The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, Germany, from 25 to 29 November 2019. 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.
>> MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Almost good evening. The sunsetting to the end of day. Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for being here. My name is Bruna. I'll be your moderator. If any of you want to join the table, please feel free to do so. Might be slightly comfortable. This is a session that's called Unpacking Digital Trade Impacts: Calling all Stakeholders. I work for a Brazilian organization called coding rights. We have been working on this intersection of privacy, digital rights, most specifically privacy but digital rights and gender. And this panel was co‑organized with two colleagues, Peter from the center for the governance of AI and Thomas Struett from the American University.
The idea for today will be to discuss international trade policies for the internet and how they have been discussed or being used around the world. So we will go a little bit through the politics and policy part of it and do discussions on the multi‑Stakeholder model and why is it so important to keep on referring back to this participation when we are discussing trade and policies related to the internet. And for this session, we will have four speakers. We will have (?) from the ministry of foreign affairs. Also Kathleen burger. And Thomas Struett who is based on the George Washington University and also will join us remotely. And this session will be divided in three sections. Part one will be unpacking discussions and development of trade norms and policies. So this will be the part in which we will talk a little bit about relation to national governments, taxation and international trade institutions. And for this first part, we will have a little exchange in between Thomas and Miguel. So I'll give the floor to Thomas right now. I hope you are hearing us and I hope the remote participation works.
>> THOMAS STRUETT: I can hear you. Can you hear me all right?
Okay. Perfect. So, hi, I'm Thomas Struett. I'm based out of the ‑‑ or I work at the hub based out of George Washington University in Washington DC. The hub just started in June and its goal is to educate policy makers about digital trade and data governance issues through events and trainings. Basically, the whole idea of this hub grew out of previous work. Which basically examined national laws and trade agreements and conducted a global survey with Stakeholders in digital trade to get a sense of digital trade norms. What we found is there really are a lack of norms and shared definitions around digital trade issues and this is echoed in the more recent report from global statuses report from 2019. The report found 95% of Stakeholders say cross border legal challenges will increase. And 80% believe there is still not enough coherence to address these challenges. So basically, with that, here we are today talking about why multi‑Stakeholder approach is needed in digital trade. And basically, I see it as mainly because trade agreements have been covering these digital issues for a while now. But this process of creating these agreements have a lack of transparency and they are not multi‑Stakeholder in nature.
So trade agreements are covering digital issues more and more. We see this in comparison to the new United States Mexico Canada agreement compared to the TPP, transpacific partnership. It's pretty telling to see the language in the USMCA is newer and a lot more comfortable. Under the TPP, each party shall allow the cross border transfer of information by electronic means including personal information when this activity is for the conduct of the business of the covered person while the USMCA goes further and uses a negative statement and says no party shall prohibit or restrict the cross border transfer of information including personal information. Transfer of information including personal information by electronic means if the activity is for the conduct of the business of a covered person. And also the TPP allows for exceptions. Each party may have its own regulatory requirements regarding use of facilities. And confidentiality of communication.
So basically, we're seeing these trade agreements. They are getting more and more comfortable with governing the cross-border data flow of information. So the USMCA allows for less room for exceptions with its simpler use of language and use of the negative. And its important to notice these exceptions for these trade agreements. So if a country is trying to create a regulation that goes against the trade agreement, it has to use an exception like privacy, the GATS, the general agreement on trade services allows for exceptions like public health, national security and so on. The exceptions are hard to justify and have many qualifiers. So if you want to pass a legitimate public policy measure, you need to satisfy many requirements. And basically the WTO says that a regulation should be widely practiced measure and for privacy, you have a big country like the United States that doesn't have a federal law.
The country could go to dispute board and say look at this country, they don't have a privacy law. And there are other countries that also don't have privacy laws. I believe this trend is definitely going towards having privacy measures. But this is just an illustration of why there needs to be attention of what is happening at the international level. You can't create local laws if you are not able to comply with these international agreements. And this is why larger tech companies are starting to have this interest in having a say in trade agreements while other Stakeholders are being left out. And I'll leave my comments on that for now. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Thomas. I'll give the floor to Miguel right now. You have five minutes.
