IGF 2019 – Day 3 – Raum I – WS #180 Splinternet: What Happens if "Network Sovereignty" Prevails

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:  Okay, everyone.  Let's have a seat.  Good morning, everyone.  My name is Marc Nelson.  I am the director for the Center for International Media Assistance in Washington D.C.  I am here representing a group of people who have come together in a really truly multi‑stakeholder way to talk about the future of the Internet.  We represent a group called the Open Internet for Democracy that is composed of the Center for International Media Assistance, the Center for International Media Assistance, actually the Center for International Private Enterprise, the Center for International Media Assistance and the National Democratic Institute.  I always screw these names up every time I say them.  Forgive me.  It is a group of people who come from different sectors to think about the issues that are involved in making the Internet a more open and participatory Internet and governance process that involves people from around the world.  And we are delighted that we have this opportunity to talk about this incredibly important topic today of the Internet splintering in to national pieces that undermine the very reason that the Internet Governance Forum was created in the first place.

As you know this whole Forum has been going for the last 14 years, that ‑‑ and trying to make the Internet an inclusive and participatory process of governance that values the open connected Internet that brings knowledge to isolated communities and helps the Internet reach the far corners of the earth.  It is a system that brought knowledge and helps reduce poverty and helps countries reach the information that they needed in order to develop and to thrive and to improve human progress.  Yet today that Internet and that vision of a Democratically controlled Internet through a multi‑stakeholder process is under attack and a growing number of countries is being attracted to an approach that would create an Internet that ends at national borders.  That becomes an instrument of social control and political suppression.

So today we are going to be hearing the stories of how that is happening across the world.  And we brought people from around the globe to talk about it.  We initially had a really very good gender balance on our panel, but the combination of no shows and visas really undermine that, but we do have some important voices in this panel and some important diversity in terms of geography but I wanted to point out that we tried very hard to have a really gender balanced panel.  And it ‑‑ we were ‑‑ we didn't ‑‑ we were stopped from that.

So I am sorry to report that.  I'm going to let our panelists start by introducing themselves and telling us where they are and the organizations that they represent and then we are going to have a conversation here at the front.  And we are going to involve the audience in that process.  Let's start here on my right, Ephraim Percy Kenyanito.  You can introduce yourself and tell us where you are from and who you represent.

>> EPHRAIM PERCY KENYANITO:  Hi everyone.  My name is Ephraim.  I work with Article 19.  We are a global organization which have done this for the last two years.  And I'm very excited to be here so that you can have this conversation to ensure that you have one united Internet across the world.  Thank you.

>> OLGA KYRYLIUK:  Good morning, everyone.  My name is Olga Kyryliuk, influence of platform.  We are working on the protection of digital rights and the promotion of the idea of equal opportunities, free and open Internet.  During the last year I was also Ambassador of the Southeastern European Dialogue on Internet Governance.  And since a few years I am a founding member of the Internet freedom network for Southeastern Europe and Urasian.

>> WALID AL‑SAQAF:  Hello.  Good morning.  My name is Walid Al‑Saqaf.  I am here representing being a scholar at media and journalism departments.  I bring expertise from the Global North and Global South.  My own interests are how the Internet allows Freedom of Expression and how means of stifling the Internet through censorship and other forms of repression can, in fact, limit the potentials of the Internet.

>> KUDA HOVE:  Good morning, everyone.  My name is Kuda Hove.  We work to promote media freedom in Zimbabwe and in the region with cooperation of our sister chapters in four other Southern African countries.  We started working on digital rights around 2015 in response to Government actions which sought to restrict Freedom of Expression and access to information in online environments.  And I am also here as a fellow of the joint open datas for a Democratic Internet program.

>> MODERATOR:  So just to give you a sense of the kind of work that we have been doing, we have a set of principles that have been worked out about the open Internet that you can pick a copy up on at our booth that is at station No. 50 down in the second part of the open area where the different stalls are located.  And we worked out the basic principles of what needs to happen and to keep the Internet open.  And you might want to pick up a copy of this because I think it is a useful and practical instrument to help understand what are the different components of that process.

