The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. 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, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> LUIS BOBO: So good morning to everybody. I guess this is our Dynamic Coalition on net neutrality.
My name is Luca Belli with the FGV Law School in Brazil.
I work with a group of friends discussing net neutrality and openness issues.
Let me introduce some of the participants to today's section before I share a little bit of introduction about how we are going to organize this session and why we organized this.
First of all, we were supposed to have Laure de La Raudière, but she could not participate, unfortunately.
We are very lucky to have other guests here, including Frode Sorensen from the Norwegian Communications, and the director of open‑net Korea and professor at the School of Law.
Then we'll have Chris Marsden, also old friends from the University of Sussex.
Ian Brown, also very old friend from the CyberBRICS project.
And Natalia Foditsch is here, now the senior specialist for the Alliance For Affordable Internet that is a global coalition. She's a Brazilian lawyer as well.
Welcome to everyone. Thank you very much for being with us today.
Now, before we give the floor to the regulators, I would like to spend a couple of words to introduce this session and why we are organizing it. For those who have been with us over the past years and especially last year during these ‑‑ well, the beginning of this quite annoying pandemic that is obliging us to have Zoom meetings or hybrid meetings that ends up being a Zoom meeting, last year, at the meeting, we really discussed ‑‑ we expanded our vision of Internet openness and net neutrality and expressed the need to have a more multifaceted, a more open debate about Internet openness.
Going beyond net neutrality and starting to understand some other key features of openness, like device neutrality, like interpretability, the fundamental role that interpretability plays in the larger Internet openness debate.
So this does not mean that classic net neutrality issues like discriminatory traffic management are becoming obsolete. We're realizing that net neutrality components are essential for meaningful connectivity.
I'm sure Natalia will speak about this.
But net neutrality alone is not enough to grant Internet openness. That is something under everyone's perspective, and we have witnessed also the recent emergence of very heated net neutrality debates that still make us understand it's very important but not enough. We've seen things about net neutrality. We've seen things like South Korea, one of the operators, there's too much bandwidth that was utilized to streamline this thriller that became a hit in parts of the world, and it was an expected reason of net neutrality debate.
Net neutrality is sufficient by not sufficient. It's not sufficient for Internet openness.
We realize it. Even as very strong advocate, I'm the first one, being frank about this, we have to understand the Internet access layer where there may be serious redaction limitations and some interesting works at the European level about this pioneering work. Boris may mention about a report about device neutrality, an interesting one I suggest you read. It was mentioned that in other segments of the Internet, in the operative system layer, the APIs, the level of app stores, there may be some serious limits that cannot be coped with.
It's also been reiterated by the body of European (?). This is a very strong discussion that led to the introduction of some concrete policy proposals like the digital market acts. It has been debated and probably voted next week, maybe, if I'm not mistaken. So here is a very brief introduction to let you understand that the Internet openness is a very complex issue. Things are not sufficient.
Over the past weeks, we've been discussing the deliberation, an open statement on Internet openness that you can find if you click in the description of this session or use the mini-URL, if you put this into your browser, you will find the draft and be able to share all of your comments.
Without further ado, as I'm speaking too much, as usual, let me introduce the first speaker of today's session.
Boris Gartner, thank you for being with us. The floor is yours.
>> Boris Gartner: Thank you for allowing me to be here. Hopefully, Laure de La Raudière will be able to speak next time. I will convey the message in the best possible way.
For those who never came across our literature, it's the French regulator for electronic communications. As such, we have been in charge with the implementation of the European Open (?) For five years now. There's quite some experience on the field, and we already had the opportunity to present some of the actions in these coalitions.
Thank you again for having us.
At the same time as network neutrality seems framed, at least in Europe, it's a clear‑cut topic. We have always been interested to see if Internet openness, in a wider sense, was respected because, I mean, what is the point in having neutral networks if the rest of the value chain is completely biased? Of course, that's the starting point of our analyses.
It's really important for us to understand how the signal between the end user and content provider is separating into where the possible barriers and bottlenecks are in that passage full of various Internet areas.
We define openness as the ability to make valuable content or the information of its choice through the Internet access. Keep in mind that the end user can be a consumer. It's also possibly a professional. It's always in the two sense for us.
So starting from this, we see clear power between the elements we have tried to put forward in the past years and to the statement of the Dynamic Coalition when you say that the preservation of the Internet openness relies on device neutrality. That's also a conception that we share.
To say a few words on device neutrality, as you've already presented, we're really interested in the topic early on. So we started in 2017, a large report on the openness of commitments, which was published in 2018. You can go and read it, if you want.
So it came after every possible stakeholder in the Internet ecosystem, and it has some interesting values because we tried to show that there were really limitations both in terms of consumer experience but also limitations for online service providers, developers of apps, websites. They all had stories of limitations that they contributed to and they tried to encompass how to deliver a service on a given terminal.
I could give you various examples. There's a problem, for some, with the fact that there are no alternative marketplaces, no side loadings, that you're always to respect some kind of procedure of the OS provider. You are sometimes bound to specific standards for native applications that you want your services to be available on certain terminals. Of you also have equal implementation of open web standards. So there are standards you commonly find on a web page when you want to go to it with a browser.
On some terminals, it's not implemented. Why? We don't know. So you always have specific reasons to adapt your content and your service to terminal equipment. Then, of course, it's a terminal that has a huge market share, then you are a bit forced into some kind of way of providing your service.