>> Thank you. I'm in agreement with everything Thomas said. Just kidding. I am in agreement with most of the things Thomas said. It is basically the stent of the situation as it is now. I was asked to put a little bit of an input from analog developing country system and situation. And I have to start by telling you we face a certain situation that is not being able to access oceans, in particular, but in this case, not being able to connect to the backbone on internet by ourselves.
This is an element that was mentioned before and it's very important. Sovereignty in this matter. Me being a diplomate has nothing to do with it, don't worry. I did want to put this in perspective. And the UN level is working hard to try and accommodate everybody. Particularly, in this scenario where the regulations are still very basic or growing or trying to catch up with the situation. Digital trade is a fast‑growing dynamic that we couldn't ask government. It was really hard to understand in order to legislate 20 years ago. So normally, legislation takes time in creation and in application. So when you pass a law, the first very important implications or consequences of the law make 10 years to actually take over the national systems. When you have to talk about the UN, we have to make certain that people understand the WTO as important as it is not UN. So we're talking to different forums. Makes the mechanics a bit more difficult. Then you have to go in the understanding that in order to place regulations, you have to go to congress and Thomas noted very well. You cannot apply national law without taking into account international law. This is because of the tapestry. And they come from different scenarios. They come from the agenda and the technical regulations that have effect on trade. They come from WTO that has a different view. And then you have, for example, very new agreement that is the (?) We still have to go to national congresses in order to actually say it has happened. But the first leg of the negotiations are done. And why is this an issue?
Digital trade is very well imbedded, and it has an effect on regional, sub regional and national regulation.
Because you have to comply with everything else.
So in this scenario, we have, for example, the universal level.
The OIS, organization of American states that has the conference on telecommunications and IG within itself is not quite the same. Still talking about IG. And it is comprised. The same countries we have to negotiate with in order it access the internet. So you have this different dynamics that all go back and forth. And affect the way you need to regulate. For example, the taxation issues and services and data for the developing countries.
You are going to encounter a lot of situations. Unless you have a strong private sector that already looks into that.
It's normally you have to go to regulate the new situation. For example, the most recent one is Uber for us. We need to understand the labor contracts are between Uber and the drivers. And not the particular labor issue but the taxation issue on the contract. How much taxes are they paying to the national government in order to fulfill the needs and the dynamics of the regulations?
So another one for us was the coming of the multi‑nationals in different sectors. Normally not regulated as such. They grew 1,000 percent in size. The birthplace of the money tells us who needs to be paid the tax. The companies don't pay in every single country. They pay in some countries or one country. Not where they have a branch. And it's an evolution for a developing country particularly in regulation.
In particular in sovereignty. With that comes data. Both the commercial data or trade data. We are going to need to agree as much as we can on the free trade ‑‑ free movement of data. But while regulating privacy and protection for people and their liability of every single sector.
And that's one important issue with that localization. Recently joined the development center of OECD and we had the evaluation and we set our self a very ambitious set of goals from here to 2030.
And basically, it's going to happen to every single developing country in the world. The framework is going to have to change dramatically in the next ten years in order to be able to actually be a part of the global village. Be a part of the supply chains in the digital arena. We're going to have to make a policy jump ahead very fast and very quick. For that, that's why (?) It's important. Only collaboration and only international corporation would help us. I will stop here. And give everyone else a chance to talk. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We planned a little 10 minutes for Q and A. So if anyone has any questions about this first section, you are all invited to take the floor. Do we have any initial questions?
>>. Hi. I'm Guillermo from access now. We're going to zoom into digital trade. I wanted to ask both of you what do you understand as digital trade just so we put the finger on what we're talking about?
Because very different terms are used for very different things. In your both presentations, you talk a lot about wide range of public policies and not everything is necessarily digital trade. The other reason I think it's important for all of us to agree is because what we understand as digital trade is referred to as e‑commerce. Maybe for historical reasons because e‑commerce chapters have been about digital matters and now calling the associations while e‑commerce is electronic commerce and buying of goods and so on. But not necessarily data protection and privacy protections.
Also very confusing terminology that gets used at the WTO in which it would be helpful not just for today but this is a question in general. So in your perspectives, I wanted to ask what do you guys call digital trade?
