“Today the internet has more rights for user data than states”

14.11.2018

The UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, hosts the 13th global Internet Governance Forum (IGF 2018). The event is attended by over 2,000 participants from all over the world. The Russian delegation is led by experts of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ and other Russian registries as well as representatives of the Russian State Duma, Ministry of Communications and Foreign Ministry.

President of France Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres spoke at the opening ceremony of the forum. In his report, Macron touched upon the acutest problems of the modern internet: net neutrality, cyberattacks with state involvement, human rights on the internet, digital inequality and different approaches to internet governance. According to Macron, today internet businesses have more rights for user data than states. He also called France, Switzerland and Germany the main drivers of the development of the internet and digital economy in Europe.

The forum included an open discussion panel featuring representatives from various international organizations who discussed how digitalization all over the world influenced the development of society and lives of the public in various countries. ICANN President Goran Marby noted in his speech that access to information had always been an exclusive right and privilege of a small group of people, but today international organizations, including ICANN, are trying to give this right to as many people on Earth as possible. However, this approach also means that information about each person is getting more open for others, according to Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, President of the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL). “We must look for a balance between the constantly arising new technology that gather ever more data about us and the users’ desire to keep their personal lives intact,” she said.

Orange CEO Stephane Richard noted that today there is a certain slant in the development of the world’s leading software: “As of today, all leading digital platforms in the world have been created in the US or China. There are no popular platforms from Europe or Africa. Unfortunately, what Europe does best is exporting regulatory initiatives.”

“The agenda of the Russian IGF in many ways coincides with the topics discussed at the global Internet Governance Forum. It is very interesting to watch how subjects raised at international events are crystalized at the local level reflecting the problems of regions. This is a bilateral process: ideas voiced during national or regional IGFs, later become part of the global agenda. For example, last year during the 2017 IGF in Geneva we had a section dedicated to IDN, which is one of the region’s most topical problems. At the same time, cybersecurity in its various aspects was the main theme of the Russian forum; it is also the center of attention at the global one. The forum’s emphases are only being formed, but we can already see that many meetings are dedicated to the problems of ethics on the internet, the influence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and a dialogue of the states while countering cybercrime and further overcoming the digital gap. Of course, these topics will be reflected in the agenda of the Russian forum,” said the Coordination Center Director Andrey Vorobyev.