September 30, 2011 - 14:30PM
The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during the Sixth Meeting of the IGF, in Nairobi, Kenya. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> We can start. People may be coming in. Others are going in another session. We're competing with that session, I guess.
Thanks, everyone, for coming. My name is Albana Faci. I work for the Council of Europe Secretariat in the Human Rights and legal affairs at the Division of Information Society, Media and Data Protection. This workshop was supposed to be moderated by Bertrand de La Chapelle; unfortunately, he had another commitment and was not able to able to moderate the workshop, so I have to fill in big shoes, I think.
Another speaker, Mr. Jimmy Schulz, he had to leave for the German Parliament. He is an important member of the German Parliament, you're aware of Eurobond vote in the German Parliament.
In this workshop, we are going to discuss some issues which are coming to the front of international Internet relations policies, issues such as universality, openness of the Internet.
This panel and this audience doesn't need to be presented with any argument about the critical role of the Internet for people, for industry, for business, for the society as a whole.
I can say that in the Council of Europe, we have built in the policies, a concept, the notion, which is the public service value of the Internet. The way we understand that concept is basically two things: Citizens' reliance on the Internet for everyday activities, and the resulting legitimate expectation that the Internet will be accessible, affordable, secure and ongoing.
I think we would also agree that the role that the Internet plays for the exercise and the enjoyment of freedom of expression and access to information and for democratic participation. We would also agree about the transboundary nature of the Internet, its interconnectedness and the need, then, desirability for collective action and multistakeholder aspects to all aspects of its governance.
Because the Internet has such a critical role for our lives, we have to be thinking. And that is what we realise in the Council of Europe, that we have to be thinking how to preserve its core values, its key qualities, its universality, its integrity and openness. How can we preserve as a space of freedom for people? How can we preserve the Internet that we know today and the Internet that we want for the future?
From that perspective, we have to ask questions about the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders. For example, we have to ask the question: What happens if there is an incident, if there is an interference with infrastructure of the Internet? And what should be done so that an incident in the country doesn't have an impact in another country?
Not so long ago, the Internet connection in Armenia was cut, for example, for five hours because of an incident that happened in Georgia. A cable was cut wittingly by an old woman. These situations that may happen in the future, there are serious questions about freedom of expression. Cutting off people from the Internet can result in serious interference with freedom of expression ‑‑
>> In Council of Europe concept which has a convention base and a court‑based system of protection of rights and freedoms, states can be held to account for failure to protect rights and opinion and freedom of expression and opinion.
So bearing in mind all of that, the critical role of the Internet for our lives, its transboundary nature, we thought that we should be asking questions about the roles and responsibilities of states in the first place. What can states do to keep the Internet up and running? What are these responsibilities and roles of other stakeholders? Is the current international cooperation enough?
There is technical cooperation cross‑boundary, cross‑border technical cooperation, for example, computer ‑‑ there is cooperation based upon diplomatic relationships. But is that all that is needed? Do we need something more than that? Can one country actually do risk management without knowing what to legitimately expect from the other country, from its neighboring countries? Should national goal be based on a subjective understanding and gauging of cross‑border risks to disability and resilience of the Internet? Can international coordination approaches succeed in the absence of an internationally agreed policy framework?
This is a bit the background thinking of the Council of Europe initiative which resulted in the adoption of recommendation on the protection and promotion of the universality, integrity and openness of the Internet. We have projected some of its content, the main parts of its content, the principles of this recommendation.
What happened, this document contains is a framework of state commitment to preserve these values through information sharing, consultation, mutual assistance.
It is interesting that other actors have raised similar questions. The UK Foreign Secretary, when addressing the Euratlantic ‑‑ this February stated that Britain believes that it is necessary to develop a wide understanding of states' acceptable behavior in cyberspace. That time has come to seek the rules of the road.
A conference has been announced, happened this year in London on the first and second of November to discuss norms of behavior and mechanisms which could give such norms political and diplomatic weight.
At the opening session of this IGF, we heard from the Vice President of the European Commission that we need a globally coherent approach to avoid fragmentation of the Internet. International binding rules might not be the appropriate or the feasible option at this time, but they should not be ruled out for the future.
