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FINISHED TRANSCRIPT

 

EIGHTH INTERNET GOVERNANCE FORUM

BALI

ADDRESSING IMPACTS AND REMEDIES OF NETWORK DISRUPTIONS

22 OCTOBER 2013

09:00

WORKSHOP NUMBER 187 AND WORKSHOP 231

HUMAN RIGHTS/ FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION ON THE INTERNET

 

 

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This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

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     >> MODERATOR: So we're going to get started in a couple minutes. So could all the panelists please come up here. The audience, can you please come close to us if you're staying. Thank you.

     So for people in the audience, I don't know if you feel like coming a little closer. If -- it just feels like you're a long way away. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. We could also move down there, if you prefer.

     >> Maybe it's better up here.

     >> MODERATOR: You wouldn't all have microphones, yeah. So maybe we'll kick off? Thanks very much to everyone for coming. My name is Brett Solomon, I'm the Executive Director of AccessNow.org. It is good to see a few familiar faces in the audience, and it is good to see that there are cards being exchanged on the panel which is exactly what we want at the IGF. So for those of you who are unfamiliar with us, as an organization, we're an international human rights organization, our focus is on internet freedom and digital rights. We want to exstand that users at risk. What I'm going to do is quickly go down the line and get each of the panelists to introduce themselves, their name and their organization, or who they represent. So ...

     >> Morning. Hello. My name is Moez Chakchouk. I'm here in a personal capacity. I would like to comment?

     >> MODERATOR: No. Just an introduction.

     >> EMMA LLANSO: My name is Emma Llanso in Washington D.C. We're a non-profit organization that focuses on internet policy that is aimed toward keeping the internet an open and free network that maximizes user express.

     >> YVES NISSIM: My name is Yves and I work with Orange. I represent the industry dialogue that I will tell you about in a few minutes.

     >> DALIA HAJ-OMAR: My name is Dalia, I am with Freedom House.

     >> ALEX COMNINOS: My name is Alex Comninos, I am with the Association for Progressive Communication. I guess I'm wearing the academic hat as well as the citizenship hat.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Thank you for welcoming the panel. We appreciate having an esteemed group of people. if you look across the group, we have representatives from all the major components of the sector. I want to kick off the discussion today looking at the most recent shutdown that I'm aware of which took place in Sudan. Anja Kovaks was supposed to be here but she is unwell. The Sudanese shut down less than four weeks ago. We're talking about something that is pretty live, but obviously, I think they're also (dial-up sound) shut downs and network disruptions that are taking place as we speak.

     Let's kick off with Sudan. We saw from the reports and also from other networks that essentially the Sudanese internet shut down. We saw it with Egypt and Syria over the past couple years. Access did investigation into what happened in that shut down. We can tell from each of the Telcos that are in Sudan, that all of them essentially went off at the same point. And yet, the response from the Sudanese Government was very different. At one level you had the US ambassador in the US talking of a fire in Telecom and we also had the Sudanese minister saying it was a deliberate Government shut down.

     So that kind of inconsistency of response was certainly confusing, but from a technical perspective, it certainly appeared as if the shutdown took place with the consent and -- by the proactive actions of the Sudanese Telcos. So Dalia, maybe we can hear from you as to what the experience was like and how your fellow countrymen actually responded to the shutdown and what sort of response you would like to see from the Telcos, in fact

     >> DALIA HAJ-OMAR: My perspective is going to be from the people on the ground. We are part of a peaceful protest movement on the ground. I'd like to talk a little bit about what triggered the shutdown for 24 hours on September 25th and it's ironic that the shutdown actually happened during the Africa IGF.

     Basically, a week before that, the Government had announced that it's going to lift economic state subsidies on gasoline and other basic food stuff, and the day before (dial tone sound) there was a national (background audio).

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Dalia, maybe -- that is a network interference. Go on.

     >> DALIA HAJ-OMAR: Okay. So basically, the reasons for the closure were this announcement of economic measures and the Government lifting subsidies on basic food stuff and especially gasoline. So the day before the protests, you had the doubling of the price of gasoline that basically led to the increase -- massive increase of basic food stuff, and it came after a couple of months of deteriorating economy. When these protests started, I think the Government was very surprised at how different they were from the protests that happened a year ago that were mainly led by university students and youth movement leaders. These protests were very grass roots and they started a little bit south of Khartoum and then they spread and eventually it was the middle class protesting for the first time in the 24-year history of the regime in place.

     It seems that the reaction -- or the -- the reaction of the police, the reaction of the Government militias, and national security was basically shoot to kill. Within the first three days, there were more than 200 people dead just in the Capitol. Most of them young secondary school students, youth in the their early 20s and a lot of it was very, very well documented. You had just normal citizens for the first time picking up their phones and their videos and documenting, in a very graphic way, the deaths of their colleagues in the streets.

     I think this is the real trigger for the Government just like a massive movement of citizen journalists who were not political in the past. They were just apolitical citizens who decided that it's time to move. And when the shutdown did happen, the first people who noticed it were those who were monitoring the situation. So for us it is very hard to believe the Government saying there was some national disaster. It was systematic. The first people who started to report this were the ones who were trying to upload videos and go on Facebook, et cetera.

     A lot of the youthful population is only using its phone to access the internet. So those of us who are outside the country, for instance, suddenly had no connection from the inside (dial tone sound). Kinara where the Government is saying there was a provider only provides for businesses because it only gives land lines. So it was irrelevant that it was not business. It's businesses or households who have land lines and the majority don't have land lines.

