meta Platforms, California Northern District Court, 3:23-cv-04663

The week ahead (18–25 September)

11 September–13 October: The digital policy issues to be tackled during the 54th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) include cyberbullying and digital literacy

18 September: The Commonwealth Artificial Intelligence Consortium (CAIC) is meeting in New York to endorse a new AI action plan for sustainable development.

18–19 September: The SDG Summit in New York will mark ‘the beginning of a new phase of accelerated progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals’. It’s very much needed, considering that, with only seven years left to go, none of the 17 SDGs have been fully met.

19–26 September: The high-level debate of the UN General Assembly’s 78th session kicks off this week. The theme may well be about accelerating progress on sustainable development goals, but we can expect several countries to explain how they view AI developments and AI regulation. As usual, our team will analyse each and every country statement and tell us what’s weighing the most on governments’ minds. Subscribe for just-in-time updates.

20–21 September: The 8th session of the WIPO Conversation, a multistakeholder forum which attracts thousands of stakeholders, will be about generative AI and intellectual property.

21 September: The President of the UN General Assembly will convene a prep ministerial meeting in New York ahead of the 2024 Summit of the Future.

24 September: The EU’s Data Governance Act becomes enforceable.

PLUS: What’s ahead on the AI front

8–12 October: AI discussions will likely be a primary focus during this year’s Internet Governance Forum (IGF2023) in Japan. Expect the host country, currently at the G7’s helm, to share updates on the development of guiding principles and code of conduct for organisations developing advanced AI systems. 

1–2 November: The UK’s AI Safety Summit, scheduled to take place in Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, is expected to build consensus on international measures to tackle AI risks, which is arguably quite a challenge. But the UK’s toughest challenge is actually back home, as it faces pressure to introduce new AI rules.

November–December. The G7 digital and tech ministers are also expected to meet to sign off on draft rules before presenting them to the G7 leaders (as per outcomes of the recent G7 Hiroshima AI Process ministerial meeting).

12–14 December: The Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) will hold its annual summit in India (which holds the current presidency).

Stephanie Borg Psaila – Author
Director of Digital Policy, DiploFoundation
Virginia Paque – Editor
Senior editor – Digital Policy, DiploFoundation

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Numéro 82 de la lettre d’information Digital Watch – Septembre 2023

 Advertisement, Poster, Page, Text, Person, Face, Head


Coup d’œil : quelles sont les nouvelles tendances en matière de politique numérique ?


Le Gouvernement américain a annoncé son intention (voir : décret) d’interdire ou de restreindre ses investissements en Chine dans trois secteurs industriels – les semi-conducteurs, les technologies quantiques et les systèmes d’IA (spécifiques) – tandis que les autorités de régulation chinoises n’ont pas approuvé le projet d’Intel d’acquérir le fabricant de puces israélien Tower Semiconductor. La Ville de New York a adopté l’interdiction d’installer TikTok sur les appareils appartenant au Gouvernement.

Gouvernance de l’IA

Quatre entreprises développant l’IA – Anthropic, Google, Microsoft et OpenAI – ont lancé un nouveau corps de métier spécialisé dans le développement sûr et responsable de modèles d’IA d’avant-garde. Dans le même temps, des dizaines de grandes entreprises se sont empressées de bloquer GPTBot, le nouveau robot d’exploration d’OpenAI qui recueille des données pour alimenter ChatGPT. 

Les députés britanniques exhortent le Gouvernement à instaurer de nouvelles règles en matière d’IA d’ici à la fin de l’année, faute de quoi ils risquent d’être distancés. Les pays du groupe BRICS (Brésil, Russie, Inde, Chine et Afrique du Sud) ont créé un groupe chargé d’étudier les cadres et les normes de gouvernance de l’IA, et de contribuer à rendre ses technologies « plus sûres, plus fiables, plus contrôlables et plus équitables ». Le projet de code de pratique du Canada pour la réglementation de l’IA générative est mis à la disposition du public.

Les autorités chargées de la protection des données ont exprimé leur inquiétude quant aux pratiques des entreprises technologiques en matière de récupération de données (ou de sites web) et aux conséquences pour les données personnelles. Ce n’est pas parce que des informations sont accessibles au public sur l’Internet que les protections de la vie privée ne s’appliquent plus, précise la déclaration.


Le sixième cycle de négociations des Nations unies sur un nouveau traité relatif à la cybercriminalité s’est achevé à New York sans progrès notable.
Le logiciel malveillant Qakbot, qui a infecté plus de 700 000 appareils, a été neutralisé par une opération des services répressifs réunissant les États-Unis, la France, l’Allemagne, les Pays-Bas, le Royaume-Uni, la Roumanie et la Lettonie. Meta a supprimé des milliers de comptes et de pages liés à Spamouflage, qu’il décrit comme la plus grande opération d’influence secrète connue au monde. La société de sécurité NCC Group a signalé un nombre record d’attaques par rançongiciel en juillet, qu’elle attribue à l’exploitation d’une vulnérabilité dans MOVEit, un logiciel de transfert de fichiers, par un groupe de pirates informatiques connu sous le nom de CLOP ou Cl0p.

 Adult, Male, Man, Person, Officer, Police Officer, Clothing, Glove, Car, Transportation, Vehicle, Bicycle, Bus, Hat, Footwear, Shoe
Campaigns 70

Au Royaume-Uni, des vidéos partagées sur TikTok et Snapchat encourageant les individus à voler dans les magasins ont provoqué une forte agitation et plusieurs arrestations dans Oxford Street, à Londres. 