So today we are going to be looking first at the threats that come from the splinternet that is emerging in the world today and the attractive ‑‑ the attractions that some countries are finding to the idea of closing down the Internet at its borders in order to control people.  And I'm going to start with Walid.  Just give us a sense of how you see this happening both in terms of the political arrangements that are taking place as well as the technical side of it.  Are we getting to the point where this is actually going to be possible as a reality on the ground and what does that mean exactly?

>> WALID AL‑SAQAF:  Thank you.  Let me start by saying that when the Internet came about, it was a rather disruptive technology.  Something that Governments are not used to.  Many didn't understand the decentralized nature of the Internet.  And so the centralized control of communications through the various national establishments had been used to the fact that you have a center node where you get ‑‑ provide permission to access the various means of communication.  But when the Internet came about, that disrupted this control.  And so the reaction was to try to have a catch‑up stage where Governments look in to ways in which okay, we have no technical control of how the Internet runs, but we at least have some regulatory, we can impose regulatory measures.

And so in many countries around the world including, for example, the Middle East where I come from, national Governments have control of the Internet service providers.  So in one way or the other whether private or public they have ultimate decision on whether they shut down the Internet, I mean in a particular geographical location, whether they censor it, impossible any throttling.  And we are a bit further away from the Arab Spring.  We very much recall what happened at the time.

So within borders you have the ability to control access.  The only thing that is a bit helpful in that there are more and more people that are aware of how one can say circumvent forms of censorship through using the very essence of the technical features.  Again came another wave of Governments reacting to this as well.  It is more to you have a stage where you have awareness of a new method and then you have the Government's taking a step further to try and to limit the possibility of using that method.  And I personally have gone through the experience of developing a circumvention software to help activists overcome censorship and others found a way to limit that access, blocking the ports of VPN entries.  They see this as an entitlement being extended from the fact they are the so‑called protectors of national security.

So unfortunately we have trends to see where we realize that this is going to continue.  And this cat and mouse chase will remain in place.  There is no real one solution how to deal with this but this was a good beginning to begin to discuss why is this happening and how can we resolve it.

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you.  I want to turn to Olga.  This area that we are working in here is one where we fall in the cracks between a system of global governance and the system of national controls and the Internet is ‑‑ has been devised to become a real public good at the global level yet we are struggling to figure out how to do this legally and procedurally.  And you have looked at the legal thing that goes behind the ideas of a multi‑stakeholder system that governs the Internet and how ‑‑ what is the role of the state and legal entities in that process.  Give us your thoughts about threats of breakdown in this Internet and how you see this from your scholarship.

>> OLGA KYRYLIUK:  Thank you.  It is not an easy question and there is no like clear answer to this kind of question.  But to be honest, I believe that the biggest problem is that from the very beginning there is the assumption that digital space is pure technological space and terms.  From this point of view it is supposed to be regulated only by technological standards.  And it has nothing to do with the law and legal regimes which is not true.  Because the digital space did not ‑‑ was not created in a vacuum.  It was already invited in to existing social structures and, of course, the states had a big role to play in regulating everything which is ‑‑ which has something to do with the sorting powers.  By no means we can say that the Internet or sovereignty are like some stable notions.  They are very dynamic ones.  Once the Internet was created the very nature of the sovereignty has been challenged and white space had with the flow of time to adapt to that.  And as Walid rightly mentioned that from the very beginning the states did not understand the value and very nature of the Internet regulated directly from the start.  That's why it took some time.

But now when the Governments understand the very value and those benefits and also those interests which the digital space has in itself.  They want to regulate.  But it also has its difficulties because digital space has borderless nature and very difficult to apply territorial laws in to regulating such a borderlessness phenomena.  At the same time the states do have the jurisdiction within their territory and it is right for them.  Whenever they try to put the laws they try to limit to those laws by the territory of their state because they extend their jurisdiction to the other states.  And the other side it is very complicated to agree on something at the international level.  It is a very costly process and we can say that the states have a unanimous approach.

>> MODERATOR:  You come from a country from Ukraine that's going through a massive transformation, asserting Democratic future.  Is the open nature of the Internet questioned in the power structure or by the people in Ukraine today?  Do they want to have this open system that connects them globally or is that an issue that is causing concern or discussion?

