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IGF 2016 - Day 0 - Room 2 - Organization of American States (OAS) and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression

 

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Jalisco, Mexico, from 5 to 9 December 2016. 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 event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> MODERATOR: Good morning to everyone. Thank you for being here. Yes, use the microphone for the translation.

(Speaking Spanish)

>> Okay.

(Speaking Spanish)

>> MODERATOR: I want to thank everybody for coming today and -- and especially to thank Paulina and Augustina for organizing this event. What we want to do really is make this an opportunity for you to tell us about the experiences that you have right now in your national environments. Maybe also across the regions. And to Edison's mandate as rapporteur in the InterAmerican system. We work together quite regularly. I think many of the issues we'll talk about today cross boundaries, really. Regardless of frontiers, you might say. So maybe before we go on, what I thought we would do is very quickly, if we could go around and everyone could introduce yourself and where you are from and let's do that really quickly, because we don't have really that much time in the morning. And we'll get into the substance. Maybe if we can do that first.

I want to first turn it to Edison, who may want to say a few words of introduction as well, and we'll just go around the room very quickly. I do want to emphasize what Paulina said about the Chatham House rule. This idea here is for us to be as open as we possibly can in sharing what is happening. If there are things that you feel that you don't want to share in the public setting like this, I'm sure Edison feels the same way. You should always reach out to us directly either during the course of today or during the course of the week to my colleague Amos Toh who will be here all week and I will not. So we are very eager to hear from you. Let me turn it over to Edison and we'll keep going.

>> Thank you all for coming. My English is just so bad and I follow and switch for Spanish.

[Speaking Spanish]

(Introductions of participants in the room.)

>>  MODERATOR: I don't want to disinvite everybody. We're doing a government consultation in the afternoon. Maybe that would be more appropriate. I appreciate that.

(Introductions continue)

>> MODERATOR: I have two quick announcements. One is that we are operating under modified Chatham House rules, so some of you at the meeting will be public but comments won't be -- some of you will be general but not verbatim. You don't have to worry about that. The second thing is just to give everybody a run of show 9:30 to 11:30 will be on ISP and state pressures and we have lunch after that until 12:30. Then 12:30 to 2:30 will be a session on the right to be forgotten and content removals and it's when consultation will conclude.

(Introductions continue)

>> MODERATOR: I think that was everybody so we're done, right? Over here? Yeah, in the back here.

(Introductions continue)

>> MODERATOR: I'll use the mic. So I thought maybe what would be useful first of all, thank you, everyone, again for being here. So as Amos said, we have basically two sessions today, and the morning will be devoted to the work that we're right now doing on Telcos, ISPs and network equipment providers, NEPs. Perhaps I could say a little bit about what we're doing just a couple of minutes. And then what I would really like to do is open it up to hearing from you. We don't have a particular presentation. We really had hoped that this would be an opportunity for you to share in part your reactions to the questions that are up there in English. If you can see them. At my age I need glasses, but I do know there are questions up there.

So here is what we're doing. I think as many of you know, a special rapporteur and in special procedures generally in the U.N. system, we do three sorts of things basically. We do country visits, and I'm hopeful that in 2017 I'll have at least one official visit in the Latin American region. We do communications directly with governments, as I think you probably all know. And those may be allegation letters, they may be legislative letters related to current legislation that might be problematic from a freedom of expression standpoint.

And then third we do thematic reporting. Thematic reporting to the General Assembly and Human Rights Council. In June we launched a project with a report on basically the responsibilities of the private sector in a digital age. But if you are familiar with the report, you'll have seen it really involved two sets of responsibilities. On the one hand, it is the responsibilities of states to protect that part of the private sector that is advancing freedom of opinion and freedom of expression. And I think as we look around the world and this may be a large part of our discussion today, we see a lot of stress being put on private actors, whether they're private companies or individuals, by governments. And I think very unfortunately the trend is in a negative direction on these kinds of issues.

The second set of questions we posed in that report had to do with the responsibilities of the private sector itself, or private actors themselves. So in what context, just to give some examples, does the private sector resist governmental imposition of restrictions? To what extent does the private sector, in thinking about some of the things that we'll be talking about this afternoon, such as content removal, what are the standards that should apply in those contexts? What are the standards that should apply, for example, Telco's or Internet companies seeking access to a particular market or exiting a particular market. So those are some of the issues that we presented in the June report as kind of an overview, a kind of mapping of actors and a mapping of issues.

