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Launch of Internet & Jurisdiction Global Status Report 2019 Key Findings

This is part 2 of 3 posts on the Internet & Jurisdiction Network Conference held in Berlin 3-5 June.

The Internet & Jurisdiction Global Status Report 2019 was launched at the I&J Network Conference. Commissioned in response to an urgent call for mapping of global initiatives at the Ottawa conference, it is the first of its kind and gives an overview and documentation of past, current and emerging trends, relevant actors and proposed solutions to the major cross - border legal policy challenges facing our connected society. It is building a contributors and expert network. The full edition is being released at the Internet Governance Forum in November in Berlin. The report is being compiled by Dan Jerker B. Svantesson, Professor at Faculty of Law, Bond University.

The key finding of the report is that finally there is a genuine and strong desire for real action.

The highlights are:

• a growing concern over abuses

• proliferation of initiatives

• competing legitimate interests need reconciling (eg privacy vs law enforcement) - there are “genuine regulatory challenges”

• new roles for intermediaries

• existing legal concepts are under stress.

Speakers following the author made the following points:

• we are in uncharted territory and we need a baseline for regulation that must be fit for purpose

• half the world is not connected to the internet and there is a vast digital divide. This will lead to increasing inequality which can threaten peace. The digital divide for women in particular is a big issue especially in developing countries where they are excluded from participation; there is also the issue of cyber violence against women and children.

• data protection and copyright were noted as considerations and mentioned several times by different speakers.

Denmark applauded the report as a very important first step to increase the knowledge base, and recognised its multistakeholder approach. Denmark has created the world’s first Tech Embassy to understand the global tech giants’ impact on society and to better respond the 4th Industrial Revolution. Most tech giants are now wealthier and more powerful than many countries and technology is going to be the parameter that defines development. The Tech Embassy gives Denmark a formalised and structured platform on which to put technology and to negotiate and interact with companies. The relationship between private actors and governments needs to be much closer, without giving the tech giants the status of UN membership. The speaker noted that there is agreement on the challenges across different stakeholders, which is positive, but now it is time to look at the much more difficult challenge - to find solutions.

The OECD noted that freedom of expression is mostly happening online and quoted Article 17, Human Rights, Freedom of expression. We are dealing with the interdependence of billions of people and billions of machines. Almost every law has cross border implications and the OECD is dealing with regulatory connectivity.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will increasingly govern our lives and the internet. Both the EU and UNESCO are considering aspects of AI. The EU Commission is “proposing an approach that places people at the centre of the development of AI (human-centric AI) and encourages the use of this powerful technology to help solve the world's biggest challenges such as climate change, safe transportation and cybersecurity.” UNESCO is working on a human centred AI approach based on the potential benefits and challenges of AI and its applications, particularly in the areas related to education, the sciences, culture, and access to information, with a specific focus on gender equality and Africa.

Access Now, a civil society organisation, noted that legal dependencies need improvement, and that we don’t need new laws. When the next billion people come on the internet it will not be the same as the internet today.

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