>> OLGA KYRYLIUK:  I would say the open nature is not questioned by the Government.  The restrictions they put in place for the sake to protect security that has been threatened by different number of external threats.  In our case it was when the restrictions were reduced back in mid 2017 we could not even imagine before that that something like that could happen in our country because the Ukraine was always a country of free and very affordable Internet.  And they have a lot of Internet service providers.  We have very cheap cost of the access to the Internet.  We have very multiple people know how to use the Internet and when the restrictions were put in place and it was already the society was divided within two different camps like those very concerned about national security and any justification that the Government was selling we need to restrict and we need ‑‑ you need to give up a part of your freedom just for the sake of the national security otherwise you are not a good citizen of your country.

And there were others who were telling and organization was among that part of the Civil Society, we were saying that, of course, national security matters, but when you start restricting in that case that was Freedom of Expression and ‑‑ you never know what the Government will stop because this is a very slippery slope.  It is very difficult to control what kind of free speech they control and when they would want to stop because then they would find another reason to not have augmentation for that.

>> MODERATOR:  Let's turn to what's going on in Zimbabwe and your experience in Southern Africa.  Africa has been seen recently to be implementing a variety of new ways of shutting down the Internet and stopping people from accessing and using this instrument.  And this seems to be a real threat to the progress that Africa has made over the past decades.  I mean we have had incredible development in Africa and real progress in some countries.  And you come from a country where these threats are really noticeable.  Tell us what you think the consequences of this splinternet will be for Zimbabwe and for other parts of Africa?

>> KUDA HOVE:  Thanks a lot.  I would like to start off with the fact that over the past decade we have seen an increase in the number of Africans specifically in the Southern African region that now have access to the Internet.  This is because of a range of factors, no cheaper to carry an entry level Smartphone, the use of social media bundles, the rise of technology such as the WhatsApp and Facebook.  And this also brought a threat because in the past countries such as Zimbabwe and other countries that are concerned or that have Governments that are concerned about what's happening in terms of free expression and access to information, are now seeing the rise of these cheap, affordable and widespread communication tools as a threat to their control of the Information Society within their countries.  So we most likely won't see the scale of a splinternet as we have seen in China and Russia, mainly because of things like resources and to a certain extent the know‑how how to actually, first of all, cut off the whole country from the global Internet as well as the resources to produce alternative versions of Facebook, Google and WhatsApp and all these popular tools that we are seeing being used now.

In Malawi and Zimbabwe we have seen Internet shutdowns and other controls around national events or events at a national scale that relate to political affairs such as elections in Zimbabwe, in Malawi in April as well as the social uprising in Zimbabwe in January which led to a six day Internet shutdown.  Those are sort of the ways that we are seeing Governments in that region sort of restrict what's happening in the Internet space.  They are not completely creating an alternative or parallel Internet but they are controlling what's happening on the global Internet by restricting information controls.  And they are also using policy.  Example of this in Zimbabwe where the current national ICT policy from 2016 to 2020 ‑‑ 2021, sorry, actually talks about Government's intention to shrink the number of international Internet gateways from 5 to 7 to 1 of and this one Internet gateway will most likely be controlled by government.  They are ‑‑ in a way that will give Government the power to switch it on and switch it off as per the need.

>> MODERATOR:  And that type of action is being used elsewhere around the world.  Article 19 you work, you have had specific examples of where this kind of policy has really reduced the ability of Civil Society to organize and to connect with each other during periods of crisis and during massive changes that are taking place in Africa.  You were talking about Burundi where you had some examples of how this manifested itself there.  Tell us a little bit about how you see this, the threat that ‑‑ of a splinternet in the work you do.

>> EPHRAIM PERCY KENYANITO:  Thank you.  Regarding this ‑‑ the gateways, international gateways, similar example is Uganda where this year in June the Government tried to reduce the number of IXPs and collapse them in to one.  That has its various risks and then the policy that was being drafted to support this move was drafted in a way that imposing interim liability on the IXPs and anyone operating them they would be able to be liable for content which is not the best practice when it comes to this.  So its kind of actions have led to people being scared of the Internet or being scared of using ICTs.  So basically just criminalization of ICT usage and making it risky to the work.  The specific example building on what Kuda mentioned for those who monitored the 2015 Burundi crisis there was attempts at disconnecting Burundi from the world because of the human rights violations and that ‑‑ those attempts in a way, for example, even ‑‑ there was first ‑‑ the first of the sign of Internet shutdown.  There was an Internet shutdown that disconnected the entire Burundi system from the Internet and Internet and SMS and other telecommunication services.

