IGF 2021 – Day 1 – PARLIAMENTARY ROUNDTABLE Legislative approaches for a user-centric digital space

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.



>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Hello, everybody.  Can you hear us?  Seems to be the case.  My name is Thomas Schneider.  I work for the Swiss government and I'm happy to ‑‑ and honored to be the moderator of this parliamentarian roundtable which is something that we had already physically two years ago in Berlin where I was also moderating and I'm happy do this again.  This time, of course, under the condition or circumstances that we have a number of colleagues connected via remote and we have a number of colleagues here.  We're hoping that this will work out nicely and we trust, of course, that the technicians will do a great job so it all works out.

We have only an hour.  I'll immediately go into presenting our first speaker that we have, which is, if I'm not mistaken, Mr.‑‑ I hope I'm pronouncing it correctly ‑‑ Mr. Ryszard Terlecki, he's the Vice Marshal in Poland. 

Thank you very much.

>> RYSZARD TERLECKI: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm honored to be able to attend this international meeting with parliamentarians from all over the world.

Our debate is both a continuation and a development of the already existing parliamentary path that forms part of the UN Digital Summit.  This year's parliamentary debate will be related to legislative solutions promoting user‑oriented, user‑centric digital space.  We must remember that new technologies bring along not only benefits, many can be the source of significant threats, including cybercrime, disinformation and manipulation.  So being able to verify facts and critical thinking is the basis for successful development of the cyberspace.

Ladies and gentlemen, public authorities of each country should aim at combating false narratives.  The European Union and its Member States are a frequent target of disinformation campaigns designed to undermine its actions and values.  An example of such actions is the disinformation campaign spread by the Belarusian regime and the authorities of the Russian Federation against Poland in the event of the migration crisis on the border with Belarus.  In August 2019 Alexandr Pisanko won the presidential elections thanks to counterfeiting the elections and thanks to the intimidation and persecution of the opposition candidates.  Following the elections, the situation pertaining to Human Rights and civil liberties deteriorated even further.  The opposition leaders were either arrested and imprisoned or forced to immigrate sparking this in Belarus, the European has issued sanctions against them on the crackdown on journalists and the Civil Society organizations. 

Now, in an attempt to divert attention from Human Rights violations and in an attempt to destabilize the situation in the neighboring countries, the Belarusian regime began to deliberately bring in immigrants mainly from the Middle East and their economic migrants encouraged by the regime with the promise of entering the European Union at a high fee.  Meanwhile, the Russian and Belarusian media openly blame Poland for causing a crisis on the border and manipulate information on the situation regularly on the situation of migrants.  The media falsifies information and so photos with alleged complaints of migrants are falsified, fake accounts are made to impersonate and fictitious posts in different languages are posted.  We parliamentarians must oppose such forms of disinformation. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I am glad that our cooperation within the parliamentary path of IGF is constantly developing and evolving, and I do hope that the next IGF Host Countries, including Ethiopia and Japan whose representatives are here with us today will continue the process.

At this point, I would also like to thank the United Nations, the Inter‑Parliamentary Union and the Digital Policy Parliament of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister for their help and cooperation with the Polish parliament he in the organization of this year's parliamentary roundtable at the UN Digital Summit.

Thank you so much for your attention.  I wish you fruitful deliberations.

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Thank you very much, Mr. Ryszard Terlecki.

Next I have Liu Zhenmin, Under‑Secretary‑General for Economic and Social Affairs.

>> LIU ZHENMIN: Thank you.  Thank you, Thomas, for moderating this IGF parliamentary roundtable.  You mentioned this is the second time, second session for the IGF to convene on parliamentary segment.  I want to use this opportunity to thank all of the parliamentarians and all of the parliaments around the world for their support and active engagement in this roundtable.  I want to also thank the Inter‑Parliamentary Union for its support to the IGF.

