15 SEPTEMBER 2010
INTERNET -- AN INSTRUMENT TO FOSTER DEMOCRACY
Note: The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during Fifth Meeting of the IGF, in Vilnius. 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.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Good afternoon to everyone in this hall, which is probably a bit too big for this audience to create a feeling of a round table discussion.
But it's good to have you here, starting the discussion on Internet, an instrument to foster democracy.
It's really good to have such important panelists around this table, and first of all I would like to welcome ambassador Philip Verveer, co-moderator of this special session. And I welcome all the speakers of the conference. And today we have a very special day, international day of democracy. And Lithuania is holding a cheer in the community of democracies a very special, a very global organisation, dealing with Democratic issues around the world. And now we will hear about some aspects of democracy related to the Internet world and to the global network of information exchange. And we all are aware that the Internet has become not just an instrument of communication, but also an instrument of policy all around the world, and not just the civil societies. And democracies are using the Internet, but also the authoritarian areas are using the Internet for control.
So we will analyze the use of the Internet for the Democratic course and we will discuss the possibilities that the Internet provides for our Democratic governments and societies.
So my colleague, Ambassador Philip Verveer, is the US Coordinator for International Comunications and Information Policy.
And I'm Vice Minister of Foreign affairs of the Republic of Lithuania. I'll be moderating the discussion, so you have a transAtlantic team for moderating this event. And we will be using modern technologies also for this discussion, to spread around this location. So this was for the start of the conference and now I give the floor to Ambassador Philip Verveer please.
>> PHILIP VERVEER: It's an honour to have the opportunity to participate. I should begin by expressing the thanks of the United States to Lithuania for hosting this very important meeting. And as I said, I'm honoured to be co-moderating with Vice Minister Evaldas Ignatavicius.
This panel, as he said, is about the ability of the Internet to transmit Democratic principles and to practice democracy. And we're very fortunate to have as our first speaker and Scene setter a very distinguished diplomat, Bertrand de La Chapelle, who is with the foreign Ministry of France, a special envoy for Internet and related affairs. So Bertrand.
>> BERTRAND de La CHAPELLE: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. Thank you Mr. Vice Minister for allowing me and giving me the opportunity to participate in this panel.
I would like to start with something that some of you know. Who in the room is familiar with the famous tripic are the "Garden of delights?" Can you raise hands. It's a wonderful painting. The central piece is very interesting. But the most interesting parts are the two side pieces. One describes a wonderful future and the other one describes basically the inferno. So it's a super paradise on the left and a super inferno on the right. I want to use this metaphor because when we talk about the Internet and its impact on society, we can be lured to look too much at one side and not be wary enough about the other side, in order to strike the middle course.
The left panel basically shows a wonderful world in the future, where the lion is kissing the lamb, and everybody is so warmly united by wonderful technology economic mean that makes us converge with exactly the same values, and we will all respect one another and so on. This is great. And it would be great if it were the truth. The reality for anybody in this room who experiences public forums and so knows that this is not going to happen by magic on its own. There is a trend towards more understanding.
But the other side of the painting I also a potential fear. If you think about social network, it's a great common space. At the same time, you ee the emergence of more and more focused social network, which is good, because people gather around their topics of interest. The problem is that when your topic of interest is basically Bashing another community, you might have a good tool to plan an attack on this community, to organise a rally, to lynch people. And so I want to remind us as we enter this discussion that the printing press is the foundation or was the foundation for all of the Democratic systems that we have today. You do not have representative democracy without the printing press, because you don't know what your delegate is saying on your behalf. You don't have the precise boundary that the map is making clear that allows the applicability and the territorial basis of your national law.
Our current system is entirely based on the tech logic shift that the printing press has brought. But I want to remind all of us and this strikes me is that another consequence of the printing press was a 30 year religious war that led to the treat tee, which is a system which we live in today.
So, the big challenge and the first message that I wanted to share with you is there is no written future. The future is what we will visualize. If we want to make it a war of any social network against any other social network, we can. If we want to make it a debate about coexistence, about the rules of coexistence, we can. It's our choice.
And so when we talk about democracy, the first challenge is to deal with a paradox. The paradox is as follows: The more the Internet spreads to the whole population of the world, the more the diversity of the cultural, religious and political values of the people on the Internet grows. Therefore, the more we need to have common rules to manage this coexistence. And the paradox is that the more diverse the people, the harder it is to find common rules, unless you move to meta rules about how you coexist. And to finish this first paradox, the system when we think about it was a solution that didn't bring everybody under the same umbrella. It was a rule for making distinctions. It was the the idea that if your leader is a Catholic or a Protestant, the whole population underneath was the same. It was not very tender for people in the different groups.
So we have to think about the rules we design for the future of the Internet as being rules for coexistence that do not only unite, but also indicate the sub parts, the so-called virtual territories that are beginning to emerge.
The second thing is another paradox. We're introducing IDNs in the ICANN space, and script languages. The amazing thing and I wouldn't get into the detail, but it emerged in one of the workshops in which I was participating on the first day, ironically, by introducing IDNs to unify and bring in populations that did not have access because of their script, we're actually creating new barrier, because I cannot read an e-mail written in Arabic, for instance.
So there is a lot of tension here, which is a good tension, but it is attention, between inclusiveness and a form of fragmentation by what I could call script spaces. People who share the same script, Arabic, CYrillic Chinese, Roman, and those script spaces may have in the future slightly different value systems on the rules of what is acceptable, what is not.
It is part of the diversity and the acceptance of diversity that sub groups may have different, slightly different rules.
And I would like to go quickly beyond those two paradoxes, because we need to leave time for discussion, to raise three elements, very quickly.
The first one is once we have discussed the need for overall principles, it is very interesting to see how you can formulate that in a universal manner. And here, I want to really tip my hat to the work that has been done in the framework of IGF by the Dynamic Coalition on rights and principles. Because there was a session this morning that showed the outcome of an incredible work that has been done by a broad diversity of actors regarding a sort of charter that has basically three components. One first component is the reaffirmation, explicitly, of rights that do already exist in international agreements, but to reiterate them and insist on the fact that they do apply to the Internet.
The second level is softer principles that can guide the implementation of those rights in concrete instances.
And the third level, which is very interesting, is the role of the different actors, private, to society and governments in implementing this thing.
The reason why I highlight this exercise is because this is a wonderful illustration of the benefits of the IGF. I of all people was very reluctant initially to engage in the idea of drafting a new charter that would reopen the can of worms of the universal declaration of human rights and end up lowering the standards.
What happened in the IGF is that a group of actors were sufficiently convinced to move along and produce the proof that the exercise was worthwhile. I want to share this because in traditional intergovernmental organisation we would still be arguing whether we should start the drafting of a charter. That's the first thing I wanted to share. There is a discussion in the framework of the IGF regarding general principles.
The second thing I want to say is when we're talking about democracy, it's very interesting to ask ourselves what we mean by democracy. Because a democracy we are practicing is actually a very specific form of democracy, which is a representative democracy. And within the framework of representative democracy, we have very different implementation, very different governance frameworks. The way we do representative democracy, even the election rules, are completely different between England and France. We are both democracies. But one is a Monarchy, the other one is a presidential system.
And so when we talk about democracy and Internet fostering democracy or even democracy leveraging the Internet, we can ask ourselves whether the Internet is not having a dual impact. One on actors one, not at all democratic at the moment and putting some pressure. But it is also asking ourselves a very important question. Are we doing as governments and citizens all we can to make the processes of decision-making as participatory as possible? And among the principles in this charter that was discussed this morning is a very important element, which is the right to participate in governance processes. I think the spirit of the multi-stakeholder approach is to establish the right for every actor, every individual, to participate in an appropriate manner in the governance processes related to the issues it deals with.
Let me be clear, it does not negate the representative democracy mechanisms. It enhances them. It improves the decision shaping the participatory discussion early on. It distinguishes, like we do with the IGF, the decision, shaping from the decision-making.
