Digital policy trends in June 2023
Digital policy developments that made global headlines
The digital policy landscape changes daily, so here are all the main developments from June. There’s more detail in each update on the Digital Watch Observatory.
Global digital governance architecture
The last two Global Digital Compact (GDC) thematic deep dives focused on the global digital commons and accelerating the SDGs progress.
The USA and the UK signed the Atlantic Declaration, focusing on ensuring leadership in critical and emerging technologies, economic security and technology protection, and digital transformation.
The World Bank released the 2023 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting the role of data in implementing the SDGs.
The Internet Society launched the NetLoss calculator to understand and estimate the economic cost of internet shutdowns.
Swiss federal websites suffered a DDoS cyberattack by NoName, a pro-Russia hacker group.
The Swiss Federal Intelligence Service predicts a rise in cyberespionage threats in Europe due to Western actions against Russian intelligence networks. The US CISA director warned of rising risk from Chinese hackers targeting critical US infrastructure during a potential conflict. NATO plans to expand military cyber defenders’ role during peacetime and integrate private sector capabilities permanently.
The Zero Draft of the second Annual Progress Report of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on the security of and in the use of ICTs was published.
UK’s Online Safety Bill amendments require tech platforms to provide parents with personal data of children whose deaths are suspected to be related to online harm and introduce prison terms for sharing deepfakes and revenge porn.
Researchers found that Instagram’s algorithms recommend child-sex content to paedophiles. Meta, Instagram’s parent company, has since organised a task group to investigate. Israel launched a new online service to report online child abuse. China issued draft guidelines to tackle online bullying.
Meta stated that EU telecom operators should view subsidies from Big Tech as a last resort for financial assistance to cover network costs.
Caribbean network operators argue that OTTs should contribute fairly to infrastructure costs.
E-commerce and the internet economy
The European Commission proposed legislation to establish a framework to introduce a digital euro.
Microsoft and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) faced off in federal court over the FTC’s request that a judge block the Microsoft – Activision deal.
The UN Secretary-General called for improving digital accessibility for persons with disabilities.
OpenAI and Microsoft have been sued in California for data theft and privacy violations.
Nigeria’s Data Protection Act 2023 was signed into law, defining rules for processing personal data, imposing restrictions on the cross-border transfer of personal data, and defining data subject rights.
The Swedish Data Protection Authority has imposed a EUR5 million (USD5.5 million) fine on digital music service company Spotify for breaching several GDPR provisions.
Twitter is implementing limits on the number of tweets that different accounts can read per day.
Jurisdiction and legal issues
The EU has reached a political agreement on the Data Act, which sets principles of data access, portability, and sharing for users of IoT products.
The European Commission has launched formal proceedings against Google after concluding in a preliminary investigation that the company breached EU antitrust rules in the adtech industry, and that divestment is necessary.
The EU launched a EUR8.1 billion initiative to support the development of 5G, 6G, AI, autonomous vehicles and quantum computing.
The Dutch government will impose restrictions on semiconductor equipment exports, requiring companies to obtain licences for certain advanced manufacturing equipment starting 1 September. The USA is reportedly considering further AI chip export restrictions to China. China, the world’s top supplier of gallium and germanium, will mandate that exporters obtain permission to ship these products starting 1 August.
MOVEit hack: what is it and why is it important?
Policy updates from International Geneva
The annual International Labour Organization (ILO) conference addressed several issues: a just transition towards sustainable and inclusive economies, quality apprenticeships, and labour protection.
The 2nd Recurrent Discussion Committee on Labour Protection, about the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work in 2019, concluded that ILO ‘should strengthen its
support to governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations’ in harnessing digital technologies to improve working conditions and occupational safety and health (OSH), especially in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). ILO should also ‘intensify knowledge development and capacity-building activities’ to understand the impacts of ‘digitalization, including artificial intelligence and algorithmic management’ on emerging OSH issues.
The 53rd session of the Human Rights Council | 19 June–14 July
The Council presented in an interactive dialogue on 22 June the Report of the Special Rapporteur on ‘Digital innovations, technologies, and the right to health’ (A/HRC/53/65). Furthermore, the Council hosted a panel discussion on 3 July to highlight the important role that digital, media and information literacy (DMIL) plays in empowering the disadvantaged with the right to freedom of expression. The Special Rapporteur recommended in her report (A/HRC/53/25) that states prioritise incorporating DMIL into national development plans.
The 2023 edition of the Innovations Dialogue welcomed military, technical, legal, and ethical experts to explore the impact of AI on autonomous weapons, domain-crossing warfare (land, sea, and air), and the emergence of new domains (cyber, space, cognitive, etc.).
Built on last year’s Innovations Dialogue, where much theorisation around AI’s capability to unlock next-generation military capacity took place, this year’s focus turned to more domain-specific requirements for the seamless adoption of AI and the unique challenges that each application creates. In addition to the integration of AI systems into weaponry, the speakers discussed how AI-assisted information-gathering systems require oversight, human-led decision-making, and more explainability in algorithm calculations.
What to watch for: Global digital policy events in June
6–7 July 2023, AI for Good Global Summit 2023 (Geneva, Switzerland and online)
The AI for Good Global Summit 2023 aims to identify practical applications of AI to accelerate progress towards the UN sustainable development goals through practical AI applications. It features interactive stages, keynote speakers, cutting-edge solutions, and AI-inspired performances, fostering networking and collaboration for safe, inclusive AI development and equal access to its advantages. The summit covers topics such as how AI can advance health, climate, gender equality, inclusive prosperity, and sustainable infrastructure.
10–12 July 2023, Second IGF Open Consultations and MAG Meeting (Geneva, Switzerland)
The UN office in Geneva will host the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2023 Second Open Consultations and Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) Meeting, providing stakeholders with the opportunity to contribute to the program and allowing MAG members to finalise the workshop list and discuss main session topics and the high-level track. The agenda includes workshop selection, reviewing other IGF sessions and Day 0 sessions, developing the program aligned with strategic priorities, and main session discussions.
10–19 July 2023, High-Level Political Forum 2023 (New York, USA)
The UN Economic and Social Council will host the UN’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) with the theme ‘Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels’. In addition to in-depth reviews of SDGs 6, 7, 9, 11, and 17, the forum will present countries’ voluntary national reviews of their 2030 Agenda implementation. The event also includes a three-day ministerial segment and various side events, including UNCTAD’s ‘Developing innovative capabilities for sustainable development’.
24–28 July 2023, OEWG 5th substantive session (New York, USA)
The UN OEWG on the security of and in the use of ICTs, tasked with studying existing and potential threats to information security and possible confidence-building measures and capacity development, will hold its fifth substantive session in New York. Deeper discussions of the Annual Progress Report (APR) will be on the agenda.
21 August–1 September 2023, Ad Hoc Committee on Cybercrime 6th session (New York, USA)
The Ad Hoc Committee on Cybercrime, an intergovernmental committee composed of experts and representatives of all regions tasked with advancing a new cybercrime convention, will hold its 6th and last session 2 August–1 September 2023. The committee’s Concluding session is scheduled to take place from 29 January to 9 February 2024, after which its work will be finalised with the presentation of a draft convention to the UN General Assembly during its 78th session in September 2024.