Honorable parliamentary, distinguished colleagues, parliaments are the places where legislative is developed, including those for the Internet and the digital space.  Indeed, parliamentarians are among the key actors in Internet Governance and digital policy debates.  I'm pleased that IGF is one place where parliamentarians can exchange information and good practices among themselves and where they can interact with other stakeholders on pressing issues related to the use, evolution and governance of the Internet and digital technologies.

Dear colleague, the theme for this roundtable, legislative approaches for a user‑centric digital space is very well chosen.  When decisions are made, how to develop, make available, regulate digital technologies, understanding how technology works and what users need is essential.  We need technologies to be human‑centric to enable the exercise of Human Rights and to make people's lives easier.

Dear colleagues, we have seen in recent years an increasing trend of legislation being put forward in national and regional parliaments covering issues such as privacy, cybersecurity, data protection, content policy, competition and consumer protection.  I think this is a very good trend.  That's why we want to have this IGF parliamentary roundtable to discuss how to improve this among parliaments.  It is important to have rules and regulations in place that aim to tackle risks associated with the digital space.  And to protect the users.  It is important to ensure that these rules are indeed oriented to global ‑‑ towards the goal of having a user‑centric digital space.  This is important.  While balancing the various rights and risks at stake and providing a predictable environment for the private sector to operate.

I hope that the IGF 2021 parliamentary track will show this by exchanging good practices and a deepening cooperation among parliamentarians and digital policy issues and such cooperation will continue in the years to come and that the parliamentary track will be one of the annual Hallmarks of IGF session.

So we'll come together again next year, the parliamentary chat.  Dear colleague, before close, I want to thank the Inter‑Parliamentary Union, especially the president, he's going to join us to speak online, and SEGM, for partnering with UNDESA and my department in hosting this parliamentary chat.  I also want to thank Thomas, to you, for moderating this event.

I wish all of you a fruitful exchange and look forward to receiving the outcomes of 2021 parliamentary track.

Thank you.

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Thank you for introducing our next speaker, which will be the last of the first three entry speakers, it is Duarte Pacheco.  I hope I pronounced that right, from the Inter‑Parliamentary Union, the president of the IPU.  Thank you.

>> DUARTE PACHECO: Thank you so much.

Mr. Deputy Marshal, Mr. Under‑Secretary‑General of the United Nation, inter‑parliamentarians, dear colleagues, it is a pleasure to be with you.  Of course, it is conflicting feelings that I will welcome you on behalf of IPU to this parliamentarian roundtable.  I wish to be with you in Katowice until the last wave of this COVID‑19 pandemic prevented me from traveling because nothing can ever replace the face‑to‑face interaction and conversations that are so important to us human beings and as parliamentarians.  On the other hand, I can only marvel at the digital infrastructure that enables us to connect from all around the world and to be together at this moment, and also these tech knowledge helps us to have ‑‑ to keep our working as parliamentarians during the pandemic.  It is just one more illustration of how central digital technology has become to everything that we do.

As parliamentarians, the Internet can sometimes seem difficult to brilliant, and it is in one way highly technical and yet it is also part of everyday life for the people we represent.  It is transnational by design, a perfect example of the benefits of interconnection and integration around agreed technical standards.  The transnational nature of the Internet is uncomfortable, as politicians we're so used to thinking and acting in our national contexts.  When addressing challenge and creating opportunities online, we cannot act alone, we must act together.

Just as of last week, the IPU adopted a new resolution on combating against online child sexual exploitation and abuse.  That resolution underlines that gaps and differences in legislation from one country to another allows for loopholes that others will be quick to exploit.  The legislation and the high‑level discussions are absolutely essential and yet we're only beginning to take steps in this direction.

Even the issues that can appear technical of a strong political dimension, it is our goal to continue to work together to guarantee the openness of the Internet, to ensure Freedom of Expression and to promote economic opportunities while combating criminality and disinformation ‑‑ allow me to talk ‑‑ the hate speech that can also spread online. 

Underlying all of this is a fundamental consideration, who sets rules?  And what should the rules be?  In this area, it is every other political leadership is key.  As the elected representatives of the people, we have a special vote on this matter.  Decisions need to be formed by the best possible advice from all the actors, grounded in the evidence and taking into the best interests of the community in mind.