Finally, I'm already too long. I want to say very briefly that France and the Netherlands, as some of you may know, has initiated -- has launched an initiative on freedom of expression and the interne. we had a first meeting with a certain number of stakeholders, governments, civil society and the private sector, about 50 of them on the 8th of July. And there will be another meeting on the 15th of October, administerial level with more or less the same actors around four elements.
The first element is to help actors who are monitoring the implementation of human rights on the Internet, and to help them network in a sort of a way to put people together.
And the second point is to look at constraints when companies experience -- when some governments or regimes are asking them to reveal some privacy data or to censure some content. How can they react or provide equipment that has surveillance? How can they react? And the two last elements are cyberincidence, and the possibility of looking at analogies of what are ways that regimes can find an international legal system or legal regime for the Internet as a whole.
Thank you very much for the opportunity. I know I've been long. But I hope I started the debates in a positive manner. Thank you.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Thank you for the instructive and erudite presentation. And now we turn to Mr. Dan Baer, who is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, responsible for matters having to do with human rights.
>> DAN BAER: Let me add my thanks to our hosts for putting on such a great conference. It's been wonderful and a great introduction to Lithuania for me, and I'm grateful to you and thank you for Chairing this panel.
Welcome to the students. We can see you on the screen, so don't do anything silly.
And I'd like to call attention to, since privacy is so often a matter of conversation about Internet issue, you'll see that the MFA is privately communicated on the screen.
Or maybe you won't see.
There is a cover up in process and I know who is guilty.
I knew that I was going to be following Bertrand so I knew I had to talk big thoughts even if it's in a smaller way. But thanks for the introduction, Bertrand, it's an honour to be on a panel with you and to see you once again.
The topic, the Internet as an instrument to foster democracy, I think it's a helpful topic. Part of what we're all trying to do is figure out how to respond to this thing called the Internet. One of the things that is helpful in figuring out how you want to respond is to figure out what it's for or what it can do. So I like starting with the idea of a purpose.
And I think that probably for most of us, when we first saw the title of this panel, it triggered some immediate associations that have become familiar in recent years, whether they were for Oscar Marales or whether they were the students of the bean movement in Iran. The familiar associations of people using the Internet is a way to, cyberDissidents, et cetera, to demand political change. And I want to submit that while that has proven to be a powerful use of the Internet, that that is not the only part of the Internet's role in fostering democracy.
In brief, my message is that the Internet is not just a tool for supporting democracy, but it's also a space. And that we should keep in our focus both of those purposes of the Internet and fostering democracy.
In making this argument to you briefly, I want to start, unusually for a tech event, in the 18th century or even before. Because I want to start with the idea of democracy rather than the Internet. And in many tellings or teachings about democracy, we start with the notion that the history of democracy is a history (Off microphone.) Certainly the ideas are critical for democracy and the highest moral value is contained in the freedoms and rights and decisions of individual people, and that that intellectual basis is a critical part of the foundation for democracy.
The other thing that had to happen is a social component. Not just an intellectual component but a social one. And there is a social history there.
And so now, having ventured in the unconventional terrain of the 18th century for the tech conference, I'll go to the terrain of 20th century German social theory for the American diplomat and say for you, those of you the students in the adjoining rooms who I understand are political science and international relation scholars, for those of you who are familiar with the work of Yerker Yagermas, you know that he talked about the rise of the public sphere, as we associated the beginnings of modern western democracy. And the idea that partly because of the need for merchantileist classes for information to conduct their trade, partly because of the urbanization that accompanied them, there were new social spatials where citizens could interact, discuss, could constitute themselves as a people, could introduce criticisms of the government, and that this was an important -- while the ideas were important fuel for those conversation, the space for those conversations was an important part of the rise of democracy.
And that is where the title of my talk comes from, this brief address, in terms of the Internet as a coffeehouse.
So, in these social spaces, these public spheres, you had the consolidation of public opinion in a rich sense, not just a sense of what do you think, what do you think, what do you think? But the shared ideas of a populace that were affordable for holding governments accountable. The first instances of public opinion provided important challenges to Monarchies, and after the establishment, public opinion was a sustaining force of the relationship between the governed and the government. In the founding of my own country, there was a difference of views among the founders. Some of our founders, particularly John Adams, believed that democracy should be kind of a checkpoint. Every few years you came back for a new license to govern. And in between you went off and did your best job. Others, most particularly Madison, felt very strongly that the democracy was a constant renegotiation with the public opinion and of the authority to govern. And secretary -- we have leaned one way more than the other. As secretary Clinton said in reference to 21st Century democracy, it's something that matters not only on election day, but every day. And it's a 365 day commitment from Democratic governments to respond and be accountable to their populace.
So there is a question of what does this mean for the Internet and democracy? And I guess I would submit that it means that we should adapt our mindset or widen our mindset. The Internet's great function, if you could choose one thing that it does really incredibly, is that it reduces the transaction costs on information, on transmitting information and on storing information. And we have seen that have dramatic effects on political movements and the political tasks of organising, of protesting, et cetera.
But I think it also has great potential for creating new public spheres, new social spaces in which public opinion can be debated, criticized, et cetera. And so that means that while we see the Internet as a mechanism for delivering messages to oppressive leader, we should also see it as having a capacity to give us a space to deliberate the messages that we want to deliver to our leaders.
And just as we see it as a mechanism for persons to cry oppressive government, we should see it as a mechanism by which persons collectively become a people, a people with shared understandings of what government is responsible for, shared understandings of what human beings are entitled to, and those kinds of things to which governments can be held accountable. This is a shift from the way that many of us have understood democracy 1.0 in terms of democracy and the Internet.
There was for a while something that was criticized recently, this idea that the Internet was an inevitable revolutionary force that would precipitate democracy. And I think that perhaps over the long run we will come to see it even more importantly as a kind of durable evolutionary force that can help sustain democracy by creating these new public spheres.
And I'll leave it at that. Thank you.
>> PHILIP VERVEER: Thank you very much, Dan. I'm personally impressed as we have gone from Bertrand's treaty in 1648 to the coffeehouses of the 18th century.
And now the next speaker, the senior policy advisor to the United States Secretary of Commerce, will now take up the challenge of addressing this remarkably erudite set of comments. Thank you, Mark.
>> MARK BERJKA: Thank you. Actually, since I represent the United States Commerce Department, and my job is to promote commerce, I think my comments can be a bit more pedestrian than the comments of the gentlemen who preceded me.
I'm scheduled here as a person to provide remarks, not necessarily as a framer of the conversation. And in that role, the one thing I would like to interject is something that does fall squarely within the ambit of my organisation back home, the Department of Commerce, and that is to discuss the intersection between, as Dan put it, the creation of these public spaces and the market incentives and the market opportunities for the people who build the tools that indeed create those spaces.
One of the things that I think is fascinating is that over the course of the last couple decades, we have seen a phenomenal proliferation obviously in the ability of us to use devices to connect with each other and use services to connect with each other, wherever. And at the same time, the individuals, the innovators who have brought us these tools, who brought us these services, have actually grown to be people of historical proportion. The creators who build tools as opposed to the creators of paintings or the creators of political treaties are Titans of our time. And they have been successful in creating capacity to connect billions of people.
One of the things that we're looking at the Commerce Department in the very near term is a complement to what my colleagues at the State Department have been doing. Dan mentioned the Department's work on the human rights agenda. At the Commerce Department, we are looking at the free flow of information globally as sort of the life blood of innovation.
And over the course of the last several months, we have held some conversations with representatives from the not-for-profit community, representatives from industry, both domestic and overseas, and we asked them as they look out over the horizon whether they see threats to their ability to innovate, their ability to continue to create these open spaces. And by and large, the answer we have heard is yes. Indeed, while there are many new spaces being created, at the same time there are speed bumps being erected or barriers more significant that can be an impediment, at the end of the day, to consumers making use of new tools and new devices.
So, shortly, the Commerce Department will be initiating an inquiry, a bit different than the Dutch French inquiry, but the intent to initiate an inquiry where we ask for public comment state of the barriers to the creation of new innovation, and what, as policymakers, can actually be done to address it.