So in some of the risks that we see in that ‑‑ when this happens.  But in Africa where I have worked mostly, we don't see like alternative Internet being built or something like that.  It is more of a disconnecting from the global Internet.  But one example that happened recently, I don't know, I think it was in April or March, there was some suggestion from the Ugandan ICT Minister to come up with alternative Facebook for Ugandans.  So if ‑‑ this was after some conference between Africa and China Ministry of ICT officials.

So if this ‑‑ if we are building a Facebook for each country, Africa is 55 countries.  So 55 apps to communicate with all our friends in all those countries.  If you have friends across the countries.  It is just impractical if you want to keep global trade to ensure ‑‑ keep working the way they want to ‑‑ supposed to be working.  So there is also that question of influence from various places, whenever those ministerial multilateral meetings or bilateral meetings, some of them unfortunately have had bad influences on some of our countries which have less than 25% Internet connection.  So you can't be restricting the Internet for a country with just less than 25% connection.  (Inaudible) has 1% connection or Ethiopia which is opening up.  So it is working against bringing the people who are offline.  Africa has one billion people.  Most of them offline, around 70% of them offline.  How do we bring them online if we have these kind of policies which are not ‑‑ policies from certain parts of the world which are not opening up Africa for trade, or for work on Freedom of Expression and Human Rights.

>> MODERATOR:  That's a really good segway in to the next part of the conversation.  And as you point out this can really be a set of breaks on progress for the development of many parts of the world.  And it is the knowledge and connections that scientists and health workers and others get when through the Internet can ‑‑ if that slows down it could have a negative impact on international development and the progress of democracy.  At the same time there are real problems that are happening on cyberspace.  And there are real reasons that countries have to worry about the way that information and disinformation are moving in this space.  And there are legitimate reasons sometimes to think that we have to find ways that these systems, these communication systems, the Internet has Democratic controls that are ‑‑ that work and that are effective and that don't stop Freedom of Expression but allow the Internet to serve public interest.  So I'm ‑‑ I think we should turn now to thinking about what are some of the ways we might think about that and maybe I'll start with Kuda.  What is your thinking on how we might consider these ‑‑ this tension between the need for connectivity and the need for open systems and also some of the real problems that may be necessary to find ways to have Democratic oversight over how this Internet works.

>> KUDA HOVE:  I wish you had started with someone else first.  So from the work that we have done from the readings I have done, the issue that comes out is that it is less about states and big corporations looking for ways to approach or to solve or to address the threats that you identify.  I'm guessing you are talking about how, for example, it is so easy to spread messages of hate over the Internet now.  It is cheap.  It is affordable.  It is widespread.  But for me and the work that we have done is all democracy.  The ways that people are controlling and regulating the Internet right now is being done in a way to different Democratic processes.  Very few people are talking about how to secure the Internet against genuine legitimate cybercriminal activities or cybersecurity threats in that regard.  But look at the number of countries in Southern Africa that have been working on different cyber legislation.  We are talking about e‑transactions and e‑commerce legislation.  We are talking about cybersecurity and computer crime and to a certain extent data protection regulations.  Most of the cybersecurity and cyber laws that are being drafted and that have been shared are really meant to free expression and access to information and genuine Democratic participation.  I think that what we need is a platform where Governments can come together with Civil Society because if we just leave Governments to meet by themselves we probably would get a situation where they end up sharing the negative ways that they have managed to clamp down on free expression and access to information.

So we really ‑‑ we really need a platform that is more effective than the IGF because the IGF like you are saying this is the 14th edition, but we still every time we meet, so the next time we meet would probably be at a situation where the need for solutions is much more dire than this year.  So probably we need to revise the platform that brings together Civil Society and Government to bring about meaningful engagement.  In one sentence do I have a solution to this.  No, I do not have a solution.  But I think it is a solution that won't just come from one sector.  It won't come from the states or Governments but from several stakeholders coming together.

>> MODERATOR:  It is going back to this vision that started the IGF of a multi‑stakeholder governance system, but that it needs to be deepened and made more meaningful and stronger.  And there are definitely some proposals out there that do just that.  But it is a very important point.  I wonder Olga, do you have any thoughts on this question of what do we do and how do we manage this and how do we build ‑‑ how do we build political will to have such a system in the world where there are so many, you know ‑‑ also in a world that is increasingly moving towards authoritarianism and one that where a lot of countries really just want to control their populations from topdown.  How do we do that?

