Assessing implications of Internet shutdowns according to Internet governance principles

19 December 2017 - A Workshop on Other in Geneva, Switzerland

Agenda

Proposer's Name: Mr. Hartmut Glaser
Proposer's Organization: Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br)
Co-Proposer's Name: Mr. Juliano Cappi
Co-Proposer's Organization: NIC.br
Co-Organizers:
Mr.,Carlos,DESOUZA,CivilSociety,Instituto de Tecnologia e Sociedade - ITS-Rio

Session Format: Round Table - 90 Min

Proposer:
Country: Brazil
Stakeholder Group: Technical Community

Co-Proposer:
Country: Brazil
Stakeholder Group: Technical Community

Participants:
Carlos Affonso (Civil Society, ITS Rio, Brazil)
Kyung-Sin Park (Technical Community, Korea University / Open Net Korea)
Monica Rosina (Private Sector, Facebook, Brazil)
Neide Oliveira (Government Sector, Federal Prosecution Service, Brazil)
Paul Fehlinger (Civil Society, Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network)
Peter Micek (Civil Society, Access Now, US)
Stefanie Felsberger (Civil Society, A2K4D, Egypt)
Susan Chalmers (Government Sector, NTIA, US)
Thiago Tavares (Civil Society, SaferNet, Brazil)

Content of the Session:

This workshop aims at discussing the shutdown of Internet applications and services in selected countries, delving into their motivations and impacts considering the technical, economic and social perspectives. Debates about the interruption of access to Internet services and content are not recent. In 2011, during the “Arab Spring”, websites like Twitter and Facebook were cut off within Egypt in an attempt of the government to prevent social media from being used to foment political protests. Despite some policy advances in the past few years, in 2016, Vladmir Putin threatened to block Google, Twitter and Facebook if they didn’t comply with a demand of data from Russian bloggers. Last December, Justice John Nicholas from the Australian Federal Court, ordered Internet service providers (ISPs) to “take reasonable steps to disable access” to Pirate Bay, Torrentz, and the streaming service SolarMovie, in a bid to crack down on online copyright infringement. The suggested strategy to block the applications was using the domain name system (DNS). In Brazil, the subject returned to the center of the debates between in 2015, mainly due to the action of the judiciary, which issued decisions on the blocking of Whatsapp throughout the country; a measure that affected citizens and organizations from other countries in the region. The decisions looked at telecommunication network operators and ISPs and led to discussions at the Legislative and the Supreme Court.
In this context, the proposed agenda includes a debate on the following issues: a) shutdown as a mechanism for law enforcement; b) challenges and risks of implementing application blocking; c) Internet Governance Principles at stake (net neutrality, freedom of expression, innovation).
Panelists will be invited to discuss the emergence of this new “Internet shutdowns trend” in a round-table. There will be an initial presentation to set the scene that will be followed by an open discussion. In order to stimulate the debate, representatives from government, technical community, civil society, lawyers and Internet applications will be invited to join the discussion.

Relevance of the Session:
This proposal is relevant to the extent that it seeks to broaden the scope of analysis that focus on Internet shutdowns, considering the technical economical and social impacts of its implementation and the various constraints involved in the cases of interruption of access to applications worldwide.
Despite the emergence of new cases regarding interruption of access to some specific Internet applications in the last years, many disputes and conflicts generated by its implementation have not been settled at all. Apparently, government institutions are using that strategy as an essential instrument to enforce national legal systems on transnational services. From a legal perspective, it is important to highlight that case law on the issue is scarce in many countries and that the technicalities of the Internet are still a challenge for justice operators who are striving to make sense of the complexity of the matter.. From a technical perspective, the implementation of application blocking is a challenge that involves many different instances of the Internet. The implementation on the physical layer may lack precision, resulting on the exclusion of unexpected groups of Internet users and even unexpected Internet services. The use of the Domain Name System to block a given application may raise questions on the role of Internet registries, registrars, name server providers, hosting providers, etc., which are entitled fundamentally of operating domain names. Finally, from the social perspective the increase in the number of cases of application blocking cases may endanger basic Internet Governance principles like Network Neutrality, freedom of expression and innovation – having a particular impact on developing countries. It is fundamental to bring together different actors involved in the implementation of application blocking to debate the issue in a multistakeholder, interdisciplinary and international context in order to advance in comprehending this phenomena and identifying its causes in order to put attention to them from different perspectives.