For the next report we'll be presenting in June, and hopefully you have seen this, we did a call for submissions. I know some of you have already -- your organizations have submitted information to us already. But we're focusing on Telcos, ISPs and NEPs. We're interested again in both sides of the equation. both the nature of domestic law and legislation, and the pressures that that's putting on those different actors, Telcos, ISPs, and NEPs.  But also the reactions by the private sector and the steps that they're taking in areas of, for example, transparency and different sorts of rulemaking that they have that are really internal to their operations. So we're looking at those two types of things. We did a call for submissions in which we asked essentially for questions -- for responses to questions like the ones that you see up here. And so far we've received about 45 submissions, which is great. About half of them -- less than half came from governments. And then a little bit more than that came from Civil Society. And we did pass the deadline for submissions but I should say, if your organization still would like to submit something to us, even though we're in the process of gathering information and very soon putting down our ideas on paper, which is what really this session is about, there is still time to submit to us. And I think it's valuable to do that not only because it really adds to our process and to our reporting that will be public in June, but it also enables you as Civil Society organizations another outlet to publicize your work and your concerns in this space. Once we publish the report, we also publish the submissions from Civil Society, so it's a real opportunity to put on the record in a public way your own thoughts on these things. I should also say we've also received several submissions from companies as well. So we're really hoping to bring together all of the different stakeholders in that process in our own reporting.

But for right now, this is an opportunity for us to really hear directly from you about your experiences in this space. And so what I would like to do is just open the floor to anybody who would like to start. I know when there is not a very specific question on the floor it might be hard to generate an answer, but I have a feeling this is a group of people who are not afraid to exercise their freedom of expression. So I really would encourage you, whoever would like to start, to start and to focus on the issues that we're addressing here. This isn't the only time during the day that we'll be addressing these questions.

For now, we're particularly interested on the telco, NEP, ISP side and the issues you're facing there. In the afternoon we'll get to be content removal and rights issues that are of interest to us and specifically of interest to Edison in his own reporting. That's how we've divided the day up. I hope that's enough of an introduction to get us started and I would like to open it up to comments, and maybe what I'll do is I'll keep a queue and if you want to just raise your hand to be on the queue, I'll go around and keep the order. If you could keep your comments to a few minutes and then we'll be able to come back and make this a conversation as much as possible. I'm pretty certain that the kinds of experiences you are facing are very common across the region. So we could start in that way and make it a conversation. I'll open the floor and see who would like to go first. Yes, over here.

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>> MODERATOR: There were several hands going around. We'll take them as we go around.

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>> MODERATOR: So -- I know. So what I want to just take a break just for a short -- not a real break, but just a moment to say for those who entered after we had the first round of introductions, just to make clear that the discussion here is Chatham house rule. We'll report on the discussions without attributing to any person, any views. That's the same for everybody else. You shouldn't take anybody's views and identify those views with that person when you leave the room. A pretty simple rule.

>> This is a closed event. In terms of tweeting or whatever, please don't do that, thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Yeah. It's hard to tweet a Chatham House discussion. Anyway, so why don't we do this? There are a number of hands that have gone up around. Why don't we go around the table to here first and then I know around the back as well.

>> We are about to start the welcome ceremony for the host country. Please join us in the main meeting room.

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> MODERATOR: Let's keep going around the room.

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>> MODERATOR: I want to go back to here. I know, we'll come back, but I feel like you folks have been ignored. So you two first and we'll come back to these. You can use this.

>> (Speaking Spanish)

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>> (Off microphone)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> Hello, I represent Telephonic. On the network shutdowns I would like to comment that disruption of communication and Internet services is having an impact not only on freedom of expression and human rights, but also on many other aspects of the economy and the access to education and health services and also on all the business practices. So we can see that the influence of these network shutdowns is highly negative for all. In this regard I would like to mention to the case of Brazil that was mentioned before, and they have been blocking Brazil for several times. Probably the first one dating back to December last year.