     The other thing is, when this happened, we noticed that SMS messages were disrupted. It was disrupted for 24 hours or a little bit less and also SMS for Twitter which was a service that only one provider was giving and it's Zen, mainly, it is a Kuwaiti-owned Telecom. This is not the first interruption for the internet in Sudan. It is the longest. That is why it got a lot of international attention. In 2012 -- the summer of 2012, we saw an interruption of a few hours on June 29th and it was the day before big protests were announced the following day on June 30th. In this year, 2013 -- in June of 2013, a big protest was planned by a political party, and also on the eve -- or during that protest -- for 8 hours, Renis [ph] also reported that the SudaTel network was down for the first time. That is to give you an idea of usually the trigger is political activity linked to protests on the ground or unexpected political upheaval or unexpected mobilization by youth or political parties, or in this case, it was just normal citizens using a lot of social media to communicate.

     Because on the ground, the situation of freedom of expression is really bad since the separation of South Sudan, we've had the closure of about 6 newspapers. We've had more than 20 journalists being detained or banned from writing. This means that a lot of these newspapers -- a lot of these journalists and citizen journalists are moving to -- hoping there is more freedom online, but these infringements offline are coming to the online domain as well.

     That is part of the reason why, in the last couple of years, you're saying more of the population going online because the situation of freedom of association, freedom to assemble freely and to protest freely is really repressive. Thank you.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Dalia, thank you very much. Thank you for so honestly and clearly explaining the situation. Can I get an understanding from you and other members of civil society, do you know what took place in terms of how the Government related to the Telecom sector in terms of the enabling of the shutdown? Do you have a sense of that?

     >> DALIA HAJ-OMAR: I have to say us as a civil society, maybe it is kind of a short coming from us that we don't have yet strong relationship or know how to forge a debate with the Telecoms and the private sector in general. Maybe this is kind of a lesson learned from these couple of experiences from the shutdown. We know for instance that -- we've got three gateways to the international law, internet. One is owned by SudaTel. They say it is 20%, but most of us believe it is much higher ownership by the Government.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Yes.

     >> DALIA HAJ-OMAR: MTN, and from hearing from SudaTel, when they've been asked in the past how do they respond to Government requests, and it's general because the Government taps their phones of -- of politicians and activists. It does surveillance. It has a cyber unit that is hacking personal accounts of activists and Facebooks and filtering and blocking, et cetera. So when they're approached with the question: "How do you react when a Government requests?" They say they usually require legal written documents, but in a country like Sudan where the rule of law is not really in place, where the judiciary is not independent, I don't think that is a proper justification.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Yeah.

     >> DALIA HAJ-OMAR: It's not very convincing. And I think there were a lot of rumors that after the shutdown that there was going to be another extended shut down for 48 hours. It never happened. We believe the reason it never happened because there was pressure from the banking system that was totally stopped for 24 hours and it was impossible to have a total closure. When the internet did come back, it came back very slow. Some applications were impossible to access online like YouTube and the uploading of videos. Facebook was very hard to access on smart phones.

     So it came back with a much lesser capacity.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: You've raised so many issues there that I'd like to pick up on. One in particular I think is the nature of the ownership of the Telecoms and I think we will see this in many countries. In fact, the Telcos are subsidiaries of other companies and are part owned by Government and often by European countries. It is great to have Yves here, and he will talk about the way in which companies and the subsidiaries are held to the words of the document. You say you don't know what happened necessarily. You don't have a relationship with the Telcos. It talks about transparency of process. When are the conditions -- are there any conditions -- and we'll hear from Emma on this, are there conditions where a shutdown is appropriate? What is the transparent process that needs to go on in order for that to happen. Maybe you can give us a sense of hearing from Dalia about what took place in Sudan, not just this time but previously. How does this fit into the pattern of shut down and network disruptions you've seen around the world.

     >> EMMA LLANSO: The scenarios Dalia is describing, the key destinations the Governments give when they're enacting shut downs, be it interruption of mobile service, temporary slowing or other throttling of services. The justifications come from a sense of need to calm unrest or maintain public order for the benefit of public safety, but it occurs around these times of protest times where people are trying to use communication networks to organize and the action of causing the network shutdown is intended to prevent the unrest cause by people organizing for the purpose of political protest.

     Another common justification we see from Government is that shutting down networks, particularly mobile networks is necessary to prevent certain acts of terrorism, bombs that may be triggered by the use of cell phone networks. We've seen the Government of Pakistan -- I think in November 2012, justifying a mobile network shut down on this basis. We also saw the Port Authority in New York and New Jersey using a similar justification in 2005 to justify shutting down cell phone service to several of the tunnels connecting New York and New Jersey. Taking the sense of needing to shut down the networks because there's concerns about triggering a bomb that these shutdowns lasted two weeks.

     The sense of trying to stop an imminent threat when you see network shut downs kind of persisting much past any period that you could reasonably define as imminent, it starts raising concerns about what is really behind the justification that Governments are presenting. But I think a key -- a key sort of thing to think about as we're talking about -- well, no. I guess I'll let Brett make the segue.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: That's fine. I was thinking as you were speaking about the -- the kind of justification for a shutdown. And I think many of the people in the audience and also on the panel know about Frank LaRue's -- he sets out the reasons why he thinks that the blocking access to the internet is really justified. A lot of it is actually about this question of: Is it provided by law domestically? Then there's a further question that relates to proportionality as well. He states that the proportion -- that the response from the Government is actually disproportionate to the threat.

     It seems to me from the comments that Dalia was making is that there are actually two reasons. One reason was to prevent a protest. But the other reason was actually to prevent the conveyance of images of Government atrocities against its citizens. So is that the sort of -- how does that fit in with the pattern of activities that you've seen across the world?

     >> EMMA LLANSO: I think if you think about all of the effects of a network shut down, you know, whatever the justification Governments are giving, when you close down a communications network, it is affecting all users. It is not targeted to particular individuals or activities, it is a blanket shut down that effects news reporting, getting information to the outside world about whatever is going on, but also basic things like commerce and -- in emergency situations, people contacting their family members to let them know they're okay, or accessing information about -- you know, what is going on in their situation that is causing this sort of local crisis.