We'll try to make clear how service providers and customers are linked to our certain experiences and what impact it has on the market.
We also tried to advocate for different levels of public intervention to solve these problems. So far, we have not made a huge progress, unfortunately. Really, there are a whole different levels of potential. You can start with provisions on more transparency, on more terms and conditions of marketplaces of OS. Then you can go into maybe more concrete, more structural remedies like entering the openness of all the APIs that make an equal system. There are other preventions, and we hoped by that time the legislators would pick some to make this issue progress. So far, it's not been a huge success.
Besides this work that was carried out in France, we also advocate at a European level. So we are also working with Eric, which is the Board of European Regulators, and we are currently in the process of drafting our report that is called the report on Internet Ecosystems in which we're trying to incorporate more intermediaries. So we're not stopping only on the device, but we're trying to encompass other players in the value chain, like cloud service providers, interconnection transit providers, different platforms.
We really, really hope that this report will be enlightening for the reader and especially the legislator. It will be open for consultation by June of 2022. We encourage all of you to participate because the public demonstration we carry out are open to everybody.
On such global issues, we really think that the responses from people outside the realm are also very, very valuable.
Please keep in touch and see when the document is up for consultation. You're really welcome to participate.
We have also been involved with the GMA, which is also a really important milestone in this whole topic of platform regulation. I won't speak too much on it because I know Ian Brown will be specifically talking of this. There are two plans which are important to us because the term here today is interoperability. There are provisions that have been discussed on the possible interoperability of messaging services and cloud services. This is possibly a big move forward, and we've looked for remedies. We still don't really know what is going to be the final version, but we really hope there will be progress on those items.
And the last‑but‑not‑least item we wanted to talk about is the topic of disseminating of information.
It's really important for us that on the issues at stake, the (?) Have access to experts, notably in the form of a high‑level group proposed in the GMA that got us all the regulators that are engaged on the digital sector and we really hope that in this way, we will be kept onboard with the decision-making in that field. I think this message is also making sense in a wider perspective because yet it's the very reason we're here today.
I think the regulation of platforms is a really complex story, and we have to gather information and to gather experts, academics, regulators as much as possible on these topics to exchanges.
So that would be my conclusion for today. I will have questions on the DMA or the work on device neutrality.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you very much for this, Boris. This was a good start to the session.
I know Frode has been involved in the work over the past years on multiple different levels. So no one better than him can provide us a better overview of how this conception of Internet openness as an expanding issue that goes beyond net neutrality and requires something else to be really effectively enforced has been something enforced at the level and ended up with the proposal of the DMA.
Please, Frode, the floor is yours.
>> FRODE SORENSEN: Thank you, Luca.
Thanks, Boris, for the view.
I will try to share some slides. It says it's disabled. Sit possible to enable it? Otherwise, I can speak, of course, without slides.
>> LUCA BELLI: Can the technical support quickly enable Frode's ability to share slides?
>> FRODE SORENSEN: Okay. I can manage without, of course.
It's a well‑known fact that the Internet is taking over as the most‑used electronic telecommunication service. When we use catch words like digital communications, cloud‑like services ‑‑
>> LUCA BELLI: You are now co‑host. If you want, you can ‑‑
>> FRODE SORENSEN: I can do this.
>> LUCA BELLI: Sorry for the slight technical problem. We can see that you're sharing the slides.
>> FRODE SORENSEN: You can see the front page.
>> LUCA BELLI: We can see you've started sharing. And now we see the slide.
>> FRODE SORENSEN: Thank you very much.
When we use catch words like digital communications, cloud‑like services, and cloud computing, all of these refer to Internet communications.
Also, when we speak about mobile networks, such as 4G and 5G, these are mostly used to access the Internet. Almost every app we have on our mobile phone is communicating can a server on the Internet, similarly to the web browser.
In Europe and in some other parts of the world, the open Internet is safeguarded by regulation and we must be provided access to the Internet, which we fully control ourselves.
When we access the Internet, we run applications on our devices which communicate with service on the Internet. Today, many applications use web standards which, in principle, provide us with a working shell over the Internet.
However, some websites have become so dominating that people almost cannot live without them. We're drawn towards them by network effects since we want to be where everyone else is.
One such example is a social network service of Facebook, and an environment typically accessed the Internet through apps. We use Google, Android, IOS.
The majority of uses relies on the access to the Internet.
Do the role of big platforms need to ask is can we leave it to these platforms to control how we use the Internet?
There is a need for people to reclaim the control of the access of the Internet, for example, through democratic institutions we have established.
Today, we can see a clear shift in the access to electronic communications. It started with the regulation introduced in 2015. Today, all lawmakers in Brussels are penciling out the Digital Services Act. It suggests regulating providers. The regulation is asymmetric to maintain where providers have are different duties.
It's suggest ed that gatekeepers could be designated in different areas, such as search engines, operating systems, and app stores.
Thereby, the digital markets (?) To some extent. In particular, operating systems are key to the use of mobile phones. We could refer to this as vertical interpretability when apps can access resources and run on the underlying operating systems.
When the user wants to provide services to end users, it must adhere to the rules of the operating system whereby end users can run the apps you want.
This allows business users to compete on the underlying platform and during intraplatform competition.
On the other hand, if a challenger wants to provide a competing platform to an existing gatekeeper platform, this is basically impossible without connecting with users of the existing platform.
If an existing platform allows such Internet access, platforms can grow.
This is, in principle, the same way things were in the telecom world years ago. With interoperability, challengers could gain shares, and providers could be chosen independent of the providers.
