IGF 2021 – Day 2 – OF #60 Freedom Online - Internet Governance in the 2020s

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.



>> We all live in a digital world. We all need it to be open and safe. We all want to trust.

>> And to be trusted.

>> We all despise control.

>> And desire freedom.

>> We are all united.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Hello, everyone. And welcome to today's Freedom Online Coalition session. We're going to wait just another minute or two because some of our remote participants are still figuring out how to get connected. And we want to make sure all the panelists we have arranged to speak with you all today are present and accounted for. So please sit tight for just another minute or two while we try to sort some connection issues out on the virtual end.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Hello, everyone, thank you for joining us for the Freedom Online Coalition session at this year's IGF. We're still waiting for one of our key speakers to be able to connect. So we're going to give it just another minute or so. And then I will probably begin with the introduction to the session and hope that all of our panelists can join us. But if you were looking for the Freedom Online Coalition session on Internet Governance in the 2020s, you're in the right place. We're all just taking a minute to check email while we wait for connection issues to resolve.

>> EMMA LLANSO: All right. Wonderful. I think we are ready to start. We have I think all of our esteemed panelists with us today. So now we can actually get the session under way.

Thank you, all, for your patience. And we're really looking forward to a good conversation.

So, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, wherever you are. Welcome to the Freedom Online Coalition session on Internet Governance in the 2020s. My name is Emma Llanso. I'm the Director of the Free Expression Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology. I'm delighted to be your moderator today.

During today's session we'll hear from representatives of several of the member states including outgoing chair, Finland, the incoming 2022 chair, Canada, as well as representatives from Germany, and from the Freedom Online Coalition's Multistakeholder Advisory Network.

Our goal for this session is to discuss how the FOC has developed over the years. And to explore the role of government in addressing the opportunities and challenges around human rights in the digital context over the next decade.

We will also discuss the future of multistakeholder approaches to Internet governance. We invite you to share your ideas and questions as well.

For those of you who are joining by the Zoom, via the Zoom, joining us remotely, you can use the chat to your right to add in your questions or comments or ideas during the session. And we will have a dedicated period toward the end of the session where we can address those.

If there are any folks in the room, it's a little bit hard to see from here. I believe there are microphones and maybe a setup of someone in the room who will monitor and let us know if folks in the room would like to come in and ask questions. So if anyone in the room knows how that system is supposed to work, please do let me know. I'm sure we'll find a way to get your thoughts and contributions in as well.

Before I hand it over to our panelists, I just want to give a little bit of background about the Freedom Online Coalition for anybody who may not be deeply familiar with it. So the FOC is a partnership of now 34 countries who work together to promote and protect human rights online worldwide. This year is the tenth anniversary of the Freedom Online Coalition. Its members include governments from across the globe who work together to shape global norms through joint action and in particular through developing joint statements on different topics. And leveraging the language and key messages of those statements globally. Both in their individual capacities and through diplomatic coordination.

FOC statements aim to articulate a rights‑respecting vision for key issues in global Internet policy. And frequently include recommendations for governments, industry actors, and Civil Society.

Recent statements reflect some of the priority issue areas for the FOC. And include joint statements on the spread of disinformation online. COVID‑19 and Internet freedom. Artificial intelligence and human rights. And digital inclusion.

The FOC governments are also supported by a multistakeholder Advisory Network that includes Civil Society, including myself. Academic experts. Technologists. And industry representatives. Who provide input to the FOC's programmes of actions and states. Share their specific knowledge and expertise. And who also provide proactive advice on issues that the Advisory Network urges the FOC to consider or intervene in.

This panel will aim to highlight a broader perspective on FOC key priorities including disinformation, digital inclusion, and artificial intelligence. And to provide a more detailed understanding of how specific governments translate and operationalize the recommendations of the FOC joint statements into concrete actions with tangible outcomes.

The panel will also address the likely developments in global Internet governance in the coming years. And will discuss the important of supporting and developing multistakeholder approaches to Internet governance for protecting human rights in the digital environment.

So to get us started, I will now turn things over to our panelists. Starting with Mr. Rauno Merisaari who is the Finnish Ambassador for Human Rights. Over to you.

>> RAUNO MERISAARI: Thank you, Emma. And hello, my colleagues and all participants of the Internet Governance Forum. I'd really love to see all you, all you in person, but let's do it this way.