I welcome very much the desire to create a greater space for dialogue with parliamentarians at the IGF.  The IGF is an available platform for multistakeholder dialogue with governments, Civil Society and the private sector.  We must continue to learn how to speak to each other, to understand each other, to respect each other and make every efforts to reach the best possible conclusions.  I hope this IGF will help to reinforce cooperation at all levels around the vision for a user‑centric digital space of which we can all be proud as one of the great inventions of humanity.

I wish you all a very productive work and I will wait for the conclusions that you will achieve, and please keep safe.  I hope to meet you in person very soon.

Thank you so much.

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Thank you.  That was Duarte Pacheco, president of the IPU.

And just to pick up one word, two words actually, that was mentioned by Liu Zhenmin, Digital Transformation should be human‑centric and given that worldwide it is the parliamentarians that are representing humans in the countries on national level, on local level.  I think it makes even more sense to have parliamentarians as the core part of the IGF and this is just one of the sessions of the so‑called parliamentarian track.  There are others during the week, so of course we're looking forward to allowing and exerting interaction among parliamentarians, but also between parliamentarians and other stakeholders, ordinary citizens, representatives of business, Civil Society, governments and so on.  And there is also for your information in case you do not know, there is ‑‑ they're working on an outcome document out of the track so there is a draft that they'll finalize and issue at the end of this track in case you were not aware of this.  This is also going to be an interesting document.

With this, let me now turn to the parliamentarians themselves.  Some of them are here physically, others are connected remotely.  The first one is Abdulla Althawadi, member of council of representatives of the kingdom of Bahrain.  The floor is yours.

>> ABDULLA ALTHAWADI: A very good evening to you all.

The digital technologies are undergoing fast‑paced gross.  The pace of change is unprecedented.  We are becoming more and more dependent on new technologies.  We can use modern technologies to share our thoughts, our views.  We can live in the digital space but, of course, this is also associated with threats such as cybercrime and violations of the most fundamental Human Rights and developing very rapidly..

We are doing our utmost to tap into the full potential of such digital technologies as artificial intelligence, text‑to‑speech conversion software and the other applications, new technologies enable us to work closer together.  We can see that every sphere of our life is becoming more digitalized.  I'm referring to education, legislation, and other areas of live, digital technologies ensure to make sure that Human Rights are respected and the same technologies can also be used against Human Rights.  It is important to create the right legal framework to protect the digital rights in the human sphere.  We want to effectively combat crime.  In our kingdom we have developed numerous legal acts that are intended to ensure the most fundamental digital rights to ensure we're fighting against cybercrime.

(Technical issue).

‑‑ will we have passed laws to make sure that data is protected in the digital space.  In my country, we have also ratified many conventions that refer to combating digital crime or crime in the Internet.  My country is one of the leaders in the Arab world in this regard.

We need to spare no efforts but locally and internationally to fight cybercrime and we also need to develop an international legal framework to make sure that we can fight cybercrime and to make sure that we can effectively protect Human Rights and that's a task for IPU and parliaments as well.

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Thank you.  It is exciting to hear what's going on in Bahrain.

Let's now see what's going on in the European country, the European Parliament.  Let's turn to Marina Kaljurand, member of the European Parliament.

>> MARINA KALJURAND: Thank you so much.  Thank you for the introduction, yes, I'm representing here the European Parliament, and I'm elected from Estonia.

I'm really privileged, I come from a country which is very E. connected, we call it E. lifestyle and I call come from a region where digital topics are high on political agenda.

To start with, I would also like to thank Under‑Secretary‑General and IPO for having this parliamentary track, for supporting it.  It is now the third time, second time meeting face‑to‑face, meeting old friends and there are new friends in the hall and I think finally, it is finally established!  It is part of IGF and I'm really looking forward to our discussions.  The third introductory remark, yes, I'm honored, happy to bring gender balance to the discussion, but I'm not happy I'm the only one, unfortunately when political and digital are together, we still need more women speaking.