So, to wrap, it's an element of the conversation, the fact that the free flow of information is a source for innovation as well as for communication and freedom of the individual. But I think it's definitely a part of the conversation that is closely coupled.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Thank you for your comments. I think it was a good start of the discussion. And now we will move to kind of a more political issue. Empowerment of citizens through the Internet. And I'd like to give the floor to Antti Peltomaki. This is about empowerment of young people through education, and I'd like to hear comments about the role of the Internet in empowering citizens.
>> ALMIRA OUSMANOVA: Thank you for the introduction. I'd like to thank the organizers to speak on this panel. I'm privileged to be here.
The subject of the topic of my talk is a bit different maybe in nature and in the focus as compared to the previous topics, though I hope it does relate and will contribute to the overall discussion of the subject on the Internet and democracy.
So, more specifically, the the topic of my talk is political communication online and the case of local elects in Belarus.
So, here I'm focusing more on a very specific case of the political process, namely local elections which were held in April of this year. And the use and the role of the online media, such as blogs in this political process.
So, I would assume there may belittle knowledge on the part of the audience about the political, you know, details or the political process in Belarus as well as about specifics of the Internet usage in Belarus. So very briefly, to the extent possible, an overview of the local elections in Belarus. The date was April 25th of this year. And there were about 23,000 candidates -- you know, vacant places for the election.
There were about 400 out of this 23,000 vacant positions, there were about 400 candidates who could be called as a candidate, that is either independent or coming from the so-called oppositional organisations. So not so many, actually, were candidates.
Another interesting detail about the local elections in Belarus is the budget that a person, a candidate, has to run a campaign. It's less than $100 US for the whole campaign. And you're not allowed to have any extra sources for your campaign. So you can imagine how much could be done given that great budget.
And another nice thing that you have as a candidate is five minutes on the official state radio channel to present your problem. So, five minutes is pretty -- it's a long time indeed.
And an overall turn out from this year was the official data about the elections was that there was about 80 percent of people who came to vote. You can imagine for the local elections it's a great number. And out of this 80 percent, you have 30 percent of people who did early vote. So, it looks like the whole population in Belarus is so much concerned about the local issues that the majority of the population is coming to decide on these issues.
But, to counterbalance this data, maybe somewhat subjectively, I would say that generally there is very little interest on the public's part also on the part of the political parties to participate in the so-called election -- electoral process in Belarus, because everybody knows the result in advance. So these figures are kind of figures, you know, in advance. So that you don't even need to bother to go to the polling station, because the result will be there anyway.
So that's so much about the -- you know, certain specifics of the political process or elections in Belarus.
And now some data about the Internet usage at the moment. This is the data as of the end of 2009. So this would be definitely, you know, they would change for the time being. But I would say not so much.
The overall number of the Internet users in Belarus is about, you know, the average would be maybe about 3 million out of a 10 million population, although different analysts and experts, you know, differ in their opinions about the numbers, some claim there is still about 2 million and the most opt other people say it's about 4 million. So let's take 3 million as a compromise.
Now, something can be said taking about the online media landscape. It's very interesting. The percentage of the so-called socio political media out of the overall media and landscape, it's 50 percent of all online media in Belarus are focused on political issues. Out of those, 50 percent, the most popular, the most visited are those who focus on the news Web sites, but run by professional journalists, and also multifunctional Web portals. But this excludes another very interesting and important category of online media, such as social networking Web sites, which are increasingly popular in the grassroot, say, activism.
And indeed, the social networking Web sites increasingly are becoming popular in Belarus. The top three would be probably, contact.Ru, classic.ru and myjournal.Com. Each of them would be about 3 percent of the overall users in the country.
Maybe even -- if we talk about a live journal, now it's about 270,000 users of the live journals, social networking Web site in Belarus, which makes a pretty good percentage.
And also speaking of the most popular I think social networking Web sites in the west is, you know, Facebook or Twitter. It is in the top ten, but not like in the top three positions.
Probably now I would like to talk more specifically about the candidates who were running for the elections and those who were using the social networking Web sites and somewhat, you know, the short comings on the way and the specifics of the usage of these Web sites and their significance.
Well, out of those 400 candidates that I mentioned as an independent or proDemocratic candidates, I was able to identify at least 7 candidates who were using actively social networking Web sites. Most of them use a live journal as a primary communication platform, although others would include like Twitter, Facebook, and word press social, you know, networking platform. But mostly live journal. And I was examining most of the age distribution among the candidates among those who were using the platforms. And you can see quite clearly that it's only one person over the age of 40 or 50, and the rest is in the age of up to 30. One person was 38. So, you can quite safely claim that this kind of communication tool is popular among kind of the young political audience.
And the live journalist communication platform has been used not only by the candidates who were based in Minsk, the capital city, and where a majority of the resources is concentrated, but in some other regional in some other regional areas as well.
More specifically, I'm looking to, you know, three examples, three personalities of the -- this active politicians and bloggers, and I'll just highlight different aspects for these three different persons.
One of them is Alice Lavinius, who is a positional or independent candidate on this elections. And while I can't really demonstrate here on my slide, but there is a whole list of links that this candidate was making during his campaign, which means that if you want to be visible on the media landscape you still have to be present in the intermediary. And this person is maybe one of the few who is extremely effective in communicating with at least the independent online media land cape and had a lot of reports and coverage in the independent media, including the the TV -- television channel, which broadcast from Poland for Belarus.
Another person who was of interest was Lipcurage, who was a fresh person in this whole political scene. He became known as a man or a person, the candidate into the candidates. Because the whole success of his political campaigning was based on his basically precampaigning, precampaigning Where he used extensively his own blog and where he was ridiculing the electoral system. He was doing what you would call a trilogy, which is intensive mailing to the authorities with all possible requests relating to the details of the campaign. So basically making the whole process of being absurd. And he published updates related to his campaign called Mein Kempf, deliberately having connotations to the -- another political battle.
And what he did, another interesting thing about his blog was that he was publishing the IP addresses of his visitor, but not all, those visitors that were coming from the official state institutions or structures. So in a way he was making visible those visitors who would prefer very much to be hidden in this kind of communication process.
I would probably keep many other details about the, you know, the usage of the blogs by the candidates. Just let me say that, in general, they were of course very important tools for communicating the biography of the candidate, the information about other candidates, information about the tutorial unit where the candidates were running. They included updates about the campaigning and the communication with other supporters.
They had also media materials like a photo gallery, media interviews and all kinds of other possible digital media that you can have on your blog.
So, maybe to conclude this very brief overview, I would say that blogs indeed serve a very important communication function for the independent candidates. They have certain tactical significance. They make possible certain visibility of the candidate, and they do make certain convergence of the media. They relate with other independent online media.
However, the very -- you know, the whole kind of my concern would be that even talking about this kind of citizen, you know, grassroot activities and political communication, we have to be cautious about thanking the kind of impact of this political communication on the overall political process. And namely that the political process, the electoral process, does not really change much because of these attempts, because of this new technology.
So there is a strong tension between the traditional political process and system and the new technologies, which provide new opportunities but they do not really challenge that much of the system.
Thank you very much for your attention.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Thank you for giving lovely examples from the political life from Belarus. And now a short command by Aiste Zilinskiene.
>> AISTE ZILINSKIENE: Good afternoon. My relationship with the Internet is from working in online media for ten years. And these ten years I'm observing how online media readers are becoming from passive readers to very active participators in creating venues and sharing venues. So I want to say my short comment on one Internet feature, interconnectivity, which lets direct communication among the users and the creators of the Web Pages.
Interactivity empowers people through the online media to act online and to act in real life. Online media readers can react to events posted in the press. They can post their commands, their opinion, what they think on one or another story.
The most popular topics, readers leave about more than 10,000 commands. They share their opinions. And nowadays, it's popular that even politicians often go to the readers comments column to check whether their one or another idea will be well taken by the audience if they share it in the government and the Parliament. So people are communicating in the comments column on online media and sharing their minds. This empowers them to act in real life also.