I'm going to say some words about the FOC's joint statement on spreading of disinformation. But before that, let me share some of the views of our experiences as the chair of the Freedom Online Coalition this year.

We've been honored to chair the coalition during the coal list's tenth anniversary this year. And last week, my government organized the FOC ministerial meeting. 30 ministers out of 34 member states. They were mainly foreign ministers. Attended the ministerial conference.

In addition to Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, gave a strong message in the meeting about how to regulate online content by public and private sector actors.

Both have to bear their responsibilities for safe and open online environment. You can still watch the live stream of the meeting on the Finnish ministry profile on its website.

The FOC ministerial launched the FOC tenth anniversary hosting a declaration for the coalition's work in 2020. The FOC governments will strive for a world that's rules‑based, democratic, and inclusive. The Internet must be accessible to as many people as possible globally, regardless of the background or gender.

During the chairship year, I've come to know this is more important than ever. As the face of digitalization is overwhelming. And we see a lot of negative sides to it as well as human rights online are being contested.

Open Internet is on the brink due to long‑term democratic decline, regulatory and technical fragmentation, and a new era of geopolitical competition. We need to defend rules‑based international order, including universal human rights online and offline, in order to keep the Internet open and interoperable. Globally.

Our response to these challenges is strengthening the global coalition of states and other stakeholders. Democratic states have a special responsibility in defending global free and open Internet. A responsibility to respect and promote rule rights and freedoms nationwide. And promoting international cooperation. Alliances between democratic states are needed more than ever.

But it is not enough in defending open (?) We need more dialogue with the states are not yet a part of in coalitions, for which are favorable to the multistakeholder Internet freedom agenda promoted by parties such as the Freedom Online Coalition.

Really, global Internet is inclusive, accessible, and affordable, everywhere. According to the ITU, roughly 40% of the world population is offline. Building trust in a digital space is one important aspect of connecting those who are not online. Openness and transparency are cornerstones of the trust.

We need more global north/south cooperation to reach Sustainable Development Goals including equal access to Internet.

I'm proud of the fact that the Freedom Online Coalition members represent all continents who can still strengthen our outreach and increase the number of the FOC member states. We are now 34. This year, we have welcome two new members, namely Italy and Luxembourg to the coalition.

We hand over to the next FOC chair soon. And we're happy that Canada will hold the FOC chairship in 2022.

And now some about disinformation and human rights. The FOC issued the beginning of this year a joint statement on spreading of disinformation. Finland was honored to lead the process with the United Kingdom. Disinformation is a growing human rights challenge. At the time when people all over the world increasingly turn to the Internet to connect, learn, and consume their news.

Disinformation can hinder open exchange of information. Freedom of opinion. And expression. And right to accessible information. Disinformation can erode trust in democratic institutions and public information. And it can lead to prioritization and increasing stigmatization and discrimination.

And the COVID‑19 pandemic has shown in every concrete way that we need global fact‑based information by cross‑border communication networks. And independent media.

But to be frank, we Finns have also a specific interest to strengthen international cooperation in combatting disinformation. Due to our history and geopolitical position, we are very well aware of cross‑border disinformation campaigns. According to international rankings where Finns have grades of high resilience against disinformation, due to our historical experiences and by high‑quality education for all children. And this includes teaching media and digital literacy skills.

But in some, the FOC calls upon all governments to refrain from conducting and sponsoring disinformation campaigns. We are all stakeholders to take up these steps to address the issue in a manner that respects human rights law. And we must combat disinformation, in particular, if it's the targeting of an impact on women and the most vulnerable.

I believe that the FOC will continue in the joint statement in the international fora. The time of disinformation is not over, I'm afraid. Combatting disinformation will be an elementary part of our work for freedom of expression and other human rights. Thank you, Emma.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Thank you. It's such a great example of how simple sometimes some of the calls in the joint statements from the Freedom Online Coalition can be. That the very obvious point of needing to call on governments not to conduct disinformation campaigns as sort of that's the baseline that we need to be moving from. You know, in addition to the other recommendations in the statement that go, you know, more granular. But I just, a quick reflection that that is something I think is really beneficial in the statements when you really see what does it look like to lay a human rights‑based foundation for this kind of work. And some of the most obvious first principles need to be articulated.

For our next speaker, we'll hear from Dr. Grienberger, cyber Ambassador from the German Federal Foreign Office. Over to you.