Les autorités américaines chargées de la sécurité et de la normalisation demandent instamment aux organisations, en particulier celles qui soutiennent les infrastructures critiques, d’envisager la migration vers des normes cryptographiques post-quantiques en prévision de cyberattaques utilisant la puissance quantique.


Il faudra du temps pour que la connexion internet de l’Afrique soit totalement rétablie après qu’un glissement de terrain sous-marin dans le canyon du Congo a endommagé deux câbles sous-marins importants qui longent la côte occidentale de l’Afrique. 

Économie de l’Internet

Le 25 août, des réglementations plus rigoureuses pour les très grandes plateformes en ligne et les moteurs de recherche sont entrées en vigueur dans le cadre de la nouvelle loi sur les services numériques de l’UE. La Commission européenne a engagé une procédure formelle à l’encontre de Microsoft pour avoir intégré le logiciel de communication Teams à Office 365. Quelques semaines plus tard, Microsoft a annoncé qu’elle dégrouperait ses logiciels pour les clients européens et suisses à partir du mois d’octobre.

L’autorité française de la concurrence enquête sur Apple pour un possible comportement discriminatoire. Les annonceurs affirment que la société leur a imposé sa politique de transparence en matière de suivi des applications (App Tracking Transparency – ATT), mais s’est exemptée des mêmes règles.

Microsoft a accepté de transférer à Ubisoft les droits de licence pour la diffusion en nuage des jeux d’Activision Blizzard, afin d’obtenir l’approbation du Royaume-Uni pour l’acquisition d’Activision. La Commission européenne devra réévaluer son approbation préalable.

Droits numériques

Le projet Worldcoin relancé par Sam Altman, qui comprend une cryptomonnaie et un réseau d’identité, a attiré l’attention des régulateurs de la vie privée en raison d’éventuelles irrégularités liées à ses méthodes de collecte de données biométriques. Les conditions d’utilisation révisées de Zoom ont suscité la controverse en raison de l’intention de l’entreprise d’utiliser les données des clients pour l’apprentissage automatique et l’IA. Elle a par la suite clarifié sa position.

L’autorité norvégienne de protection des données a imposé des amendes journalières d’un million de couronnes (98 500 USD) à Meta pour non-respect de l’interdiction du ciblage commercial basé sur le comportement par Facebook et Instagram. OpenAI fait l’objet d’une enquête en Pologne : un chercheur a affirmé que l’entreprise avait traité ses données « de manière illégale, déloyale et non transparente ».

Politique de contenu

L’administration chinoise du cyberespace a publié un projet de directives pour l’introduction d’un logiciel de gestion du temps d’écran afin d’endiguer le problème d’addiction aux téléphones intelligents chez les mineurs. 

Le Canada a critiqué Meta pour avoir banni les informations nationales de ses plateformes alors que des incendies de forêt ravageaient certaines régions du pays. Il demande à Google et à Meta de contribuer à hauteur d’au moins 230 millions de dollars canadiens (157 millions d’euros) au soutien des médias locaux.


Les projets d’identité numérique se multiplient dans le monde entier. L’ Australie prévoit de nouvelles règles pour son identification numérique soutenue par le Gouvernement fédéral d’ici l’année prochaine. Le Gouvernement américain souhaite collaborer avec le secteur privé afin de développer des normes de téléphonie mobile pour l’identification numérique, à l’instar de ce que les Philippines envisagent de faire. Le Nigeria reçoit l’aide de la Banque mondiale pour mettre en place des cartes d’identité numériques à l’échelle nationale.


Le Colloque mondial sur les indicateurs des télécommunications / TIC (WTIS) de cette année (3-4 juillet) s’est penché sur les moyens de mesurer les données pour faire progresser la connectivité universelle à l’Internet et a examiné les résultats de deux groupes d’experts qui ont réaffirmé l’importance de disposer de données comparables au niveau international pour suivre les évolutions liées aux TIC. L’UIT, en collaboration avec l’UE, a lancé le projet « Dashboard for Universal and Meaningful Connectivity » (tableau de bord pour une connectivité universelle et significative) afin de suivre les progrès et les performances des pays.

Lors du Sommet mondial AI for Good (6-7 juillet), plus de 280 projets ont présenté les capacités de l’IA à faire progresser les ODD et à répondre aux besoins urgents du monde, dans le cadre de discussions sur les politiques et les réglementations en matière d’IA, et sur l’évolution future de l’IA. 
Le Conseil de l’UIT a réuni ses 48 pays membres pour examiner les perspectives stratégiques de l’UIT. Lors du Conseil de cette année (11-21 juillet), la secrétaire générale, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, a mis en avant deux objectifs principaux pour l’UIT : la connectivité universelle et la transformation numérique durable. Le Conseil a noté que les questions numériques occupent une place de plus en plus importante dans les programmes mondiaux, notamment lors du prochain Sommet sur les objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement (2023) et du Sommet de l’avenir (2024).

En bref

IA et droits d’auteur : les États-Unis et le Royaume-Uni envisagent de nouvelles mesures

Si vous utilisez le travail de quelqu’un d’autre, vous avez alors besoin d’une autorisation. Cela résume la façon dont le monde a essentiellement abordé les droits des auteurs – jusqu’à présent.

L’ arrivée de modèles d’IA générative, comme ChatGPT, a bouleversé les règles du droit d’auteur. Tout d’abord, les modèles qui alimentent l’IA générative sont formés à partir de toutes les données qu’ils parviennent à se procurer, qu’il s’agisse ou non de contenus protégés par le droit d’auteur. Les auteurs et les artistes mécontents souhaitent que cette pratique cesse. Pour eux, la notion d’utilisation équitable ne suffit pas, surtout si des entreprises gagnent de l’argent grâce à ce système. 