>> OLGA KYRYLIUK:  First of all, I think it is not only the authoritarian regimes that want to have standard and their control on the Internet but also the democracies which is very interesting because let's say these two different regimes would be using different sources under which they will be saving their regulation to their population but they will targeting the same goals.  I think it is high time to have the alignment of the ‑‑ of the legal framework that we have and the ‑‑ of the digital space.  Because so far we very often tend to oppose these two phenomena and to say they have nothing in common because cyberspace is developing in its own space and nothing to do with the regulation.  And I think that we need to make a choice that it is only because the Internet is interoperable.  And we have nothing like interoperability in the international law when we have ‑‑ and also lots of national jurisdictions.

So now we have to make a choice which either we realign the cyberspace along the territorial borders of national jurisdictions as it is happening now.  That's why we are talking about national authoritarianism or we have to work collectively and elaborate the international legal framework which would be regulating these different types of relationships which have ‑‑ which have ‑‑ which either are connected with cyberspace or have some element, digital element in them.  At the same time I don't think like I heard some panelists during this IGF we need more dialogue, more discussion.  I don't think we need more dialogue.  We have had a lot of dialogue.  We know all the challenges.  We put them again and again year after year.  But nothing changes.  We have to move to the stage where we move to the solutions and for this like 14 years ago there was a lot of illusion that multi‑stakeholders can change the world, that this model of governance can be proposed to the classical model of governance.

Now it is more about collaboration between two of these models because the states in themselves they have the normative power.  They have the law enforcement.  They can make the regulations being implemented and working.  At the same time the multi‑stakeholder community has the expertise and accumulated a lot of knowledge from different perspectives, from technical perspectives, from academic and Civil Society practice.  It has to be done altogether.  If there are concrete ideas, not just discussions that we leave the panelists with nothing, complete ideas that come up here at IGF.  And then they are brought back to the Governments.  But in some very much feasible deadlines and then those things are ‑‑ are being set up at the regulatory level.  Then there is a way that those regulations which have been adopted they make some sense and they correspond to the digital reality that we are living in.

>> MODERATOR:  That's really helpful.  Ephraim, do you want to say anything on this point?  Or Walid?

>> WALID AL‑SAQAF:  Very quickly I would like to say what we should not do instead of what we do.  We have what we call self‑governing institutions, IETF, Domain Name System, IP addresses, the distribution of that as well.  And so there are standards in place that make it function very well.  It is dangerous for Governments to intervene in the process.  It will cause a massive rupture of the network.  And not to forget the Internet itself has brought so much common good.  So there is a global comment that we all share on the Internet.  And there is also the private goods which countries can have through the Internet access services they provide.  Let's not mix them together, lump them as one.  The main value was the global comments.  So that's something if we remind over and over to the institutions that we like to impose what is called sovereignty on the net or the cyber sphere would be very valuable for us to remind.

>> MODERATOR:  That's really helpful.  And it is kind of a positive and hopeful outlook that you both have outlined, all three have outlined.  That we know a lot.  We have a really important asset that we need to maintain and protect.  And that we have the expertise and people to do it.  So there is a ‑‑ there is a hope for this point of view.  It is nice in this world we live in right now to have some ideas of hope.  We have a first question here.  Can you introduce yourself?

>> Absolutely.  Hello.  Good morning.  My name is Max and I work for Google.  I want to react to Olga's observation and it is time to evolve the system.  And I am back to understand you in that direction.  It is not working you said.  I don't think it is not working.  In fact, I think it is the worst system that we ever have except all others.  So it is close to democracy and other means of governance, that they are not perfect, but I do think that you touch on a very important point and that there is a growing pain that we all feel that we need to get to solutions and that we need to get to the next generation of Internet Governance and along those lines I wanted to propose that this topic in particular which seems to have a very strong side against and momentum is worthy of a Dynamic Coalition to organize the work on a more continuous basis than to just check in every year.