So, in conclusion, in my understanding, these are two major elements of the open Internet to net zero. On the one hand, vertical interoperability facilitating free choice of apps with device neutrality and horizontal interoperability, challenging platforms to enter the market.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you very much, Frode. This is extremely useful. It really allows us to understand very well how the discussion on Internet openness is evolving but, also, these two key dimension of interoperability.
Speaking of which, I think no one better than Ian Brown that has been dedicating several years exploring this topic to tell us what is the core of interoperability, how this has been playing out into the recent proposals.
I know Ian is here with us with the CyberBRICS project. He's very knowledgeable of European developments.
So, please, Ian, the floor is yours.
>> IAN BROWN: Thank you, Luca. I do also need to be able to share my screen, which I did message the IGF about.
Can you see my slides okay? You have the pointer up?
>> LUCA BELLI: Yes.
>> IAN BROWN: I was looking at my various screens.
I will be brief. Frode has covered some of the points I was going to make.
For those of you not sort of following the more technical arguments, I'm going to talk here more about the sort of higher‑level economic and political and social arguments behind interoperability. Very straightforwardly, if Frode's diagram was too detailed for you, here it is in a more straightforward terms.
The idea that the EU is talking about, as draft legislation in the U.S. is talking about, as other jurisdictions are discussing, the idea would be to require the very largest platforms, the gatekeepers, as they're called in the EU's Digital Markets Act, like Facebook and Alphabet, it's YouTube and Google search engines and so on, to open up their platforms to competitors, whether that's by open APIs, open program interfaces, whether that's by standards communications proposals of the kind that the standards bodies like the Internet Engineering Task Force, the worldwide web produced, this would enable competitors to social media services, to search engines, and to other instant messaging platforms in particular, which, right now, as Frode said, is very difficult for new entrance to come into those digital markets because there is a single, extraordinarily dominant incumbent in place.
If you want to create a new social media service ‑‑ Google tried several times, you may recall. If you want to create a new search engine as the scale of Google, as Microsoft has tried, as you may recall, Bing only has two or three percent of the search market in European countries, it's extremely hard to overcome the network effects, the benefit the incumbent has of already having billions of monthly active users. As Facebook does with social media and Google was the research.
If you look at the percentage of the market for social media and for search and other various digital services, certainly in the European Union states, which I know best, it's in the 90‑something percent for Google in search. It's in the 80‑something‑percent‑plus for Facebook in many European countries for social media services.
So the idea that this little diagram on the top left is to say, okay, the very largest platforms would be required to let new competitors not only from start‑ups and SMEs but, also, if very large competitors ‑‑ say that the big former teleco monopolies that are still with a lot of market power in Europe wanted to create searches or move into social media, they would be able do that.
Many of you might have seen this in place already in what is called open banking. Many countries now ‑‑ the UK was one of the leading examples. Brazil is another example. Many countries are doing this. Europe has partly done it with its payment services directive, requiring banks to open up their services. That has enabled a lot of small FinTech companies, financial services companies, to ‑‑ in the UK, example, there are hundreds of these small businesses now that have actually grown very rapidly. Some of them are already unicorns. They're already worth billions of pounds or euros by being able to allow people to connect their existing bank account, service account, to a service from another company.
So, from a policy perspective, mentioned these network effects. The idea of inquiring interoperability, you facilitate competition. So you, hopefully, enable entry and expansion of new services into these large digital marketplaces. You give people a genuine choice of which service they would like to use rather than everything, to a large degree, depending on the side of the large base.
There have been a number of major digital competition reviews for the EU, for European countries, done by universities. The one quoted from was from a very large U.S. digital competition review in 2019, the Stigler Committee. They all said very similar things. They all highlighted interoperability as a key way to open up these digital markets.
As Frode said, these are things other markets have done for years other than Telecom. This is something that's worked well in telecom markets.
There's social and economic benefits from requirements.
This could be things like media pluralism and diversity. If you give people a choice of the recommended systems they use in social media services, in video sharing services, you would hopefully see a recommended systems emerge letting people focus on a freedom of expression or around particular faith communities, different values that people have around freedom of expression, you could have a lot of different communities making use of different recommended services rather than to a large extent everyone being reliant on Facebook and YouTube's recommended engines.
This is an interesting way alongside the digital services act approach that was recommended on regulating what players like Facebook and YouTube do in terms of content regulation, it gives people a meaningful choice over what type of content mediation they want to see applied to their services.
Interoperability could ask systems that are increasingly used for social structure ‑‑ so, for example, for schools to communicate with parents, it happens very frequently these days. Surely, parents should have a choice. They need to hear from their child's school about what homework their children have got or if the school is opening next week, due to COVID or bath weather ‑‑ bad weather, so on. Surely, they should have a competitor system to do that. They should haven't to agree to Facebook's terms and conditions regarding privacy and profiling and things like that.
I think that's a big advantage of interoperability for people who are very sensitive on privacy. We saw WhatsApp changing its terms and conditions, and people said, Well, I don't like this. I'm going to move to Signal.
I think what got less coverage is many of them actually moved back because they found that while Signal is great, you can't communicate to everyone that are only using WhatsApp.
So that's not a meaningful choice today, but with interoperability providers, that would give people more choices in what they use with their privacy policies.