Mais il y a un autre problème : les utilisateurs qui coécrivent de nouveaux contenus avec l’aide de l’IA demandent la protection du droit d’auteur pour leurs œuvres. Le droit d’auteur étant attaché à la paternité de l’œuvre, les organismes de réglementation de la propriété intellectuelle sont confrontés à un dilemme : quelles parties doivent être protégées par le droit d’auteur, et où doit se situer la limite ?

Confrontées à ces questions, les agences de la propriété intellectuelle du Royaume-Uni et des États-Unis ont lancé des procédures de consultation pour les aider à définir les prochaines démarches à entreprendre. Tous deux ont reconnu que de nouvelles règles pourraient être nécessaires.

L’action du Royaume-Uni. En juin, l’agence britannique de la propriété intellectuelle a formé un groupe de travail chargé d’élaborer un code de pratique à caractère facultatif. Microsoft, DeepMind et Stability AI figurent parmi les membres du groupe de travail, ainsi que des représentants de groupes artistiques et de recherche.

Le Gouvernement souhaite que le groupe élabore un guide de bonnes pratiques pour « … aider les entreprises d’IA à accéder à des œuvres protégées par le droit d’auteur pour alimenter leurs modèles, tout en veillant à ce que les résultats générés soient protégés (par exemple par un étiquetage) afin de soutenir les auteurs d’œuvres protégées par le droit d’auteur ». Le Gouvernement a clairement indiqué que s’il n’y avait pas d’accord ou si le guide n’était pas adopté, il pourrait légiférer.

Les questions de droits d’auteur figurent également parmi les principaux défis que le Gouvernement britannique doit relever dans le cadre de sa lutte contre la gouvernance de l’IA.
L’action des États-Unis. L’agence américaine du droit d’auteur (US Copyright Office) a lancé un appel à contributions pour recueillir les commentaires du public sur les mesures réglementaires possibles ou les nouvelles règles nécessaires pour réguler ces pratiques. Il s’agit généralement de la dernière étape avant que de nouvelles mesures ou règles ne soient proposées, et nous pourrions donc être amenés à examiner des propositions de nouvelle législation avant la fin de l’année.

A humanoid robot sitting at the desk and sketching with a pen in hand.

Les questions sur lesquelles se penche l’agence des droits d’auteur sont assez précises. Premièrement, elle souhaite comprendre comment les modèles d’IA utilisent, et devraient utiliser, des données protégées par le droit d’auteur dans leurs mécanismes d’apprentissage. Deuxièmement, elle souhaite recevoir des propositions sur la manière dont le contenu généré par l’IA pourrait être protégé par le droit d’auteur. Troisièmement, elle entend déterminer comment la responsabilité en matière de droit d’auteur fonctionnerait dans le contexte du contenu généré par l’IA. Quatrièmement, elle sollicite des commentaires sur la violation potentielle des droits de publication, c’est-à-dire les droits des individus à contrôler l’utilisation commerciale de leur image ou de leurs informations personnelles.

Sujet tabou. Et pourtant, rien ne permet de penser que ces consultations aborderont – et encore moins résoudront – la manière d’inverser les dommages déjà causés. Les contenus protégés par le droit d’auteur font désormais partie de cette masse énorme de données sur laquelle les modèles ont été entraînés, ainsi que des contenus générés par les robots d’intelligence artificielle. En outre, si l’intervention humaine est nécessaire pour déclencher la protection du droit d’auteur (comme l’indiquent les dernières orientations des États-Unis, par exemple), qu’en est-il des résultats de l’IA qui intègrent des contenus protégés par le droit d’auteur dans une proportion inquiétante ?

Solutions provisoires. Dans l’intervalle, les entreprises à l’origine de puissants modèles de langage (les modèles qui forment les outils d’IA générative) pourraient être amenées à faire davantage pour s’assurer que les contenus protégés par le droit d’auteur ne sont pas utilisés. L’une des solutions pourrait consister à mettre en œuvre des mécanismes automatisés qui détectent les œuvres protégées par le droit d’auteur dans le contenu destiné à être utilisé dans les processus de formation ou de génération, et à supprimer cette partie des données avant le début du processus de formation. Par exemple, les robots de recherche (que les sites web peuvent limiter ou désactiver) pourraient être incapables d’extraire du contenu protégé par le droit d’auteur grâce à un codage adéquat. 

Une autre solution – probablement plus attrayante pour les entreprises – consiste à trouver de nouveaux moyens, tels que l’octroi de licences, pour monétiser le processus de manière que les auteurs et le secteur de l’IA puissent en bénéficier. Il s’agit là d’une solution gagnant-gagnant.

Caricature of a human hand and an AI hand working on the same cartoon of Zarya of the Dawn

Qui est Zarya de l’Aube, le personnage qui fait notre couverture ?

Zarya est la protagoniste d’une courte bande dessinée écrite par Kris Kashtanova et illustrée par Midjourney, un générateur d’images basé sur l’IA. En septembre 2022, Kashtanova a sollicité la protection des droits d’auteur pour la bande dessinée auprès de l’Institut américain des droits d’auteur sans révéler que Midjourney était impliqué dans la création des illustrations. Le droit d’auteur a d’abord été accordé, mais l’Institut des droits d’auteur a ensuite révoqué la protection de l’œuvre d’art. Il a expliqué que seules les œuvres créées par un être humain peuvent être protégées. Dans ce cas, la mise en page, le texte et l’intrigue du livre pouvaient bénéficier d’une protection, mais pas les images elles-mêmes.