Having said that I do think that the role of the IGF is to set the agenda to frame the issues in a way so that we can meet after this session and say okay, what do we actually do.  So I encourage that those who are interested to actually do something gather in the ‑‑ on the side of the panel to see what we can do and then to monitor what is going on and that was also something that I think is happening in a decentralized manner but could be much more organized than the contract for the Web is, in fact, a nice instrument to connect a good bunch of metrics and measurements and monitoring around.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR:  Washek, please.

>> Thank you.  Thank you.  Andrew Kempling for 1‑9 consulting.  To give a different perspective, I contend at the moment so‑called global Internet is largely dominated by U.S. cultures norms and standards, and dare I say U.S. centered companies.  And it doesn't affect the different values elsewhere.  So, for example, in Europe with a much stronger preference to data privacy, compared to the U.S.  And so I would argue if it continues as is, so‑called splinternet is both inevitable and necessary.  Otherwise, we continue down the path of increase the centralization and all pervasive corporate surveillance which I think is hugely damaging for democracy and other values.  The alternative to give a more positive spin on it though is that you need much more international political and policy input in to setting things like Internet standards.

So the discussions this week are fantastic.  But most of the stakeholders here weren't present in Singapore last week when the IGF met.  Now they set the technical standards but behind that makes its own decisions on policy.  What would be a far greater ‑‑ to have IGF assert itself as the client that directed the requirements on to bodies like the IETF rather than the IETF acting in isolation and making decisions that overcome the preferences of Democrats.

>> MODERATOR:  Thanks.  Let's move over here and we have two.  We will take the next two.

>> Good morning, everyone.  I'm from the ‑‑ I'm the executive director of Internet and jurisdiction policy network.  Two comments quickly.  One, whenever we talk about splinternet fragmentation and things like that we need to really, really make the distinction between the layers.  What Walid was talking about in terms of governance that functions, IETF and that's governance for the Internet.  What people do with the Internet is a completely open space.  And this is where the challenge is.  Spreading of gateways is tampering with the architecture.  And we have to take in to account whether this is diminishing the resilience.  It is an architectural question.  The structuring of the cyberspace of application let's be honest there is an enormous structuring of cyberspace of applications.  When you see the fight between the content providers who are setting up the Apple plus and Hulu and the Netflix and so on and they have their own programming, it is a structuring.  Is it a good structuring?  Not a good structuring?  You have applications on Android that do not exist on an Apple app store.  These are also structuring things.  What we are talking about and the real challenge for Internet governance forum is the legal structure.  What are the rules.  What is the respective responsibilities of private entities, Governments, et cetera.

And yeah, I want to piggyback on a second point of what Olga was saying which resonates tremendously with what we do.  The alternative is indeed do we take cyberspace and reimpose the exact territorial boundaries of legislations on a structure that's fundamentally cross‑border or do we go and very happy that you use the term, what's legal interoperability.  And I want to make a distinction here just like we have technical standards we need policy standards but we need something more.  We need standards policy making which is a different layer.  It is the architectural approach.  At the moment we are moving from techno fora to techno doom where everything is going wrong.  Having thought the Internet was going to change the world, just like actually people were saying about the telegraph in the Victorian Internet for those of you who have read the book.

We are now seeing a flurry of initiatives for setting rules and I'm purposefully not using the world regulation because the private sector and Governments are setting some rules.  But because they are not coordinated we are actually increasing the conflict of laws and the potential tensions so that challenges that we move in the direction of understanding that this is an institutional question and how do we go towards legal interoperability is the real good question I think that we should address.

>> MODERATOR:  Very, very helpful comment.  Thank you very much.  And we have ‑‑

>> All right.  Thank you.  My name is Tobag from Zimbabwe and I would like to say that the way I see it is that technology is moving at a very fast and accelerated rate, more than way African countries are developing with respect to respect itself Human Rights.  You find that where the paranoia is coming from within the African continent it is coming from the fact that African Governments cannot stand the citizens enjoying Human Rights like friends freedom of Assembly and Association.  You find within the context when going to be a planned demonstration it can be on the WhatsApp or a treat and a bell fire and you have people that are gathering and things like that and that African Governments cannot stand that.  So you find that even as much as we are discussing the issue of the Internet the issue is we need to go back to the issue of how are Human Rights being respected within the contents of African countries.

Once we have been able to go backwards and step back, not as fast as the rate at which the Internet is developing and technologies developing, we can be able to really troubleshoot and have a much more effective discussion on how to actually promote an open Internet.  So yeah.