That's a suggestion for next year.

Coming to the topic, we all use the right political words.  We all speak about open, free, accessible, affordable, undivided one Internet.  Then we look around, we see that the legal systems are different, laws adopted in different countries are different, we as politicians are members of the parliament, I would argue should first of all be taking internationally, international principles anchor values and build our laws on that.  That will help us from dividing the Internet from the organization of Internet, from different Internets and different systems.  That's not easy, but that's doable.  I know that from my former lives in the UNGG and in the Secretary‑General's high‑level panel on digital cooperation.  It is doable with different stakeholders.

Second, I think that we as politicians also sometimes take leadership.  Yes, we're talking to our people, talking to my citizens on a daily basis, they're sending me emails, we're exchanging video calls but we can't focus on them all the time.  Sometimes we have to lead the process and I'll bring an example.  In the E.U., they were arguing about digital ID.  My country did it 20 years ago, Kenya did it last year, others can agree.  I would also ask all politicians, sometimes to reconsider the small benefits and to see the bigger picture, to lead some topics that may not be very popular at the beginning but that are good and we'll have to explain, talk more about them.  Whereas politicians we have a special responsibility for the protection of privacy, fundamental rights and Human Rights.

We all say Human Rights ‑‑ (multiple voices from Zoom platform)  ‑‑ only really, I think that there is a lot we can do much better in protecting our own citizens, our constituencies, our electorate.

That's without buts.

Next!  When we talk about digital topic, members of the parliament very often have to leave their comfort zone because that's something that seems so difficult, so complicated.  We need much more awareness raising, we need much more education.  If you want clever laws, you need clever lawmakers.  And that's why maybe we should also encourage more our other members of parliament in the European Parliament as well as national parliaments to come to meetings like this one, to talk to other stakeholder, to talk to other members of the parliaments and to see that we all have questions, that we all are learning from each other, we're all exchanging our Best Practices and best information.

My second point, fortunately we have seen that the digital topics have moved from the basements where they were discussed by the IT geeks to the CEO level.  We have seen governments are putting more prioritizing, prioritizing digital topics also because of the COVID pandemic.  But the digital topics also moved to the parliamentary halls.  We don't see enough discussions in parliaments and we have do that.

Exchange of information, today we had the first meeting of our parliamentary track and what struck me was that we in Europe are lucky and maybe we don't understand what it mean, inclusiveness, what does it mean that half of the world's population is still not online and it is not the question of political will but in many cases it is the question of capacity building.

Yes, we rich countries have to be open to capacity building, to assisting, to development cooperation and I'm proud that my country which is I don't know, one street, is doing development projects with other developing countries of the world.

My final remark, I was thinking what we as members of the parliament can do nationally, regionally, universally.  I think we can do it together. 

Nationally, I think one of the first steps can be introducing support groups, interest groups.  All parliaments have them, if not Committees commissioned, then at least support groups.  We have them in the European Parliament, trust me, they're horizontal, they work very well although we have different political views.

Regional cooperation, crucial.  Regionally we come altogether and we can ‑‑ we meet more with each other, we'll exchange information.  For me, it is E.U. and NATO, for other regions, other regions and on global level, I would urge us all to consider very seriously the proposal of Secretary‑General on Global Digital Compact.  That should be one of the next steps of our cooperation. 

Thank you.


In particular, I think we should take note of the gender and other balances that we still have to improve. 

Just one word about the eID, in Switzerland, we had a proposal and many were convinced we need it had, most, but there was a referendum and the people turned it down because they didn't trust the governance model, they thought it was too much based on private sector and the state should have a more active role just to say that legislation is fine, but you need to be connected to the people.  If you legislate against what the people expect you to legislate, even simple things as an eID may not be acceptable.  But that may be part of the discussion later.

With this, let's go to the next speaker.  It is Mr. Alexander Khinshtein, chairman of the Committee on Information Policy, Information, Technology and Communications from the State Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

>> ALEXANDER KHINSHTEIN: I would like to ask for technical help because we seem to be having problems switching on the video.