>> REGINE GRIENBERGER: Let me begin we congratulating the Finnish chair by keeping up the speed in times of COVID and had an incredible ‑‑ and your conference I think last week and we are really grateful that you are dealing with complicated issues in complicated times.

The Freedom Online Coalition has its tenth anniversary now. So I think it's fit for survival. And we need it.

I'd like to begin by recalling some elements of our annual conference in 2018 in Berlin. The then‑minister, Maas, just at this very moment is the new government. Maas was outgoing. Maas said in his speech, the Internet is a kind of global megacity, a virtual costopolis. The question is whether we succeed in keeping an Internet as a space of freedom or will it be an instrument of oppression? Will we succeed in organizing democracy in the age of digitization, or will the Internet become a threat to democracy in the end?

We chose as a freedom for the conference, Internet Freedom at a Crossroads. It seems we have chosen the wrong term or at least not the right term. Because Internet freedom is still an issue. We still haven't found a way, for example, to defend the civic space. I don't have to mention the Pegasus software. But we made also some progress. For example, the Human Rights Council adopted the first consensus resolution ever on a digital issue with a resolution on the right to privacy in digital age.

The German government fundamental freedoms and human rights apply online as much as offline. So do rule of law democratic values as laid out in international human rights law. And it is more relevant than ever to underline this.

Digital inclusion across the planet that I should focus on, Germany worked in a task force, it was called Digital equality, as a co‑chair with our dear colleagues from Ghana. Free and open access to the Internet for all. Who will deny that this is, nowadays, one of the key elements of global equality. Ghana has already commented on this.

While especially marginalized groups including girls and women can benefit most from the Internet, it is them who may face higher hurdles to access since societal divisions are reproduced online.

This is, I have to mention it because I chaired in UNESCO in the German chapter, inclusivity of the Internet. It was clearly shown that this is also the place in our developed society like Germany that girls and women do not have the same access to Internet as men.

The initiatives to close digital divides and also to support bridging the gap between the Global South and the Global North supports digital inclusion, has been a steady element of our government's efforts. Let us not forget other groups and persons who have been denied free and full access to Internet and social media on purpose by their governments. Let us think, for example, of the Chinese tennis player whose messages from social media have been deleted. We know that controlling the flow of online communication is an element of policy in some authoritarian countries. And various forms of Internet shutdowns affect whole populations or large parts of it time and again.

Therefore, the launching of the Freedom Online Coalition's task force on Internet shutdowns which Germany will also be part of. This is a hard truth. All the topics that we have on the table in 2018 are as pressing now as they were then. Thank you.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Thank you. Thank you for those reflections on sort of what we were all talking about three years ago, four years ago, about how some of the same issues are as prevalent now as they always have been. Also how they've changed. In some cases, we made progress. In some cases, the problems have taken on a different angle or gotten more complex.

I'll turn now to Mr. Philippe‑Andre Rodriguez, Deputy Director for the Centre for International Global Affairs Canada.

>> PHILIPPE‑ANDRE RODRIGUEZ: I'm happy to have the opportunity to participate once again in the Internet Governance Forum. I'm doubly pleased to do so alongside esteemed colleagues from fellow FOC countries and coalitions Advisory Network and I wanted to congratulate Finland on such a great, successful chairship of the FOC and Freedom online conference earlier this month.

Disinformation, digital inclusion, artificial intelligence, three topics that are really at the heart of what our team does at Global Affairs Centre for International Digital Policy. I must say it's really three issues that we really talk about altogether. That we don't try to disentangle given the obvious links between the three.

My intervention will focus on artificial intelligence. I'll start with a few words about Canada's engagement at the FOC then drill down on our leadership of the FOC task force on the human rights.

As a founding member of the FOC back in 2011, Canada realized the need of stakeholders to fight for Internet freedom and human rights online. I don't need to tell this audience that the need has only intensified over the past decade. I also don't have to tell this audience the human rights, like free expression, association, assembly, and privacy, are not the only equities at stake for democracies like ours.

In short, the work of the FOC is more urgent than ever before, which is why Canada is proud to be chairing the FOC in 2022 as announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a panel in which Emma was also present and continuing the great work of Finland this year

Back to AI. We launched T-FAIR in 2020. A hub for all things AI. AI is an umbrella term. The corresponding risks and opportunities for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law are varied and complex. T-FAIR's work is guided by the conviction that the governance of AI must be rooted in our international human rights framework. Why? Because our international human rights framework addresses some of the most pressing societal concerns about AI. Including nondiscrimination, privacy, and right to effective remedy when violations occur. Because our international human rights framework establishes and clearly defines the responsibilities of governments and the private sector, both critical players in the development, use and management of AI systems. Because our international human rights framework enjoys global recognition, that no ethical framework on AI could hope to achieve.