Tag 1: Blocking
Tag 2: Net Neutrality
Tag 3: Freedom of Expression Online

Interventions:
The session is structured around three 30-minute segments. The first will count on a general introduction about the topic under discussion by one of the moderators. He will summarize his briefing by posing a policy question to the participants. The question will be related the overall impacts of Internet shutdowns and application blocking observed in different regions. A 20-minute segment will follow in which participants in the round-table will be able to make 2-minute interventions at a time. In the second 30-minute segment, the other moderator will present some conceptual and practical challenges related the tensions between localization and the transnational nature of Internet flows, with a special focus on the issue of jurisdiction. He/she will provoke participants to look into the future with a policy question related to the “challenges for the next decade” in relation to issue of jurisdiction. Another 20-minute segment will follow in which participants in the round-table will be able to make 2-minute interventions at a time. The last part of the session will comprise a 30-minute open mic session that will be based on a policy question that delves into “the role of the multistakeholder community in coping with the facts and challenges listed in the previous segments”. The five last minutes of the third segment will be used by the moderators to summarize discussions.

The workshop participants are:

Moderators
Paul Fehlinger (Civil Society, Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network)
Thiago Tavares (Civil Society, SaferNet, Brazil)

Speakers
Carlos Affonso (Civil Society, ITS Rio, Brazil)
Kyung-Sin Park (Technical Community, Korea University / Open Net Korea)
Monica Rosina (Private Sector, Facebook, Brazil)
Neide Oliveira (Government Sector, Federal Prosecution Service, Brazil)
Peter Micek (Civil Society, Access Now, US)
Stefanie Felsberger (Civil Society, A2K4D, Egypt)
Susan Chalmers (Government Sector, NTIA, US)

Diversity:

The perspective defined to approach the complexity of application blocking requires a broad diversity of participants to accomplish the workshop objectives. The selected cases of application blocking are from different countries, involve actors from different sectors of society and also demands a multidisciplinary approach considering the broad impact of its implementation. As Internet shutdowns may affect specific groups in different manners, gender diversity is also fundamental to understand and measure the problem.

Onsite Moderator: Paul Fhelinger - Civil Society, Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network
Onsite Moderator: Thiago Tavares - Civil Society, SaferNet, Brazil

Online Moderator: Diego Canabarro - Technical Community - NIC.br

Rapporteur: 
Jamila Venturini - Technical Community - NIC.br
Rapporteur: Vinicius W. O. Santos - Technical Community - NIC.br

Online Participation:
Online participation and interaction will rely on the WebEx platform. Those joining the session using WebEx (either invited members of the round-table or the general audience) will be granted the floor in the open debate segment of the workshop. People in charge of the moderation will strive to entertain onsite and remote participation indiscriminately. Social media (twitter and facebook) will also be employed by the online moderators who will be in charge of browsing social media using hashtags.

Discussion facilitation:
The discussion in the proposed session will be facilitated around three policy questions posed for the participants in the round-table as well as the audience in general: (1) what are overall impacts of Internet shutdowns and application blocking in different regions? (2) what are the challenges for the next decade in relation to issue of jurisdiction bearing in mind the tensions between localization and transnationality of Internet services and flows? And (3) what is the role of the multistakeholder community in coping with the facts and challenges listed in the previous segments? The discussion will be facilitated by the on site moderators who will guide the debate in each of the proposed segments for the workshop as well as during the