     So I think when we're thinking about questions of proportionality, and proportionality being key in any kind of restriction on free expression that Governments implement, it is incredibly difficult if not impossible to justify shutting down communications networks as a proportionate response to any kind of threat.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: I was going to throw to Alex, is there ever a situation when a shutdown is appropriate or proportionate?

     >> ALEX COMNINOS: I don't think so. Of course if you are dealing with -- for example, a legitimate threat. Or you have an assembly that is not peaceful. In the context of that threat, for example, you're going to have the threat to loss of life so you're going to need emergency system, coordination of the response. So I think regardless of the threat -- especially if, for example, there was the example of a terrorist attack. So if you shut down network but the terrorist attack happens and an balance can't come -- so no.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Dalia, is there ever a situation when a network shut down is appropriate? I'm going to go down the line. It's a yes or no.

     >> DALIA HAJ-OMAR: Never.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Yves, you'll have the opportunity to talk more. No?

     >> EMMA LLANSO: I would say no, just to pull a quote from the 2012 Declaration from the Freedom of Expression, Frank La Rue and for the Organization of Security of Cooperation in Europe and the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, they claim that shutting down networks can never be justified including on public order and national grounds.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Okay. Moez?

     >> MOEZ CHAKCHOUK: I would say no, but could I comment further? We never have had shut down of the internet in Indonesia. So all the traffic platform -- so it could be easily done during the regime and before the revolution. And we tried to make things better now because we tried to open -- and to have all these egressory obligations including Orange, which has licensing in my country and is obliged to reroute the traffic. So shut down is feasible since a long time ago, but never happened. We had rumor recently -- we had a rumor that because of (audio disconnect). Disruption of the economy can damage the economy also because people start to worry about. People went to Orange and ask them to cancel the contract. It is really, really damaging to see the economy and the system. Whether it is true or untrue, like we have in my country. So today I think we have to ask further questions because you see these shut downs in country where there is no internet exchange point. Normally, when we see -- we see these shut downs in countries where the only monopoly over national IP transit services. We need -- we want to avoid shut downs, we don't want to ask the Government to do so, it is not how to modify the system. The Government can decide whatever they want -- for a special event or for special -- like we saw in Iraq and Indonesia and also in Syria, this happened.

     So Governments today, they have in their minds to shut down the services when there's threats. So our duty today is to push those countries to have good reforms on the internet connectivity and to avoid any disruption in the future.

     So the last comment and -- yeah, is about the weekend. We have the IGR, but the countries that signed IGR oblige -- have asked all member states to have in the preamble something to the -- access to human rights. This is important because those countries -- remember Sudan was one of the countries that advocate for this language in the preamble. So the thing that the shutdown came from outside of the country. But the shutdown happened inside the country. So the treaty won't really be okay for any shut downs in the future. You see that. It is not the right of access to the member state, but the right to the access of people. Here we get back to Frank LaRue talking about access to the internet as a human right. If it is a human right, the Government could decide to shut down any service in the future.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Thank you. Thanks, Moez for raising those issues. I think many of us have considered this issue of network shut downs in terms of a policy response. But there's also a technical response as well. And I think that perhaps Alex, at some point, you could also talk about the civil society response to a network shut down in terms of mesh networking whereby there is an access point to the community and even in the context of a corporate-led or society-led shut down, you have a system that is set to respond to that. I might first jump over to Yves, it would be good to hear from you about how the Telecom sector responded. He is the chairperson of the industry dialogue which has ten of the world's largest Telecoms as a part of it and it has established a set of guiding principles that deals with exactly these issues. As part of those guiding principles, it is interesting to the balance of the telco receptors, principles -- at the same time also referring to the ITU and the ITU actually authorizes stoppages, shut downs on behalf of the telcos. It would be good to hear how the telcos are actually responding to this in a real sense.

     >> ALEX COMNINOS: Definitely. As you said, I represent the IG that was born about -- in March with the principle last year. And we just have a blog that just appeared two days ago if you want to read about our principles. But to answer the question, let me try to explain how we do operate in different countries and tell you what we are facing in terms of shutdowns.

     The difference with an internet company is that we do operate within the country. We have thousands of people on the ground. We have billions of dollars of technical equipment on the ground. We deal with Government as real stakeholders. We are not just outside the country and decide if yes or not we can do things like shut down, blocking or filtering. I'm going to remove the question. We can do everything. Okay? We -- all the technology. So it's easy for us to do. But at the same time, as I told you, since we are part of the economy of every country in which we operate, customers -- we are facing them face-to-face regularly which means the main part of our business is taking care of privacy, of freedom of expression, and all those things that we guarantee to our customers.

     But now we're facing governments and you saw that the ruler of Telcos was an empty chair until now. That is why we gathered to the industry dialogue to try to be a lever to answer governments in every single country in which we operate. We do not have the same specific problems in every single country. They are all different. One of the good levers we can use in terms of grievance mechanism is to use -- and share -- our best practice when we face such demands from governments.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Can I just ask you there. In terms of the industry dialogue, part of its purpose is to demonstrate learning -- to demonstrate learning. That amongst the sector --

     >> ALEX COMNINOS: Absolutely.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: One thing would be interesting is to pick up on Dalia's point, we have no sense of what the telcos are doing and what their relationship with the state is. So getting a better sense from the industry dialogue, I think would be very useful to demonstrate that learning. And also just to pick up on your point about how you, as a group, are able to respond to countries, it would be good to hear from you whether the dialogue has responded as a group to particular instances of shut down, to use the weight of all of those companies to respond to individual governments.