For example, we had more than one case where citizens organised themselves in online media comments columns to gather in protest actions in the public sphere and to protect one or another popular person or politician or police commissioner. And the politicians reacted to these people's minds.
Various petitions on different subjects are now very popular in the Internet. The Internet users are posting links in the social networks, in online media, and asking readers to sign to put their contacts real names, family names, addresses, telephone numbers and to support one another's ideas.
And now, every day, we see hundreds of such petitions, which receive the quick reaction of the audience and have been printed and given to the government, to the Parliament, or to the court or to the businessman to show the opinion of the citizens, that they think differently.
Interactivity not only allows people to react on media created new, but also journalists and citizens' abilities to spread the news. People can create their own media channels easily on the Internet.
A lot of Web sites have the platforms for the blogs, or you all know that Web sites like YouTube where everyone can post the short video from his real life.
The most interesting thing is that now a day, we observe that people know very well this ability, that they can create and use by themselves and share them to a big audience. The facts from real life proves it, such situations like we see a car crash in the street or a fire in the yard, we almost always see a dozen people around shooting these views, and most often they post it in the Internet. So media reacts to these posts, and people now also can spread their news in the Internet and online media very easily.
That is why citizen journalism is now one of the main -- one of the main trends of all online media. All news portals all around the world now are asking citizens to be a coworker to the media, to work together with journalists, to be the sources of journalists, to give them the news and they are even given prizes -- the media is giving prizes for people for telling them the news.
So Internet and interactivity changes the forces not only the journalists now can control the politician and the public sphere. People are becoming very important -- every one of us is becoming a very important controller of the public sphere.
Also I want to add that Internet within the geography of the different audience. People from different countries can understand the foreign media and see the different external views of what is happening in their Country. For example, in Lithuania we have a news portal which covers Lithuania and world news in the Russian language mainly for Russian minority inhabitants in Lithuania. But what is interesting is that people by way of Ukraine and Jordan are reaching -- and in other places which the fights are going on -- we see bigger traffic from foreign country readers because they are eager for a more open-minded view and more opinions of what is happening in the world.
So in conclusion I'd like to see the Internet feature such as interactivity, which gives people the tool which we can -- by using -- using which we can play a very important role in the communication process in the public sphere.
>> PHILIP VERVEER: Thank you very much for your comment. Now we have an opportunity for a brief question or two from the audience, a question or comment. Anybody would care to make a statement from the audience? If so, we ask that you make use of a microphone so we all can hear. And I'll say, if not, if you give us an opportunity to bring ourselves closer to our appointed schedule, which is not necessarily a bad thing as well.
I think that the students will join us I think at the end of the programme.
So without then any further delay, why don't we go ahead and introduce the next speaker.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Yes. Now we have -- we are moving to the limits of Internet freedom and I would like to introduce Dunja Mijatovic.
>> DUNJA MIJATOVIC: I'm very happy to be here. This is the second panel I'm taking part in today here in Vilnius.
As you may not be aware, this city and this country has a special meaning to me as the representative on the freedom of the media as a future of Chairing the Office of the OFC, and it means a lot for my office to see that it puts so much value and interest in the topics of freedom of expression and freedom of the media already.
I look forward to the Chairmanship of Lithuania and the media during my mandate.
Before I discuss the issues that I'm planning to do today on this topic, I was surprised when I saw the title Internet freedom? Where are the limits? It's my role as the -- as somebody who has to promote freedom without limits.
But anyway, I think it's important to discuss it and to see if there are limits. Because limits are sometimes, and too many times in my view, are understood as further restriction, further suppression, control, regulation, in too many of the 56 OIC participating states. I'll not talk about particular cases. They can be seen on our Web site.
And they are raised on a daily basis. They are definitely of concern for the office and for all of us when we have to discuss freedom of the media and freedom on the Internet. But the title would be innovate. Some people feel that we have the same notion of Internet freedom.
And, secondly, there are clear and applicable limits that have to be defined, spelled out and implemented.
So let me start with the first. Internet freedom. So very dear to me. I'm sure if I asked around the room, not two of us would come with the same definition. Similar ones, but I doubt that we would be able to agree on a joint definition of what is Internet freedom? What does it represent? How do we see it or how should it be represented?
Naturally, I can only suggest an answer that reflects findings and experience obtained in the course of my work and professional experience. And I'm afraid that my answer might be very disappointing to you for being very simple. So Internet freedom to me, to the work of my office, the office of the representative on freedom of the media, is not different to media freedom. It's not different than to freedom of expression, to the rights to seek, receive and impart information beyond national and administrative borders.
Like traditional media, the Internet exposes truth and information which is in the public interests, but the Internet can just as traditional media deliver unverified or wrong information. The Internet just like all media is a mirror of our combined societies. It seems that many regard it as another world. It seems to be often associated with the unknown, the darker part of the society, where evil, unlawful and immoral exchange takes place. Yes, this is true like all new platforms. The Internet exposes both the positive and negative in human association or connection.
The question should not be how to transform the Internet into a platform that would only allow or support legitimate or socially agreed content. The question should be how to deal with all of the unwanted content and whether dealing with it should be fundamentally different to how we deal with unwanted content in all media, all in the offline world.
Just like media literacy, in my view it was introduced in the first half of the century and they got tools to increase the mass media content. It allowed the asking of different questions about what media offers them to read hear and watch. Literacy should be the focus of today's education, and this was mentioned on many occasions today and probably on many other panels that happened during this excellent IGF conference.
With the volume of available information data, facts and misinformation, careful evaluation and selection becomes a skill which needs to be acquired and trained. This is particularly necessary for children and minors, and does not apply to the Internet. Today, however, the fostering of critical thinking, of technological and textual and Internet literacy is a basis of identifying the legitimate content, challenging stereotypes and discrimination does not seem always the policy of choice for many governments.
Internet freedom and with it freedom of expression is under continuous pressure by governments.
I was appointed recently, some five months ago, for this unique office and the only intergovernmental media watch dog in the world. What I noticed by now, it doesn't look like something we should be proud of.
Accordingly, there are tools and ways certain governments are trying to restrict and to block their citizens of certainly information that they find not to be of the right way of producing it or being critical of the government, not to mention certain notions by certain governments to suppress any kind of provocative news or criticism or satire. As soon as the government, and I'm talking about governments that do not represent Democratic governments, as soon as they realise that the Internet challenges secrecy and censorship corruption, they started imposing controls. In many countries and ways, the effects are visible and they threaten the potential for information to circulate freely. This is one of the reasons I said at the beginning that there is a certain concern when we talk about limits. Because limits could be understood in many ways.
The digital age offers the promise of a truly Democratic culture of participation and interactivity. Realising that from us is the challenge of our times. And on the age of the borderless areas, regardless of frontier, it takes on a more powerful meaning. And it becomes potentially more dangerous for those governments to have their power a transparency, closeness and secrecy. The importance of providing free access for all people anywhere in the world cannot be raised enough in a public arena and cannot be discussed often enough among stakeholders, civil society, media as well as local and international authorities.
I would just like to raise several issues, saying that those possibilities and ideas are at the House of the process of the OSC, and the OSC principles and commitments that we share. In my view, rather than talking about limits, we should find the best ways to spread access to the Internet, so that the whole world can benefit from what it can offer rather than increasing the gaps of those who have access to information and those who do not. And those governments will fear and distrust the openness brought along by the Internet. I emphasized on many occasions during this short period of my mandate -- and I quote myself here -- when I said before the permanent council, when I gave the first report as the OIC media freedom representative, that the way a society uses the new communications technologies and how it responds to economic, political and cultural globalization will determine the very future of that society.
Restrict access to information and your chances will become restricted. Open up the channels for communication and society will find a way to prosper.
At the end, as Mark mentioned, I would like to mention John Stewart Meal. And he has an essay written in 1859, and it's so relevant today because I think that we can find many answers, because it discusses issues relevant to today, equality, authority, freedom of speech. Thank you very much.