And there were some judicial decisions and I will have to say that even the telecommunication companies, we appeal for those decisions sometimes. In some cases we were successful. The first case the appeal was not accepted was in December of last year and probably the first blocking that was making to the news all over the world. And we have to say that we are the first that thinks this is a very disproportionate action. In fact, we consider that telecommunication companies, we have a very high cost on these demands. For example, we have to implement the blocking of the service which has an operational cost. We get the calls from all users around Brazil because they are very upset that they cannot access the service and they put the blame on the telecommunication companies, even though we're just complying with our judicials decisions and we have to do it. Then, of course, we have the penetration of Wasapi in Brazil is so high there is a lot of daily that is going through that. We are losing revenues that we cannot -- because the service is blocked, so no revenues that are related to it. In this regard, I would like to say that we, of course, acknowledge that there is a concern from governments regarding nationalistic and public security, and that they have the right to implement the measures that they consider adequate for doing so. But we need a framework that is -- has to be more transparent and has to be setting -- setting accountability on some independent oversight that those decisions are proportionate. And in this regard I will have to say that telecom providers and ISPs are companies that are in the local sector and the services we provide are based on local licenses we're high-demand employers in this country so we have a high amount of employees working for our companies, so we have to comply with the legal framework. We have to obey the judicial decisions no matter if we may like it or not. If these are decisions taken by judges or are subject to the legal framework, we are subject to those decisions and we have to comply with them.

And so on this regard I would like to call for some broader cooperation. Not just of the government, but also of all the businesses that we are working locally and also globally because these shutdowns are having a wide impact on all of us. And I consider that probably the best solution would be to have a stronger cooperation between businesses and business with governments as well. On the transparency side, I would like to mention that in the coming weeks we will be publishing a transparency report providing data and government requests of all the countries that do have cooperations. This will be subject to the legal frameworks and we will provide the information in these countries where the legal frameworks allows us to do so. So in some cases, governments do not allow us to provide that information and we have to comply with the legal framework and we will not be publishing that information. That was pretty much all that I wanted to say. Thank you.

>> I just want to go very quickly some of these things in the Caribbean, the issues of access, cost and reliability are very important. For example, in Guyana most of the rural areas don't have any coverage and apart from that, they have to all potential ISPs have to go through the Guyana telephone and telegraph company limited and therefore they're restricted by the infrastructure of the Guyana telephone come. They're restricted by the equipment they have. That's an issue throughout the Caribbean as well. Some service providers have tried to block calls on what's app, what have you. That's an issue as well. Through all the region, we have some new suite of legislation, data protection, whistleblower, cybercrime and those are the ones that come to mind immediately that seek to limit what sort of information can be shared on the Internet and also tries or seeks to criminalize people who unknowingly receive information that was not intended for them, and they are included in that. They are included some exemptions for healthcare providers and law enforcement. But nothing that is specifically done for journalists, that seems pretty intentional. And the issue of state-sponsored and political party-sponsored cyberbullying is also something that has been attracting the attention of freedom of expression or freedom of the media and freedom of the press groups.

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> I will speak in English, I guess. So I want to talk about two topics, transparency first and surveillance second. On the topic of transparency, having working in Brazil, through Columbia, Chile, Paraguay, next year also Argentina to try to work with local companies to pressure them to develop or publish transparency reports. Mainly telecommunication service providers. And we have found in our research that there is still the need to develop a culture of transparency in the context of communication surveillance. Many of the companies, our partners and ourselves have interviewed have found that there is no concept of transparency in the communications arena. They think we're talking about corruption. We are talking transparency in corruption and other topics but not surveillance.

So having like a main issue to just get them to understand that there is a need for transparency in this subject matter. We also found several countries that -- well, we also work on another project that compliment this, mapping surveillance, comparing surveillance laws in 12 countries. In that research we found that several countries yet have to issue transparency reports published by the states, telecommunication companies, or application providers. In Nicaragua, for example, neither is state nor the local telecommunications companies, not even Google, Twitter or Facebook public transparency reports for those countries.  In other countries such as Chile, Peru, Columbia, Brazil, Google has filed transparency reports but the big telecommunications firms have not done so. In El Salvador only some have. Mexico is the only country where local telecommunication companies have published a little bit of transparency report. Is not a good one but it is the only example we found in the region. And they did it through -- this is the first step, although it's not a good example of transparency report.