     >> ALEX COMNINOS: You're going too far. We're not yet there. Let me try to explain what we're doing in showing best practice. You heard the Sudan case a few minutes ago. Let me share with you one or two other --

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Please. Thank you.

     >> ALEX COMNINOS: Examples. Egypt. Egypt. We were asked to shut down by the Government, to shut down the mobile network. We were forced to during the revolution. And we went one step further in which the Government asked us to send SMS and the glory of the former Government refused. The day after military entered our office in Egypt, armed people forced them to do so.

     What we could obtain from the military was to have the SMS send and sign the army so that we were not responsible for what was written within the SMS, but we had to -- one of the principles of the ID is to protect our people on the ground as one of the most important principle. So that is one case.

     And we ensure transparency. I'm talking to you about this case right now today. This is transparency. Why we can do it? Because the Government is not in place anymore. Other cases where we have to -- we're forced to do things and the Government is still in place, we can be dragged down before events, during events and after events. So it's a very difficult position. Let me share another one just to see how the situation can be different. It happens a few months ago in a country in South America where he said he is going to nationalize one of the private telco because it is not answering fast enough to the demand of the Government to provide information on people. Okay. This is what we're facing.

     We are, as I said, we are inside countries. We do have many people that run in and we do provide one of the most important things we're doing once we're inside a country is our responsibility. We provide social contracts to our people. We do provide help to education, to have them understand what is telecommunication. We do provide healthcare. We are a huge taxpayer, which is very different from an internet company which is operating from -- I don't know where. Which is not on site.

     So it could be a leverage from the Government to have us do things, or you could think that it could also be a leverage for us to refuse to do things, but it doesn't work this way.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Does the industry dialogue have an internal policy across all of the telcos which advises them on how to deal precisely with Government responses -- or Government requests, I should say? Part of the guiding principles that you've put forward talk about the training, for example, of staff, so that they understand what is an appropriate request, how to process it and the mechanism by which it should go all the way up to the board in order to determine if an appropriate -- if a shutdown is appropriate.

     Given also just before your earlier comment that "There is never a situation in which a shutdown should take place" how do you reconcile that?

     >> ALEX COMNINOS: In terms of having people educated in all our countries operating all around the world, because we do operate all around the world, we are doing it. It is recent. We are rolling out those principles and education, but we do have the basic processes. We have whistleblowing, we have menacing for grievances processes, so I'm not afraid of putting in place independent way of -- you know, telling people and having the whole thing moving up.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Thank you. Up might throw to the audience to see if there's any thoughts, comments or questions from anyone, particularly if there are other examples of network shut downs that you would like to explain to the panel or to get a response either from us or from anyone else in the room.

     >> AUDIENCE: Good morning. Thank you for the presentation. Well, there has been a lot of shut down, or "Kill switches" as it is called in the United States, since 2005, to 2013, one in Venezuela and one in --

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Would you mind speaking up a little bit?

     >> AUDIENCE: So for western states who also consider a shutdown, it is also a matter of national security, but in the form of a cyber attack or a terrorist attack. Now, for -- from the evidence, the countries that actually did it, Nepal, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Venezuela. They threaten them, they tell the internet service provider that they have to disconnect all the portals. If the country has an internet switch point, then the next thing they do is to go and effect the internet exchange route, disconnecting the routers. If we know this is possible -- they are doing this because it is been happening often and more often. Is there any technical prevention that can be in place to avoid that? Because it's just a matter of time because it happens again. Thank you.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Moez, do you want to take up the question of a technical response?

     >> MOEZ CHAKCHOUK: Yes. It is very important as I mentioned before, if you have a shutdown -- as I said -- if you have a point where we can shut down the internet in a country, it is for a reason, you know? For example, in my country during the former regime, we have ITI as a kill switch so everything can be shut down from the ITI when it deals with internet.

     This is very, very complicated because you need to move smoothly, you know? We cannot really say, "Okay. ITI can be abolished" and say, "Okay, let's open the system and let Orange rule the traffic alone." We are in the process. We took more than two years to transform to eliminate the obligations in the -- in the license for the operators. And also we're working for the internet exchange point in order to keep the value for the country. So it is not just a decision. It's a process. And we need to get a step-by-step -- it is not having -- for something like this, it's like, "Let's abolish this." If we abolish after a revolution, we shut down the internet. It is easy. If we abolish the ITI as a company, that means internet is off for them. We are looking at different reforms on this now. We have to know that when we did shut down also it is because the Government -- and the Government want to control the internet. It is not the same when we deal within the ITU, the ITI et cetera. The Government want to keep some control of the internet for national security reasons. And this is one of the important thing that we have -- need to educate and to try to explain things differently to the Government official today. They are, in their minds to take away things when there are threats. It is not good. It is not good for the economies to use it to combat threats. Tunisia is facing that. We don't want to see any shut down during the revolution and we don't want to see shut downs anywhere.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Alex? Do you want to --

     >> YVES NISSIM: I'm not sure exactly what question I'm responding to now.

     >> DALIA HAJ-OMAR: I'd like to comment on the preparation for future shut downs especially from the perspective of the civil society. When this happened in Sudan three weeks ago, of course, we were not prepared for such a long shut down, and we went up and dug solutions that were given to other countries like Egypt when it happened. And I have to say when we're now trying to prepare for it because we realize that the solutions that were given to Egypt were not good for our country specific -- for in our case. For instance, things like the dial-up modems solution, it does not work for most African countries who skipped the land line and just went totally to the mobile revolution.

     Another solution was like the Speak-To-Tweet service which was created by Google during that time. Some of those numbers were not active and we had to reach out to Google so they could be re-activated. If there are countries that think this is a possibility, there should be a plan B prepared by the civil society ahead of time. So we hope to be working with Access's desk line to prepare something that is Sudan specific.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Yves, what we're hearing is something beyond the telcos. Society is saying, "If you can't provide us with the communication tools or flat forms, we will make our own." Alex?