So, we thought that it's worth discussing. It's a timely discussion of what are the most effective ways to build consensus around these themes? The universality, integrity and openness of the Internet? Are the principles that have been adopted by the Council of Europe something that stakeholders find as feasible and something that they can embrace and they can support? Is this soft law approach all that is needed? Do we need to think beyond that? Do we need to go beyond that?
So to make it short, these are the issues that we put for discussion today, and we have a panel, a very good panel, I'd say, of speakers to discuss these issues.
We have Mr. Rômulo Neves, the head of the Division for the Information Society, Ministry of External Relations of Brazil. We have Mr. Jeff ‑‑ Vice President of Public Policy and Deputy Chief Privacy Officer for AT & T. Mr. Matthias Catman from the Institute for International Law and International Relations at the University of Prats. And Markko Künnapu from the Criminal Policy Department Ministry of Justice, Estonia. He's also the Chair of the Council of Europe Convention Cybercrime.
Let me start with you, Markko. You come from Estonia, which is a country where Internet has a large penetration. And the authorities offer most of the services to the Internet. Estonia has also had experiences in the past of being the target of cyber attacks, and it has been cut off the Internet not for a very prolonged period of time, but it has that experience. Does your government ‑‑ and you come from the government ‑‑ does your government feel responsible to ensure that the Internet is up and running and that the services are provided to the citizens? What is the role that the government should play in that regard?
>> MARKKO KÜNNAPU: Thank you, yeah, this is true. Estonia uses a lot of Internet at the business level and governmental level. And we consider this really important that all this Internet connections are just available and online services are available and accessible to everybody. We think that these principles are necessary. There should be some sort of framework to cover this cooperation among different institutions. Different content measures, different procedures come to criminal procedure, then there is some regulation in place already. There is international trade that was mentioned put in place already. But the problem is that criminal proceeding is time consuming and also other measures, mistaken measures unneeded. And I can assure you also student governments think that Internet is very important. Internet is only ‑‑ not only necessary to individuals, but also for the government, for the state institutions to exist, to work. Because not only individuals rely on Internet and depend on Internet but also government and government institutions, also business.
For example, just give you a couple of examples. As comes to bank transactions in Estonia, about 98 percent of all bank transactions are done by using electronic channels. So imagine situation if you don't have Internet for the week or two, the consequences could be enormous. That's why government has a policy, has a clear obligation to protect these services, to protect Internet because of the effect on individuals but also it could affect the national security. That's why we think that it is necessary to build policies and those cooperating with other states.
Internet in Estonia is a right. It can be considered also as a human right because all the online solutions, all the online services that government provide because there are some services, some registers, some procedures which are completely free. Just if you want to apply something, just if you want to get some information, the only possibility is to use electronic channels, to use Internet. All of these information databases are digital. Without Internet connection, they cannot operate.
Just ought to mention that it affects everyday life of people. Internet right now is not only just one channel for communication between individuals. Internet is also channel for communication between individuals and government. Internet right now is also environment for business, environment for finance, environment for whole economy. That's why also it is important to the state for the government to protect Internet at any costs. I want to mention that cyber effects against Estonia, yes, they were ‑‑ this is 2007 and then unfortunately most of the targets were government institutions, online banks, online media. Just know that caused as much comfort for individuals as possible.
For example, if you just can't have access to your money, if you just cannot use debit or credit cards, if you have no access to online media to read the news about what's happening, then you might have a problem. And, yet, this is also true that for a moment Estonia Internet was just disconnected from outside world to protect our information systems. But it doesn't last. It didn't last very long, fortunately. But yeah, I could just finish right now if you have any questions.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Let me continue with you, Jeff. We heard from the governments, from representative of the government of Estonia that the government there feels responsible to secure services, Internet services to individuals. And of course the private sector is doing the groundwork to ensure that the Internet is resilient, it's stable and it's ongoing. You are on that front. In different countries, there may be different levels of understanding as to what that means, really, insuring the security, the stability and the resilience of the Internet. What are the expectation of the private sector be in terms of having a harmonized understanding? A common understanding and harmonized approaches to ensuring a level of security and instability of the network? What do you expect from states? What do you expect from governments do?
>> Jeff: Well this actually has come out in the United States because there are proposals for cyber security legislation and ways to improve cyber security. And one of the big issues that immediately arises is what is the relative role of government and the private sector given that most of the Internet infrastructure, at least in the U.S., is done by the private sector.