>> MODERATOR: Thomas or Miguel?
>> Thank you very much for the question. First, when taking digital trade, we have to take basically the same idea that tradeoff line is the same trade online. Whatever you can tradeoff line you can trade online as well. And so the digital products itself. So would be basic Louisiana the same concept that has always been. Whatever you can move from one place to another and get something in return. If you put that on digital level, talking about services and data and products you can move through the trade operation on the internet or digital means. On the other point I believe that is very relevant. The international definitions are first very hard to get because you have to be asked definitive and as loose enough to allow definition to evolve by itself. But you have to have something. So normally corner stones to grow from.
WTO have been involved in negotiations for a long time. And talking very plainly.
Went to e‑commerce just because they don't know where else to put it. So big that you have to change it to digital WTO basically. They only speak about trade. So had to put it somewhere else. Being the world center of trade negotiations still took a lot of time to understand digital trade. They know about what is going on in the world. They were more reluctant than, for example, other sectors like the IGF or ITU that saw trade as a part of something bigger. The reason of being WTO is straight. They needed to study in a very particular way. In some particular section of their own work. So e‑commerce. Still, you have WTO working on the health, e‑agriculture, whatever has economic consequences on trade. Basically, because of that, I believe the conference is going to have to talk about this far more than used to. In a personal level, there was something called TTT, technology transfer on trade. That was basically the first group and it was in 2012. Basically, very new for them. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. I think Thomas wants to make a comment on this. You have the floor.
>> THOMAS STRUETT: Thank you. Yeah, so I think digital trade is just digitally enabled transactions of services and goods.
But I also like to focus on not data as just a means of production or transfer but the data itself. And I think that's, to me, I see data governance as a large part of digital trade when it comes to the cross-border data flows in terms of privacy data protection and things like that. That's all I had to add to that.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Moving on to the second section ‑‑ we have another. Okay. Thank you.
>> My name is Wasette from Nigeria. I wanted to follow up on the last discussion and to ask specifically where do we locate trade on the web site dormant. And the trade in hosting?
I am in a country where power, the infrastructure doesn't allow people and organizations to locally host this own web site nationally. And therefore, they are hosting in Canada and so forth. And that's for me is a huge (?) So I want to know where you locate this in terms of the discussion around digital trade. Thank you.
>> That's a very good question. I can give an answer and try and give an answer very honestly. It's because we lack the infrastructure normally. Not only on power and not just political power. And that's why this element of sovereignty is so important. We don't normally have national space. We don't normally host our own web sites. So everybody else taking that information has the power to use it without us in the national level either private sector or public sector. So get better on critical infrastructure for assuring the fundamental services, electricity, water. And then going to the backbone of the internet that is critical infrastructure such as our own IXPs and the capacity of storing data in our own countries. Both for more expensive and less quality internet and for someone holding our data for us. I would say that.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Any further questions?
Okay. Moving on. Our second part of the session will be a discussion on the impact. So we're calling this unpacking the impact. The idea will be to have a discussion on those many digital trade topics where having real impacts on the internet today. For the sake of mentioning them, on the framing of this session, we were thinking about trade agreements and data privacy decisions. And tax firms where they raise tax revenue and splay chains create conflict. And that will be some of the examples. The leads for this section will be Miguel and Guillermo.
>> Thank you. I guess, first of all, thank you for inviting us. It's a global digital rights NGO where we defend the human rights in technology and we focus on that risk, we underscore that. That's the main mission and the focus we try to take. Only follow my understanding of digital trade issues from a very superficial perspective because of reasons we're going to unpack later on today as we move into the multi Stakeholder discussion as well. But just coming back to the question and here's the reason why I asked it before. The question why I asked what is digital trade is like because what Thomas just said, we are talking about data governance and what happens to personal data around the world in the context of how do we set international rules for products and services that move around the world. And large part around the world. That is just the wrong framing. We cannot treat data is the new oil. Data is like avocados. What's the metaphor?
They are highly valuable but only for a certain period of time. If you don't use it quickly, the value diminishes.