Cette affaire constitue un précédent important pour l’application de la législation sur le droit d’auteur aux œuvres générées par l’IA. La décision de l’Institut du droit d’auteur confirme que les êtres humains doivent avoir le contrôle de la production, même lorsqu’un ordinateur est impliqué dans le processus créatif. En comparaison, « au lieu d’être un outil que Mme Kashtanova contrôlait et guidait pour obtenir l’image qu’elle souhaitait, Midjourney génère des images de manière imprévisible. En conséquence, les utilisateurs de Midjourney ne sont pas les “auteurs”, aux fins du droit d’auteur, des images générées par la technologie ».

« L’effet Bruxelles » : le DSA et le cadre transatlantique de protection des données personnelles entrent en vigueur

Lorsqu’une ville devient synonyme de prouesse en matière d’élaboration de règles, ses législateurs savent qu’ils font quelque chose de bien. Telle est la renommée mondiale de Bruxelles, qui abrite les principales institutions de l’Union européenne.

Au cours des dernières semaines, deux nouveaux ensembles de règles sont entrés en vigueur, qui, avec le RGPD, établissent de nouvelles normes en matière de respect des droits des utilisateurs et de réglementation du marché. Tous deux sont susceptibles d’influencer les pratiques et les mesures dans d’autres pays, ce qui témoigne de l’influence de « l’effet Bruxelles » (un concept inventé par un professeur de droit de Columbia, semble-t-il).

Le premier. Le règlement européen sur les services numériques (DSA) vient de démarrer la mise en œuvre de mesures strictes sur 19 très grandes plateformes en ligne et moteurs de recherche. Ces mesures vont de l’obligation d’étiqueter toutes les publicités et d’informer les utilisateurs de l’identité de leurs auteurs à la possibilité pour les utilisateurs de désactiver les recommandations de contenu personnalisées. Comme pour le RGPD, l’impact du DSA s’étend au-delà des frontières de l’UE. Toute entreprise au service d’utilisateurs européens, quel que soit son lieu d’implantation, sera soumise à ces nouvelles règles. Il est intéressant de noter que parmi ces 19 entreprises majeures, seules deux sont basées en Europe :, dont le siège se trouve aux Pays-Bas, et Zalando, dont le siège se trouve en Allemagne. Les autres sont principalement originaires des États américains de Californie et de Washington (soit 15 d’entre elles), et les deux autres (Alibaba et TikTok) sont des entreprises chinoises.

Le second. Le cadre transatlantique de protection des données (TADPF) récemment adopté par l’Union européenne et les États-Unis garantit que les données personnelles des citoyens européens qui traversent l’Atlantique bénéficient du même niveau de protection aux États-Unis qu’au sein de l’Union européenne. Même la Cour de justice de l’UE contribue à « l’effet Bruxelles » : avant le TADPF, la Cour a invalidé deux versions antérieures de cadres transatlantiques – le Safe Harbor Act et le Privacy Shield –, renvoyant à chaque fois les décideurs politiques à leur propre réflexion sur la manière de faire correspondre la législation américaine aux normes de l’UE.

Respecté. Le RGPD, qui a été la première loi à donner son éponyme à la capitale belge, a fait des émules dans d’autres pays (ce que l’on appelle l’effet Bruxelles de droit). La loi chinoise sur la protection des informations personnelles (PIPL), par exemple, a été fortement influencée par le RGPD, avec des dispositions sur la collecte, le stockage et l’utilisation des données qui reflètent celles de la législation de l’UE.

Peur de manquer quelque chose. Mais « l’effet Bruxelles » est également redouté par d’autres. Dans la course à la réglementation des technologies émergentes, telles que l’IA, les pays rivalisent pour arriver les premiers, de peur d’être distancés par d’autres législations. Les députés britanniques se sont montrés particulièrement inquiets et ont insisté auprès du Gouvernement pour qu’il accélère les choses : nous pensons que si le Royaume-Uni n’introduit pas de nouvelle réglementation statutaire pendant trois ans, les bonnes intentions du Gouvernement risquent d’être dépassées par d’autres législations – comme la loi européenne sur l’IA –, qui pourraient devenir la norme de facto et être difficiles à supplanter.
L’UE a dû payer le prix de son influence en matière d’élaboration de règles, car les entreprises sont souvent très critiques à l’égard des réglementations européennes, qui sont comparativement très strictes, et l’accusent de manquer de prouesses technologiques et d’un avantage concurrentiel. Mais il s’agit d’un risque stratégiquement calculé de la part de l’UE : Bruxelles ne sait que trop bien que son pouvoir réglementaire ne peut pas être facilement limité ou déplacé.

Sans conducteur : l’avenir des taxis autonomes

La révolution de la voiture sans conducteur s’installe à San Francisco. Des centaines de voitures autonomes, appartenant principalement à Waymo, de Google, Cruise, de General Motors, Uber et Lyft, peuvent désormais être aperçues régulièrement dans les rues de la ville.

L’essor des véhicules sans conducteur intervient après que la California Public Utilities Commission, une agence de l’État, a voté le 11 août pour autoriser Waymo et Cruise à prendre des passagers payants de jour comme de nuit dans tout San Francisco.