>> PHILIP VERVEER: Thank you both for bringing us into the 19th century and also for the very strong set of statements about the importance of freedom on the Internet.
And very conveniently, now we are asking Susan Morgan, the Director of The global Network Initiative, to make some comments on this set of issues. Susan?
>> Susan MORGAN: Thank you very much. I'm delighted to be here. I feel like I have to start with an apology. I think I might be the only person on the panel who doesn't have a historical reference or political quote. So I'll talk and make a few comments about the challenges that companies are facing in the face of sort of the Internet and the way the Internet has developed, and in particular with the relationship with governments.
To start off with a bit of context setting, I think, you know, we understand that there is huge potential for information, communication, technology companies to play a positive role in advancing privacy and freedom of expression issues. We know this as ICT becomes increasingly central to commerce, speech, information, media and personal identity. We know it because of the rapid growth of Internet users around the world and the fact that 2.0 applications are creating greater connectivity and greater interconnectedness. And I think finally because of the huge impacts that the mobile Internet will have on the future, particularly in the emerging markets.
But I'll point to three challenges that we see at the Global Network Initiative. The first is one really of speed. And I think there is sort of a genuine challenge for law policymakers and regulators to keep up with technology itself and the way it's developing, the way in which technology is being used, and a lot of the innovation that is coming from users. And, finally, to keep up with companies themselves as business models evolve over time.
I this the second issue that we highlight is around complexity in that companies are facing challenges with multiple regulator approaches and legislative efforts in many, many different jurisdictions around the world. And we talked also about the increase in sophisticated filtering and censorship.
And then I think the third area is the area of dilemmas. So I think there are a number of things that are coming to the fore which pose real challenges. And an example of that would be, you know, how do you really create a balance between freedom of expression and privacy with the needs of national security? And I think there is some really difficult challenges there.
So I think there is a set of complex and sensitive issues coming about that are leading to companies coming up with increasing pressure from governments to provide domestic laws that comply with the national and international global rights standards.
So the initiative was formed really to address these issues. And we think it's a unique collaboration between companies, between NGOs and civil society, between investors and between academics who are all working to look good. So how can we provide practical solutions? We look to do it through four key ways. First, we provide a framework for company decision-making when we face these issues.
The second is really about accountability, so when companies join the Global Network Initiative, they sign up to an independent process in a way of implementing the international framework and guidelines.
The third is looking at the potential for strengthened policy engagement and through the fact that we have such unique collaboration between civil society, companies, as well as investors in academics.
And the fourth is look at shared learning. The issues are complex and sensitive and they move quickly because of the pace that technology moves. We are looking to provide a safe space to understand and develop practical explanations around the initiatives. So that is the way that the global initiative is looking to add to the protection of free speech and privacy online. Thank you.
>> PHILIP VERVEER: Now we will get the EU perspective here. And Antti Peltomaki is going to make some comments from his position as Deputy director general in the information society in media aspects of the European Commission. And following that, we are fortunate to have among us today a member of the European Parliament and we will ask her to make some comments as well on these issues from the perspective of a European parliamentarian. So Antti.
>> ANTTI PELTOMAKI: Thank you; and ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I think it's great and it's a pleasure to be here addressing the Internet as a new instrument to enforce democracy. And even if we take it for granted that the European Union is a Democratic institution, I think it's really having the core values that are based on the Democratic governance model.
Before joining the Commission, I worked for the government and I started with the Amsterdam release and then what we know finally as the Lisbon treaty. One of the elements was a demographic deficit debate, and what is actually the demographics.
So there was a construction called the European Union, and I think it was very much based on what -- how to define the European democracy. But it was also in relation to what is the share of the responsibilities between the Member States and the European institutions in terms of guaranteeing the human rights including democracy.
And now finally I think it was started with the idea that the European Unions should proceed to the European Convention of the human rights. I think that was blocked for quite some time. Then we negotiated the fundamental rights and now I think the role is established in the context of the Lisbon treaty. And there is another legal base to have the Convention of the European rights whenever I think the European institutions are ready to take that kind of step.
But all in all, if you are reading the treaty, then you can read out that the union is founded on the values of fair respect for human dignity, freedom, equality, rule of law, respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. And it's also, for example, that every citizen shall have the right to participate in the Democratic life of the union.
To my understanding, I feel that we have found some reasonable balance of what are the respective roles of the Member States' authorities in relation to the European Union institutions.
And now entering this, I believe it's more obvious that the Internet plays a more important role in the process of democracy and I think perhaps creating a totally new type of platform for exercising these rights.
And in talking about the Internet and democracy online, of course, I think that we think about a government or I think there are a lot of ideas and I think the European Union has promoted this.
But now it's easier to fulfill or create a platform like the Internet in place.
And I think that we have also been very much now thinking about the government, because I think that usually you have the impression that it's governing electronically from top down, but I think that the Internet perhaps is very efficient also to be used bottom up. And I think the governments are -- I think that recognizing that, let's see, the extra value of the Internet that can be used. And I think that it's very much following the example of the user centric opening innovation model from the business side.
Where I think the potential of the users are used is with new kinds of products and services. And I think citizens are driven very much by the political processes, especially at the local level. It's been very active using the initiatives and citizens and they are ready to contribute to all kinds of public services.
But in contrast to traditional media, the Internet provides you to share information with a wide audience and, shall I say, it's very interactive. And the challenge of where you find the information I'd like to say that it allows you to put into prospective views that are made available through the traditional media and it brings people closer to each other.
Now you can get information from around the world. In order to facilitate the role of the Internet, there is a respect of freedom of expression online. Here I would like to recall the World Summit on the Information Society, 2005, which resulted in the Tunis agenda. And a very important provision of this agreement is the commitment to freedom, to seek, receive, impart and use information in particular for creation accumulation and dissemination of the knowledge.
And also, I think that the -- in this forum, it's a very -- I think it's relevant to the Warsaw declaration and it's one of the core principles: The right of every person to freedom, and the ability to receive ideas and information through any media, regardless of frontiers.
And I think when we now look forward, we are having the challenges of today in relation to the Internet. I think that we are all on both sides of the Atlantic I think very much involved in the Internet neutrality debate.
And this is an issue which we know steals emotions. And it's needed that we have a better understanding of what this concept is all about. That's why the Commission launched by the end of June this year the public consultation on the open Internet and net neutrality in Europe. It's coming to the end, by the end of September. And I think on the basis of that consultation, we are organising together with the European Parliament and the rights of the stakeholders in the summit, where we tried to make sense of how this -- how this discussion is perceived. I do not reach to say the outcome of the consultation, but I would raise at least two general points that we already know.
First, one of the underlying principles that we have in the packets that were accessed and finalized at the end of last year. We want uniformity. And I think that will play a key role in the investment of new networks. And I think that's why we had packets for policy initiatives in relation to broadband, in relation to next generation access, and also I think then the spectrum policy.
I believe that networks have file compression. We can deal with it in a good way.
Transparency for consumers is what we are after. We arm them with knowledge in a minimum set of expectations. This should be an important driver in the development of the business models and the take up of new services. But, all in all, our approach is to keep an open mind. And especially as we are all speaking to promote the open nature of the Internet, we are hopeful that the presentations will provide useful input and clarity on a number of complicated issues and challenges that lie ahead. And I think the discussions that we are having here in and the IGF, and I think that's where we all face the same types of challenges, how to use the Internet in the best possible way also for enhancing the democracy in our own territories as well as around the world.
>> PHILIP VERVEER: Now I'd like to ask a member of the European Parliament, from the Netherlands, to provide a perspective from the European Parliament. Arite Shake.
>> Hi everybody. Thank you very much Ambassador and thank you to the organizers for organising this panel at the IGF. It's my first time here, but it's a pleasure and honour to be here. I was actually in and out of this session, unfortunately, because it's one of the topics that I care deeply about. But there was an emergency in Brussels regarding a topic that has a lot to do with the digital agenda, namely copyright. It's a complex matter that stirs a lot of emotions but it underlines how important it is that we have effective policy on these topics on our digital agenda.