One role is the environmental impact and the Internet of Things devices. If you are using non‑interoperable smart home devices ‑‑ say you have a Nest item, but you're limited to what other devices you can buy to communicate with that device, and if you want to switch to a different smart home controller, you may have to throw away your existing hardware if you want your smart home controller to still be able to control the light switches in your various rooms around your house, for example.
And the Green Party in the European Parliament just released a report on this.
Finally, a big topic in Europe and elsewhere, digital sovereignty. Should it be the case that countries ‑‑ you're all very familiar today with the fact that the very large platforms that Frode and I have highlighted, Facebook, Alphabet's platform, and similarly in China, the platforms that have a billion‑plus active users monthly in China and in other countries, should it be the case that all of the countries in the world except the U.S. and China are really going to be really reliant on that software in the future as infrastructure and how the U.S. Government and the Chinese government chooses to regulate their services or from a digital sovereignty perspective, would it not be a better idea that actually there was a meaningful opportunity for European Brazil, Indian, and other businesses to create competitive platforms to these big, dominant digital platforms of today.
So I won't say too much very specifically at this point about the legislation Frode mentioned and Boris already mentioned, the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act which the European Parliament is coming to the end stages of amending.
Next year, they will have to agree with the member EU state governments, but, briefly, there are a number of clauses in those two pieces of legislation that address interoperability requirements. One is quite general, and civil society has been pushing to make it even more general and has made some progress with the European Parliament, so the European Parliament is talking about extending this to cover social media and instant messaging.
The Digital Services Act that has been proposed includes a very specific section about recommended sectors. Civil society has not persuaded the European Parliament to put a requirement in there, but I think it will make a lot of sense. We'll have to see if, in the final stages of debate, civil society can achieve that.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you very much, Ian, for the really excellent presentation, as usual, highlighting really what are the key concerns we have in this moment.
Before opening the floor for some brief comments, if we have comments or questions from the audience or other panelists, before we get into the second segment of this session, I would just like to take advantage of what you said to make a quick comment that really allows us to talk about how complex, multidimensional, and multifaceted is this interoperability discussion and how the various layers I was mentioning before, the key importance of net neutrality, the operation layer with the key importance of interoperability and the other remedies to avoid restrictions, how these interplay continuously.
This exodus of users was possible only where in those countries where WhatsApp is not one of the few (?) Services. This brings us back to netter neutrality. In India, where there is strong net neutrality, there was this exodus. People voted. They didn't like a service. They chose another one because they could have the other one under the same conditions.
In other countries, this was not possible. Even if people didn't like the new conditions, they could not say, I don't like the conditions. I will choose a competitor.
So competition was not working in the lack of strong implementation because people could not move to a competing service, even if they wanted.
And then, even if they wanted and had the possibility, as it happened in India, then there is the second problem, not only the financial cost of paying for a service but also the transaction cost, the enormous transaction cost of being interoperable.
Even if you go to another service, your contact graph, your list of contacts, is in the previous one, and you cannot intercommunicate. What is very frustrating is in many countries, including Europe ‑‑ or Brazil, that's a right to data portability. To export these contents, import them into another service, it only exists on paper. It doesn't exist in practice. So it's even more frustrating because it is legally everything is in place. Everything could facilitate this.
As you know, Ian, I'm writing about this in a paper that I will publish in February, but everything is in place. It's a very timid, shy implementation and enforcement, what already exists?
I see there's some conversation on the chat. There is a question by KS.
KS, would you like to share this question live? Can we have an open five minutes of this and then go back to the second segment?
>> CHRIS MARSDEN: Luca, I'm going to talk about that. It may provide an answer there.
>> LUCA BELLI: Let's do this.
Let's have Chris' intervention and then get to the question, and we'll go on with the section.
I assume you're going to provide an answer.
>> CHRIS MARSDEN: Well, I'm going to provide the academic answer which is almost an answer but not quite.
So can I do my seven or eight minutes now, Luca?
>> LUCA BELLI: Yes, and the participants can think of questions to have five minutes of debate. Then we'll get back to the presentations, and then we'll have more debate at the end.
>> CHRIS MARSDEN: I'm going to be the ogre in the room and talk about net neutrality.
It goes back to the arguments in the first meeting of the Dynamic Coalition eight years ago. So this is, I guess, the ninth meeting, eight years later. The fact is we talked about net neutrality that was needed. One was effectively telling telecos not to be evil, not to block Skype, not to block Netflix and so on, which was a big concern back in 2012 and 2013. We had a lot of problems with blocking of WhatsApp and Skype, and Netflix had its big debate with Comcast.
We knew there was an attempt to make particularly high‑definition video providers pay for high‑speed lanes. In a way, it's gone away a little bit quietly, but it turns out that it's really emerged. I think KS's question is about the reemergence of the ogre in trying to force the players to pay up to be in the fast lanes going forwards.
Let's talk a little bit about that. I'm going the share a presentation with you, by the way.
By the way, this is a book we talked about. Remember the book in 2010, the net neutrality ‑‑ well, it's nice for an academic. It's terrible for Internet users.
So I'm going to fish for the presentation. Then I'm going to reshare my screen. Hopefully, you can see this now.
Why do we really think net neutrality is being enforced?
The fact is that most regulators hate enforcing it. They do almost anything to avoid collecting evidence and are shamed by Norway and France and a couple of other countries that are actually enforcing it.
I still see economic papers saying what a terrible influence it's been on investment from the net neutrality regulation, as if the moment you introduce it in 2015, that massively affects the way that investment is flown to fiber networks, which is really not the case.
So I still see these papers being produced.