T-FAIR brings together over 30 organisations including 15 countries as well as members of the coalition's Multistakeholder Advisory Network. In the spirit of multistakeholderism, we have developed a growing network of external consultees from around the world who collaborate with us.

Recognizing that literacy in this fast‑moving field is a perpetual challenge in policy circles, we've taken advantage of this rich bowl of expertise to hold monthly learning calls where we dive into the intersection of action with topics such as privacy to explore human rights implications and share solutions.

One focus of T-FAIR's work has also been producing a joint statement on AI and human rights as Emma mentioned, which we launched at this very forum last year. This was truly a multistakeholder endeavor from start to finish. The Advisory Network helped narrow our focus on some of the most high‑risk AI technologies such as remote biometric identification and automated content and moderation. We also consulted Civil Society at forums to better understand the concerns of diverse groups including those experiencing, sorry, intersecting forms of discrimination.

The joint statement calls out the most urgent and egregious uses of AI for authoritarian and repressive purposes such as our arbitrary or unlawful surveillance practices and censorship.

Through its calls to action, the statement provides a roadmap for the international community to work toward building on important frameworks such as the UN Guiding Principles.

Now that we have endorsed by all 34 FOC members, what are we doing to translate words into action? Well, T-FAIR and our joint statement are enabling like‑minded coordination at international forums where norms are under development. For example, at UNESCO, states have negotiated an instrument that aims to form the international baseline for how states should government the development and use of AI systems. We have leveraged T-FAIR as a valuable platform for states to develop and coordinate positions and ensure international human rights is the basis for the governance of AI and for Civil Society and industry to have their say.

Our experience has shown us that oftentimes, smaller Civil Society organisations and smaller companies who are invested in the outcomes of these processes do not have the capacity to meaningfully engage and be heard.

T-FAIR provides a space for Civil Society organisations to exchange organisation on how to do so effectively and allows them to share their input directly with FOC countries. This is especially useful when international processes are restricted to state engagement, as we've seen as a growing trend in the context of COVID‑19.

T-FAIR coordination also allows FOC member countries to solidify common positions where possible with FOC joint statements as a common ‑‑ as a starting point and common position. And strategize interventions in these forums. This allows us to magnify individual voices and create a bloc of countries that can effectively push for a language supporting human rights respecting technologies.

With that, I'll relinquish the floor and look forward to questions and conversation. Thank you.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Thank you. I have to say as a member of the T-FAIR working group, it has been so useful to be able to have the learning calls and sort of the sharing of information that that enables. I think it's really kind of shone a light on how issues of AI are happening across so many different governmental and intergovernmental processes and parts of government and that expertise is broad and deep across a wide swath of Civil Society and industry. And so to have a focal point to bring people together, I certainly, personally, found it very useful. It sounds like from all of the other commentary from T-FAIR members that they have as well.

So now I am very happy to turn the microphone over to Adeboye, Senior Programme Manager, over to you.

>> ADEBOYE ADEGOKE: Thank you for putting this together. Also, thanks to the Government of Finland for their leadership over the years. I'm looking forward to the leadership.

Let me quickly comment with respect to the (?) Really, I'm looking at the artificial intention or the (?)

One thing I have been very consistent about is, number one, the approach to looking at these issues. Also we are very, very particular about compliance with international human rights standards. Whether you're thinking of how countries address the problem of disinformation. Or how we have intelligence systems. Or how we promote inclusion in our respective countries.

One point I'd like to also emphasize is the importance of creating models that can be replicated across different institutions or countries. What I'm saying, for example, is that many of the bad policies or laws that have been developed (?) shared across many countries. It has been noticed in a lot of eastern cities, you (?) What the models should look like in having a similar approach to developing many of the policies that are being developed regarding disinformation or inclusion. I think this is creating a big problem or issues across the world.

In Africa, for example, you have many countries who adopted cybersecurity laws, cybercrime law, that have very (?) And by the time we do pass many of these laws, we say they're copied from more countries. That country starts to copy it. So I also feel to the platform of FOC, we can also encourage countries in the FOC that are committed to promoting this. Also show some leadership. Also helping create model laws. Most times (?) Trying to enact legislation. To address many of these issues. They're looking around for which country has done this before. Is there a model that we can adopt?