And we have been concerned about proposals where as part of critical infrastructure protection the government would assert control over that private infrastructure and could view it more as a partnership that should be strengthened. But we have, as a telecommunications carrier, we had been participating in national security coordination with the government from the 1970s, long before the Internet. And we have a very established process for doing that, which includes everything from defense issues to just disaster recovery and those types of things.
So our proposals have been ways to build on that. We feel that is the best way to harness the innovation and investment that the private sector is making in private security while recognizing that the governments do have ultimate responsibility for national security and also increasingly we see security being viewed in the terms of the economic impact if there's an attack or if there's a failure of the Internet because so much of the economy is now tied to that infrastructure. So it's a very complicated issue. And one thing that struck me in looking at the principle is in some cases the states may not be in a position to ‑‑ so the cyber security could be a state sanctioned and encouraged to some extent attack or it may be a completely criminal activity that the state is trying to prevent but maybe unsuccessful fully. So you can have different attribution issues there. But I think the principle of the boundary recognizing that Internet is a global resource, to me I found it a very compelling starting point to try to work through these issues about the routing of traffic, the blocking of content and the security.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Rômulo, may I continue with you? Brazil has been very active in discussions of enhanced cooperation. How does that relate to all this discussion about the universality and integrity of the Internet and the openness of the Internet? What are your proposals in that area?
>> RÔMULO NEVES: Well, I start to talk, I would like to start to talk about government's role not only Brazilian action, but governments in general. So internally, governments the two roles have to stimulate, providing resources. And institutions to people participate within the Internet system. Being participating in its very regulatory or governance subject be as user. And also provide safety. And in this case, through regulation. Well, this internally. Internationally, government should also stimulate the participation. We think of course it's resources. Political resources.
‑‑ at it it's not any role to play. Okay. Having said that, talk about a little bit the agenda setting. Ray's discussion is put in the agenda. But the other stakeholders should also be able to participating in the process of setting the agenda. This is another role of the government, the state, that could be attached to that roles, those roles that I just have cited.
It's just make the state role a little bit more complex internationally. Internally, Brazil has solved, kind of solved its problem creating our Internet intercommittee that is a very complex body, but it puts all together, let's say this way.
But even in Brazil, we couldn't address all the questions. We don't have cables cutting in Brazil related to political issues or something like that. We have service cutting related to companies, for example. so even internally we couldn't find a very good balance between companies, civil society and ‑‑ not participation in the Internet itself but in the distribution of power, distribution of ‑‑ it's really not easy to do because I think there's no balance, no perfect balance between the stakeholders, the interests and the roles. So we need to be always in a very fragile an balance that needs to change to keep in balance. Sometimes we need to push the government role, estimates we have to push the private company's role, sometimes we need to push the civil society role, depending upon how the situation.
Okay. I just finish. And then let the discussion start.
>> MODERATOR: May I continue on this? I think we'd be very interested to know of this notion of enhanced cooperation, your understanding of the note notion of enhanced cooperation and how does this fit in the constellation of proposals and issues, ideas that are emerging about international regulation or soft law versus hard law, et cetera?
>> Sorry, I just forgot to talk about enhanced cooperation. I responded a question about enhanced cooperation a little bit earlier, and I can use the same response because it's true. The Brazilian government is not ‑‑ doesn't have close response to what is enhanced cooperation. Maybe it could be a new body, but maybe it could be a map, a map putting the existing bodies together, three dimensional, let's say. Putting them together or buttoning the same framework. Mapping or showing up what would be the linkage between them? What would be the role of each stakeholder in this kind of integration? What would be the path throughout each stakeholder's interest should be put forward? Maybe this is enhanced cooperation. I don't know. It's just a suggestion. The Brazil government doesn't have a closed perception of what exists exactly. That's why we raised the question what is enhanced cooperation? Is it a new body? Is it possible to have a new body with complexity? I don't know. Is it possible to mapping the existing bodies and interests and stakeholders? Is it possible?
Being possible, we need to think about it. We need to think about roles, multistakeholders, interests and maybe send change in existing bodies to make it possible. Because just to know that it's possible, it doesn't mean that the way is right now, in the way it is right now maybe it is possible. We need some change in some of the bad, the existing bodies to make this mapping possible. Maybe it's enhanced cooperation, we don't know. Really don't know.