Or data is like bananas. No, it's none of that. Personal data is personal inherently and linked to a human right. And that's for us the main starting point in this conversation is that we are asking ourselves how can we set rules on trading human rights?
And the answer is well, you shouldn't. And the reason why I ask what do we consider digital trade is, for example, if we talk about decisions or data protection or privacy frameworks that include provisions on how data can flow, that is not digital trade. That is not international trade agreement. That is a legal framework designed to regulate a human right which includes provisions on how it can operate internationally. Those are two different things.
Here's why. I'll take the example of the general data protection regulation which many ‑‑ a lot of the industry has portrayed as protectionist. And also say like how can we comply with it and so on?
We need to remember the GDPR, the full title of the GD PR is the general data protection regulation and on the free flow of data. Contains provision to enable that exchange of data and to enable e‑commerce and international transactions.
The Council of Europe convention 108 signed by a couple dozen countries around the world is also a legal instrument designed to protect the human right and enables to exist while protecting that human right. And trade agreements incorporate chapters and conversations about privacy and data flows.
So I put the question back to you. What is the problem we're trying to solve?
Is the internet not working due to trade agreement that contains data flow provisions?
Because I still haven't seen in order to solve we need that kind of policy instrument. It's not let's go into trade circles and have the data flow provisions because the high level will be to liberalize trade. So that's the first step that is the wrong framing. Very nontransparent conversations. There's no multi Stakeholderism. The communities that will be affected by those negotiations will not be heard. And third, the negotiations are done by trade experts there with the Monday to increase trade quotas and so on. To talk about the discussions, we're taking them to the wrong forum. We're going to be taking very serious decisions about how the internet operates and human rights are respected or not in the wrong place. I'm going to stop there because I know I'm raising a lot of questions. And we'll continue the conversation. Thank you.
>> Thank you very much. You took on a lot of very important issues. I wanted to take the conversation in a bit of a way. The impacts are not old. Just legal. They bring new opportunities for the development of people and for example, just to give you an example, in one generation, my generation ‑‑ I'm 40. I'm a bit old already. But my generation wouldn't have all the chances that the next generation of 20‑year‑olds now have just to study. To go into different sectors. We wouldn't have that. We wouldn't have normal very traditional careers. But now, we have 52 new universities and vast range of things you can do by getting a degree in different areas. So these opportunities and, the opportunities in the service sector that are very, very strongly growing in different parts of the world are simple example I can give is now we are 7 million people country who feeds 80 million people around the world. And that is because the use of technologies. Wouldn't have develop the technologies in order to do so. This evolves with the social responsibility of the private sector. Need to help to realize the human rights and tools already existing. That's very important what you said. I'm very hesitant on saying we need a convention for trade in order to secure the realization of rights within the trade system. I would say the human rights are already there. We need to make enterprises understand them correctly and apply them correctly in order to ensure that we are not taking personal data outside the boundaries. I would end by saying the social responsibility of the private and public sector need to be aligned in order for all policies both trade and human rights to benefit the populations. And you have to think that way. Otherwise, the government is going to go one way and the private sector another way. And we will normally have conflict of interest when we need to be aligned in policies.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Once again, opportunity for anyone who wants to ask questions and take the floor. So if there's anyone interested.
>> Hello. My name is Johanna. I wanted to go back to your question whether data flows and privacy issues should be regulated or discussed within trade forums. I think on one side it has to because the data flows are underlined to digital trade. On the other side, I see your point it's a human right and not the right issue for being negotiated. So I really see a dilemma there as well. I think at the end, the European union decide to not negotiate privacy issues in the free trade agreements and that's a very I would like to raise to Thomas. And plus in another way the European union chose the decision. If that might turn out as a protection tool for countries that are not able to rise to the regulation that some required by the union. And less developed countries might be disadvantaged by those instruments instead of free trade agreements. So, yeah.
>> MODERATOR: I'll give the floor to Thomas.