It does not provide readers with a general number of requests made by the authorities. Does not provide information about which type of requests have been received, which authorities have requested and the reasons for them. We also found -- while a good practice, at least in theory but not in the books -- Louise Fernando explained a little bit more about this, but in Mexico governmental agencies must regularly disclose statistical information about the requests they have made to the telecommunication service providers, access to communication records, and access to location data in realtime. Another guideline, the government and private sector requires companies to submit transparency reports to the telecommunication firm. That is like the only example we found in the whole region of our transparency in the books which is not transferred into practice but at least in the books.

Now, regarding surveillance on your question about surveillance, we have a whole different analysis that we can give to you but I will make a very brief summary. We found that most of the communications laws in the region are authorizing wiretapping. Listening to or recording telephone communications. And do not have precise legal authorization to conduct newer forms of surveillance such as -- not even location tracking, cell tower monitoring. These technologies can be more invasive but raise different privacy concerns and legal questions other than wiretapping. Despite the legal footing there appears to be widespread use of the technology by authorities. We have found and we have done research, many of the Latin American countries have been using or at least in conversations in the use of malware.

We also found that many communications interceptions and surveillance practices were authorized by the executive branch in a decree or resolution. This includes data mandate in Brazil, Peru, Honduras. Even when surveillance was encoded in law we also found those logs were vague and provide ambiguity. We put concrete examples for that.

For example, in Peru they authorize location tracking do not describe which crime me must be investigating using this technique. It is like for any type of crime. Honduras doesn't describe which agencies have access to the data. Columbia -- there is also lack of clarity in the privacy safeguards that some of the laws provide. These legal frameworks are really broad. For instance, we review the criminal code, criminal procedures of Paraguay article 200 and they authorize a judge can order the interception of communication of any accused person, quote, regardless the technical means used to achieve it. This provision is so proud it could be used to authorize malware or any other technology to be created in the future. It is dangerous. Avoid public discussion in Congress which are the safeguards that need to be in place. This is just a chart and I'll be grateful to share the results.

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> MODERATOR: We'll continue in a second. We're at 11:30. And so that means that's when we said we were going to stop and break for lunch. We don't eat, so -- no, I want to give everyone the chance to go eat and come back for the next session that Edison will lead. We'll continue for the next let's say 15 minutes. I would just ask people to keep their interventions fairly concise, as concise as possible, which I'm not modeling very well here. And then we'll break at a quarter until. We'll come back and there will be opportunities for us to continue the discussion in separate -- during the second part as well. But we'll end up -- we'll try to close down in 15 minutes, or at least pause in 15 minutes. So go here and there -- are a few here and here. I want to go -- I know Alberto isn't able to be here as much.

>> Okay.(Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

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>> MODERATOR: Okay. You are going to walk out with the microphone.

>> Gracias.(Speaking Spanish)

>> MODERATOR: This is a very good question. The companies do transparency reporting and some of the transparency reporting is, say, more transparent and fuller than others. I think Twitter's most recent transparency report is pretty useful in terms of identifying where the requests are coming from, whether they are coming through judicial requests or others. But it is a really good question and I'm curious if there is variation, even across national boundaries. And there might be. What I want to do, because I am mindful of the time. And I have a 10-minute summary -- no, I'm just kidding. This has been really extraordinarily useful and I know there are five hands up to say some more. I'm happy to continue for a few more minutes if you want to just say literally sort of a 30-second point but then we do -- I do want us to break because I want us to be able to come back in time at 12:30 to start in our second session. From my perspective I want to say this has been extraordinarily useful. It has been to a certain extent, you know, a tour of the horizon and for -- I know for us we've taken copious notes and we are going to come back to you. We know where to find you. That surveillance that we've been talking about. We'll be coming back to you because many of you said really important things that we want to drill down into a bit more. I hope there will be opportunities to do that over the course of the week. So for those -- I think there were maybe three hands here. Why -- if you can keep your comment really short and you could speak over the rumble of people's hunger, then we can do that really quickly, break and come back. It will be a very short lunch then. Let's go down -- it's one, two, three, okay?

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> A short contribution to end this session. One of the actors that we haven't really talked about that we tried to bring forward in our submission to David and the others here is the role of the surveillance industry. We've talked a lot about the technologies that are used, deployed, bought and the accountability we need from governments who are buying those technologies. But we also need to start looking at the industry itself, the governments where those companies are based, the kind of regulations that they are submitted to, because at the moment there is no transparency. They aren't held to account as to who they are selling this technology to, what it is being used for. There is no human rights assessment. So my CT company is subject to human rights regulations or ethical codes. Those are not being applied to the surveillance industry, either. We've documented with the help of partners in Latin America as well the use, purchase and implementation of those technologies but again, no transparency as well as to who might be buying those. It might say just one budget line in one random report of parliament that might have discussed it but doesn't say which authority, which ministry. If it is a local or federal authority.