Beyond that, I think we also have a big issue, which is that there wasn't a problem to reform. The problem was to enforce properly. So I was an advisory to the 2019 study by Byrd and Byrd. It was the study by the open Internet regulation to actually talk about the enforcement. It said the only problem we have here is lack of enforcement.
We have an interesting issue with 5G. We have no real big issues.
On the investment element of the net neutrality regulation, it's really interesting to see the work that Ian was supervising by Alissa Cooper who spoke. She was on the architect board for several years, and she produced an article. We talked about the ways that engineers keep trying to make the network operate effectively, and marketers keep trying to make people pay extra for it.
So there's a weird clash going on inside the telecoms themselves. It's the view of the marketing versus people in the engineering divisions that are trying to make it work.
I do recommend getting the Executive Summary of. This it was a really, really detailed study that was carried out over a period of a year or so, and I think it still remains the complete assessment of where we stood at least in 2019, when it was published.
BEREC has launched an investigation. It will be up for consultation in March of next year with an update to the guidelines. We'll be told if it's due in October. I guess it's still not entirely clear which it will be.
The telecom industry will try to downplay the rules. The television lobbyists have been paid to water down the rules. That's their job they've been paid to do.
I can see Boris smiling, so I don't know how much effect it will have, but I know the regulators will appreciate the help of civil society in trying to suggest that the net neutrality rules should be observed properly.
I think it's important to have a graphic showing of where we sit in Europe.
This is from Thomas (?) A fantastic lobbyist and researcher. It shows you the type of apps which have had zero rating in Europe. As I say, even though we have an open Internet regulation, lots and lots of breachers of regulation because of zero rating.
You can see the example, starting, of course, with WhatsApp and Facebook.
I completely echo what Luc has said. You can leave Facebook and Google, but they won't leave you. The network is there. Your grandma is still on Facebook. You can't get away from the influence of these networks.
And you can see the Facebook and Instagram are by far the most powerful.
I also want to mention that there was a judgment in 2020 of the Court of Justice that provoked the study on the guidelines that says zero‑rated products ‑‑ this is what the rules were designed to stop.
(?) Which, again, is just looking exactly at that thing about zero‑tariff options. It's amazing ‑‑ well, it's not amazing. It's depressing, I would say, that six and a half years after we passed the Open Internet Regulation, we then have to have a case in front of the court of justice stating the obvious, which was this was not allowed in the regulation.
But they've done a good job of litigating this as far as they have.
But answering whether the UK is going to change after the disastrous Brexit project that is disappearing from the rails and off into the sea.
It's a shame to see that Ofcom is considering diverge.
Normally spring means May. You can see a call for the review. The British Telecom CEO, a chief marketing guy, has been imploring Europe to rattle their sabers on how much they want to screw the (?) And European citizens. They've talked about ‑‑ of course, they've tried to use the pandemic as an excuse to do this. There has been a slightly above trend try to rise in the use of fixed networks.
Let me make this point obviously. In the pandemic, many of the people ‑‑ as in the middle class and the more fortunate people working from home, there has been a huge drop in use of the mobile network. We've been tethering our mobiles to our Wi‑Fi networks. We've actually been transferring some of the volume that would ordinarily have been used on mobile networks in rush hours and railway stations and so on ‑‑ of course there's less use of these things. So data has been growing at a lower rate, even while the fixed (?) Network has been growing faster. So there's quite an interesting set of pandemic effects.
So, yes, the telcos are trying to leverage the UK's Brexit chaotic government. I mean, we really do have ‑‑ Ian can speak more to this. We have chaotic governance of the digital networks in the UK. You have Ministers who have no clue what exactly they're speaking about. Hopefully, they have civil servants brought up to speed, but we have a very difficult situation. And it may be that we can bridge this moment of opportunity for them to unwind net neutrality heavy, right, the issue of how we pay for high definition going forward, which is, of course, potentially a more profound threat than the issue that we have been discussing.
I've probably used more time than I should, but I'm very happy to continue the discussion.
Thank you on the ninth meeting of the Dynamic Coalition.
>> LUCA BELLI: Excellent. Thank you very much, Chris, for all the details.
Actually, I now have another question that is a very pragmatic one. We can also take advantage of the two regulators being in this first segment and being actually in the best position to reply to this.
As it frequently happens, as in other sectors, Ian and I have had some discussions about this, about data protection over the past couple of years. Even when you have a very nice law, and even when you have a very nice regulator, then there is this frustrating situation where frequently the law is not implemented effectively. So all the behaviors that the regulation and the regulator aim at avoiding or at least mitigating, they keep on querying because of the scarce implementation.
Six years ago probably, when we did this statement, it's also referenced in this new rough statement, when this was opened, we spoke about and included ‑‑ it is a key element that everyone agreed upon. It's one of the only non‑controversial elements that was really about enforcement and involving users into the enforcement.
There's been fantastic work, also in creating this app that allows the users to monitor traffic.
But, again, here, we really see that all these multistakeholder discussions that we've seen repeating for 15 years, at some point, it has to end up being something concrete.
So the main stakeholder is the user. Be a producer or a consumer of applications and content. The user here is the main stakeholder. It's very frustrating to let him or her or it out of this conversation between it is the main conversation and the interesting part.
How to make enforcement more effective? How to involve the users? Do we have any thoughts about this before we get into the next segment? If there's any question or comment or anyone from the participants here in the Zoom or in the real on‑site, non‑populated venue? If anyone wants to chip, in please just raise your hand.