Forte opposition. Avant le vote, la California Public Utilities Commission a dû faire face à une vive opposition de la part des habitants et des services municipaux. Les organismes chargés des transports et de la sécurité, tels que la police et les pompiers, ainsi que les habitants de la Californie, se sont opposés à l’extension des services de taxis autonomes payants pour des raisons de sécurité. Les manifestants sont descendus dans la rue non seulement pour souligner les problèmes de sécurité, mais aussi parce que les voitures affectaient les ressources nécessaires au bon fonctionnement des transports publics, par exemple en bloquant une voie très fréquentée ou en provoquant des embouteillages par des manœuvres imprévisibles.

Accident de voiture. Quelques jours plus tard, des rapports faisant état de multiples accidents dans la ville ont contraint le California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) à ordonner à General Motors de réduire le nombre de véhicules Cruise actifs. Les habitants et les services municipaux ont eu raison de s’inquiéter pour la sécurité, mais la décision du DMV n’a pas suffi à apaiser les craintes. Les manifestations se poursuivent.

Problèmes de démarrage ? Toute technologie émergente connaît des problèmes de démarrage. Cela devient critique lorsque ces problèmes menacent la vie humaine. Heureusement, les passagers impliqués directement dans ces accidents n’ont subi que des blessures ne mettant pas leur vie en danger (l’affirmation selon laquelle deux véhicules Cruise ayant bloqué par inadvertance une ambulance auraient contribué à un retard fatal dans le transfert du piéton à l’hôpital, a été réfutée par la société).Toutefois, cela soulève une question qui donne à réfléchir : et si les accidents de véhicules autonomes étaient plus graves ? Le spectre des accidents mortels, rappelant l’incident de Tesla en 2016, se profile comme un rappel obsédant des défis et des responsabilités associés au développement de la technologie de conduite autonome – et du fait que rien ne garantit que des accidents de voiture mortels ne se reproduiront pas. Il est fort probable qu’ils se répètent.

A small white car with an orange stripe carrying the word Cruise is parked on a street. It has an orange and white traffic cone on its hood.
Des méthodes peu orthodoxes : à San Francisco, un groupe de manifestants a arrêté des taxis et placé des cônes de signalisation sur leur capot pour déclencher des alarmes de sécurité. Les voitures restent bloquées jusqu’à ce qu’un technicien les réinitialise. 
Source : Safe Street Rebel

Pas d’effet de masse. Tant que les taxis autonomes n’auront pas gagné la confiance des citoyens, leur adoption sera relativement limitée. Il ne s’agit pas d’acheter un appareil électroménager après avoir lu des critiques élogieuses ou de s’inscrire sur une nouvelle plateforme de médias sociaux parce que la moitié du monde y est déjà inscrite.

Les préoccupations en matière de sécurité constituent une entrave importante qui pourrait freiner les personnes et inciter les conducteurs potentiels à réfléchir à deux fois (voire trois fois) avant de mettre leur vie entre les mains d’une voiture sans conducteur. La question est la suivante : que faudra-t-il aux taxis autonomes pour gagner – ou perdre définitivement – la confiance du public ?

PayPal va là où l’on craignait que Libra ne s’aventure

Quatre ans se sont écoulés depuis que Facebook (aujourd’hui Meta) a annoncé le lancement de sa monnaie numérique, Libra. À l’époque, l’entreprise était embourbée dans des scandales liés à la confidentialité des données, ce qui a scellé le destin du projet avant même qu’il n’ait eu le temps de prendre son envol.
Avance rapide. PayPal vient d’annoncer un nouveau projet : PayPal dollar, une monnaie stable (l’équivalent numérique des monnaies fiduciaires comme le dollar américain, l’euro et d’autres) qui est très similaire à ce que Facebook avait en tête avec Libra.

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Comment ça marche. Les prévisions de PayPal pour sa nouvelle monnaie stable remontent à 2020. Créé par Paxos, une société technologique privée spécialisée dans les monnaies stables, PayPal USD (PYUSD) a été lancé il y a quelques semaines sur la plateforme d’échange (blockchain) Ethereum. La valeur des monnaies stables est directement liée à une monnaie fiduciaire sous-jacente, généralement le dollar américain ; dans le cas présent, chaque pièce PayPal dollar est garantie à un taux de 1:1 avec le dollar américain détenu sur des comptes de réserve gérés par Paxos et d’autres dépositaires.

Au cœur d’une surveillance plus stricte. Malgré sa position, PayPal opère sur un marché où la réglementation est plus stricte. En novembre, FTX, qui était alors l’une des plus grandes bourses de cryptomonnaies au monde, a fait faillite. Dans le même ordre d’idées, Paxos a reçu l’ordre de cesser d’émettre des BUSD, la monnaie stable développée par Binance, la plus grande Bourse de cryptomonnaies au monde. À bien des égards, PYUSD fonctionne de manière très similaire à BUSD (paiements instantanés et faibles frais).

Des perspectives renforcées. Quelques différences fondamentales distinguent PayPal et sa monnaie stable. Tout d’abord, PayPal jouit d’une meilleure réputation dans le secteur financier que Facebook et Binance n’auraient jamais pu l’espérer. Deuxièmement, les décideurs politiques sont aujourd’hui plus conscients du fonctionnement des monnaies stables et de leurs avantages (et défis). Par exemple, le fait que les monnaies stables ne soient pas aussi vulnérables que les cryptomonnaies en fait une option beaucoup plus sûre. PayPal est à jour en ce qui concerne les exigences relatives à la connaissance du client, et son code source ouvert permet à quiconque de le consulter. Les chances sont en faveur de PayPal.

Pourtant, PayPal ne doit pas considérer ce moment décisif comme acquis. Il peut soit contribuer à la méfiance croissante des régulateurs à l’égard des cryptomonnaies, soit montrer que les monnaies stables – la forme la plus populaire de cryptomonnaie – sont l’avenir des paiements numériques.