     >> ALEX COMNINOS: I would agree with Dalia, there is not really an alternative. I think the other danger is the Belkinization of the internet. Just to comment on Speak-to-Tweet, it is just a voice line, and it is easy to eavesdrop on that. I think it all depends on the topology of the country, also of the topology of the network infrastructure. In some cases, there can be alternatives. I'm not a technical expect, but I am quite excited about mesh networking, it is not an alternative to the internet, but it is a form of communication within a community. My other fear is that we are perhaps more familiar with the security of the internet than we are with the security of a new system that is not as ubiquitous, it depends on what kind of system we're talking about. Thank you.

     >> YVES NISSIM: Can I just clarify to the stenographer, that I am Yves Nissim, not Alex Cominos..

     >> DALIA HAJ-OMAR: For those of us who don't understand, can you tell me who mesh network is?

     >> ALEX COMNINOS: It is peer-to-peer networking. It is off a wireless network. There is no centralized point to the network so you can distribute wireless infrastructure throughout a country or throughout a small area, so it is a good way of kind of extending the connectivity of the internet and it is a good way of having a more -- an internet with more autonomous parts. It is also a good way of sharing files and doing many interesting things. I understand in Holland, they have technical community and civil society, playing around with file sharing. There is also a very interesting mobile app called -- I think it is called "Mesh Potato." Correct me if I'm wrong. You can turn many android phones into units of the mesh network and I believe -- Shahidi is also working on wireless technology that can extend -- that can make access points to extend a network. It could possibly be turned into a mesh. But the concept is quite broad.

     >> It would be good to hear about the experience in Tibet. I know that some of these issues are very relevant there in Tibet. And also just to pick up on this response from Alex about what some of the civil society response is to a network shut down.

     >> YVES NISSIM: Because of a repressive regime is under control, some of the options are not available and sometimes we have to look at outside the box, not from a technical point of view, just from a communication point of view. So if you look at what's happening right now, the -- this was a protest on October 6 in a place called Dorud so there was a flag-raising ceremony that the people protested against. Because of that, there was a total technical blackout in that part of the region. The only option to get the news out was for people to travel to other parts of the country where there was network access. When you have a country that is a totalitarian regime, how do you make that accessible? That is something we face with these regimes.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: One of the things I remember is that -- proactively, in the context of a particular crisis is to provide credits. Is that a one-off? Is that something that major Telecoms would be interesting in proactively providing free internet, free telephone credits in order for the community to be able to speak in what (indiscernible) is saying is in a particular environment where the Government and citizens are in serious and sustained conflict?

     >> Definitely. Our main customers are the people, not the Government basically. So we want to serve them. As I explained to you, we are the piece of meat in the sandwich in between the demand from the people. Then we -- of course we are opening pricing, access, if we are not forced to do differently.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: If you look at the paper work, "The state's failure to implement human rights obligations or the fact that it may act contrary to international laws or obligations does not diminish the expectations that enterprises respect human rights." Both countries inside and outside the dialogue, that I'm not adhering to that principle. I wonder if there's any perspective from the panel as to how do we actually engage with companies that don't have even a policy with which to break internally in the sense that many companies -- which are not necessarily European conditions, have gotten -- also owners of the telcos or part owners of the telco, how do we actually get them to move the dial? Because what we're try to go do here in a sense at the Internet Governance Forum is to create a norm. The norm is that a network shut down is okay. There are competing forces. How do we tip some of these companies to understand this is a norm that is unacceptable in consistent -- that it is bad business.

     >> ALEX COMNINOS: In Egypt, there was a campaign by -- I guess general internet users, you could call it civil society to not pay the bills of the mobile and internet operators as a response to -- "You're supposed to provide me service and you cut it off." It is hard for civil society to lobby at a national level if they're dealing with an operator -- it is not just a shareholder, in a country a license is granted for many reasons and a license can be taken away. So I think you need to look at shareholder structures. For example, if you're dealing with -- and this is the case with many countries, a telco that has a mother company domiciled somewhere else. For example, if you have Zane based in Sudan, where is the mother company?

     >> DALIA HAJ-OMAR: Kuwait?

     >> ALEX COMNINOS: Yes. And second to make telco companies aware that governments can change. The Government that comes in next might be a bit pissed off at all that the telco played and could cancel their license. I warned a friend who worked at a South African telco that did operations about this type of thing. He said "Well, business is business." I pointed out that "This could be very bad for your business."

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Let's pick up on the whole spectrum. You talked about operating license. We're going to go on this panel to remedy. Emma, do you want to comment on the nature of the relationship that's established at the starting point? So when the telco is entering into the jurisdiction, what is the nature of that relationship? How does -- perhaps you're not necessarily the right person. Perhaps it's for Yves, what is happening to (indiscernible) who is in the audience, how do you create an environment where the telco and the State are negotiating on perhaps an even playing field, and that there is some kind of provisions in the operating license which prevent the State from having that kind of unilateral authority over the telco?

     >> My name is Yohan. I think the GPs did two really important things.  One is to sort of -- this comes from the work of John Ragi and it sort of lays out a framework that says, "States have a duty to protect human rights, corporations have --" anyone who says the companies don't have a responsibility to respect human rights don't have a leg to stand on anymore. Two is that both states and private actors have a responsibility to provide remedy which we've been dancing around here a little bit. And you know, within this -- I think when people think of remedy, they tend to immediately think about reparations, there's a wide range of remedies available, in terms of substance and procedure.