Anyone wanted to start?
>> CHRIS MARSDEN: You're quite right. Far too many people are far too interested in rules and GDPR. I warned people that you're several years behind the carve on what we tried to do with net neutrality. I warned them that they wouldn't be enforcing this properly with a couple of shining examples.
So, of course, the answer is exactly what is now being proposed to the GDPR, which is that you need a European regulator.
To have a European regulator, which is odd and outside the British sphere these days. You end up with this. In Britain, we have a lovely Canadian person who is in charge of regulating data protection and is now working for the lawyers of Facebook immediately after leaving post. So there's a huge gap in what the law says and the way it's related with very good captions.
We have very good (?) In the room, and they can't speak, but if they could, I'm sure we would have an exciting conversation.
>> KS PARK: I think my question earlier ‑‑ for those of you who cannot see the chat, last week European (?) Ordered that (?) Pay for a (?) Investment. I asked what this was. Basically, the question is whether this antitrust type of concerns rejected in DMA or DSA about the big techs, should those consent also be changing or adapting to this data delivery through the domestic networks.
I think Chris described the new organized piece as the old ogre coming out of the closet. I'm glad to hear that, but I think lack of enforcement problem that Chris just mentioned and that Luca mentioned are not making clear what net neutrality means in terms of how the Internet ‑‑ how everything should be paid for.
>> BORIS GARTNER: I'm ready to answer briefly to both interventions.
To be a good regulator, it's a problem for everyone here. We have limited resources. We are prominent cases that we can live with which are quite an amount of work and time.
After that, there's a long tale of operators that we never see that have not many customers. We have to go through all the offers and all the practices. This is not possible. Even after you set up a European regulator, the problem will be only worse.
The only way we have found to deal with that is to practice the data‑driven regulation. Are
You have to make sure that everything is done, information and information‑gathering services, so that he can find out that he's committed to a practice that is not really legal or needs to be controlled or sold. It's something we are putting forward every time we can. Data‑driven regulation is really a good means to deal with that we cannot really address at the right time.
You can publish data. You can make sure that everybody is informed of who are the bad and good operators so that possibly the end users can choose and go to the ones who have the most (?) Practices.
I think it's a bit of a proxy with the usual regulation. It can work, and it can make the sector progress towards better practices.
Under the interconnection, it's a bit complicated for Europeans because the connection is one of the (?) Where the European regulation is not (?) So enter the connection of large telecom providers, it's not covered by the regulation, and it's truly a commercial low.
In France, we are trying to monitor this. We are one of the few regulators who try to monitor. So we have a good information‑gathering practice on that sector. For the moment, we didn't have reasons to intervene.
The state of the market here in France is that private (?) Is progressing. It's not really relevant, but they are paying for being closer and better served to the customer.
It's one of the things we have onboard, and we'll try to gather information as much as possible.
>> FRODE SORENSEN: I could also give a command from Norway ‑‑
>> LUCA BELLI: Sorry, Frode. If you can, try to be brief so we pass into the next presentation because I'm seeing we have half an hour left. We'll manage to have everything, by ask you to be brief.
>> FRODE SORENSEN: I can do that. So I think it's an important aspect of the European regulation that each regulator has to report about development nationally. So it's an obligation you have, as a regulator. Therefore, all the European countries have to provide a status report about the national situation. It's not only Norway and France, it's all the countries in Europe. It's also supervised by BEREC so you can look at the countries and how they progress in the regulatory activities.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you very much. We had a very interesting discussion from Europe and both, but now let's move to Asia.
KS was mentioning before some problems emerging in South Korea.
So, KS, can you provide us your update on what are the key issues emerging in South Korea? Sorry if I said North Korea before. It's South Korea, of course.
>> KYUNG SIN: Can I be co‑host?
>> LUCA BELLI: Can we give KS the co‑host, please.
>> KYUNG SIN: I don't have PowerPoints, but I just want to show some slides. I just wrote in the chat that some of the leading regulators on net neutrality are explicit on what net neutrality bans.
If you look at this, this is a letter that this major human rights organization ‑‑ including Civicus, which is a huge foundation working around the UN ‑‑ there's Epicenter.works.
A letter was sent to the South Korean president two weeks ago to propose a new bill that requires con ‑‑ to oppose a new bill that requires a net usage fee to local ISPs. If the bill is enacted, it will basically allow ISP ‑‑ well, it will basically put the financial barriers for content providers to access the local customers of local ISPs.
If you remember, already 2004, a European telephone network operators have proposed to enact (?) And these are the comments on the proposal to charge the Internet, meaning making content providers pay for data delivery to the localized customers.
Here, BEREC was clearly explicit in these other practices, which is clearly charging termination fees.
But then BEREC was not ‑‑ there was uncertainty about how this is related to paid ‑‑ we know termination fee is A no‑no under net neutrality.
Here, this is FCC 2010 open Internet order ‑‑ it's clearly showing that ‑‑ okay. Here we go.
(Reading paragraph 67) some concerns have been expressed ‑‑
>> KYUNG SIN: This was clear in 2010. As Chris mentioned, there was a lack of enforcement. In 2010, the FCC already said that our no‑blocking rule is a termination fee. They're paid to push their data better, faster to the Comcast customers.
So, obviously, there is uncertainty coming from the regulators, what to do with paid peering versus paid prioritization or paid peering versus termination fee.
