IGF 2023 WS #307 Data Governance in Broadband Satellite Services

Thursday, 12th October, 2023 (01:30 UTC) - Thursday, 12th October, 2023 (03:00 UTC)
WS 2 – Room A

Data Governance & Trust
Data Localization, Data Residency, and Data Sovereignty

Organizer 1: Mona Gaballa, Internet Society (ISOC)
Organizer 2: Dan York, 🔒Internet Society
Organizer 3: Kulesza Joanna, 🔒
Organizer 4: Akcali Gur Berna , 🔒

Speaker 1: Kulesza Joanna, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 2: Dan York, Technical Community, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 3: Akcali Gur Berna , Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 4: Peter Micek, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Larry Press, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Additional Speakers

Kulesza Joanna, Civil Society, Eastern European Group

Online Moderator

Dan York, Technical Community, Intergovernmental Organization


Kulesza Joanna, Civil Society, Eastern European Group


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

How are national and international laws applied in the governance of LEO satellites and multi-orbital solutions in the context of data flows, privacy, personal data protection, and cybersecurity? What are potential benefits and challenges of satellite-dependent Internet access in achieving the SDGs? How can we ensure this technology is implemented sustainably, respects privacy and personal data protection, and addresses cybersecurity concerns? How can Internet access be considered a fundamental human right and be made accessible to all, including marginalized communities and developing countries? What regulatory frameworks and policies are needed to ensure equitable and inclusive access to satellite-dependent Internet services?

What will participants gain from attending this session?

Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of the potential benefits and threats associated with this new technology, particularly in regards to transboundary data flows. They will also learn about the existing international legal framework designed to ensure the peaceful exploration and use of space, and how it applies to the regulation of commercial communication satellites. Privacy and cybersecurity concerns related to Low Earth Orbit satellite technology will be addressed with reference to these norms.

Furthermore, participants will gain insights into the potential of LEO satellite technology to complement existing infrastructure and further global connectivity, while addressing concerns related to sustainability, privacy, and cybersecurity. We will in particular look at data flows enabled with this new infrastructure component, looking at regional approaches to privacy, personal data and national security concerns. Overall, attendees will leave the session with a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges presented by satellite-dependent internet access, and the necessary measures required to govern its use and implementation.



The primary objective of this panel is to evaluate the advantages and challenges associated with satellite-dependent Internet access and identify the potential benefits and risks regarding the transboundary flow of data. The panel examines this new phenomenon by referring to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), international law, and regulatory snapshots from African countries, analyzing whether current policies provide practical solutions to potential issues.  (How) can non-spacefaring nations engage with LEO satellite Internet connectivity in a way that contributes to closing the digital divide while recognizing their understanding of digital sovereignty?

The panel begins with the premise that the governance of outer space is based on its identification as a global commons - a resource that is not owned by any one nation but is essential to the future of all humanity. As a result, all space-related activities, including the domestic regimes that regulate the launch and operation of commercial communication satellites, are anticipated to comply with international space law. The international legal framework is intended to guarantee the peaceful exploration and utilization of space. Likewise, the telecommunications sector has long been regulated at the national, regional, and international levels. Therefore, concerns related to privacy and cybersecurity related to the use of LEO satellite technology are likely to be addressed by these norms.

To legally provide satellite internet, host countries must adhere to international regulatory guidelines, which involve obtaining proper authorization and licensing. This includes granting landing rights, licensing the import and setup of equipment, managing frequency spectrum, and delivering internet services. It is essential to have a partially liberalized telecommunications market that encourages investment in ground stations, access points, and downstream services to establish a thriving satellite services ecosystem.

Addressing sustainable internet access at the development stage of the infrastructure for new generation mobile technologies, along with LEO satellite technology, will directly benefit the implementation of the SDGs and the communities they aim to support. Therefore, a concise and well-supported narrative on the need for sustainable internet access is essential.

Overall, this panel assesses the potential advantages and disadvantages of satellite-dependent internet access, recognizing the significance of global governance of outer space in ensuring peaceful exploration and use. Through an examination of the current legal framework and the identification of its shortcomings, the panel aims to support the implementation and use of this new technology to further global connectivity while addressing concerns related to sustainability, privacy, and cybersecurity, with a particular emphasis on transboundary data flows.

Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet) has endorsed this panel as per its policy: https://www.giga-net.org/endorsements/.

Expected Outcomes

The expected outcome of this session is to deepen the understanding of the opportunities and challenges of satellite-dependent Internet access, particularly in relation to the transboundary flows of data, privacy, personal data protection, and cybersecurity. The insights gained from this session will contribute to ongoing efforts to interpret and address the existing legal framework governing satellite technology and Internet access. This session will build on previous work, including a report, peer-reviewed publications, and a survey, and may lead to further publications or follow-up events to advance the discussion on these important issues. By clarifying applicable policies and regulatory frameworks and assessing their limitations, this workshop will provide attendees with valuable insights into the governance of LEO satellite technology and multi-orbital solutions, with a focus on privacy and data flows, as well as its potential impact on sustainable development.

Hybrid Format:
To facilitate interaction between onsite and online speakers and attendees, we will leverage the extensive experience of our panelists and use the online moderator to ensure equal participation between onsite and online attendees. We will provide scoping questions ahead of the session through social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn to increase participation and ensure the best possible experience for all attendees. During the session, we will allow written questions to be asked by online participants through the chat feature and by both onsite and online participants using specific hashtags on social media. We will manage the interaction queue appropriately. We will also ensure people online can hear questions and information provided onsite, repeating information if necessary. Additionally, we may use polls, quizzes, and word clouds from services such as Mentimeter (https://www.mentimeter.com/ ) or Slido (https://www.slido.com ), where people can participate via mobile phones, both onsite and online.