>> Thank you, Rômulo. Matthias? I don't know if you'd like to elaborate, as well, on the notion of enhanced cooperation as it has been included in the documents, but nevertheless, my most important question to you would be about the kind of ‑‑ the legal perspective in this discussion. We are hearing that international binding rules are not feasible for the moment, but they shouldn't be ruled out for the future.
We have now on the table this proposal from the from the Council of Europe disappeared from our screens.
>> But not from our minds.
>> MODERATOR: That is an achievement. We have this proposal from the Council of Europe which is principles of interstate cooperation on preparedness, management and response to threats and incidents for the Internet. The mutual expectations of states the expectations of states vis‑a‑vis each other, the universality and integrity of the Internet. What is the from the legal perspective, what is the most feasible way to recognize them? How can they be meaningfully recognized in international relationships. What will be the most appropriate instrument. We have now the UK thinking and reflection about the norms of state behavior in cyberspace. What would should norms be? Where would they be included?
>> Matthias: Thank you very much. I do have my thoughts on enhanced cooperation, but I think we might come to that a bit later.
From a legal perspective, I think that international legal rules as we have known them for a long, long time as we've known them as structuring the failing system are no longer instruments that can be used effectively in today's Information Society. So we need to find new instruments and we have to accept that treaties are not the end all of all thinking on that subject. So I think that the often misused term of soft law is one of the strategies to pursue because we should make sure that states do not only accept obligations because of an external centralized organ who can ex e cut them, but rather because of decentralized pressure from their fellow states, decentralized pressure that emerges from a common commitment to certain principles and practices for the Internet. If we would like to still legalize that, there are a couple of possibilities.
The one which is most useful, I think, is a customary international law. I actually think that some of the principles on interstate cooperation, especially as they relate to mutual expectations of behavior, have already emerged as norms of customary international help already crystallized in terms of customized international law.
In a different panel, I've done a short study on the legal of Internet (?)
I argued that if the state shuts down the Internet in a way that affects other states, this cannot be considered a violation of customary international law. And we've seen that, an example of Egypt. Egypt shut down own its Internet but it arguably did not target one of the fiber cable that would be important for intercontinental Internet traffic. So I think that this distinction is important.
Of course this does not suffice now because states are also not freely able to do to their own populations regarding to the Internet what they want to. So this international level, the interstate level has to be always seen as one part of the whole system, which has to be ‑‑ there has to be another system based on Human Rights. But here we're talking about norms of state behavior.
The last one I would like to make here at this stage is that even though the Council of Europe is addressing states, we have to make sure that there is a high level of commitment also from other actors to these principles because states are much more likely to follow these if there's a certain pressure from their national governments.
We've seen that, for example, in the customary international law regarding the environment. And I think we can learn some incredibly useful lessons from that field. That is it for the moment, thanks.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Matthias. Well, that was the introduction of the topics that we'd like to discuss. The floor is now open for commentaries for, questions, for thoughts?
Yes, Matthias, please.
>> Yes, another Matthias, confusing. I'm also Matthias. And we are both Austrian, so this is really fantastic. Very briefly, I fully share what Matthias has just said. Just to make it clear, and I think you agree with that, of course we speak about these new standards and this new way of forming standards. So in the 1,000 times quoted multistakeholder approach during this conference. But nonetheless, we have to stress it finally if it comes to connects if it comes to an intervention by the state it's always under rule of law, then the rule of binding law, finally. So any intervention at the topic where we in the Council of Europe are dealing with the topic of Human Rights, finally nearly any question that we hear discussed on the Internet is a question of course Human Rights if not every question as a Human Rights question. Be it a freedom of expression, be it of privacy, be it of the right of assembly, but be it also of the right to human dignity which is article 3 of the Human Rights convention.
So all these rules and this is the important thing. The Council of Europe open is thinking of, or the OECD is thinking of, the European Union of thinking of, the United Nations are thinking of, and which are often very similar in the wording, have to be seen as rules as an end unto themselves but as a prerequisite of the interpretation of Human Rights.