Actualités de la Francophonie

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Proposition de contenus pour les deux pages « Actualités de la Francophonie » de la revue en français Digital Watch de septembre 2023 / n°82

Lancement des rencontres bimensuelles sur l’actualité de la gouvernance du numérique pour les délégations francophones auprès des Nations Unies à New York 

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Les enjeux liés aux développements technologiques occupent une place centrale dans l’agenda des Nations Unies. À New York, le numérique est devenu un sujet transversal des principaux organes onusiens, et sa transversalité s’est également révélée dans les travaux des six Commissions de l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies, qui l’abordent sous différents angles. La Première Commission s’intéresse aux implications sécuritaires du numérique en consacrant un pan important de ses travaux aux questions de cybersécurité. La Deuxième Commission l’examine sous le prisme du Programme 2030, formulant des recommandations visant à orienter le potentiel du numérique vers la mise en œuvre des Objectifs de développement durable. Ses implications en matière de droits de l’Homme sont examinées par la Troisième Commission tandis que la Quatrième Commission travaille sur le rôle des technologies numériques dans l’action de communication des Nations Unies, dans la lutte contre les discours haineux et la désinformation, de même que dans la réalisation des mandats confiés aux opérations de maintien de la paix. Le numérique n’échappe pas aux travaux de la Cinquième Commission en raison des implications budgétaires de la transformation numérique des Nations Unies. Les enjeux relatifs à la réglementation internationale du numérique font partie intégrante des travaux de la Sixième Commission.

La publication du rapport du Secrétaire général de l’ONU «Notre Programme Commun» (septembre 2021) a parallèlement donné le coup d’envoi à de multiples processus intergouvernementaux et multipartites qui abordent de manière spécifique la question du numérique dans le cadre des consultations qui jalonnent l’élaboration d’un Pacte numérique mondial et d’un Code de conduite pour l’intégrité de l’information sur les plateformes numériques. Ainsi, un chapitre de «Notre Programme Commun » est au centre des discussions intergouvernementales: les «Nations Unies 2.0», ambitieux projet pour faire, comme son nom l’indique, des innovations numériques un vecteur de modernisation des Nations Unies. Le numérique est donc omniprésent dans le travail des diplomates à New York et le sera davantage à mesure que la transition numérique engendrera de nouveaux défis et des opportunités inédites pour la paix, le développement et les droits humains.

Malgré cette importance croissante, la participation des diplomates francophones aux processus consacrés aux enjeux numériques demeure assez faible à New York, en particulier ceux des pays en développement. Faute de ressources humaines suffisamment formées à ces enjeux au sein des Missions permanentes, la question du numérique semble réservée aux experts de Genève ainsi qu’aux spécialistes dépêchés ponctuellement par les capitales pour suivre des sessions spéciales. Les intérêts des États membres de l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) pourraient pâtir de cette absence dans les sessions de discussion et de négociation qui se tiennent à New York, d’où la nécessité de renforcer la sensibilisation de leurs représentants sur les implications diplomatiques des développements numériques.

À cette fin, à travers sa Représentation auprès des Nations Unies à New York (RPNY) et sa Direction de la Francophonie économique et numérique (DFEN), l’OIF a mis en place un « Café numérique francophone » à l’intention des délégations des pays francophones.

Dans un cadre informel et sur une base régulière (bimensuelle), cette initiative consiste à réunir les experts francophones à la RPNY pour échanger durant une heure trente sur l’actualité de la coopération numérique et faire le point sur les processus des Nations Unies dédiés au numérique en vue de :

  1. soutenir l’appropriation des défis et opportunités diplomatiques liés aux développements du numérique et de l’intelligence artificielle ;
  • informer sur les processus multilatéraux consacrés aux enjeux du numérique avec un accent particulier sur les sujets les plus pertinents par rapport à l’agenda des Nations Unies à New York ;
  • encourager le dialogue et la concertation sur les points à l’agenda des instances qui traitent des divers aspects des technologies numériques en vue du développement des positions communes.

La finalité est de bâtir une communauté diplomatique francophone informée, formée et organisée pour défendre aux mieux ses intérêts et appuyer le plaidoyer de la Francophonie dans les discussions intergouvernementales sur le numérique.

S’inscrivant dans le cadre du volet « Gouvernance du numérique » du projet D-CLIC de l’OIF, la première session du Café numérique francophone s’est tenue le 6 juillet 2023. Elle a été consacrée à la Contribution de la Francophonie au Pacte numérique mondial. Remise en main propre à New York, le 3 mai 2023, à l’Envoyé pour les technologies du Secrétaire général des Nations Unies, M. Amandeep Singh Gill, cette contribution positionne l’espace francophone sur les grands enjeux de la discussion internationale sur la gouvernance du numérique et met l’accent sur deux défis de taille : le renforcement des capacités numériques comme composante indispensable pour réaliser la connectivité universelle et réduire la fracture numérique d’une part, et la défense de la diversité culturelle et linguistique dans l’espace numérique à travers un plaidoyer robuste en faveur de la « découvrabilité » des contenus en ligne d’autre part.