The digital agenda is one of my main focuses as well as foreign policy, and I'd like to share a bit of what I see as concerns. I think it's very good to be here among people who all care and feel a sense of urgency when it comes to democracy and technology. But there is also some issues that are not working very well yet also in the European Parliament. So forgive me, I'm used to being a member of an opposition party, so I look critically, even though there are a lot of things that are going okay and a lot of processes that are going in the right direction. But as a liberal and a European, I think we cannot be satisfied until we really meet the practice of our fundamental values. And this is on ongoing process that needs a lot of work.
So when we look at Europe, we often have a challenge of balancing internal issues and external issues. Policies within the European Union and foreign policies, which since the adoption of the Lisbon treaty are becoming one European policy, so this is a good opportunity to look at the Technologies playing in this democracy.
My colleague spoke about addressing the inclusion deficit and I think this has a lot to do with the technological deficit or limited access to technologies. Because increasingly the two go hand in hand.
Within our institution, we actually have some problems of applying technologies to the full potential. I don't know how many of you have ever been in the European Parliament -- yep. But we don't have WiFi, for example, and there is no real internal policy that facilitates the optimal use for us as representatives of citizens to communicate through new technologies. So I think we have to begin with ourselves as well, because there is a lot of Democratic miles to be made if we would use technologies to the full potential.
Within the European Parliament in terms of making policy, we have a lot of issues on our agenda, such as the European digital agenda and other topics that were mentioned here that are concretely specified in reports, in treaties, et cetera.
But, I would like to highlight a few ways in which Internet and democracy are related in a horizontal manner to other topics. So besides the charters and the treaties that deal specifically with Internet and digital rights, I think it's important to look at all of the elements where it comes back as a part of how we can strengthen democracy.
One of those is trade. The EU has a lot of partnership agreements, trade agreements with other countries outside of the EU. And in the these trade agreements, which are very important for partner countries, because it involves easier access to money and growth, we talk about conditionality on the circumstances of Democratic and human rights in those third countries. I think it would be very important to also explicitly mention the Internet and technologies in how they relate to democracy in guaranteeing that this conditionality applies not only in the off line world but also in the digital environment.
The EU is a huge provider of development aid and sort of aid and trade programmes. So, it's important to look at how, in the developing world, the EU can foster access to technologies in order to facilitate Democratic participation.
The same goes for our education programmes. Access to technologies and the Democratic participation that can be facilitated is only useful if people understand how to use the new technologies responsibly. So looking at eSkills and making people equipped to work with new technologies and understand how they can fully use their rights to access information the way they can voice their opinion, the way they can interact with government through eProcurement or information on the Internet about public services is very important.
Last but not least, I'm personally trying to ensure that in the realm of form policy and human rights activities in the European Parliament, we make sure we don't forget the role of the digital sphere. There are many ways in which this is important. There are too many countries in the world where bloggers, journalists, and users of Facebook are imprisoned because they share these. And access to people's networks is of increasing interest to oppressive regimes. Where the sort of the struggle for human rights is carrying into the digital environment, we have to be very much aware of how these tools play out. And it often seems to me that repressive regimes understand how technologies create opportunities for freedom of expression, because they have identified very clearly where they see it a threat from the voice of people that can be shared and united and organised through the Internet.
And when I look at some of of my colleague, there is perhaps a bit of education that is needed. So I encourage you it talk to your representatives in the European Parliament and alert them to what you believe is important.
So, in rounding up, I see that we have a lot to do in order to be able to practice what we preach, both within our institutions as a representatives of the people within the EU to sustain and defend our fundamental values and civil liberties. And looking at the role that Europe should play, we have to look at the role that the Internet plays in protecting human rights. Thanks.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Thank you so much for your comments. Now we are back to the US, Miss Meg Roggensack will talk on the topic of Internet and democracy, an agenda for Democratic governments.
>> MEG ROGGENSACK: Thank you very much. I'd like to thank the government of Lithuania for hosting us for the governance forum and for the leadership of the community of democracies. Also to the moderators for providing an outlet for the discussion during this forum, which is really valuable.
Earlier this year my organisation, Human Rights First, joined with Freedom House to post a human rights summit in Washington, D.C. We wanted to support freedom of association and expression. We wanted to develop a blueprint for going forward. In the summit, and the call to action that was issued, built upon several previous efforts, including the community of democracies diplomats handbook. As that handbook recognizes, Pro-Democracy and Human Rights activists have come to rely on technology to organise, to speak freely, and to connect with fellow citizens of the free world. And what we have now really is an international culture, using handheld communications and other technological devices to witness and communicate to the world events as they unfurl. As many people described today, there are Scenes of vivid oppression that the rest of us can scarcely comprehend.
As technology evolves, as many of us recognized, there is going to be an increasing tension between on the one hand the momentum generated through the openness and the tendency for present governments to control events by cracking down on the use of this technology. The community of democracies has a big role to play here in terms of the challenges that they are facing from oppressive governments. We are all in this fight together and we have a vested interest in an open information society. So what then should the community of democracy do about this? Well, meeting at the summit and since have really articulated things that they would recommend that democracies do to preserve the space for Internet freedom. I'd like to offer up that agenda. And many of these things will sound familiar, but I think as was recognized, we tend to operate in the off line world and don't always think about how those tactics translate into the online world.
So first and the most important thing is to show support, to speak out most importantly against cases of abuse and press authorities to investigate and also consider whether diplomatic personnel can conduct additional inquiries when there are cases of abuse. One case stems out of the discussion that we had with people at our summit. People who use cybercafes in Egypt are required to provide identifying information if they use the Internet, which later can be matched to their identity by state security personnel. And in July, in one very extreme case, a man using the Internet in a cafe near his home was asked by police to show his identification. And he objected. He said why are you asking for this? And they dragged him out and beat him to death. And in this case, it was actually an anomaly for a number of reasons. First and most important is that it played out in public view, next to an Internet cafe. There were plenty of people there who observed this, got clear pictures of the police who conducted this beating and actually transmitted them before their phones were confiscated. But more importantly as the human rights defender colleagues in Egypt told us is that this is not the usual way that Egypt approaches this issue. The authorities use old fashioned methods. They drag people in to beat them and hold them, as they told us, until the bruises heal and release them, which is an effective way to suppress people.
So this case and cases like it give a rare opportunity to view the government on its tactic, to express concern more broadly about the treatment of people and to get the facts on the record to get a broader dialog about what is happening.
But among other tactics that diplomats and embassies can do is to reach out to people who are facing harassment for exercising their right to free expression, and to try to begin to form a relationship with them. This can include meeting publicly, and inciting these activists to embassy events and to meetings with visiting ministers and dignitaries, which these activists welcome. This is a way to build relationships with them and to learn from them exactly what kind of support is needed.
It's also important to provide opportunities to network with one another not only at the national level but at the regional and international level. And that could mean supporting them, for example, in their participation for events like this one and similar events convened by the UN and other groups.
And, finally, and most importantly, is where it's necessary, to (Off microphone) to provide support where people need to flee a difficult situation. It's important to provide support for programmes that ensure online safety and security, training, support for innovation and development so that people can find ways to use technology and respond to the needs that they have. And also find ways to raise the digital divide.
So secondly, of course, as we have been discussing, it's important to support the freedom to connect as an international norm. And things that we're discussing today, this dialog needs to continue in a variety of international organizations, then provide a strong normative framework. We're all familiar with the Internet human rights framework, but less on how to supply an Internet and online environment. So just to be clear and to articulate how those norms apply to basic freedoms online and how to extend and protect journalists, activists and critics from oppressive policies.
Next, lead by example. When faced with tough challenges, the last thing a Democratic government should do is to resort to the tactics used by repressive governments, which is censorship and surveillance. The tools and tactics that apply in the off line world apply in the online world, and those include law enforcement and diplomatic pressure. So we have to remember, as we confront issues such as tailoring domestic legislation, so if there are reinstructions on freedom of expression and they are all clearly defined and in line with Internet human rights standards, that we look at a criminal defamation laws and phase them out and ensure that laws and regulations are not abused to restrict freedom of expression.