>> MODERATOR:  Very useful comment.  Do I have anybody on the panel that would like to respond to any comments that have been made so far?

>> KUDA HOVE:  Just a brief comment on the second comment received about the thank you for spinning around the argument about the splinternet.  It is really useful.  Inasmuch as the Internet is developed by an American corporation and exported to the rest of the world, the rest of the world has done what it could to make that American export very much a piece of their own thing.  Look at the content that comes from Africa, for example, is very much about what's happening in Africa.  So I think it becomes a slippery slope if we say we need regional Internets or things ‑‑ we definitely do need content that comes from each region that speaks to the audiences there.  But then to say that we need it at a structural level that might be a bit tricky.  I think the content justifies how we are using this American export.

>> MODERATOR:  Walid.

>> WALID AL‑SAQAF:  Yes.  In reference to the notion of the layers and not to touch the bottom two layers let's say, the network layer and physical link layer, the problem here is that in some instances the top layers where you have the protocol and the application layers, these are beginning now to change so rapidly and so drastically for some countries to the degree that it is almost simple to shut down the Internet and keep it within bound.  This is ‑‑ a typical example is China, for example, where you have the way they do and others that are very already well ‑‑ nationalized to a degree that any single member who is, you know, posting or reading can actually be more or less surveilled.  And so the thing is that if we totally abandon the idea of the risk that happens in the long run and think okay, everything will be okay, I mean ‑‑ since the technology works fine, then we wake up one day and realize oh, we no longer have any layers.  It is now all becoming more and more nationalized.  It is not a distant possibility.  If we look in to solving the top ‑‑ problems of the top two layers then we can slowly begin to show the case that the ‑‑ there is much more say to get or to gain from being a globally connected network than it is to become a sovereign cyber network.  So looking at them in a more let's say combined ways is always good for the sake of the future.

>> EPHRAIM PERCY KENYANITO:  We have had this conversation before about the layers.  And just to build on what Walid is saying about the different layers, the problem being the top layer, actually content, legal interoperability, then harmonization because various countries have different legal and social histories.  So we can't say harmonization, interoperability.

On the issue about the infrastructure layer, that's where now we think ‑‑ I think we need to fight more together in a multi‑stakeholder manner that we ensure that we remain united because the main ‑‑ the better our companies operate the better our work as Human Rights defenders as Governments is in terms of coordination.  So that's something which I am just trying to spark a conversation on our previous conversation we had recently.

>> Just two finger.  I didn't mean that one should be prioritized over the other.  You are absolutely right, the two should be continuing.  And the second comment I want to reiterate something that's extremely important is legal interoperability is not harmonization.  It is not harmonization.  It is precisely the opposite of harmonization.  And the bottom line we need to do for a set of Government's frameworks, public/private to make them interoperable, what the protocols for the Internet and World Wide Web did to create the Internet and World Wide Web, TC/IP enabled heterogenous networks enabled, databases and information structures to be interoperable.  We need protocols for interoperability in governance systems.


>> Thank you for a very interesting talk.  My name is Veronica Teal.  Really interesting things coming up, first of all, the notion that the Internet is self‑governing on a level, ddog.org company is being sold off and ICANN somehow lifting the price restrictions for dot org remains.  This is very much driven by an American or liberal for profit motive and we haven't sorted that.  But coming to something that Olga said about, you know, not only authoritarian Governments using these kinds of measures, for me the question is is there a way or even legitimate to say we can shut down certain parts of the Internet in case of national emergency, and abuse example, in 2011 when I was living in London, the Government shut down the Internet.  But on the other harnd you can argue yesterday after discussion around spread of misinformation yesterday afternoon, there was somebody from Kenya I think who said the spread of rumors so malicious that we have to do something about it.  Is there a way that we can use criminal law ‑‑ you could argue criminal association via network messaging like happened in the riots in London or ‑‑ what kind of measures can we take that ensures we keep the balance between freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and expressions and so on and so forth while shutting down threatening movements that use the Internet.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR:  Good question.  Do we have one more?

>> Yeah.

>> MODERATOR:  Where did that come from?  Oh, yes.  Let's go down there first.