A favor to ask the organizers.  Could you please provide assistance in playing the video.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I wouldn't like to generate a further delay.

I will start my contribution, and in the meantime perhaps the technical crew will help us play the video.  Let's see what happens.

Please bear with me, dear colleagues.  I will now try to restart my presentation.

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER:  Maybe the technicians will solve the problem and take a other member of the parliament first.

Questions to the directors in the back, if they can ‑‑ if this was a movie, I would ‑‑ a TV show, I would ask the directors in the back.

>> ALEXANDER KHINSHTEIN: Thank you very much.

There has been a small technical glitch, but you can now see me. 

First of all, I would like to say hello to everyone.  Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to present my contribution during the parliamentary roundtable.

I would like to discuss the changes that are now happening in the Russian Federation.  I would like to start by saying that the Internet was an experiment of sorts in the Russian Federation and that experiment involved the participation of research institutes and the world of academia as well as business and it was difficult to imagine that over such a short period of time that the Internet would become such a powerful force that would affect our daily lives and that Internet Governance would become a subject of international discussions.

Our country, we realize it very well what digitization is.  There are special departments affiliated with different ministries that specialize in digitization and President Putin has also envisioned a development strategy with respect to Digital Transformation.  A lot has been changing in terms of our legal framework and we have been training resources to equip digital skills.  In our country, there have operated powerful technological companies, Russia is one of the countries with their own Internet services with online trade that is very well developed.  There are companies that develop software, there are Russian social media networks and there are numerous Internet users that live in Russia.  The Internet realm has been developing very fast.  There are over 5 million domains now operating in Russia and Russian, mind you, is one of the most popular languages on the Internet.

It is important to bear in mind that we have made a lot of accomplishments as part of the free market economy and this is what we would like to protect in the future.  We have been making progress around the world and we will continue creating the necessary conditions for the development of the digital economy in Russia and across the world in the future.

Presently, in order to stimulate growth we are implementing a number of initiatives.  First and foremost, an unprecedented tax regime for technological companies that develop software.  The level of taxation is fourfold lower for those companies that develop software.  We have also reduced the level of ‑‑ sorry, we have actually implemented a zero percent VAT tax for those companies and this is an important change.  That taxation regime I'm certain will contribute to a very positive dynamic of growth.  The Russian market is also open to foreign companies.  I would like to assure you that there are no plans as of today in Russia aimed at creating an internal market that would be closed to competitors from the outside.  I would also like to say that what we wish for is for international players on the market who would also help us develop our digital market on condition that they comply with our state laws because what cannot happen is a situation where a foreign company would like to continue their operation in Russia without adhering to the national legal framework.

Regardless of whether we speak of national or foreign technological companies, all of them need to adhere to the same roles and regulations and all of them need to pay taxes in line with the national legal provisions.  We would like to build an international dialogue involving big tech companies and we believe that it would be very beneficial for those companies to have their branch offices in Russia.  At this state, we have adopted a law on the operation of international companies in Russia. 

This is a set of regulations for foreign companies, those companies who wish to operate on the Russian market need to establish a legitimate branch, be it an on-site one or an online one on the Russian market.  They also need to register with our regulatory authority and they need an email inbox to make it possible for the Russian users to be in contact with them.  These are the requirements for the international giants.  I do not think that they're too stringent.

Often, we still face problems due to the fact that those large international companies have failed to establish legitimate offices in Russia. 

I would also like to refer to the digital rights of the citizens and in particular to the personal data protection of citizens.  It goes without saying that citizens themselves cannot protect their personal data.  We have seen many examples of how the Internet giants have opened their branch offices in Russia with no problem, quite to the contrary they can extend their business operation and generate profit.  Just to give you a few examples, AliExpress, another technology company could be named amongst the many technological companies that operate in Russia.  I do hope that more companies will join in and will become new players on the market.