So in procedure, Yves talked about some of these. It is about having -- making sure there are not reprisals against people making use of these grievance mechanisms and so forth. And I think the most -- sort of the first thing that Rugi said in terms of substance is a promise of non-repetition. We understand that there are staff and infrastructure at risk. We've seen unfortunately examples where telcos pushed back and there have been unfortunate sort of -- where staff have been killed. I mean, we understand that there is obligations of the company to its employees as well.

     But the promise of non-repetition is critical. I'm putting that out there. Likewise, transparency around what occurred. I think frequently, very rarely do we see a response from the telco system saying, "This is what happened. This is the nature of the business. This is the statute that this happened under our operating license." Transparency is a form of remedy. By disclosing the nature of what happened, it allows the victims to much more easily seek redress. Because the human rights abuses that telcos are frequently caught in, non-judicial remedy is especially important. I just want one more point and -- I'm commenting here as an audience here, is the notion of operating licenses comes up a lot. A lot of times the corporation response is "We have this operating license and the State gets to put whatever they want into." Perhaps this is a fruitful way for people to work together, is to get more transparency in those licenses, what are the specific pieces we can work on to try and improve. Moez is sort of doing leading work to try to improve those operating licenses. I don't know, Moez -- I'm going to put you on the spot -- if it is possible for Tunisia to publish a operating license. But to really get transparency around the operating licenses I think would be a huge step forward in a fruitful area for collaboration.

     >> YVES NISSIM: Yeah. I agree with you. I remember the discussion -- Of course, this is a key issue it is really something that we believe is something that we could be much more transparent about the process and what really happened before. And what kind of intentions can the Government have when they deal with some strikes or revolution or whatever we can come up with. It is important to mention transparency, but we need to agree about the process. It is a process. We can not have transparency like this. We need time. We need to educate people. We need to get a lot of awareness from the Government side and lot of work has been done for this, at least for civil society.

     >> YOHAN: I understand there's a process within the Government, to particularly around an operating license which has historically been extremely secret in terms of both a transparency report around the request that you get from Government, particularly the internet platforms have been doing, but I'm not aware of any telco that reports the requests it gets from the Government. And around what are actually the confidentiality clauses that are in these operating licenses that are prohibiting you from talking about them?

     >> YVES NISSIM: As I explained, we have a different relation with Government than what an internet company has. The transparency report that Google and others have pulled down these last year, we cannot do without the agreement from governments to do so, even in France, talking to France every single demand that we are getting from the French Government we can not report without their agreement.

     Whatever you describe is within the access paper about grievance mechanism and remedy that I read carefully. We, of course, as telco, agree on all of them. The good sign -- the good sign, the ID is born. I told you a few months ago, we're trying to get together in order to be a lever toward governments, to have them agree that we could be transparent on this thing they're asking us to do. The other good news is that ID is now sitting on the Genai platform, which means we have a dialogue with internet companies that have a lot less attachment to Government than what we have and hopefully we'll be able to provide the first transparencies coming soon. We are working also with governments to try to help them regulate the process of asking us to do things, we are going to hopefully talk to Government first, but we hope those example will be a good way to try to convince other governments to follow the same procedures. But again, everything you said about non-repetition, fat route to provide the information processes to go at the higher level of the company, best practice, sharing. I explained you two practices today which is transparency for us. We will do. We've been asked and I have asked since I am the Chair now, every single industry dialogue country to provide examples of study, of cases in which they had to comply with Government requirements.

     Okay. And we will make sure that -- in the coming future -- we will have governments decide to choose between nation security and nation -- you know, demands which are not security basically.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: It's great to hear that. I'll put a "However" there. The however is that this kind of internal discussion and review of information I think is one thing. It also comes back to the point of transparency which relates to -- and also to your guiding principles as well which talks about external third-party review on an annual basis. It would be good to hear about the process --

     >> YVES NISSIM: That is a Genai principles and we're not exactly on the same lever for ID principles. Again, having an external audit on everything we're doing is fine, except it's a different concept in different countries.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Yeah.

     >> YVES NISSIM: We cannot be dealt as one company.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Maybe I should restate just to read to your principle right, which says "Report externally on an annual basis, wherever circumstances make it relevant on their progress in implementing the principles and as appropriate on major events occurring in this regard." So it was to that point I was asking you about the annual review or the point at which you see a major event in which case a review is necessary.

     >> YVES NISSIM: Both, actually. We have -- as big companies, we are -- we have an annual report on them. Most of the corporation's responsibility issues -- the non-financial issues, now human rights, freedom of speech and privacy is becoming a big part of it. We are, as a national company, audited on this and we will include all those things within our reporting. I am no charge of this reporting in Orange so I can guarantee we will report on that.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: I look forward to it. Dalia, you look like you wanted to say something.

     >> DALIA HAJ-OMAR: I was wondering if Yves had examples of countries where he is working where there is a positive relationship with civil society, user rights, protection from things like closures, surveillance, tapping of phones, et cetera?

     >> YVES NISSIM: We have a lot of engagement with civil society, and not at all for the moment of those issues.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: So let's open up to the audience for some further questions or comments, please?

     >> AUDIENCE: My name is Charlotte Rashim.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Could you speak up just a little bit?

     >> AUDIENCE: I started by thanking the panel. It is a useful discussion. Unfortunately, there is no representative from the Indian Government. There is no one, unfortunately.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Okay. From the Indian Government?

     >> AUDIENCE: Yes. So just to share a peculiar Indian example, when we think of network shut downs and blocking, the last countries that come to our mind are those that are democratic and have often been praised for having democratic standards and upholding human rights and democratic principles. But the Indian scenario is more varied because India is praised for being a pluralistic.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Can I get you to speak closer into the microphone because up here it is --

     >> AUDIENCE: Okay. For example, last year, there was a mass blocking of 300 URLs following an incident which happened after -- Bangalore following ethnic tensions. And there were 300 URLs that were blocked and there was a limitation put on the number of SMSs you could send. It was reason that the ethnic tensions were caused -- the ethnic tensions were caused by the circulations of an MNS but there are other examples as well. This is not an open and shut case. In such situations like the Government could make a case that door-wide ethnic tensions, we had to block the internet or block SMS, but there are other examples, so for example, if you take the specific case of Kashmir, there has been a ban on SMS from pre-paid mobile for the last three year. This is obviously following a protest and it was reason that people who are -- people are organizing via SMS, and that is why there are protests.