So there is complete lack of transparency in that regard as well. They play an important role in collaborating with the ICT industry. It was mentioned earlier by Telephonica. They have to follow laws and they have to implement various of these technologies on their own infrastructure as well. So they play a role in providing governments direct access to the infrastructure, sometimes without the knowledge of the service providers.  And all of those issues are only putting at risk our human rights and our exercise of those. And also putting at risk the security of the infrastructure itself, if those who own it and control it are not even aware of those technologies being deployed on their systems.

And then one issue that we've seen emerging increasingly is around states hacking. So hacking by states, by authorities as well. We've seen in Argentina and some work will be done on that as well there is proposed amendments to the procedural codes that includes legislating on hacking as an acceptable legal method to investigate crime. And we're seeing this emerging in other countries as well and it is very concerning from our perspective it is one of the most intrusive ways to interfere with somebody's private life, with communications or the device itself. Now we're seeing different governments trying to ensure that they can do so legally when they've been doing it unlawfully for many years.

>> MODERATOR: Okay, everybody. Thank you so much. We'll take -- I think we have to break and get people to get some lunch. We plan to start up at 12:30. So let's try to do that. Come back here at 12:30 and start into our next phase and I want to thank our interpreters because I think there was a very -- we got a lot in in a short amount of time here and they were great. So thank you.

(Session recessed at 12:00 PM CT)

>> MODERATOR: (Speaking Spanish)

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>> MODERATOR: I don't want to take up too much time. I know we don't have a whole lot of time left. I think one of the interesting things to me about the right to be forgotten discussion is really the question of who decides. And I think to my mind, Alberto raised really good questions about rights. There is a multiplicity of rights that are engaged in this. And I think at least from my perspective, if you look at right to be -- if you look at Google Spain, for example, what you see is a standard being set by the Court, but the implementation, when we normally talk about rules being implemented after a Court ruling like that we normally think of it in the context of municipalities, states and public authorities implementing those rules. And the difference with Google Spain is that the rules ultimately are really being implemented by Google itself. And this is something that's happening across different areas, where we rely on the private sector entities to implement these rules.

And so for me the right to be forgotten issue isn't just one of like what's the appropriate rule, but it's who is implementing it, and I have mixed feelings about it, really. On the one hand I think that having private actors implement these norms is a risk. A risk from transparency's perspective. You don't have the same accountability that you have when you have a public authority. But sometime I'm not sure any of us want the State to be overly engaged on implementing these rules. Particularly when we think about the kinds of things we've talked about today, where States are implementing rules in a very heavy-handed way.

So I don't have a particular answer on this, but I do think this is -- this is really at the core of what we're trying to do with our work is to understand the ICT sector's role and maybe this is -- it's related. I think many of you have touched on this question, but it is the one that resonates most with me right now on right to be forgotten. And one that I think really deserves a lot of thought about how to not just how to think about this issue, but how to implement it in a way that we get the same values that we get out of public sector implementation, like accountability and transparency.

>> Thank you, David. (Speaking Spanish)

>> Gracias. (Speaking Spanish)

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>> I wanted to make a few comments. One is on the right to be forgotten. I had my hand up before. Article 19, not to be forgotten, the test which should be applied for the cases which have been applied here, we call it a six-part test for those making a decision. I recommend people -- it has been quite -- I recommend people to check that. Second point is on this public/private forum. A quasi-public space or private space I think from the media policy perspective what is really important is to keep in mind that there are different functions which the intermediaries do and also the converging nature of the media is very important. When we talk about the solutions, we should probably keep in mind in a few years' time the situation might be different and not make policies for Facebook, Twitter, Google or probably it looks like they will not go away like some other platforms.