The Internet space in Russia will always strive to be equal.  Speaking of the digital giants, I believe our conditions are not overly vigorous and we are willing to cooperate with those who are keen on a constructive cooperation.  As I have said, the international giants, those whose number of users is up to half a million users per day should register an official office in Russia.  Still the Russian government has not introduced any rigorous sanctions but this may change following the 1st of January.  Following the 1st of January, big tech will need to adhere to the new regulations.

Russia is one of the countries that are the leaders in terms of Internet regulations.

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Dear colleague, could you please come to the conclusion?  Otherwise we will run out of time before all parliamentarians have spoken.

Thank you very much.

>> ALEXANDER KHINSHTEIN: Yes.  I will try to wrap up now.

Dear colleagues, the COVID‑19 pandemic has adversely impacted our reality, but it also brought along a few positive changes, namely it has accelerated digital development in Russia.  As of today, we find it quite difficult in Russia to ensure cybersecurity.  What we have been observing are incidents of cybercrime on the Internet, and so we would like to introduce new legislative initiatives in order to prevent cybercrime, in order to prevent the Rights of our citizens, in order to protect them against cyber terrorists.

I would also like to say that for Russia that spans the largest territory across the planet the problem of Internet stability and stable connectivity is a priority and we have been working intensively across the country to ensure stable Internet connectivity.

Ladies and gentlemen, Russia has always been open to international cooperation with respect to cybersecurity.  So for us, the international dialogue is of utmost importance.

I do hope that this exchange of international experiences will be beneficial for all of us.

Thank you.


Next is Alhagie Mbow, a member of parliament from Gambia. 

Please, the floor is yours.

>> ALHAGIE MBOW: Thank you very much.  Good afternoon to everybody.  Good to see you again on this IGF.

I want to say also good afternoon to my fellow parliamentarian, among those working and that are here with me.

When we ‑‑ we are glad, I'm also glad that now we have a parliamentary track that actually ensures that we're parliamentarians who are at the service of the people to also ensure that they understand what they're legislating.  The fast pace of technology in terms of the way it is moving also calls for parliamentarians to also understand what they're legislating.  I think this forum, we should encourage all parliamentarians across the world to be able to attend, to be able to share ideas with their colleagues, just to ensure when we go to legislate we know exactly what we're going to do to ensure that we help our people in ensuring that they're part of this digital world.  As the world moves faster, in terms of connectivity, in terms of really bridging that gap between sovereignty nations, I think it is important that we have laws that would protect our people.  I think it is also equally important that we encourage our members of parliament to be deeply engaged in the digital world because I'm also a member of the African parliament in South Africa but you also see that we have very few parliamentarians that are actually engaged in the technology.

I think it is quite important that in our respective countries we try to encourage and we also try to bring them on board to ensure that we have wonderful legislations.

Now, if you look at the African continent, especially the developed area, we're developing laws and developing some conventions like the African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection.  Now, where we are coming with this, is to ensure that countries actually take a couple of those areas and design or legislate laws because right now when you look at the continent itself, even where we are moving, we are playing a catch up game in terms of technology, in doing so, we must act fast to make sure we're aware of the legislations in place.

Now, protection, it is important, when you look at the medical area, you look at the financial industry, it’s equally important that data that's been collected from our citizens but no one tells you really what to do with the data.  I think it is important that the African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection is actually adopted across the continent just to ensure that we protect our citizens in the gotten net neutrality and also outside of the continent and just to ensure that we live in a world that is really protected.

Now, if you go to the other area, in terms of the data protection as well, we have data stored across the continent.  We have data that's been stored outside of the continent.  But countries really have no legislation to ensure that, you know, some level of security, when you go to Facebook, you go to your banks, for example, some information goes outside of the continent or country.  If you check, most of the countries also, they do not have legislation to ensure that their citizens' data actually is protected.  Encouraging all legislature, especially those from our continent to ensure that they do more in terms of protecting their citizens' data to ensure that whenever we have legislations they really do public hearings to make sure that those that will actually help us in the area of technology are contacted, internally also, obviously to ensure we have very good legislations.

Thank you.

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Thank you very much.