>> THOMAS STRUETT: Hello. So I completely agree with the fact that this disconnect between trade discussions and more of the values human rights of privacy or freedom of speech or other democratic ideals. There can be this disconnect between the two. So taking Europe as an example, you can see like we talked about they'll only sign free trade agreements and contained language regarding the free flow of data if they are deemed adequate in terms of adequacy decision with current data protection. In order for a government like Japan to enter into agreement with the European union, they need to be deemed adequate and need to be equivalent to the EU. I do prefer that view. Trade discussions frame the debate around trade. And you are getting at efficiencies and maximizing data flows while using thoughts about core values you might have and in these agreements, there are values that play like privacy that need to be protected. And we can lose sight of these important values.
That's all. Thank you.
>> Thank you for the question. So let me clarify we're not against data flow. Not like I understand data has to move. And these are all trans jurisdictional services. Coming back to my initial challenge is what is the problem that we're trying to solve by getting provisions into international trade agreements?
And I don't need an answer today but I've asked this question repeatedly. The answers are hypothetical or related to data localization requirements in countries around the world which we know splinter the internet. The problem where we're coming from is that international trade agreement will be binding on the country that signs it. And so our fear is we've seen this in different negotiations has initiated that if a country or region binds itself to something it has a lower level of protection, then what it gives itself like, for example, with the GD PR, it will have to change that protection as well. What we want is a raise to the top. The GD PR helped push the protection around the world. More and more countries are creating legal frameworks and reminder also that the decisions are not the only instrument that countries around the world.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Any other questions on this?
>> I'm one of the few people in the WTO who goes to ITU and IGF and everything else. I just wanted to say that what I've heard is a little different than what you are saying. What I've heard from private sector and some of the documents are they are being blocked in various markets and some of it is blocking that you wouldn't like for human rights as well as us. The WTO can't do a lot about that. You really do need human rights rules for things like censorship because of freedom of speech. For example, apparently in the Chinese market there's 8 and 12 different services I work on services agreement that are covered with obligations they should be able to trade because they are completely blocked as a service and not just filtering or take down requests. That's the kind of thing we're hearing. Should be happening globally isn't always happening.
And they feel they need a principle that is a first order. But then they recognize you need something that allows what some people call nontrade policies to be in effect. And since 1995, privacy has been recognized as one of the non‑trade policies covered by the exceptions that already exist. This debate to me about the exceptions that should be the second paragraph is a little weird. Some of them are actually (?) I don't know how you can have two agreements within one organization that one basically has one set of obligations with respect to exceptions and the other doesn't. The other thing is I think that privacy would not be a race to the bottom because we don't question the standard. So you can have higher standards and lower standards. What would be questioned is the way you got there. If the way you got there is more burdensome than necessary to achieve your objective. Not anybody else's objective but your objective. That's what the disciplines try to get at. The panels never question your quality standard or your privacy standard is higher than the next. I just thought that is something that puzzles me a little bit. Eve been working in the program for a lot of people concerned about the human rights stuff. My first job I had was human rights. So I'm learning more about these treaties. And what impresses me is the WTO and human rights convention are fundamentally seeking good governance for slightly different reasons. I think there's a commonality of the objective that governments behave themselves. And I don't think they are incompatible.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. I don't think I got your name. So moving on, do we have questions or move on to the multi Stakeholder participation?
For this last section, the proposal is to actually build up on (?) the multi‑Stakeholder participation and having all Stakeholders and interested parties raising their voices in this conversation but still the fact that those forums still exist and some of them they might be ignoring this need for participation and the need for actually listening to more than just national states at the delegation level. So for this last section, the name of it is multi‑Stakeholder collaboration.
The only way forward. And we will have Kathleen and Guillermo. Thank you very much.
>> Thank you. So it's very interesting to try to bridge that. I have zero experience in trade. So many buzzwords in this conversation and everyone mentioned trade but everyone comes from a different angle. And part of that is that Stakeholders have a tend apt see to frame things out of their bubble and we all have a motivation of trying to achieve. And it seems like there's often a lack of translation and I'm saying that as somebody.
And I also do see a desperate need to translate better in why we are where we are. And there is lessons to be learned from everyone. The main thing everyone needs to remember is not we are right in multi Stakeholder but it takes a lot of time. And multi Stakeholders is not a one off. It is a process and needs transparency and accountability every single time and that's often forgotten. Often forget to explain how the process works and make the rules of procedure clear which makes it hard for other Stakeholders to play. You probably have all the processes in place. It's really hard to learn about them. It's really hard to find the entry point. When can I raise something ‑‑ so how can we actually get to the complexity in an appropriate way?