So I think the really important position and departure point from the traditional sort of media, not “traditional” but from the expression perspective, is how the freedom of expression framework. In terms of media policy, those have always been editorial independence of the media, pluralism of ownership and diversity of the content, universal access to the media, promotion with freedom of expression and impartiality and information and ideas and the environment for the growth of the media sector. We really need to go back to this objectives of the media policy and frame all our responses in that framework. Also thinks like proportionality of sanctions, elections in the media other than trying to solve all the problems in the intermediaries and what they should be doing from free speech perspective. I would really OAS and U.N. have had these discussions about the framework and the key objectives of the media policy. Any recommendations I would really recommend to go there.

I think also we need to be mindful of the fact that some of these companies have a domination of the market and pluralism from their perspective is important and come up with some definition with those actors with dominant position or something along those lines and their responsibility there. And I also think that in terms of -- we need to think of Netflix, Amazon and the streaming services that will -- that are already entering into this equation and the role they have in the solution and the content. I would just recommend this approach.

>> Thank you very much. I'm from Facebook. This has been a fascinating discussion. I learned a lot. It's been great and thank you for doing this and inviting us. The point I want to make. There is a lot to respond to. The big point I want to make is I do think it's important to remember that part of the reason Facebook has been successful and that some of these platforms have been successful is they have community standards and they have guidelines that establish the sort of communities that people feel safe and respected and willing to contribute to and participate in. Our mission is to make the world more open and connected and we feel like people want to participate in the conversation on Facebook because we've crafted a policy and a practice portfolio that empower people to participate. And so as you are thinking about freedom of expression and the Internet context let's not only think about the times when organizations and companies or governments get it wrong but also the successes. We think that Facebook and the power that it has brought to 1.8 billion people to communicate freely across borders instantly is a huge win for human rights. So I would just put that in the ledger as well as you are considering all these issues.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much for your participation and the remarks.

(Speaking Spanish)

>> MODERATOR: I wouldn't add to what Edison said except to say for us this is all an ongoing process. We want to provide answers. That's what people need. People are looking for what should the answer be? We can only do process for so long. But as we're doing that, I just want to encourage everyone in the room -- first of all, also, to echo the thanks to you for participating, but also to stay in touch. So as cases arise in your own practice, in your own work, please bring them to our attention. Particularly I would say as you see legislation developing, because I think that's one area where we have a little bit more of an ability to help. I don't know about shape it, but at least to weigh in. Where there are a million cases and that takes quite a bit of time and focus, but I think if we all sort of coordinated and just stay in touch, that will be really helpful to our work and hopefully we can contribute to yours, too.

Thanks, everybody, for participating. That's it. There is no grand finale here. Thank you, everyone.

 

(Applause)

 

(Session ended at 2:45 PM CT)

>> MODERATOR: (Speaking Spanish)

>> MODERATOR: So I think we were -- we may have others who will join us as we're talking. I thought that it would be perhaps a little bit useful just to share with you the work that we're doing as part of my mandate and in terms of what's relevant to the work that's happening -- or being discussed at IGF. So this past June, I presented a report that focused on a kind of mapping project of the Internet communications technology sector, the private sector, and looked at essentially a few different questions, but it was really a mapping report. It wasn't necessarily a normative -- at least a strongly normative piece. It looked at one, who are the actors that we're talking about when we talk about the private Internet space, private space in a digital age? We looked at questions of sort of the framework for thinking about the responsibilities of those actors to support, to promote, to protect freedom of expression. And we identified a set of issues that we think were really most salient in that sector to freedom of expression. And what we tried to do was identify a range of issues that we'll be addressing over the course of different reports over the coming years to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly. And among those different issues, I'll just mention two. And then spend just a couple of moments on the work that we're doing right now.

One issue is focused on the role of the telecommunications industry. So Telcos, ISP's, Network Equipment Providers. We've seen over the last couple of years a real uptick, I would say, a surge in Internet shutdowns, in filtering and throttling and also content restrictions that are imposed by Internet -- by telecom industry actors. And oftentimes those are responsive to the law that governs locally. It is responsive to local law and to the demands of national governments. Sometimes local governments. And very often, if not usually, those may be actually consistent with local law but they nonetheless raise issues about the role of that part of the digital ecosystem and the responsibility to promote freedom of expression.

That's the project we're working on right now. And in order to do this project in a way that is -- that gathers the most information from -- really from around the world. My mandate is global with the U.N., we did a call for submissions and through this call for submissions, in which we asked a number of very general questions about the regulation of this space, we received about 20 responses from governments and about the same number of responses from civil society. Non-governmental organizations and academics. The numbers are increasing a little bit. We're at 45. Submission from Telcos themselves.