If you look at the footnote on this FCC order of 2010, the FCC says, clearly, We do not intend our rules to affect existing arrangements such as paid peering arrangements.
Again, BEREC, in 2004, on assessment of IP ‑‑ this is BEREC's 2012's Internet connection. Here, on the top paragraph, it's as if other practice becomes widespread, blah, blah, blah, so there is a negative paid peering, but in the next paragraph, BEREC talks about the network piece and termination fee.
So I think the attitude toward the paid peering versus termination fee have created this ‑‑ left open a room for ISPs to somehow demand paid peering from content providers.
And the reason we sent this letter to the president was because ‑‑ let me share you just one more slide.
You can see this is eight times the cost of transaccess that you can get in Paris.
You can see in Korea all right the ogopoly of ISPs is huge. There's a reason for that.
Back in 2016, Korea already made it a rule ‑‑ Korea already implemented mandatory SMTP only on ISPs. That created the pressure on the ISPs to shift the burden of SPMP fees, or termination fees, over to content providers. And that's why we have this huge difference between Paris and Seoul.
We wrote the new bill that simply says you have to pay ‑‑ content providers have to pay fair network usage fee, really implying that you have to pay for data delivery. Termination‑fee type. SMPT type.
We showed our position not just to the text, but when you actually listen to the regulators, what they're saying is, Oh, we're really not going to charge for data delivery. We'll just require the providers to make payment. It's mandating paid peering.
As you can see, FCC ‑‑ BEREC has been negative on paid peering, but it's unclear how much they were opposing. FCC was clearly kind of leaving open the room for paid peering. That's why through this question, through the chat that we should think about how to deal with European ISPs new command that content providers paid for domestic network buildout.
I feel almost anachronistic. Just last week, we saw this new demand. Maybe it's not that anachronistic. Maybe we should keep up our guard.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you for this. It really stresses the importance.
As I was mentioning at the beginning, net neutrality is essential but not sufficient condition for openness. In many countries around the world, this is not really something effectively implemented yet. So it's really interesting to see how this is playing out now.
It's a discussion that has been dealt with in Europe on the U.S. ‑‑ not dealt with but started 10 years ago.
Let's keep on our Asian tour, moving to India.
We have Smriti Parsheera here with us. Thank you for being here with us, Smriti.
Tell us about how things in India played out and what have been the positive, not only the positive effects but also the distortions that have been created over the past year.
I'm asking KS to mute his mic, because we're hearing you typing.
So, Smriti, the floor is yours.
>> SMRITI PARSHEERA: Thanks, Luca. Hi, everyone. I'm glad to be able to add a new experience to the excellent discussions we've heard so far.
So India, this group has strong net neutrality regulations which came about between 2016 to 2018. That includes, you know, who sets of regulations, one on banning discriminatory practices and the subsequent change in telecom licenses to ban any kind of disproportionate treatment of content.
There's a gap in rules and enforcement. We have not seen what kind of enforcement action has taken place since these rules have came about, but crowd‑source information and academic reports tell us there's some blocking taking place, and we don't know how much is taking place pursuant to government orders or how much is happening because of some discriminatory treatment that's not being focused on publicly.
I want to focus on a slightly different question on the structural changes that have taken place in the last four or five years in the Indian telecom market.
Talking about the framing that Luca started with. One part of it is about the jewel of net neutrality being violated. And from what I'm going to describe, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking more about the spirit of net neutrality, which was about openness, which is about a pro-competition regime and whether that is being violated or has a potential to be violated in light of how the structure of the market is evolving. This is based on a forth coming paper.
I'm going to focus on the largest telecom operating in the country. It serves about 53% of the Internet users in India and the Internet user base in India is 138 billion people. So the interesting part is this is part of the largest business conglomerate in India. So it's not a standalone telecom provider. What I will describe is some of those linkages with some of the businesses in that network and how that's playing out. The other interesting part is this company came about in only 2016. So this whole market that it's a zero to 53% has taken place in the last four or five years.
The point is this company, when it was announced, they made it clear this was not a telecom provider. It was a bundled offering. It was about cheap data. It was about accessible devices and affordable devices, and it was about content which the company is providing. So all of these three things come within this package that this company has been providing. And on the app side, it completes with any other app provider in terms of having its conglomerate. There's its own production houses and broadcasting companies, but more specifically in the context of the geo services, it has its own sort of apps which includes payments and messaging and all of the usual suspects are covered with the geo platform.
On the device side, of course, it has a vast 4g network and the most technologically advanced network in India at this time.
One year after its data was launched, it launched an affordable device called a smart feature. It's something between a feature phone and a smart phone. It's a very complete device. And the strategy ‑‑ this intro, at the same time when India was debating net neutrality. It did not violate because it basically made everything free. For the first six months, when it was launched, it made everything free for everyone. All the content, the data services were free. That's how they managed to onboard a huge database. Beyond that, the rate they charged have been pretty low prior to what it was prior to this and leading to a lot of adoption, leading to a transition from 3G and 4G services.
There are other issues coming up.
What happened in 2020, all the telecom providers were bleeding and suffering and not paying government dues, they managed to get a huge infusion of funds from about 30 investors, two of which were Google and Facebook.
I want to highlight there are some interesting transactions taking place. WhatsApp messaging is facilitating payment for these grocery‑delivery transactions.
7% has been made by Google.
The companies Google and others are developing a smartphone out right now along with an optimized version of Android that runs on this new smartphone. It's supposed to be the most affordable smartphone in India.
