By Joanna Kulesza
This year I had the opportunity to support the NCUC at the annual WSIS Forum held in Geneva on 19-23 March 2018. During this important internet governance event ICANN and NCUC were well represented through broad community presence, a dedicated information booth and, last but not least, three ICANN-organized panels with strong NCUC presence that focused on:
– “Multistakeholder Decision Making in Global Internet Governance” (session 212, https://www.itu.int/net4/wsis/forum/2018/Pages/Agenda/Session/212#intro)
– “A Dialogue on different cooperation models for approaches to Internet Public Policy development” (session 196, https://www.itu.int/net4/wsis/forum/2018/Pages/Agenda/Session/196#intro) and
– “ICANN, Data Protection and the GDPR” (session 197, https://www.itu.int/net4/wsis/forum/2018/Pages/Agenda/Session/197).
One of the opening sessions in Geneva was ICANN’s Cross Community Working Group on Internet Governance (CCWG IG) workshop focused on “A Dialogue on different cooperation models for approaches to Internet Public Policy development”. The panelists discussed different modes of multistakeholder engagement as represented within various policy making platforms, setting them against their tangible outcomes. They presented different venues for IG policy making, including the IGF, NetMundial and ICANN, discussing their individual virtues and vices. The panel included statements from NCUC’s Tatiana Tropina and myself, as well as ICANN’s Matthew Shears and Nigel Hickson; Preetam Maloor from ITU; Torbjorn Fredriksson from UNCTAD and Hu Xianhong form UNESCO.
The NCUC panel on “Multistakeholder Decision Making in Global Internet Governance”was originally proposed by NCUC Chair, Renata Aquino Ribeiro and co-organized together with William Drake, who also acted as the moderator for the discussion. It included statements from Markus Kummer, a former IGF Executive Coordinator and a former ICANN Board member; Larry Strickling, Executive Director of the Collaborative Governance Project and former Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information in the US Department of Commerce (participating remotely) and myself. The panelists discussed the consequences of the rapid growth of multistakeholder decision making and ways in which the levels of multistakeholder input and engagement can be altered to provide a more substantial outcome. It also covered analogies between IG and other areas of international relations, such as environmental protection or international trade, ones that have been able to successfully accommodated private parties’ participation in international standard setting and law making. Lessons learned from those areas can be used to better adapt to the challenges posed to the IG multistakeholder community by new data privacy (GDPR) and cybersecurity (NIS Directive) laws and regulations. The outcomes of the session focused on the need to ensure multistakeholder decision as a very practical addition to the toolbox of international collective action and included a recommendation for inclusive agreements among governments and other stakeholders which could support the goals set in the WSIS Action lines (for moderator’s full summary please see here: https://www.itu.int/net4/wsis/forum/2018/Content/Uploads/DOC/7627a7f9f6f94975b31e79deb8d1522e/session-212_summary.pdf).
During 2018 WSIS Forum ICANN was one of the few participants who proposed a debate on what is likely the hottest issues in ongoing European policy debate – the General Data Protection Regulation, to enter into force next month (May 2018). Session on “ICANN, Data Protection and the GDPR” raised much community interest and included a statement from NCUC’s William Drake, who focused on the human rights challenges to GDPR compliance, with particular emphasis on ICANN’s WHOIS policy. He reiterated the need to ensure a transparent and legitimate authorization model for WHOIS access, one likely not to be granted by the currently proposed model of GAC supervision. For an NCUC statement on the current state of this debate se here: https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/gdpr-comments-ncsg-article-29-wp-whois-23apr18-en.pdf. This session covered all issues related to the importance of data protection across the internet governance community, in particular the role of Registrars and Registries administering data for domain names. It was moderated by ICANN’s Theresa Swinehart and included statements from NCUC’s Bill Drake, Chérif DIALLO and Bakarr Tarawally representing ICANN’s GAC as well as Paul Mitchell from Microsoft and Peter Micek from Access Now.
NCUC was also invited to support the Facilitation Meeting for Action Lines C1, C7 eGov, C11, organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, focused on “Aligning ICT and E-Government Strategies with National Development Strategies” (session 145, https://www.itu.int/net4/wsis/forum/2018/Pages/Agenda/Session/145#intro). The panelists attempted to answer the question on how governments could better use ICT and e-government strategies within National Development Strategies to enhance the benefits of these technologies in “building resilience and sustainable development” (see the session page for more details). Examples form Europe, Asia and South America were presented to showcase successful national ICT strategies, supporting ITU goals. On behalf of the NCUC community I addressed the need to ensure human rights protection in general and privacy and freedom of expression concerns in particular in all comprehensive IT strategies, especially those that are operated and enforced by national authorities.
Throughout the event NCUC closely followed and contributed to the IGF Open Consultations and MAG Meeting, providing social media outreach for NCUC and ICANN.
WSIS Forum was a wonderful policy making experience and I am thankful to the community for entrusting me with representing it during the event. It is my strong conviction that NCUC presence and ICANN’s input into the debate was highly valued by the community, having received direct comments to that effect from various stakeholders. I want to particularly thank the NCUC/ICANN community members on site, helping me navigate through the perplexities of IG policy making as well as the Executive Committee for their vote of confidence in entrusting me to carry on the NCUC legacy at this particularly significant policy making event.