Why I say this should not be that I want to bore you with an academical discussion, but in practical it means that more and more institutions, be it authorities or be it law/courts, need of course some guidance in the question when they have to make an interpretation of a law. They need some guidance in the question "well, what is the kind of common standard? The common standard, for example, the European Court on Human Rights uses what is the European tradition, the common standard when making an interpretation of article 10. And there are these rules. What do we all, let's say what does society understand by a universal Internet and so on, therefore these terms will become more and more important. So it's not just that it's for the commitment of states because we all know there are ‑‑ there have been a million of commitments by the international authority ‑‑ broken. But it's really important that all these important, most important rules are also kind of guidelines for law authorities. And maybe they will also become customary law, as you said, Matthias. But actually we are at this stage. Thank you. (audio lost).
But in other countries don't know himself would be another problem. So some sort of framework should be needed. Thank you.
>> Thank you Markko, we are losing the remote participation capability because the power is going and coming all the time. But one of our remote participants has sent a contribution. Professor Hong xu from the Beijing normal university, she's the director of Internet policy and law and she has asked me to read it, which I'll do for you. It's a short contribution.
"Observations on international code of conduct for information security. I note a group of civil society organizations open letter to the President of the UN General Assembly on international code of conduct for information security. I deeply appreciate their timely contribution. I agree with some of the views they presented but also believe we should be focusing on the most important issues. I'd like to share with you my observations.
As a Chinese poem says "you could not see the whole picture of a mountain when being in the range of the mountain." Since I'm now almost 10,000 kilometers away from Nairobi, hopefully my observation could be interesting to you.
I agree that the that the international conduct for information security, ICOC, proposed by the four countries does not have any direct reference to the multistakeholder approach, although the document primarily defines the responsibilities of the states, it does not see the product of multistakeholder consensus.
On the other hand, ICOC paragraph H does mention all elements of society, given that language difference may result in variance of expressions such as calling civil society as social groups. CMIIT of China responds to the further notice of inquiry on the INF‑‑ all elements of society could arguably imply multistakeholders. Truthfully, the statement that all elements of society are under the leadership of the states does not imply the equal footing of all stakeholder groups. But is there any international decision‑making process really ensuring equal footing of all stakeholder groups? I'd be happy to learn more about how international law making adapts to multistakeholder environment as it presented via unsuccessful in work shop 124 on September 27.
Making a simple comparison between ICOC and the two documents presented by the Council of Europe, the declaration by the committee of ministers on Internet Governance principles and the recommendation to member states on the protection and promotion of the universality, integrity and openness of the Internet, I can see quit a lot of commonalities and interoperable elements. Both initiatives have the emphasis on no harm, which reflects the concern for world peace in the Internet age.
Since Council of Europe's document also mentions cultural and linguistic diversity, I think it could be biased or mind guessing to state that ICOC's reference to respect for the diversity of history, culture and social systems of all countries might be interpreted as diminishing the commitment of the United Nations General Assembly to the Universality of Human Rights.
To my belief, the most important commonality is that both ICOC and the Council of Europe's document highlight a are fundamental freedom. ICOC, the third paragraph of 8 is so dear to the people who are barred from accessing Facebook, Twitter or blogger. Ironically not for privacy reasons.
It may also explain why ICOC had not reported ‑‑ was not reported rein the media of at least one of these four countries. If you search ICOC's title in native scripts, you'd only get an error page. So it would be good if ICOC include in the third sentence of paragraph 8 could be "availed to the people of four states, " particularly not all four ratified on civil and eye rights.
But the devil is details. I fully agree with ICOC paragraph C is the real concern and could be subject to different interpretations. Actually even the second sentence of paragraph A, respect for sovereignty, territorial ‑‑ and political independence of all states could have alternative implication. I shall sincerely hope none of the interpretations would revoke the commitment to respect for Human Rights and fundamental freedoms as stated in the ICOC paragraph A, as well.
Those were the observations of professor Hong Xu. And we see some very strong points there about the multistakeholder consultation, the multistakeholder approach to any proposals which attempt to define the state's roles and responsibilities. And the need to be grounded on the pro tension of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms.
So I put that to the audience if you have any commentaries or would like to follow‑up. Yes, Dixie?
>> Thank you. Lots of these principles seem to be talking about if I am correct, making governments take us level of responsibility for harm to the Internet which originates from within their countries. And I was just wondering if this might elevate the concerns around intermediary liability to state level by making governments responsible for harm? That's surely incentivizing them to act with ‑‑ to try and control and monitor communications and actions within their country even more. So I just wanted to throw a question to the panel if anyone had done any thinking on how you could tackle that without incentivizing restrictive actions by states. Thank you.