The idea is they're trying to capture a huge market without really giving any explicit treatment. These are apps that come on any Google device.
Therefore, raising these questions, the blessings have been given to both of these transactions, looking at questions of net neutrality and saying that this doesn't violate net neutrality. If there was, it would be caught by those rules. One is primarily a telecom provider. The other is primarily a content provider. They're in vertical markets. Therefore, the problem looked at was whether there would be blatant data sharing between those parties. We're talking about the biggest telecom provider and Google and (?) Not known for their practices.
We'll deal with that problem in case they subsequently do that. All of this determines on the conduct of these players and whether it utilizes that structure in a way that raises concern. It is something that we'll have to watch in the next few years in terms of the spirit of net neutrality and whether it's bridged in some way.
I will stop with that.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you. I thought we still had 15 minutes, but we only have five. So I hope that the technical support will allow us to extend by five minutes. So if we have the last presentation, there's still some minutes for final remarks.
We now have the
(Captioning will end at scheduled time)
>> NATALIA FODITSCH: We need this from the organization so I know how long I can speak.
>> LUCA BELLI: They are not objecting, so they agree.
>> NATALIA FODITSCH: I will try to be brief. I want to summarize the whole conversation because it has to be really interesting and full of aspects and nuances.
We need to talk about why we do this and why we need this.
We're advocating for a concept called meaningful connectivity in which we advocate for everyone to have the regular use, meaning every day with speeds that are competitive minimal with 4g and owning a device.
So some brief comments like in many developing countries, people don't own a device. They share a device or they borrow a device.
That sounds, for many of us listening to this conversation, we take it for granted that you own a device. For many, that's still like a goal to be reached.
We're also advocating for a minimal threshold for the price of data by 2026.
I also would like to encourage you to look at this and the report that was launched last year from luxury to lifeline, there's a huge gap. While locations like Costa Rica and Asia, there's problems that try through subsidies or funds to subsidize devices, there's still not many countries that do that.
We're going to launch a report together with ISOC soon. We have also looked into this. There's a lot of universal funds that cannot be used to forward subsidies for devices.
I also like the effect that my colleague that just spoke prior to me, Parsheera, she mentioned feature phones. So I think it's really important that we remember that this is really important. So whenever we have all these conversations that affect policy and regulation ‑‑
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>> NATALIA FODITSCH: ‑‑ if they're interoperable to also reminding that in a lot of countries, especially in Africa, we are becoming a cashless society. If you don't have the same interoperable standards for all types of devices that, might affect people financially too.
I just think that it's important to remind us why we are doing this because all these conversations, many times, you know, it often sounds so technical, and we lose track of why we need to do that.
At the end of the day, 50% of the world, or a little less than 50% of the world, is still unconnected or is connected. Actually, part of this 50% that's already connected is connected with conditions that are nonmeaningful.
So I wish I had more time, but I guess I already spoke for a few minutes, and I'm looking forward to the debate.
>> LUCA BELLI: We are actually having to close in a couple of minutes, so if you want to add anything else, Natalia, you can. I don't think we will have for a final debate, but if you want to add anything, any further element, please go ahead.
Otherwise, we can wrap up with some final remarks.
>> NATALIA FODITSCH: Well, I guess I just want to close by inviting everyone to attend two sessions tomorrow that are really important for meaningful connectivity. One is being organized by the Brazilian Steering Committee, and it's also debating meaningful connectivity.
Another one is ‑‑ I see Chris is doing something. So I will give the floor to him in a second. The other one is the PMA one ‑‑ sorry. I got distracted.
Also, I would like to encourage you to look at this database that we have been creating, the material we have about device affordability and reminding us that we have various differences across countries, regions, and this should always be counted whenever we're doing assessments.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you very much for this, Natalia.
I will also share an element to finalize today's debate. It's something that we really have to consider when we speak about not only the importance of a device but also the price of a device is why the price of the device is maybe so low. In some cases, especially in most developing countries, the price is low because it's paid not with money but with data. Many devices have preloaded applications that then Hoover up an enormous quantity of data from the user, and this equates enormously to the financial price of the device but increase enormously the price of the data device.
A lot of our discussion of Internet openness and net neutrality is about personal data and who is collecting personal data. It's not just like blocking, as Chris would say.
If there is no final remark, I would ‑‑ Chris has a final remark.
>> CHRIS MARSDEN: I need to report back to the session that is at some ungodly time tomorrow. But those of us from the dynamic collisions are there.
We have three huge issues in net neutrality at the moment.
First, we have a huge issue that faces regulators about being able to ensure proper neutrality means interoperability. I think that came across well.
The second is that with the exception of a couple of heroic regulators, net neutrality laws worldwide are wearing vanishing new clothes. With some clothing in France and Norway, for the most part, they seem to be fairly naked, in terms of the ways it's being regulated properly.
I think KS's presentation was great for this. The taxing of content providers by platforms is now becoming a real emerging global issue. I want to summarize that tomorrow and also refer to Luca's really superbly succinct statement about interoperability on behalf of the Dynamic Coalition.
So I think I've captured kind of the headlines, as they were, of the session. Please tell me if I've got it wrong or if there's other things I should add.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you very much, Chris.
Thank you, everyone, for the excellent presentations.
Thank you very much to the IGF technical support for their flexibility and allowing us five extra minutes.
Thank you very much to everyone. We have a lot of good ideas for next year and for more activities.
A round of clapping for all the participants.
See you, hopefully, in person next year.