We're heading toward a period where we've done a couple of consultations. We did a consultation this morning with civil society from across Latin America and we've done it in different places and we hope to do at least one more but we're preparing that report and I'll present it to the Human Rights Council in June. We're also focused on other issues, and in the coming years, we'll address different issues that are similar to the ones that Edison Lanza is pursuing in the InterAmerican system as well. Things like content takedown. Regulation by digital -- by the big Internet companies, their specific restrictions on content that may be unrelated to government restrictions. We've done other work, I'm sure some of this work will be part of that as well, around issues of counter terrorism laws and the impact those are having on both the private sectors and on individuals posting and communicating in Internet space. So that's the work that we're doing now.

We would be, I think, very happy to hear any reactions you have to any of these kinds of issues, whether there are individuals in your own governments who you would like to connect us to in order to continue these kinds of discussions. But it's particularly important to us to have engagement with governments and to really understand what governments are thinking about these issues so that we have a broad scope of input, not just Civil Society but government actors who really are playing, I think, with the private sector, the major roles in shaping this environment and shaping freedom of expression.

So I'll stop there and I'm happy to -- I think we would both be happy to hear. I don't know if you want to talk more about this afternoon's portion of our topics.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, David. (Speaking Spanish)

>> In English or Spanish? (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> I'm the cyber foreign policy coordinator for Canada. I work in our foreign ministry. I won't repeat all that we included in our letter in response to your questionnaire, David. But suffice it to say that like a number of countries, Canada is struggling with some of the very issues that you have identified here we are very much a human rights, Constitutionally based country and believe in the protection of civil rights and we strive to ensure that any sort of controls that we introduce are the minimal necessary in order to be able to accomplish other objectives. We have, for example, laws on the books with respect to hate speech or incitement to violence, or cyberbullying, dissemination of child pornography. These are some of the things that we do in terms of content controls. These are all outlined in the letter. You needn't take note of it. But we recognize that there is definitely a tension there between freedom of expression issues and other public policy goals that we have. The approach that we take is very much to ensure that we do this in a very deliberate way, that we do it through a consultative process. That it is a lawful process and respects our fundamental charter of rights and is tested in the courts as being appropriate in a Democratic society. But it is a very difficult issue.

Some of the things we are looking at and starting to grapple with a bit more are some of the new issues that are out there, including the role of the private sector in this area, questions related to freedom of expression and what that means when the media is in a sense now mediated by private companies. We're looking at issues related to false news and what that means in terms of interference in a political process, for example. So, you know, I would just say we very much commend the work you're doing. We have a great deal of respect for it. We pledge our support for it. And if you come up with the answers for us, we would very much appreciate hearing them. Thank you.

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> I'm the deputy director in the ministry in charge of planning issues. To be honest with you, I didn't prepare a paper on this item, but I would like to say in short but the freedom of expression is quite a reality in my country. In addition to its consideration after the Constitution reform which was made in the beginning of this year around January, the government also has taken into account the observations made by the special rapporteur when he visit the country in 2011 and we are eager to cooperate with you on the issue and to be also -- to be also objective and also to mention that my country, in terms of freedom of expression, in comparison with the original standards, is performing quite, quite well. But we are not always quite as developing countries who are always learning. It is a continuous learning process. But in terms of freedom of expression, I can say that we have more than 80 daily newspapers and many activities on the Internet and seldom are the cases where people were between columns. I don't like the wording but persecuted, I mean. And in terms of -- we have, I guess, some cooperation at projects with the European Union, even we are -- the original arrangements with the African Union. And that's all that I can say for the time being. Thank you.

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> MODERATOR: My report will be presented in June at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, yeah. But -- so we did this mapping report last June. This is our first substantive report following that. And in coming years, we probably will do, you know, one or two at the General Assembly and maybe one or two at the Human Rights Council in this space.

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> MODERATOR: And we don't have any approval process, but my report will be -- it should be public by the end of May but I present it to the Human Rights Council at its June session. Sometime the middle of June. For governments that might be submitting, if you haven't submitted yet and your government wishes to submit, we need to finish our report by the very beginning of March so that it can be in the process and be translated into all the U.N. official languages. So I'm very pleased to know that the Government of Bolivia will be submitting soon. For any other government it is possible to submit and we can take it into account in our reporting.

