The incoming European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed commitment to new ‘legislation for a coordinated European approach on the human and ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence’ (AI). The announced legislation is a part of the political guidelines for the next European Commission 2019-2024. The guidelines emphasise von der Leyen’s focus on ‘grasping opportunities from the digital age within safe and ethical boundaries’. Next to the legislation on ethical implications, von der Leyen announced several other points for Europe’s digital future, among which are 5G, AI, digital economy and education agenda. She further aims to refocus the European Union into an instrument that advances the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, also in regard to digital development. The new legislation on ethical AI is set to be put forward by the end of her first 100 days in office.
United States and the European Union reaffirm cooperation and shared values in the global digital economy
In a joint statement following the 16th United States (U.S.) and the European Union (EU) Information Society Dialogue (ISD), held on 23 May 2019 in Washington D.C., both sides reaffrimed commitment to enhancing global security and prosperity. Commitment to counter the use of Internet for terrorist activities was stressed. It also emphasises the importance of ‘mutual coordination on digital matters in international fora such as the G7, G20, the International Telecommunications Union, WTO, and Internet Governance Forum’. Thirdly, it mentions concerns about the use of ICTs for repression and social control. Underscored as relevant were further development of the fifth generation Internet (5G), as well as addressing issues and threats related to its use. Participants exchanged updates on their cybersecurity policies, discussed the EU Cybersecurity Act implications, as well as how to improve the trans-Atlantic trade. It was agreed for the next ISD to be organised by the EU in 2020, in Brussels.
In collaboration with McKinsey and Company, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has published the ‘Data Collaboration for the Common Good: Enabling Trust and Innovation Through Public-Private Partnerships’ report. It identifies ‘systemic lack of trust’ among stakeholders as one of the main obstacles to ensuring inclusion and resilience as the global economy moves through the fourth industrial revolution. Therefore, the reports sets out to provide a governance framework focused on building trust among stakeholders and achieving ‘impact for a shared digital future’. Data innovation, stakeholder alignment, and economic sustainability and scalability, are some of the main instruments mentioned in the report. They are seen as crucial for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report concludes that advancing the collaborative public-private data life cycle will enable faster decision-making during humanitarian crises, better insights of SDGs indicators and help solve global health and poverty challenges.
Microsoft Europe has published the Five Ideas for Five Years outline, aimed at supporting a 'strong digital Europe'. While applauding the EU for innovation and responsible use of technologies, the outline sets out to advance the debate around technologies and challenges such as climate change, curing diseases and public safety. The second chapter, Artificial Intelligence and Ethics, focuses on ethical issues arising from the increased use of artificial intelligence and cloud computing across the European industries. Discrimination issues related to the use of facial recognition systems are noted as the main challenge currently. According to Microsoft, the European Union decision-making should ensure development of ethical AI, based on the 'common principles such as fairness, reliability, safety, privacy, security, and inclusiveness, and underscored through transparency and accountability'.
After the Russian State Duma adopted the law on stable operation of the Runet, it has been approved by the Federation Council which is the upper chamber and signed by President Putin on 1 May. The law is set to take effect on 1 November 2019 and should ensure what Kremlin refers to as a ’sustainable, secure, and fully functioning' Russian Internet in case it is disconnected from the global infrastructure of the world wide web. Critics have warned that it will expand governmental control over the Internet and lead to censorship and surveillance over wide parts of the network. Russian officials first submitted the new measures in December 2018 as a response to the United States cyber strategy following the 2016 presidential elections.
Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace releases call to protect the public core of the Internet
The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC) - created to develop proposals for norms and policies to enhance international security and stability - released a “Call to Protect the Public Core of the Internet” after its Delhi meeting (20-21 December). The declaration urges state and non-state actors to avoid activity that would intentionally and substantially damage the general availability or integrity of the “public core” of the Internet. It proposes the adoption of the following norm by all stakeholders: “Without prejudice to their rights and obligations, state and non-state actors should not conduct or knowingly allow activity that intentionally and substantially damages the general availability or integrity of the public core of the Internet, and therefore the stability of cyberspace”.
White House advisor Steve Bannon believes that essential tech platforms such as Facebook and Google should be regulated as utilities. Speaking anonymously to The Intercept, three sources close to Brannon said that the advisor believes that Facebook and Google have become a necessity in contemporary life. Regulating them as utilities would mean that they are more tightly regulated in what the platforms are able to do and which prices they are able to charge. The plan is akin to the FCC’s order that already regulates Internet service providers as utilities - an order which the Trump administration is seeking to reverse.
Microsoft CEO Brad Smith has renewed the call for a Digital Geneva Convention, in response to the WannaCry ransomware cyber attack, on 12 May. Governments should treat the attack as a wake-up call, and should take a different approach by adhering in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world. Among the proposed provisions of the convention is the requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors.
Microsoft’s Brad Smith announced three new documents that continue to shape the proposal for a Digital Geneva Convention. The first carries key clauses which should form part of the convention; the second outlines a common set of principles and behaviours for the tech sector to help protect civilians in cyberspace; the third proposes the setting up of an independent attribution organisation to identify wrongdoing. In February, Microsoft issued a call for a convention that whould ‘commit governments to avoiding cyber-attacks that target the private sector or critical infrastructure or the use of hacking to steal intellectual property’.
Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC), the new global multistakeholder body addressing risks in cyberspace, has been established during the 2017 Munich Security Conference. According to the announcement by The Kingdom of the Netherlands, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) and the EastWest Institute (EWI), GCSC is "a global body formed to convene key global stakeholders to develop proposals for norms and policy initiatives to improve the stability and security of cyberspace". Headquartered in The Hague, GCSC will gather number of independent commissioners from over 15 countries and from various stakeholders, and will be chaired by the Marina Kaljurand, former Foreign Minister of Estonia and the member of the UN Group of Governmental Experts on cybersecurity. It will also be supported by Microsoft and the Internet Society (ISOC), among others. GCSC will develop proposals for norms and policies to enhance the stability of cyberspace, and work on the exchange of knowledge and ideas between governments, the business community, academia and users. GCSC commissioner and co-chair Michael Chertoff, a former Head of Homeland Security of the USA, compared the Internet to the high seas and called for global rules of cyberspace that would make it possible for everybody to use the cyberspace similarly to how international rules allow everybody to use the oceans.