So I'll stop there to allow for other questions. Thank you.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Thank you so much, Adeboye. I'll probably turn the microphone back over to you. I'd like to start off some discussion amongst the panelists. So the framing of this session is looking at Internet Governance in the 2020s. And I'd love to hear reflections from panelists on across these different issues we've been talking about. Digital inclusion, artificial intelligence, disinformation. What do you see especially coming up in the next year or two as kind of key issues or challenges that we're facing in the Internet Governance space. Whether that's a particular law in a particular country or a process that you have your eye on in one of these topics. What would you like to see the FOC be able to do with that? So maybe I'll pass that first to Adeboye then would love to have everyone else come in on that as well.

>> ADEBOYE ADEGOKE: Thank you. I'm happy to take the floor. I always speak from universal bias. When I look at it from that perspective, I see a lot of challenges in terms of the Internet governance that countries seem to be adopting. I kind of have an understanding of why this is so. I think there's a lot of struggles, you know, grasp of, you know, understanding the Internet. How to really create Internet governance system.

So irrespective of what is happening, perhaps, in the most developed countries, whether enforced by the U.S. government, proposed democracy (?) I think that my biggest concern is what is happening in many countries, in Africa, especially. What we're seeing is more of restrictions. More of, you know, efforts by local governments to kind of have a hand on governance of the Internet. Approaching the same traditional model that traditional governments are thinking about. So what we are seeing is there is very, very ‑‑ there's just lack of interest in approaching with a multistakeholder approach. There is (?)

>> EMMA LLANSO: I think we're having a little bit of trouble with your audio.

>> ADEBOYE ADEGOKE: With the ‑‑ hello?

>> EMMA LLANSO: Yes, yeah, just as I was saying that we were having a hard time hearing you, the audio cleared back up. So we can hear you now.

>> ADEBOYE ADEGOKE: The concerns that we see. To approach Internet governance. I think because of that frustration, trying to understand (?) That's a disadvantage for Global South, for Africa. A lot of countries whereby inclusion is still a big subject. So we are trying to encourage (?) Coming up with restrictive laws. We're talking about Uganda. I'm looking at Nigeria. You know. There are a lot of those places that are probably not ‑‑ this is happening side by side with concerns around inclusion. They're trying to, you know, push for people to get online. There's policies that discourage a lot of people from coming online.

Lastly, let me also ‑‑ I think one of the challenges we're seeing in cybersecurity gaps that exist in many countries. A Global South perspective. Because of this, there are also concerns regarding interests in digital (?) participating online for a lot of people who are digitally (?) Online cyber bullying, for example. Because there's no system in place. People don't feel protected. They don't feel protected. I think we need (?) There's a lot of expectation regarding the rule of government. The private sector. And ensure people feel really safe online.

Many of Africa, for example, are still offline. We want to get as many as possible of those people to come online. So apart from the policies, we also need some new kinds. Issues and challenges around safety online, which I think is the challenge, you know. (?) Thank you.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Thank you. That was really powerful and makes me think of what Rauno was saying kind of earlier about the real need and desire within the FOC to focus on more conversations and exchanges with governments who are not necessarily members of the FOC and how to kind of take that vision of a rights‑respecting Internet and policies rooted in human rights and rule of law and make sure that other governments are seeing that model and thinking of that model. And sharing that.

I'd like to invite any of our other panelists to come in on this comment of things that you're looking forward to or looking to trends or processes or issues coming up in 2022. And beyond. And would also like to remind all of our participants that we will shortly be turning to audience questions. So for folks in the room, still not entirely sure how we're facilitating that. But if you ‑‑ we may just ask you to come off mic and share your question, if you have them. And for folks who are joining us virtually, please do add your questions in the chat. Yes, would anyone else like to come in on the sort of looking forward question?

>> PHILIPPE‑ANDRE RODRIGUEZ: I'm happy to start, yeah. I can highlight two. One, I think we're at a crossroads between –

not to use Germany's name of its own conference – but we're going from a world where we were thinking about principles and we were thing about, you know, soft law, self‑regulatory processes around the regulation of Internet companies. To a world where increasingly policymakers are under pressure to regulate the Internet writ large and specific swaths of the Internet, if particular. Because of that pressure to do so relatively quickly, both within FOC countries, I must say, and outside, so really globally, there is a risk, really, that some of these regulations fall short when it comes to protecting and upholding human rights. I think that's a real risk.