Now we've opened up the IGF. Now we need to get to WTO and civic space is shrinking and getting harder and harder. Which means we start criticizing in bulk. So it's kind of throwing something at it in the hope that starts a conversation. And I feel like trade might be that iteration in all of us and that goes for everyone. What is the process and what's the face in that process?
You discuss something and there is an agreement. Is something already on the agenda?
What's the issue?
That is one phase that takes a certain set of actors and engagement and allows for certain activities and has a specific output that's the agenda. And then the question is what is the deliberation which usually means who is a factor?
Have we considered everyone?
It's not a straightforward as it often seems. Before we even go to drafting which is an entirely different stage which might be more secluded. And how do we make it happen. Implementation which is an entirely different process before we go back to ask what have we learned from this process and needs to change.
I remember when the digital issues kept popping up for years. And when I joined, we're not for profit organization. Our legal structure isn't really an NGO. We're a merger of both. So we can join any of those tracks. If you are not allowing me to play, the rules are wrong. We do have a stake in this and it is important for us. So the way we learned about this, I can't even raise an issue. Don't get to this point where there is a clear procedure to say digital issues need to be treated in a progressive matter. We built a coalition of not getting in the room to say we need to talk about this.
There was nowhere to land. We build a coalition of organizations of all continents.
To say who needs to be invited. And influence the text itself.
And at least we got to say there needs to be a process in place where people can raise issues. Happy to go into detail if that's helpful.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. You have the floor.
>> Thank you. The first thing is that we're not trying to criticize this in bulk in the sense of digital trade is wrong. We need to come up with political constructs. The interaction between regulators. There's the privacy shield which we don't like for a number of reasons. Those initiatives, those different where conversations about where personal data flows should happen. And I'm just using a moment to respond to some of the comments. I hear you about China and Russia want a different internet split from the world. And I work for an NGO so I can take that license. Multi-lateral trade agreement is going to solve that issue. There are issues there. We shouldn't in doing that create an Eco system that can have an impact on human rights. That's why we try to separate the two things. My point now which I agree. The solution for digital trade to be better on digital rides is not multi Stakeholderism. We can't just keep chasing and say you got to open it up and fight for years. In the digital right space a lack of resources. And which we do a lot of work. The internet is being shut down. We have to focus on the most immediate problems. Coming is extremely expensive. So I know there are small things, like, for example, we're here and online participation. Live stream and more open process. Doesn't mean it works for everything. It is a fairly decent model for multi Stakeholderism. But our thinking affected by the policy decisions. Maybe instead of ‑‑ bring them into the ones where civil society already is.
Bring the conversations to IGF. Rights con is an annual conference we organize.
And the community is there. Well done. Thank you.
I have more here for anyone who might need one. And put a lot of effort to use that more smartly.
>> MODERATOR: Both have been championing at the multi-lateral level. They have the different sorts of participation. Would you have any advice for smaller organizations or civil society meaning to be more present or a more active voice on this or where the possible paths in collaboration in this?
You'll be more powerful if you know where to make a difference. If you champion those things, that's where you make the biggest impact. It's really easy and Mozilla is a very recognized organization but we're tiny. We have to prioritize and have a tend apt see to do everything and then don't do anything well. Where can you really make a difference. That's what I mean with the faces. For small organizations, getting something on the agenda can be time consuming. In deliberation processes, focused on bringing the facts might be at the most value. Still means you won't be in this place actually writing things down.
But focus on that. Or focus on litigation that allow you to initiate a new process and make it better. And also at IGF, everything is happening at once. And really choosing your battles and trying to figure out with your passion have the biggest impact is hard because you always feel like you could even do more. We're all burning out if we do everything at once.