>> I think you raise a very good, as provider and somebody who is a company that worries into intermediary liability, to some extent I think that relates to the concerns I mentioned about cyber security where in the interest of trying to protect the good, they could end up creating different issues.
However, there's also a piece of this that would seem to actually push the other way against imposing more intermediary liability. So in the sense that this would maybe raise a higher bar for blocking of Internet content by saying that if a government is going to oppose a blocking request, it has to be sensitive to not do so in a way that is overly broad and could extent the borders. Then that actually is a count tore intermediary reliability. But I do think the challenge of how much can governments assume responsibility is a challenging one given that in some countries, there's a lot of private infrastructure that's involved. But to the extent that we're defining with what the state ‑‑ so I think I mean to some extent this goes back to there are parts of this where multistakeholder I think is a necessity if we're going to have agreement because you don't want to have providers violating these principles, either. On the other hand, there are some issues that I think clearly our government, as you said, it gets translated down to government law and having these principles maybe ‑‑ one of my thoughts about these principles is if we translate them down to specific issues, then you start to at this about there are things that governments clearly should not do in some cases. You should not be disabling Internet traffic that is just channeling through your country. We should not be blocking in a way like maybe Egypt could have done. It may help to flesh out some of these concerns are.
>> MODERATOR: Any government representative would like to follow on the question? Yes? Rômulo, please.
>> RÔMULO NEVES: Well, that question just poses some paradox let's say to responsible states for harming means we would put some law in it. And it turns the questioning to paradoxical one. If we are talking about the necessity of the Internet to be free, we need to talk about responsibility of some stakeholder, in this case the state. We need to talk about law. I'm not telling this just to counter balance the question, just to present some complexity of this question. I don't know if I just answered. But I'd like to talk about some comments. Am I allowed?
So somebody told that we need a new way to put forward the issues relating to the Internet, including the integration between those issues, the existing bodies, the stakeholders, the interest. And Internet, the main locus or the locus where it's possible to create or to new inventions, Ijeff itself is a new thing within the UN system, for example.
It was a response to a very specific question at that moment, 2005. How could we put into the UN system our multi stakeholder approach. It was not possible to create a new body within the UN. But it was possible to create a new thing, let's say. So Ijeff is the result of this.
How could we talk about the rule of law within this possibility of new things to appear? We could ‑‑ sorry? Oh, sorry. We could try to think about the Internet Governance as experimental environment to create something. With no prejudice against expressions or traditional order. Historical experience. But otherwise we going to kill the possibility to create new things.
For example, when you talk about police, when you talk about police, authoritarian country, you talk about something. When you talk about police in a very plausible and Human Rights committed country, you're talking about another thing. But police is the very extreme element of the rule of law. You don't have anything more state or more law than police, I think. I can't imagine.
So where these kind of thoughts drives us? That we need to think about a new thing. We need to think about creativeness, even to deal with old expressions. What should be the role of law in this kind of environment? Does it have space? Does it have room to appear? I think so. But then I'd like to just recall final thing, just to recall something that somebody told. Action. The governments that are here is doing something not related to the rule of law. The governments that are here came here because they think here, IGF, even nonbinding proposals are not related to the rule of law, but those governments take an action to give value to this kind of event. Most of them. Let's say most of them. So just recalling my first sentence, what would be those governments' role to put forward this kind of event. This kind of day, to bring more governance. Because to be here is not to evolve in a binding rule of law. But maybe in a nonbinding, close binding plus action plus consciousness event. And maybe those countries that will come for the first time, they can arrive here and see how it works and see how major it can be. And maybe it change their culture. Maybe start to other talk about some binding nonbinding interchange, you as we imagined in a very peaceful, very Human Rights committed country. We don't think police in these countries as an enemy, for example. Police guard or even community teams formed by citizens.
It's just suggestion. Just thinking a lot.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Rômulo. Yes, the rule of law is cyberspace and bringing in more governments to create an inclusive environment, those are all very important points. But I'd actually try to get an answer for Dixie here to her question because I think it's a very valid point.
Are we, with this kind of discussions, raising the margin of state liability state and putting states in an intermediary role. Are we incentivizing that part of file give to Marko first and then Matthias.