>> Thank you.  I'm a lawyer from Brazil.  And I thought it was very interesting a comment by Olga that she highlighted between the difference of Government, that they all use a web use legal instruments to spin the Internet.  So my question for all the panelists would be how is ‑‑ how does suspension works.  In terms of legal aspects, because in Brazil we also had some suspended services for not compliant judicial order because of encrypted messages they were not ‑‑ they were not given to the law enforcement and then the judiciary suspended an application.  So my question would be how is this division between the digital ‑‑ executive and judiciary when they suspend the Internet services.

>> MODERATOR:  One more.

>> First of all, I really like to make a point that this matter is really different on where you come from.  So I appreciate the point of view of the African people here and why there is like that from the European viewpoint, I think it is exactly the opposite.  The pressure in Europe to restore some kind of national sovereignty is exactly because we feel like we have been losing democracy because of the fact that several things are now decided by American companies outside of any reach of our Democratic institutions.  And actually ‑‑ I was in another panel in which there was ‑‑ this person counting the fact that an African immigrant in Germany was being harassed because of a picture posted on Facebook and nobody could take it off.  And no one has a say in Europe on Facebook's community standards.  But I think we as ‑‑ we as an Internet community we have been involved in this, we have had 15 years to get to here and we failed.  Now it is why outside pressure on the Internet community to do something and I don't think we have time to wait for another international solution.

>> MODERATOR:  Okay.  Thank you.  I'm going to let the panel respond quickly.  Start with Olga since the questions were directed to you.

>> OLGA KYRYLIUK:  Quickly about the shutdowns, I don't think the shutdowns are right.  Countries are not ‑‑ are not really everything is going smoothly.  That's why when you shut down completely the network you might have a very good target as the Government.  You might want to stop spreading the hate speech or like to stop people who are involved in the terrorist activities talking to each other, who might be in danger in this same situation and also lose maybe last hope of how they can connect to each other, how they can communicate that they are safe or maybe even this type of communication could save somebody's life.  That's why I don't think it is an option, even the blocking is not an option because for that case you will always find the circumvention tools and that just makes ‑‑ in many cases makes the population much more ‑‑ posing it much more on the opposite end to the Government and makes them even like more angry with what they can expect from the Government.  There is no trust.  There should be trust between the Government who is supposed to represent the citizens and the citizens who could expand the proper level of protection.

On the question about the ‑‑ how it is from the executive and judicial point of view, I mean the state is the state.  Whatever laws and rules it puts in the play between their country they have to be observed.  That's why this is happening and it is good at least when this is happening in the court and not by executive decision.  Because at least when there is a court you have some hope this is going to be happening in a more legitimate way than by executive order.

>> WALID AL‑SAQAF:  Just to say that it is necessary for us to understand that the cyberspace sovereignty is in my opinion not possible.  Not possible because of the reasons stated below.  So what is necessary is for states to be seen as a stakeholder in this process for a global good that would allow both the user and the state to both be represented.  And there are different models to do that.  And this is the IGF in itself is one model where ‑‑ there is no easy solutions but to consider it as a state responsibility only is a very dangerous precedent.

>> EPHRAIM PERCY KENYANITO:  So just on the content issue, I would propose on the issue about legal interoperability, use of mutual agreement.  Unless the system works when it comes to other criminal issues or other issues that are not criminal, extra digs and stuff like that.  If someone does a crime and is hiding in a country that is in the system, that works.  Why it would not work in the global Digital Age is something we need to use more when it comes to the content issue.  But then when it comes to the infrastructure issue, I will ‑‑ my previous comments stand.  Thank you.

>> KUDA HOVE:  I really don't have anything in the way of closing remarks besides what I have said and what has been well shared by the other panelists.  Thank you for letting me be here.

>> MODERATOR:  Two of our panelists are part of Open Internet leaders that we set up, Olga and Kuda.  It shows there are leaders from all over the world that can participate in this debate, that come to IGF that are a part of this process that get their perspectives in and who can learn from each other about how to manage these very complex issues.  And we want to try to expand that community of people because their voices can really help change the way this Internet is governed.  We all I think recognize that it is not ideal at the current time.  And we need to find ways to improve this system and make it work for humanity.  And that's what we have been trying to work on here.  And I really thank the time you have spent with us.  We hope you can continue the conversation afterwards and do visit the booth to copy the principles and to learn about the work we have been doing.  Thank you so much for coming.