>> I cannot agree more. Big or small NGOs but we have the privilege of being able to work on quite a significant number of issues and I can guarantee it's a constant challenge for us to be prioritizing where we should be. Everything is just happening at the same time. Policy makers here have a very important role. That's my key call. Towards those modern NGOs that might represent more vulnerable communities and perspectives that really have to be heard, they bear policy makers the biggest responsibility in enabling processes and funding streams to enable those organizations to participate. And the responsibility can't always be put on civil society. Go find your resources and tell us what you think. No, that's the basic message. You need to make it much easier for that to happen. Can I jump in on that?
Building that coalition was only possible ‑‑ so acknowledging smaller organizations. It's okay to focus on that but don't expect civil society to be an organized block.
>> MODERATOR: Questions, comments, ideas. I know you had your hand raised.
>> Just on this topic, I'm the first to admit. The other international organizations. We are the most archaic. In organizations that we don't allow them to sit in much less anybody else. In that sense, starting with the DGs have tried to create informal mechanisms. The fact you have now all of these FTAs that had e‑commerce have come to the WTO. So you have one focal point now. In that sense, it is a lot less secretive than the negotiations may have been. Even if something is supposed to be confidential, anybody will give it to you. If I did, a lot of delegations want people to know about things. We have a proposal to make public the draft texts as soon as possible. The fact is the draft text is nothing but a compendium of you've all seen them. Different government pieces of FDAs. Nothing in there you haven't seen somewhere. Right now, it's a mess. You have 7 different versions of the FTA drafting of a particular provision with everybody saying are we all saying the same thing or not saying the same thing?
We don't really know yet. When that comes out which I would estimate they'd be ready for something to come out and I think they will. They've been more transparent than most of the processes up to this point would be in the early spring. Since they won't have achieved any results by June, they may feel as though that may try to show the world trying to do something and make it public at that point. So there will be things to comment on now. In terms of participation, even if you can't afford to come to Geneva, they formed a coalition of coalitions of private associations for the resources. And since nobody bets what I do on that web page, putting all these links to interesting ‑‑ right. They'll say what did Lee do?
Put all kinds of resources down on the left‑hand side of the standard e‑commerce and had this meeting and that meeting. I tend to like to post information so people can be aware.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Questions or comments?
The floor is open again. No? Good. If not, I'll ask our panelists to maybe if you want to do a wrap up comment on this on how ‑‑ or if not, we can finish the session. But you are all invited to offer last comment on this. And I really appreciate this opportunity and thank you, all, for being here. I'll give the floor to Thomas and then if you want to.
>> THOMAS STRUETT: Yeah, so to basically wrap up. I would say that I'm worried about a lack of transparency in trade negotiations and when we're talking about digital trade, it frames the debate towards trade. And the people who have the most say in this and the ones who their values are at stake when it comes to digital trade are companies basically who are look for a free flow of information while not protecting other rights possibly. Like privacy. So how can civil society get involved into this when digital trade might not be the right framing to protect what's at value for most Stakeholders. I'll leave it at that. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Thomas.
>> Sure. The echo is really weird. Thank you for being here. One of the other things apart from civil society choosing the battles as a form of government official, there are people like you who try to increase transparency and around in every single process and every international organization and every government around the world. Sometimes it's about recognizing these are not black boxes and not a block. They are individuals and who really try to serve the public interest who are in this for serving in the heart and finding the right allies and letting them help you understand the process is also an important tool. Find the person who wants a very similar thing to you.
>> Not to repeat anything I said. Lack at the conversation we had today, the architecture of our legal and economic constructs and how we deal with these things. Where we come from at the end of the day, this is about human beings. All these things are going to impact their lives. Not any more about the internet. What do we do with this public good that we all love? It's about the individuals that live in it. And how their human rights, the rights to participate freely and to assembly will be able to be exercised in the future. So my call would be to any policy makers in the room is don't take these things lightly. The way in which we negotiate and set the rules for the future about all of this is going to design how open and human rights respecting our societies are. So it's very important. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. And thank you, all, for being here. The main message we get from this is that ignoring those issues will make them go away. And it's pretty much the same. The whole impact on the actual human rights impact and also on the internet that all of the trade agreements and discussions end up causing. They are also very real. I do appreciate as well your presence here, Lee, and our volunteer panelist. Super happy about it. And I'm just wrapping up the session. Thank you, all, for being here. That's it. Thank you.
[ Applause ]