And then as was mentioned, there are a variety of ways to align our trade investment and aid policies to ensure support for Internet freedom. And I thought the recommendations made were really wonderfully well stated and very important. Again, very welcomed opportunity for more discussion and collaboration.
Finally, it's important that governments promote corporate accountability, to encourage the private sector to act responsibly wherever they operate, and this is including the global network initiative. As we know, companies can't go it alone and they shouldn't. And the NGI gives a framework for NGOs And investors to collaborate on solutions.
I want to mention one case that brings all these points home. I think many of you may have seen the story on Sunday about Russia's use of antipiracy laws to suppress. This story talked about the ways that Microsoft was involved in these proceedings. We were aware of this, because this actually affected one of our defenders in Russia. And we reached out to Microsoft to express our concern and to make suggestions. And we're gratified that they have adopted two of our key recommendations, which is to conduct an internal investigation but also to look at ways to promote greater and wider provision of free and licensed software to activists, so they won't be targets of this type of abuse.
But it also points out the enforcing role that governments can play as mentioned earlier in reaching out to activists. Very often companies are caught in difficult environments where the government is an antagonist in civil society. And so diplomatic missions and through their work can reach out to civil society, form partnerships, elevate these group, and identify interlocutors that then the private sector can begin to engage with. We joined with Microsoft two years ago to form a NGI. We felt that, as I mentioned, companies can't go it alone. We know that Russia isn't the only government that is using technology to repress activism. But, we also know how difficult that is, as this example points out, and the role that governments can play is a varied one in addition to supporting civil society as we mentioned, looking at ways that both trade and human rights diplomacy can reinforce one another and embedding those concepts together and having a consistent vision not only nationally but internationally.
So I just wanted to leave you with this thought, that in today's world, more and more people are aware that the indivisibility of the human fate on this planet and the problems of any one of us in any country are the problems of all of us. And we all have the same basic values and share the same common fears about the threats that we face.
These are the words of Havil, and he wrote them 20 years ago. He was prevented from attending a Congress. Had technology been around then, that wouldn't matter. He would have been able to be there virtually. But the point that he was making really was that the technology revolution has made all of us Democrats. We're all in this together. And we are coming to a much more common understanding of how far we can work together to promote these values.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Thank you so much. Thanks for all of the panelists. We had a lot of different views, due to the same aspects of Internet freedom and the limits drawn by the democracy and the rule of law. And now I would like to turn finally to the social network of students sitting in the Ministry of Foreign affairs and listening attentively to the views expressed, and now we have the chance to have a real Internet discussion between this student audience there and our audience in this room.
So I would like now to pass the floor to the moderator of this remote discussion, Gustina, Vice President of The student society in the Institute of International Relations and Political Science of the Vilnius University. So if you hear us, the floor is yours.
>> (Off microphone.) I would like to ask a question myself I would like to point out (Off microphone.)
(Remote participation off microphone)
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Excuse me. It seems that we have the problem that we don't --
>> (Off microphone.)
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: So, thank you so much. It seems that we had problems to hear you properly.
(Remote participant Off microphone.)
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Thank you so much. I see that the Internet freedom has certain objectives and technical limits.
(Remote participant Off microphone.)
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: So if you hear us well, so maybe now I'll pass the floor to the audience here in our room. Does anyone have some comments or questions for the panelists?
Yes, so please, do we have the microphone?
>> Thank you very much, chairperson. My name is Orbit. I'm from South Africa, a member of Parliament. It's also my first time that I'm here in this conference of the IGF.
But my question really relates to the two presenters who spoke about the freedoms and democracy.
And also -- well, that is because of the limitations was necessary, but there should not be an over emphasis on them. I agree. And freedom of association and freedom of expression ought to be.
But what is also beginning to emerge is in the earlier session this morning, my Honorable member from the opposition party there, the official party, the South Africa Democratic alliance had a statement on hate speech. There seems to be no control on what goes in, the hate speech, the flows, and we found that in certain countries obviously tensions are so high that it's easy to increase the tensions. But the freedom of expression ought to be guaranteed, but obviously with some limitations. Limitations is not to suppress but it's to regulate what you can say and what you cannot say in that freedom of expression.
So if you could begin to balance that, because it was sort of like dismissing limitation and so forth. But I couldn't understand it.
And I just wanted to give one example as I sit down. In the neighboring country Mozambique -- and I don't argue with what the government did there -- there were Riots for two almost three days in the capital City of Maputo, very violent ones, and no one could go in and no one could go out because the main routes to the airport passes residential areas. They blocked that area. This is something that innovative technology was not able to do. People used SMSs to reach each other and then they posted SMSs to each other. Tomorrow they were on the streets, and I think the action gave results, because it was a price on water and price on electricity.
After a week, the government succumbed, as a result of the people. But what the police and government then did was to -- they asked the mobile providers to disengage the SMS services for almost a week. I'm not sure if they have opened it up now. This is sort of adapting to the technology. They went into this operation mode. That's what all Democratic governments ought to do. And I agree with you that Democratic governments should not use any mechanisms of suppression from their oppressive systems, but they have to adapt to the technology.
How you can be in that space and ensure that the technology is not used for hate speech, it's not used for terrorism and all sorts of things, if you could then have the comments from the two presenters. Thanks.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Thank you for the questions. The answers are there. Maybe there are other questions.
>> BERTRAND de La CHAPELLE: I think the mic was on. It was just too far. Two quick points in response to the questions. One of the first elements that I mentioned in the introduction is this very important distinction between limitations that are established by law or not by law. And I think it's an important element to clarify as we promote freedom of expression and the respect of the principles of freedom of expression. This is not about drawing a very precise frontier between the good governments and the bad governments and the good governments being on one side and the bad governments being all in the same basket.
Because the frontier is not very simple. We all are struggling with the balance between maintaining freedom of expression, protecting security, privacy. This is a challenge that is very difficult. So if we begin to throw stones at each other saying we're the good guys and you are just the bad guys, it doesn't work. The reality is that the only frontier that really distinguishes the people who really support freedom of expression and those who do not is whether the processes through which limitations are being put in place are designed by law, implemented with appropriate appeal processes through independent appeal processes. This is very important.
When the judiciary is not independent, you can have the best laws in the world, but it doesn't actually work. And when there is proportionality. There is, for instance, a very important distinction between blocking a whole site like YouTube or Facebook or so, or blocking content at the more granular level.
And I want to make a parallel for those who follow ICANN issues. We are discussing at the moment the introduction of new Top Level Domains. It can be dot sport, music, and so on. We will be facing the case where one government will be deciding through very appropriate procedures to block an entire domain name at the -- a name at the Top Level Domain. Today we don't have it. We have something that is close to universal accountability. But imagine if a government blocked the whole dot come domain with millions of domains. So the notion of granularity and the basic principle, you do not block a Top Level Domain that has been added to the root, but you take measures at the lowest granular level as something that might emerge as an important distinction.
The second thing is you were mentioning the notion of riots or tensions between groups. I want to highlight something that is very very important and has been revealed through the Wiki leaks and the Koran burning threat a couple weeks ago. This is the notion of nonlinearity of the effect. The Internet is an incredible amplifier, which means that something that is absolutely minuscule somewhere can be blown up into a total universal visibility, including for communities that will be extremely strongly offended. And we are making a strong comparison. We have to figure that the first world war was triggered by one killing. One event. Produced a chain of events. We have to be very careful that in the environment we're talking about, one very small event that has a very strong symbolic power can trigger chains of events and reactions between communities that will be very hard to stop. So when we deal with freedom of expression, it is a very delicate topic because there is a balance between ensuring the absolute respect of this principle, but at the same time taking into account the compensation measures if something is really getting an anomaly near development. Thank you.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Thank you for the question and for the answer.
Do we have the possibility to hear the student audience over there? Not yet?
If not, then I turn it back to our home audience again. So maybe someone -- yes, you can ask some question, please.