>> MARKKO KÜNNAPU: We know we start talking about filtering or blocking Internet connections, just access to websites, then this is something way you have to be very careful. For example, if you just want to block access to some certain websites, then definitely this is something which re‑‑ requires some legal base. You have to have some norms on national legislation. And right now constantly blocking websites in general, then actually this is ‑‑ you cannot say that this is something extraordinary, this is something which is not known at all. Because actually if there are two, at least categories who knows websites which where you can say that the blocking, he's probably accepted. Here I can speak websites ‑‑ second category would be online gambling sites. Even many European countries block these websites.
But going further, going beyond then you have to be really careful because censorship is something which should be avoided at any costs. And if you just have, let's say ‑‑ if you just start to elaborate further cry ‑‑ criteria you have to avoid on arbitrary basis. Thank you. Mod thank you, Markko, please Matthias.
>> Matthias: Thank you. I do not know, Dixie is your name, right? Dixie, if you have read the report of the special rapporteur of the United Nations? And I think he's exactly giving the right answers to your question. So if you have a look again there, that's what I say also as a government civil servant, representative of the Austrian government, we should fully, let's say, support and go in this direction. Let me say, first of all, that he highlights that, yeah, there are many states that have adopted an ‑‑ which impose liability on intermediaries, yeah?
>> Just to clarify that I wasn't talking about intermediary liability as such. I was wondering if these proposals were kind of recreating those issues at a state level.
>> Matthias: Sure, sure, yeah. But I think there's a close connection. Finally it's the question who is liable for these issues that we ‑‑ in these instruments? And I think that a little bit danger of this multistakeholder approach which I fully support the multistakeholder approach, but the misunderstanding could be that finally all these rules and commitments we have there, that governments lean back and say well, it's up to the intermediaries. Because the word of mouth is stakeholders, they have committed themselves. And I think that's the reason why I say it has to do, who's responsible finally? And the point finally is that even European states, members of the Council of Europe just code it because I cannot verify it, but the Turkey, for example, exactly this delegation to more or less private authority to block and filter websites which have a certain content. Maybe which are politicians there. And he says this is exactly against that we have in a democratic society as we've got state responsibility.
So what states must guarantee, of course, finally is let's say this guarantee that there are real remedies for enterprises, for people and so on.
At the same time, they have to ‑‑ let's say's courage, I think that's the role of the states, encourage industry to also follow the debate. It's up to industry if they want to.
But what we do in the Council of Europe or have done now, I think three or four times is the article of guidelines. Guidelines means that you're as much aware of it as I see. These guidelines, for example, online games and providers. They are closely discussed between, first of all, industry representatives together with finally state representatives with the Council of Europe.
And finally there is a common, let's say, commitment where industry, for example, in this case says yes, we fully share these principles with the foreign several members of the consulate here. Maybe 50 percent answer to your question but I hope you could take some bites out of it. Thank you.
>> Yes, and if I may to that, as far as the Council of Europe proposals are concerned, what is embedded in the text in the provisions of the text? Are some are strains for the exercise of these roles and these responsibilities by those states?
For example, principle 1 says in compliance with the standards recognize an international Human Rights law. With principle of international Human Rights law, states have to do this, this and this. So that's a constraint actually for the exercise of these responsibilities. And it is in the states' best interest to, especially the Council of Europe member states, to protect fundamental rights and freedoms because they can be held to account for failure to protect fundamental rights and freedoms before the European court of Human Rights.
So that would be my answer to your question. Whether we are lifting the intermediary liability to the level of states with pro poll as. And I'm answer only from the Council of Europe perspective there.
Any question? Yes, please. Introduce yourself.
>> I'm Ronel Dujina. Association of computer machinery Kenyan chapter.
Now, I had a question as regards accessibility universality of the Internet. You find that accessibility is one of the prime issues we want to focus whereby my main issue deals with persons with disabilities. And I find that as computers keep on ‑‑ developed computers keep on dissolving on the Internet, we are moving on to miniaturization of different appliances and the ways we access the Internet.
So my question is: We doing this, persons with disabilities being involved in coming guidelines because we have something like accessibility guidelines for building websites. And we find a lot of work is copied from an instance dimension. The guidelines comes up with. And I find that accessibility is treated more as ‑‑ it falls on the usability. And I find that when we use the World Wide Web a lot to access the website. So in using this, when you're coming up with this accessibility guidelines, are we really making websites that are really usable by the persons with disabilities in this regard? Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Anyone in the panel want to take that question? If not, I could provide a Council of Europe perspective again in this.