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> MODERATOR: I'm not sure I understood the question.

>> What we should be doing that we're not doing. How can we help to do that?

>> MODERATOR: I won't get specific. I'm interested in some areas, for example, you mentioned the distinction between the digital regulation and audio visual. There are areas where I think we want to learn more, particularly where there is quite a bit of change. There is change and then there is new change, which is hard for us to follow. So I think -- I would want to echo what Edison said on the -- so the technical assistance side of things. I think for us we're not -- I don't think any of us have the capacity and the resources to provide the kind of day-to-day technical assistance that you might be able to get from, you know, some organizations that work in this space full-time. But the one area where I think we both have an interest in and we can help is in legislation. And that's -- so obviously many of your governments at the executive level, you propose legislation, sometimes the legislation comes organically from the parliament, from the legislature. And wherever it's coming from, I think that's a real useful point for us to engage in a way that isn't -- it's not about specific cases, it is really about sharing of information and getting our reaction. I think we can do that in a confidential way. Oftentimes lately if you look at OHCHR website, we have started to public our comments on legislation but we've tended to do that in places where the only way to engage is by publicizing our comments. But it doesn't have to be that way. It can also be if you're developing something and you would like to get our views, even informally in the process of your legislation, we're happy to do that. I think that's a real area we can do more on our side. We would like to develop it and get requests from governments along those lines.

Particularly in this area of ICT, there is a lot of legislation, cyber laws, cybercrime, regulation of private sector entities and all of that. So we're eager to know what you're doing and to share any kind of best practices that we might be able to share.

>> Thank you. I'll keep it in English. The model inside the administrations with academia, companies, trying to integrate, you know, our different ministries. For example, our Communication Ministry, the Ministry of Education, Justice, so getting that view and trying to get  the approach, trying to get legislation built by the community not only from one sector, from the public sector. So that's what we are trying to push from the administration. So it will be great getting you in the process. In the formal process so you can, you know, see the points and stuff. That would be awesome.

>> MODERATOR: That's great. Sometimes governments reach out to us. Sometimes it's Civil Society. You're connected to Civil Society and that's a good thing. That's exactly what multi-stakeholder approaches should involve. Collaboration and cooperation.

>> It is healthy for the Internet system.

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> Just wanted to have a clarification on the UN Special Rapporteur. In terms of methodology. In terms of recommendations, are you going to have one size fits all or taking into account the social, political, cultural context?

>> MODERATOR: That's a really interesting question. So the way we operate is we -- for most of our reporting, we identify for the Human Rights Council and for all U.N. member states the topic that we're pursuing. And we usually call for submissions unless it's something special that doesn't -- wouldn't involve that. So we call for submissions. So at least as methodology goes, we try to understand where governments, Civil Society, academics believe the normative framework is at a given moment. In our reporting, we try to reflect that and we haven't talked much about law. At least international law. My standards are based on Article 19 on the international covenant on civil and political rights and in particular 19.3 which involves restrictions provides sort of the basic methodology that we use in analyzing issues. So we look at issues of legality, how allow was developed. We look at issues of necessity and proportionality and we look at issues of the legitimacy of the objective. And, you know, we're not a court, we're not -- we're also in our reports, our thematic reports are not generally speaking -- particularly one like this -- aren't focused on specific country policies and practices. Sometimes we'll identify them as examples, but really what we're trying to do is say what is the normative framework that all States within the U.N. system should adhere to. Whether they are a member of the ICCPR or a part of that or not, because our standards, I think, are also in the universal declaration and have become a kind of customary international law. That's more or less how we tend to address these kinds of issues, yep.

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> (Speaking Spanish)

>> MODERATOR: I want to thank everybody for joining us. A little plug. I don't know if you are going to the UNESCO safety of journalists thing right now. We're both heading to a panel on safety of journalists, which is, I think, in workshop one. So if anybody is interested, that's a little commercial for an event. But I wanted to thank you all for coming and I'm not here -- I have to return home this evening, but members of my team are here, Amos Toh, who I work with and Steven and Priscilla here. If anybody has information to share with us, any three of them are happy to continue the conversation. We're really happy to start that conversation. So thank you.

Contact Information

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