>> My name is Maria. I'm a student, so I can present like students. I'm sorry for students who could not enter. And I just wanted to thank you for wonderful presentations.
And my question actually refers to like -- to the issue, like summing up what was discussed today, or it was -- it was important democracy is fostering by the Internet. Yes, we can say that definitely. But, considering the countries where there are certain limits, for example, as barriers today we heard a presentation about that, and I'm Belarusian, and I'm interested in what can establish democracy. Not only like fostering in certain countries, and speaking about the countries where there is no such culture and where people refer to traditional resources, like television, radio, can use the Internet, establish democracy in such countries.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Thank you for the question. Who would like to make comments? Please.
>> DAN BAER: I think your question is about what role the Internet can play for countries like Belarus, where perhaps prospects are less bright than elsewhere and certainly less bright than here. One of the points I was making about public spheres, one of the points I didn't make is that the Internet actually creates opportunities for the micropublic sphere in the sense that it can pull together people who are interested in a particular thing or who share a particular cause, who are spread apart. And there may only be a small number of them, but they can join in a discussion together and so that can be valuable. And it can also help create macro public spheres, public spheres that cross borders, so that you see the rise of a truly global civil society and a global public opinion. And I think, as you know, Belarus as a government announced some new laws on the Internet which may impose restrictions on the ability of citizens to participate in that global public sphere.
But certainly there are opportunities for us to share across borders ideas about what governments should do, including governments that aren't Democratic.
And in that respect, you know, the Internet can be a valuable tool. I think it's always important to remember that there have been democracies without the Internet. But there haven't been democracies without people. And so at the end of the day, it's people who are -- who drive democracy, who create Democracy, who make it happen. It's not the Internet. But I certainly think that the fact that you're here and that I imagine you are used to ICT and that that means that friends in Belarus are here in some way, that that might have influence, even if it won't be noticeable tomorrow.
>> I want to make a note that on the transcript it was Dan Baer speaking. I think I saw on the transcript that it was attributed to Antti.
>> Thank you for this remark.
This is the last question that we can afford, please.
>> Mr. Arlanti from Italy. I want to come back to the point of Mr. Chapelle about the question of not making a list of good guys and bad guys. It's true that it's not easy. But, at the same time, I think that there are some points which are very clear. It's clear that if a government or state continuously uses regulation on copyright -- on privacy or even on terrorism to get the names of the people anonymously to denounce the situation, in this way they can get those names and addresses by the corporation working in Europe or in the USA or whenever else. This is a big problem. I think that it is possible to create some regulation which forbids the cooperation to give this sensitive data to governments who already have given a demonstration of that.
And the last question, the last question is for the -- for our two representatives of the European Union and it's related to democracy, transparency and languages.
I come from Italy, as I said. My mother is a 77 year old citizen of the European Union, but she cannot get access to the main contents coming from the public authority of the EU on the Web site because most of them are not in Italian because most are in English or French. And I know it's costly to translate and so on, but it's also money coming from the European citizens, all European citizens, it's money of the Lithuanian and Italian citizens as well as the English citizens, and it's incredible that we are so far from something which is transparent and Democratic.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Please.
>> BERTRAND de La CHAPELLE: Quickly to support what you said at the beginning, and particularly to highlight that in the initiative that is launched by France and the Netherlands, the second part as I said is devoted to the situation where companies are under pressure basically on three legs.
One is give me the equipment that will allow me to observe and do surveillance on my citizens. The second is give me the personal data that you have gathered so that I can track. And the third one is basically censor this content because I do not like it
On the first two, I want to do just a very concrete example. On the second one, in the previous IGF I was moderating a panel with Ramakin Akimmin related to the global initiative. And she was alluding to the fact that in some countries, as we apply the rule of IGF of not naming and shaming, but saying what it was about, some countries not only ask for the data but they torture individuals to ask them for the passwords on their social network to identify who are their friends, to go further. So we have to think that the bad governments or the bad actors are very smart technically speaking as well. And the second element is there were companies that were accused of having provided equipment for surveillance and so on. And, you know, in our discussion yesterday with one of them, I was asking the question straightforward because there were comments in the press.
And this person said you're right to ask. We have been pressured to provide some elements at a certain period of time in the past. We actually think it was a mistake to do it at that time, and we have shed the activity entirely of setting up monitoring centres and so on. We don't want to get involved in that. We will just produce network equipment, period.
So I wanted to mention that, because there is a clear evolution in the last two or three years towards more coordinated codes of conduct. It's less about regulations. It's about allowing the companies to exchange with other actors. And I just would like to say to Susan in that respect that I think the global network initiative is an interesting element, but the interaction with governments for me is not completely clear enough and maybe a closer integration to have it really multi-stakeholder, so that governments if they want can be part of it might be an avenue to explore. But we will have an opportunity to discuss that further. Thank you.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Thank you so much. And now the European Union.
>> ANTTI PELTOMAKI: Language is sensitive. And that's why we're having very strict rules on the languages. And I think we have really tried to offer basic information in all of the languages. I think that like we are having the decision-making process together with the Parliament and the European Union, that we are always -- we have to have all the language versions available. And I think that whenever someone like your mother is addressing an issue with union services in her own language, I think she is entitled to the response in her language. But if that hasn't been the case, of course, then you can -- and I think if you are going to a European Web site, it's in all official languages. Basically, everything is translated in the union.
>> On behalf of the organizers, I should remind you that we have exceeded already our time limit and the next group is coming. But as we have experienced some technical problems with the teleconference with the students, they can hear us perfectly but we cannot hear them well. So, I am becoming the voice of the youth now and I will relay a couple of questions, if I could just elaborate on them shortly. So the youth was mainly interested in two things. The first is that various countries, various governments are hiring professional bloggers, professional IT specialists in order to imitate the voice of the opposition in various Internet conferences. And what is being done to fight this tendency?
And the second thing is what senior governments or private corporations are planning to do against cybercrimes committed by terrorist organisations?
So thank you.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Thank you. Who would like to answer this question?
>> DAN BAER: I'll do it as quickly as I can. I'll take the second question first, which is to refer back to what I should be speaking to the students. There are a series of tensions that exist that arise in the context of the Internet. One of them is the fact that the Internet can be used as a tool by those who we would urge on and support. And it also can be used as a tool by those who practice things that we don't support. And that we should deal with that tension the way that we deal with many tensions, which is openly transparently through Democratic processes and according to the rule of law. And that cybercrime will continue to be a challenge, and that we should work together not only within states, but across states to address that challenge.
The first question about paid bloggers, to me, it's just another version of a general problem that we have to confront in the media, in terms of preserving the objectivity of media. And in some ways it goes back to the question of what you do about bad speech. And really, in any case, the most obvious answer for what you do about bad speech is answer it with good speech. And so I think the best way to address it is to call it out when we know it to be there, when we know that there is fake objectivity on the market. We should call it out as fake. And answer it with real speech that engages real ideas and makes real arguments.
So... Susan, sorry.
>> SUSAN MORGAN: I just wanted to offer a very quick comment on the role of companies. From a global network initiative perspective, we provide guidance for the companies in terms of what to do when facing a government request, whether it's for information or the blocking of content. And that's very much around ensuring that the rule of law is being applied and ensuring that judicial process is being followed within the country. And also looking at the narrow interpretation of the request.
And just to come back very briefly on Bertrand's point, I just wanted to say that the GNI is clear at the moment in that we have four constituencies. We have companies, we have civil society, investors and academics who are formally at the table as a part of the initiative. And we talk on a regular basis clearly with government as well. Thank you.
>> EVALDAS IGNATAVICIUS: Thank you so much. I think this closes our session. Thanks also for the student audience. And the difficulties we had to reach the students proves that the Internet cannot replace direct contacts. And in our student terms, we got better -- better ways to access the virtual reality, for example.
So, I give the floor to the final sentences of the Ambassador.
>> PHILIP VERVEER: Thank you very much. And again we want to thank you on behalf of our government for hosting this very fine event. We are most appreciative. Thank you.
(End of session)