The notion that parliamentarians are not necessarily experienced with digital is not an African phenomenon.  It is also taking place in my country, although, and I hope this is not the case for many countries, the pandemic, one of the good effects is that it has helped people, including parliamentarians that digital is an important issue and they're waking up probably not only in my country hopefully and in others as well.

The last parliamentarian for the first round is Gabriel Silva, member of the National Assembly of Panama.


>> GABRIEL SILVA: Thank you very much, good afternoon, everybody.  It is a pleasure to be here, to share with you some ideas on the future of the Internet.

I was asked to talk about a very difficult question for parliamentarian, that's the question of how to enact and create regulation that protects the citizen but at the same time doesn't stop innovation.  It is a very difficult question.  I would like to share some remarks in regards to that.

The first thing I would say is that we have to realize that policymakers can break or make the Internet in the future.  Policymakers should not break the Internet.  The Internet has provided so many benefits to humanity, country, civilization. 

Think about the COVID‑19 pandemic, imagine how our life would be, if the pandemic had been without Internet.  I think one of the superstars or superheroes of the pandemic was the Internet, and especially the entrepreneurs.  Many entrepreneurs helped us teach digitally, work, study, communicate.  I think that the Internet definitely is an Ally for policymaker, not an enemy.

However, the Internet has a lot of power.  A lot of companies that work in the Internet sphere have a lot of power.

Probably you have heard this quote before, but with great power comes great responsibilities.  The Internet unfortunately is not this wonderful place where everything is happy.  There are bad things happening in the Internet, and as policymakers we should intervene, child pornography, others.  There are so many things that us as parliamentarians have to do to protect our citizens.

I think in order to find that balance in regards to protecting the citizens and at the same time don't stop innovation, don't break the Internet. 

Some remarks I would share:  First, we're enacting legislation, we should consider as our basis, as our platform, as our skeleton Human Rights.  We should modernize our Human Rights in our local context so that it applies to the digital economy, the 21st Century, but also we should provide more resources to local infrastructure and local personal or local capacities to be able to defend those Human Rights, to go to courts, follow‑up on what's happening with the Internet.  We have to provide government was capabilities to defend people in the 21st Century. 

Second, Human Rights are a priority we should consider when legislating the fundamental priorities or principles of the Internet.  There are a bunch of principals we could find online, for example, it has to be decentralized, no government, open infrastructure, so innovation doesn't require permission.  No restricted access, everybody could have access to the Internet, global connectivity, and there a list online to find properties of the Internet that are natural for the Internet and the IGF in past discussions elaborated on an interesting, powerful document that's called the Charter of Human Rights and the Internet which can I think work as a very important guiding tool.  The challenging question is what happens with a conflict with a Human Rights and a basic principle of the Internet.  Us as parliamentarians have to do the proportionately test, proportionately, balancing test to see what Human Rights are infringed and if this new policy or issue can provide important setbacks to the Internet or good for the Internet.  Just to finalize, a couple of remarks.  When members of parliament do this analysis, it is key that we seek advice, we seek help, we work together with different sector, academia, companies to create the policies.  As I mentioned in the other session, the Internet, it is changing every day and members of parliament don't always look at the Internet, we have to deal with education, we have to deal with infrastructure, health, it is difficult for us to be updated on the latest trends, we need the technical people, academia, start‑ups to help us and to guide us and to work together to consensus and regulating the Internet.  Second, it is that I think that many members of parliament, I include myself in this, we're proactive and legislate a lot for the future.  Sometimes I think it is better that we not be aggressive and see if technology can evolve, there are things that are no brainers and we have to protect the citizens, some technology, blockchain technologies, they're creating, giving power back to the people, maybe it is more important than establishing specific regulations to establish a principle, guiding principles and we can come up with the principles with obviously the academia, non‑profit organization, private sector, so forth.  In conclusion, I would say that the Internet requires regulation, I think it should be a calm, evidence‑based approach, but we must find the priorities in the Human Rights and also in the basic properties of the Internet.

I think that would be a very effective tool to guide us as legislators.

Thank you.

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Unfortunately time is almost up.  We are allowed a few minutes to run over.