     But the ban, it was never lifted. And there was never any review of what the effectiveness of the ban is. Now, if we look at if from the Government's perspective, for one, it is not he respective and I mean how will the Government ever learn from this situation if there is no review? And even after -- I mean, even after the ban, I mean three years into the ban, there still are protested. So you know, the causal relationship that was explained between SMS and protests, is that really valid? So I would have liked a comment from the Government on that. And another thing is that -- yeah. At times, it may be necessary as a first response, blocking an SMS, but the local administrations are given wide powers under -- I mean, yes, there are some provisions like section 144 and there are other blocking provisions under which the Government does not have to give any reason, the blocking order does not have to come through a court or any independent authority and it does not have to be reviewed, there are provisions under which the Government is simply block the internet or SMS, or any network for that matter.

     Following another case this year, which was the Mehangai, there was an activist -- the internet was blocked in Kashmir for 6 days. People around the world managed to -- that is how it was circumvented. From the Government's perspective, it can be circumvented and we don't learn from these examples. What is the best way to deal with protests? Are they important only as a first measure or is the continued ban important? The international standards that these measures should be effective necessarily in – (indiscernible) the least restrictive methods for controlling the situation. We don't see that happening. We don't see the application of those principles or at least a review.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Do you have a pleasure suggestion or recommendation or question for the panel?

     >> AUDIENCE: Well, not for the panel, per se, but I mean for the Indian Government in general, a suggestion that there could be a review process. It could either be an independent body or it could be judiciary reviewing all these bans, say, after 6 months or 3 months depending on the severity of the situation. It is problematic if there's a ban on SMS sent from pre-paid mobile for three years. 80% of the mobile customers in Kashmir are pre-paid customers.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Yeah.

     >> EMMA LLANSO: Just building off your comments, Brett saying earlier, there seems to be this emerging norm among governments that network shut downs were blocking of mobile communications is an acceptable measure but then we see the consensus among this panel that it is never an acceptable measure. I think we have a lot of work to do in advocacy to civil industry to underscore that the emerging global norm around Government shutdown is that they should not be a norm, I think you know, for all of the human rights reasons on the way network shut down limits access to information, but also to make the economic arguments the way that cutting off access to communications networks really does harm the economy of a country and try to go figure out what are all of the different angles and arguments to present to governments to help demonstrate that not only is it a violation of your people's human rights, it is also not in the best interest of your country economically. And I think we need to start focusing on -- you know, governments that -- democratic governments that consider themselves particularly human rights respecting but still are taking these kinds of measures. We were discussing the examples of India, we saw the Irish Government introducing into their criminal justice act a provision for their minister to potentially -- in the case of national security threats, order a network shut down. We have an open proceedings in the United States at the FCC, thinking about this issue. Could it ever be legitimate for local or Federal shutdown of communications networks in the United States? The fact that these governments are treating this as an open question is a big problem. So that is I think certainly one of the first places to start with advocacy around shifting what the norms that governments may seem to be creating amongst themselves really are.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Yeah. I would say it is a slippery slope. There is a quote that Benjamin Franklin didn't actually say but was attributed to him but those that would give up their freedoms for a little bit of security don't deserve a bit of it. If you are going to block SMSs that are spreading hate speech, how can you detect that? You can only detect that through mass surveillance systems. And then if it is done, you really need to have good oversight. For example, and I know it is a very legitimate fear in Kenya, but they've had problems in the 2008 elections with hate speech and SMS. What they had in the most recent elections was a control of what they called "Mass political messaging." And they -- this was a proposal regulation to investigate whether this happened but they did it in a very bad way.

     What happened was that a political party would submit -- would give information to a content provider, for example, a bulk SMS company, would give it to the mobile operator, which was given a list of quite a few criteria and they had to decide themselves -- I think within 2 to 3 days, they could ask for help from an independent commission in Kenya, but only if they wanted to. So you're getting companies to do the policing with no oversight. One of the requirements was that any political message that wasn't in English or Swahili was not allowed.

     In India, there are different ethnic communities focused around languages, but in my opinion, that is not a solution. I like the fact that you pointed out it can happen in democracies and it is tempting in democracies as a method of internet control. In 2011 -- not throughout the whole country, but in a state-administered cell phone network in the underground of the San Francisco Rapid Transit System in order to stop a protest or control a protest, they shut down the cell phone networks.

     Also the Democratic National Convention live stream was shut down by copybots. These bots made a mistake, and then also there was the British Government after the Arab Spring -- during Arab Spring where they had the riots in Britain they were considering shutting down Blackberry messenger. This is something that we need to think about. Thank you.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: There's actually a number of comments from the audience. So perhaps one, two and then three at the back.

     >> AUDIENCE: My name is Dena. One of the questions I have for the panel is that -- I mean, we have consensus from the civil society, that there are no instances where blockage is for survival yet we don't hear these examples in the mainstream. There's no sharing of information between civil society groups talking about how they are responding to these ad hoc measures and I feel strongly that while governments around the world are complying with each other and using each other's excuses to replicate those bans, global society is not doing a good job in sharing that information and using each other's experiences to replicate that. I can go on and share experiences about how we tried to resist and I would like to help other countries like India, we diversified, bringing in people like teachers and doctors talking about -- in one case, for instance, we had a gynecologist come to the court during a hearing that a telco was leading to talk about how she lost a patient because a patient could not reach her on the telephone. That greatly impacted the ruling.