We have this notions, as I mentioned earlier, of public service value of the Internet. And again there we have two elements: Reliance of citizens and legitimate expectation that Internet as you rightly point out. And based on that notion, we have developed a set of guidelines for states, for member states of the Council of Europe that they should follow to ensure accessibility for citizens. And it has a particular focus on disabled groups.
States under those guidelines should take specific measures to make sure that disabled groups actually have access to content on the Internet.
States under those guidelines to make sure that people actually have access to the Internet. Those are policies that we are discussing here. I don't know if I answered your question.
>> Just to add a little bit on it. My main issue is we are addressing disabilities from the general perspective of computers. But I'm getting more concerned with the aspect of miniaturization. As we move on to smaller devices, would these people be able to access them? Will they be able to access the Internet as regards to this? So that we don't have like the guidelines out there but these people are not really being addressed, been addressed have not really been addressed that particular aspect. I just had an issue with that. Thanks.
>> MODERATOR: Well the only perspective I can bring there is again a policy perspective and how that is being implemented on the ground certainly it's within the ‑‑ each of the Council of Europe seats how it is done. Whether each disabled person actually is provided with a possibilities to use these devices. So I don't think I can provide a better answer than this.
>> I'd also like to respond to that. Actually there can be two answers to that question. This comes to public service, there are different services that are done by the government, by state institutions. Then I think accessibility and this question should be always taken into account while devising websites and then building up different services.
But as comes to private services, different kind of services provided by the private sector, then this is a question actually that should be addressed to them. Because it's really hard for the government, the state to provide ‑‑ keep clear, norms of clear regulations on that.
It comes to private sector, then it's first matter of competition because private sector, whatever services, whatever companies, they always compete with each other. And also it's a matter of winning or losing customers. And I think also it seems the interest of the private sector to make these services as easy to access as possible because otherwise they would just lose but one target group; they would lose customers. So the company who just provides service and accessible would win us. It's discuss the according to general market regulations. And the government it's really hard to regulate that and oblige private companies just to make their services that way. Thank you.
Thank you, Markko, any other comments, questions? If not, I suggest to close the session. And if the panelists want to make any closing remarks, you are welcome to. No? Yes? Please.
>> What I think is most important now is to realise that we have a tremendous number of documents containing principles, containing rights. And the Council of Europe has done a stellar job with the two recommendations and the two declarations they have just passed. But what is important now is that we find a common way forward, that we find a way to operationalize these principles. They must not remain on the paper. And they must not be a war, figuratively a war between different organizations that attempt to push through their principles without respect to the principles of other organizations. So I think we should try to support the topic. We should try to make sure that the result is what drives us and not that we would like to favor the principles of the one observation we favor most.
Because the Council of Europe with the European code of Human Rights in the background has a tremendously strong role to play. And the principles that they have developed I think are very, very useful. So let's keep our eyes on the target and look how to operationalize these principles. Thank you very much.
>> I like how you said that. I think that will both help to give meaning to the principles as well as I said I think it helps to illustrate this issue of who's got responsibility in one area, in what area? And particularly some of these, to me, seem very applicable as a private sector company, as well, to principles that we should be looking to, as well.
And I particularly found that this transboundary new set of principles, both interesting as something I had not heard as much about for but then I liked how it crossed over things that you should not do also into positive actions and let's promote cooperation and assistance and kind of encouraging transboundary data flows, which I think in the U.S. has been kind of framed as the free flow of information. And I think that ‑‑ so I think it adds to the debate and some of the existing body of principles in that regard.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Jeff. Markko, would you like to add something?
>> MARKKO KÜNNAPU: I would like to just endorse these principles. Actually these are the principles where government has a huge role; but not only the government, but implementing these principles should be done in cooperation with public and private sector. And then those individuals can just be participants there.
So it's a multistakeholder process. And everybody can just participate there. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Well, thank you Markko, I don't have much to add to that. I think those were very good concluding remarks by all of you. Thank you very much.
Thank you to all of you who participated. I hope you found this session interesting. And everyone can go now to the ‑‑ thank you.
(End of session)