En savoir plus :

Une troisième cohorte de fonctionnaires et diplomates bénéficie d’une formation en ligne en français sur la gouvernance de l’Internet

À l’issue d’un appel ayant suscité plus de 300 candidatures, les 26 fonctionnaires et diplomates de 18 des Etats et gouvernements membres de l’OIF sélectionnés suivront à partir du 14 septembre un cycle de formation en ligne de 10 semaines sur l’Introduction à la gouvernance de l’Internet. Cette formation s’inscrit dans la lignée des 2 formations pilotes du projet « D-CLIC, formez-vous au numérique avec l’OIF », précédemment soutenues par l’OIF en 2022 et dispensées en français par la DiploFoundation. Afin de capitaliser sur ces actions, de toucher davantage d’agents publics francophones et d’en faire un cycle de formation de long terme, l’OIF a souhaité appuyer en 2023 l’Université Senghor pour déployer cette nouvelle activité de renforcement de capacités. Cette troisième session sera donc dispensée par cette université située à Alexandrie, opérateur direct de la Francophonie, dont la mission est de former, en français, des cadres capables de relever les défis du développement durable en Afrique et en Haïti.

À cet égard, la gouvernance de l’Internet (GI) est de plus en plus prépondérante dans le travail des diplomates et des fonctionnaires nationaux. Ce cycle de formation en français qui mobilise un minimum de 6 à 8 heures d’étude par semaine en présente les enjeux stratégiques et opérationnels pour les pays en couvrant des questions centrales, notamment : l’infrastructure et la normalisation, la cybersécurité, les questions juridiques, économiques, de développement et socioculturelles, les droits de l’Homme, ainsi que les processus et les acteurs de la GI.

À travers ce cycle de formation, l’OIF vise ainsi à renforcer les compétences des fonctionnaires et diplomates francophones afin de leur permettre de mieux apprécier les défis actuels et futurs de la gouvernance numérique. Les bénéficiaires de cette formation pourront mieux comprendre les terminologies et concepts de la gouvernance numérique mais aussi identifier ses aspects institutionnels, régionaux et internationaux.

Les candidatures féminines et provenant des pays francophones en développement membres de l’OIF ont été fortement encouragées. 30% des fonctionnaires et diplomates sélectionnés sont des femmes et plus de 92% d’entre eux proviennent de pays du Sud en développement.

Dans une dynamique de réplication de cette initiative, d’autres sessions sont prévues en 2024.

Événements à venir :

  • Conférence du Réseau francophone des régulateurs des médias – REFRAM (9-10 octobre 2023, Dakar)
  • Participation de l’OIF à l’Assemblée générale annuelle de l’ICANN (ICANN 78), Société pour l’attribution des noms de domaines et des numéros sur Internet (21-26 octobre 2023, Hambourg)

DW Weekly #127 – 11 September 2023

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Dear all,

Last week focused on the G20 Summit and the success of Indian diplomacy in fostering consensus on the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration. AI remained in focus for G7 and on both sides of the Atlantic, and Google is facing a monopoly trial in the USA, the first of its kind in the modern internet era. 

Let’s have a closer look.

Pavlina and the Digital Watch team


G20 Summit and the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration

The G20 summit over the weekend reached an unanticipated consensus. The summit statement on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, together with the inclusion of the African Union as a new member, is seen as a significant success of Indian diplomacy. 

The group adopted the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration by consensus, where digital issues received relatively higher relevance than other diplomatic issues. The declaration deals with technological transformation and digital public infrastructure, giving a boost to India’s measures to push the global adoption of digital public infrastructure. G20 Framework for Systems of Digital Public Infrastructure, the global Digital Public Infrastructure Repository, and the One Future Alliance (OFA) proposal are voluntary measures aimed at supporting the Global South to build up inclusive digital public infrastructure.

The declaration also endorses the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the G20’s Financial Stability Board (FSB)  joint paper outlining policy and regulatory recommendations to address the risks of crypto assets. 

On the topic of AI, the declaration reaffirmed existing G20 AI principles from 2019 with calls for global discussions on AI governance. The declaration also places a strong emphasis on the gender digital divide.

Why is it relevant?

The fact that the G20 has adopted a consensus document, unlike the previous G20 meetings that resulted in the chair’s summaries, is seen as a win, staving off the division within the G20. The outcomes, however, are being criticised for lack of action, implementation steps and timelines.

Digital policy roundup (5–11 September)

India, the Middle East and Europe’s new economic corridor

The USA, India, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the EU have announced a major international infrastructure project – the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) – to connect India, the Middle East, and Europe with railways, shipping lines, high-speed data cables, and energy pipelines. The project aims to counter China’s Belt and Road vision, where the Middle East is also a key player. 

Why is this relevant?

The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013, also referred to as the New Silk Road is an ambitious infrastructure project devised to link East Asia and Europe. Over the years, it has expanded to Africa, Oceania, and Latin America, broadening Chinese influence. The new IMEC project would create an economic corridor between India, the Middle East, and the EU, fostering trade and export, as well as the influence of the partner countries in this region. It also deals with laying high-speed data cables from India to Europe and providing internet access throughout this region.


G7 to develop an international code of conduct for AI

In seeking a unified approach towards AI, the G7 countries have agreed to create an international code of conduct for AI. According to the G7 statement, the current process shall result in a nonbinding international rulebook that would set principles for oversight of advanced forms of AI and cover guidelines and control over the use of AI technology. The code of conduct shall be presented to the G7 leaders at the beginning of November.

Why is this relevant?

The G7 code of conduct for AI would require companies to take responsibility for the AI mechanisms they have created, for potential societal harm, and put cybersecurity and risk management systems in place to mitigate risks caused by the AI, from its development to implementation. The G7 code of conduct aims to guide the development of regulatory and governance regimes, coinciding with the current adoption process of the EU AI Act and the US voluntary commitments in July.