     And I just feel that there are not enough conversations going on because the governments do not respond to principles. And that is not just governments in the developing countries. The UN Guiding Principles, we've been quoting them and pressing the governments to respond to them, but the principles that they're in, though brilliant in theory, there is no practice unless there is pressure. When governments around the world do -- especially the first-world countries, what we hear in democratic countries is "If America can shut that down for national security. If the UK can shut down for national security, then why do you think you living in Pakistan, a developing country, can demand more rights?" That is why we need the voices in civil society, in the UK, and the US, to talk about that. They are talking even though that does not get amplified. We've been writing letters to the Canadian Government and the High Commissioner in the UK. Both have responded and both of them have just given a very covered letter saying, "Yes, we believe in the UN-guiding principles, but now it is your duty -- your Government's responsibility to see what may or may not happen with that technology being used in Pakistan."

So unless there is a consolidated effort and noise being made with society around the world, and their Government being complicit, governments are not interested in complying to these guiding principles.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: So the room we have India, Pakistan, Tibet, Sudan and probably one or two others. So after this meeting, it would be great if you guys could share those conversations and the US as well, in order to see how there might be some further pressure. Remember also that Yves is here. They probably have 2 or 3 billion customers. So you should speak to Yves because it's very possible -- we talk about individual instances and we've talked about remedy for people who are impacted directly by a network shut down. But if we can shift the policies of the companies, then we can influence the human rights of two or three billion people, potentially and if we can also activate those companies to be advocates against -- or to the governments -- then we have a very powerful partnership.

     Let's hear from you, sir.

     >> AUDIENCE: I'm Bastian, I'm from the Netherlands. I am an internet entrepreneur. Everything going on about governments shutting down network and stuff, but I think, you know, terrorists can shut down entire internet exchanges. And that is way more difficult to stop fire in diplomatic ways. What do you think about that? Terrorist organizations shutting down entire networks?

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Does anyone want to take that question on? The use -- terrorists using the networks in order to plan --

     >> AUDIENCE: Or terrorists shutting down entire networks.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Would anyone like to respond to that?

     >> ALEX COMNINOS: You talked about DDOS, and terrorists planning an attack. Terrorists also use the air to plan an attack. Molecules vibrate in the air and it's a means of communication and I think this can be discussed in a surveillance issue, but you weigh whether you want -- terrorists always going to use things.

     >> AUDIENCE: I think you misunderstood my question. Terrorists fire a DDOS and shut down an entire internet exchange because it just crashed.

     >> ALEX COMNINOS: I don't think we've ever seen this happen that terrorists shut down a network -- we have seen people die from lack of emergency services. I think DDOS can be censorship, but to call something terrorism, terrorism is a very particular thing which I find very problematic to apply in the cyber domain. So I'll wait to see if it happens. But I think that terrorism involves the threat of loss of life to people not just computer infrastructure. Thank you.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: But I do think it is an interesting point which I take. We've been talking about shut downs on behalf of the Government or corporations. The question which he's raising is there a non-state actor that can do that? The back?

     >> Patrick from Fiji? My concern with this discussion is from the operator's point of view. The telco and service provider's ISPs. You requested the question: When is it appropriate for a shutdown? The office answer is, you know -- (audio disconnect).

     >> AUDIENCE: Of network disruption in a way.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: Maybe a final comment.

     >> YVES NISSIM: We are on the way with discussing with our countries and Africa. For the moment it's been a very corporate type of issue that we will roll down in the coming months. Yeah.

     >> Let me open the future on a final com. In terms of IG and Genai -- we did not have hands free enough to behave the way we want to behave in terms of human rights, let me say IG exists now and we will try to answer most of the questions we are asked. We need to open as wide as we can, with civil society and Government, hopefully there will be an after revolution, there will be an after-everything and I hope we're going the right way.

     >> DALIA HAJ-OMAR: One thing I took out from this conversation and the coms from Emily and Alex especially is that from a civil society perspective, maybe the way forward is more advocacy, more strategic advocacy, explaining to Government the holistic nature of shutdowns, also the global society that operators that are operating in the local context are operating at the international context and reaching out to the global society for pressure -- or better dialogue with the Telecoms. So that is for me probably one thing I definitely took out.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: We should extend the shutdowns to look at the quality of the service. That should be a systemic and less noticeable -- not necessarily less sinister thing, but easier to realize it is sinister. If you compare the quality of debate here with regards to the quality of debate at the Baku Internet Governance Forum, the internet had such terrible quality. If you compare the terrible broadband that exists in these countries, it is not the Government's interest often to -- well, repressive governments to get their citizens online with good quality broadband.

     >> I think we've talked about shut downs. But the trains we're seeing is that it is not necessarily as black and white as a shutdown, but it is a throttle. I think the young lady from India gave examples of that. Emma?

     >> EMMA LLANSO: I'll just echo Dalia's points. Just as the Telecoms have their industry dialogue, we need a civil society dialogue along these points and that I think that there's very much that we could accomplish by having better coordination sharing in civil society and being able to talk across stakeholder groups and really work to shift this Norma way from acceptance of shutdowns.

     >> YVES NISSIM: Thank you. My last comment is, if you want to prevent shut downs, if you don't want the Government tomorrow to shut down the internet, you have to work with businesses, with operators, we have to trust people who work for the internet today in order to prevent any decision made by any Government related to shut downs. It is really -- we experienced this -- today we work with society and we believe society is helping us to prevent any shut down. We never, never, never cut the Internet.

     >> BRETT SOLOMON: So thank you very much. Can you thank the panel for me? We appreciate you being here. Thanks a lot to the audience as well. Thank you.

 

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