This has just shown how difficult, challenging it is for parliamentarians and basically if I can get just to one or two quick remarks on some of the issues, one is how to deal with your national competencies and global developments and global facts that you cannot really change or only moderately influence.

The other question, of course, would be we talk about representing people, how to make sure that you actually represent the people on issues that neither parliamentarians or all people do fully understand and the third question is one that we also are asking ourselves in my country, given that you have a very rapid development in technology, in the use of technology and we're living on beta version, beta 0.0, whatever version, we have parliamentarian processes that take year, five year, ten year, sometimes in my country to come up with a new law.  How can we also evolve into going for a better version law and then version 1.0, update type of ‑‑ how do we have to modify the political legislation system in order to cope with the development of technologies?

These are just a few points thrown in the room.  I hope they will be followed up in the later sessions.  Maybe a few very short remarks from one or two of you we can afford this still.  Thank you.

Just speak up I think, also those connected online.

I see a colleague from Gambia would like to say something, to speak I think.  The mic is on.

>> ALHAGIE MBOW: Thank you very much.  Yes.

Okay.  Thank you very much.

I think you just asked a very important question in terms of the represented people and the time it takes for laws to be made in some institutions for example.  That's a fact.

Now, the reason why sometimes it takes a lot of time for some of the legislation to actually, you know, to be completed, it is because sometimes consultations need to be done.  Now, when you bring it in terms of technology, technology moves in a very fast way.  Most of the legislation, actually you know, they're here, they can confirm, they are not very well familiar with technology.  What it means, they have to depend a lot on other people to help them.  By the time, you know, some of the things are brought to fruition, you know, it is ‑‑ that's why I said earlier, it is very important that parliamentarians be more engaged in the technology so that they can have a better understanding.

Now, if you check most parliaments in the world, if you check the number of people that actually have technology backgrounds, it is very limited.  That alone would actually effect some of the legislation that you have.  Now, my own parliament in Gambia, we have two people that are technology oriented, myself and another person that I taught at University actually.  It is very difficult, they do not understand.  By the time we do public consultation, talk to people, talk to people in academia, it really takes a lot of time.  That's the reason why I was saying we need to encourage our fellow parliamentarians to be more involved in technology or to encourage academia that will know technology to be active in parliament, to make that fast in terms of legislation.

Thank you.


We have a person in Zoom, Ahmed Almohanadi, a short remark from remote.  Thank you. 

We cannot yet hear you.  You may have to unmute yourself.

>> (Technical issue from Zoom participant).

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: I'm sorry, we cannot hear you speaking.  Unfortunately, this does not seem to work because we don't hear anything.  Now I hear something.

Maybe another quick remark from somebody.



Yes, we all know in this room that European bureaucracy is very slow.  Sorry, guys, to say that, that's the thing.  So sometimes maybe it is better to react on a national level.  But the basic value, the basic law, the basic principles are in place so my advice to national parliaments that we're trying to do at home is to be smart, to be quick, to be flexible and of course, as all know, there are sometimes executive orders that are taken more quickly if needed and I think the COVID pandemic showed very well what can be done globally, regionally, what has to be done nationally.

Many people have suffered, many people have died, but we would be really stupid if we do not learn from the COVID experience.

Thank you.

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Thank you very much.

I think we have to end this session.  Again, this is not the end of the parliamentarian track.

As bureaucrats, allow me, I'm not a member of the European Union, but we're still bureaucrats!  On other hand, it is sometimes useful if the parliament does not try to legislate too much on technology but the laws stay on the principle levels so that you can actually then adapt them to the development of technology and you do not have to recreate too detailed technology and mutual laws all the time.  That's something from the bureaucrats side would be a wish to the lawmakers in the countries.  The more you stay on the principle level, the easier and the faster you can actually adapt as bureaucracy with implementing the laws.

Thank you for this discussion.  Again, I hope this continues physically here in Katowice, virtually, hybridly, and also, of course, for the next IGF that will come in 2022.

Thank you, all! See you soon!