Civil society issues a statement on EU’s AI Act loophole

More than 115 civil society organisations are calling on EU legislators to remove a loophole in the draft AI Act, set to be adopted by the end of the year. In a joint statement, civil society calls for changes to the high-risk classification process in Article 6, asking the legislators to revert to the original wording and ensure that the rights of people affected by AI systems are prioritised.

As per the current wording of Article 6, the regulation would allow ‘the developers of high-risk systems to decide themselves if they believe the system is “high-risk”’. As a result, the same company that would be subject to the law is given the power to decide whether the law applies to them. The changes that created this loophole were introduced as a result of lobbying efforts by tech companies

Why is this relevant?

In its original form, the draft AI Act outlined a list of ‘high-risk uses’ of AI, including AI systems used to monitor students, assess consumers’ creditworthiness, evaluate job-seekers, and determine who gets access to welfare benefits. The legislation would require developers and deployers of such high-risk AI to ensure that their systems are safe and free from discriminatory bias and to provide publicly accessible information about how their systems work.

Pressure builds to legislate on AI in the US

On the other side of the Atlantic, Biden’s administration is under increased pressure to require government agencies to comply with the AI Bill of Rights. More than 60 organisations currently called for the AI Bill of Rights to be a binding policy for US federal government agencies, contractors, and grantees to ensure guardrails and protections against algorithmic abuse.

The USA has taken a comparatively hands-off approach to AI regulation so far. However, the calls to legislate have now materialised in a bipartisan AI legislative effort. The heads of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and Law, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), announced a framework to regulate AI. According to The Hill, ‘The framework calls for establishing a licensing regime administered by an independent oversight body. It would require companies that develop AI models to register with the oversight authority, which would have the power to audit the companies seeking licenses.’ It also calls for Congress to clarify that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields tech companies from legal consequences of content posted by third parties, does not apply to AI.

Why is this relevant?

The latest push to legislate AI would put in place a binding framework for companies (through the AI framework) and the US federal government (through the binding AI Bill of Rights), providing transparency protection to consumers and children and defending national security. The AI Framework announcement comes days before the AI Senate Forum scheduled for 13 September. The initiative of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will bring together top executives of the biggest tech companies to an ‘Insight Forum’ and is aimed to supplement the work already underway regarding AI regulation.

UNESCO released guidance on AI in education

Another call to regulate generative AI, this time in schools, comes from UNESCO with its Guidance for Generative AI in Education and Research. According to the guidance, governments should take steps to safeguard data privacy and implement age restrictions (minimum age limit of 13 years) for users, without delay. 

Why is this relevant?

Most educational institutions worldwide are currently faced with the dilemma of implementing and overseeing AI in educational processes. In addition to the dilemma of whether AI should be prohibited or not and how it should be regulated, the current generative AI models, such as ChatGPT, are trained on data from online users, which mostly reflect the values and dominant social norms of the Global North and, therefore, may widen the digital divide.

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European Commission designates six companies as gatekeepers under the DMA

The European Commission has designated 6 major tech companies, including Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta, and Microsoft, as gatekeepers under the Digital Markets Act (DMA), concluding a 45-day review process. The designation applies to a total of 22 core platform services provided by these companies.

These companies must ensure full compliance with the relevant obligations under the DMA  until 6 March 2024, related to, for example, data use, favouring of own products or services, pre-installation of applications or default settings, interoperability, etc.

In the event a gatekeeper breaches the rules under the DMA, it risks being fined up to 10% of its total global annual turnover. This can be increased to up to 20% of the total annual turnover in case of repeated offences.

Why is this relevant?

The DMA is directly applicable in EU member states. Third parties may invoke the rights and obligations stemming from the DMA directly in their national courts.

Google faces trial on market dominance

In the 1st trial on a monopoly of Big Tech companies since 1998, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and a bipartisan group of attorneys general from 38 states and territories has commenced a trial against Google on the question of whether Google abused its dominant position in online search. Filed 3 years ago, the case – U.S. et al, v. Google,  alleges that Google used its 90 percent market share to illegally throttle competition in both searches and search advertising. This trial is seen as pivotal for 2 reasons. It moves beyond challenging the mergers and acquisitions of Big Tech to examine their business models, and it is the first case by the DOJ since 1998, when it successfully argued that Microsoft monopolised the personal computers market. 

On the same note, Google has agreed to pay USD2 billion in a tentative settlement with 50 US states on an alleged app store monopoly. 

Why is this relevant?

The outcome of this case will set a precedent for Big Tech on their business practices and their contribution to market dominance. The trial is set to last ten weeks.

The week ahead (11–18 September)

12–15 September: WTO Public Forum 2023 (Geneva), with a launch of the Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation Global Report 2023: State of Play and Way Forward on 15 September 

11 September–13 October: The 54th session of the Human Rights Council

14–15 September: Global Cyber Conference 2023

18–19 September: SDG Summit 2023

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The Rise of Generative AI and the Coming Era of Social Media Manipulation 3.0

The RAND Corporation published a report on the impacts of generative AI on social media manipulation and national security risks. While the authors focus on China as an example of this potential threat, many factors could use generative AI for social media manipulation, including technically sophisticated non-state actors. Read the full report.

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Digital Government Review of Latin America and the Caribbean

The OECD report analyses how governments in Latin America and the Caribbean could use digital technology and data to foster responsiveness, resilience, and proactivity in the public sector. Looking at governance frameworks, digital government capabilities, data-driven public sector, public service design and delivery, and digital innovation in the public sector, it provides policy recommendations. Read the full report.

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Pavlina Ittelson – Author
Executive Director, Diplo US
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Virginia Paque – Editor
Senior Editor Digital Policy, DiploFoundation