Adeboye, you mentioned the importance of multistakeholder processes in this context. I think there is a risk here. Because multistakeholderism takes time. It takes resources and time to do it properly. And if policymakers are under a lot of pressure to deliver very quickly on some of these issues, because that's a main concern that comes out of, you know, the general population, there is a risk that there's a bit of a gap there between what policymakers put forth and what multistakeholderism could bring to the table in terms of better understanding of these issues. So I think that's a general source of concern.

And we're not immune from that in Canada. I think that's also something we are working on. How to find that balance between multistakeholder governance and being somewhat effective and responsive to these issues. So that's one.

Then, two, more broadly, there is increasingly what we could call a race to connectivity. And by that, I mean really a race to fund infrastructure internationally by different types of regimes. And in that context, there is a risk, a real risk, that by overfocusing on connectivity and not thinking about the kind of enabling environment online that we are creating, we may actually drive more exclusion and more polarization, not more inclusion and not more cohesion within societies.

And so there is this piece as well where when we talk about connectivity, and it's something that we're addressing through the Digital Equality Taskforce at the FOC. How do we create these enabling environments? How do question create ecosystems where connectively drives include instead of driving exclusion as we've seen in some contexts internationally. So two main concerns from our end.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Regine, yes.

>> REGINE GRIENBERGER: Let me comment on opportunities and challenges. Basically, the most important items were already mentioned. I would like to say for Germany, we will also focus on AI in the future and the Freedom Online Coalition.

AI facilitates our daily lives. We use it everywhere. And we will increase ‑‑ we will increasingly use it, let's say, on a private level, on a user level, because it makes many things much easier.

But on the other hand, we also have facial recognition of civilians. These are also dangerous developments supported by AI tools. And so I think that this is really also an issue for the Freedom Online Coalition.

We're taking over from Canada as the chair of the task force next year. I'm looking forward to working on this issue.

Multistakeholderism was also mentioned. Those of us who have grown up with the Internet as it is, for those, the smartest stakeholderism is evident and obvious we can't do without it. The Internet, 90% of it is private. The networks are private. The ‑‑ and states cannot provide for security or for content, themselves. So they have to work together with other stakeholders.

Bit nevertheless, this approach of multistakeholder responsibility in the Internet architecture is under pressure at the moment. There are states who do not see this as an efficient way to govern the Internet. And who have other ideas of state control of authoritarian control on the Internet. Which can really change our way of how to use it.

I must say that the stakeholder approach is also under pressure from another direction. And that is, let's say, the decreasing availability of big tech of the industry, of the private industry, for our dialogue. I mean, we look around in Katowice, how present are they in our talks? I mean, representatives of the tech industry. This is really something. We must keep them interested in these issues. And work with them in order to really be effective in finding the necessary rough consensus, as we call it in the Internet Governance Forum, for these governance questions.

And one last issue that we have experienced just these last days is the issue of fragmentation of the Internet. Repeatedly, I heard from counterparts that the Internet can be either free and open or global. It can't be both. And I would like to defend this original version of the Internet with free, open, interoperable, and global, and secure at the same time.

So, for example, also from our American partners and friends, the Future of the Internet Alliance, where we have to discuss, you know, the Internet is us. All of us. It can't be divided in allies and others. Enemies. Adversaries. We have to find a solution that includes as many people as possible. And this is also an issue. So I'll leave it at that. Thank you.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Thank you so much. And I think, Rauno, would you like to come in on that?

>> RAUNO MERISAARI: Yeah, thank you, Emma. Thank you, Philippe and Regine, for the comments. I agree you. We must defend globally working an open Internet. I understand the challenge. The open Internet is contested more than before. The question is whether the Internet is really open, free, if it's not global.

You said that Mr. Maas, formal, a policy or something like that. Some have said it's like a society. So it must work that way that where all people, business, Civil Society, and the authorities, are working together for all. So that's the only way to go forward.

And then another thing is that as Philippe said, most likely we'll have a long‑term discussion about regulation. But legally binding norms and non‑binding norms.

Now I see here also the specific role of the Freedom Online Coalition. The coalition between the states which are parties of different international treaties and conventions. And that some way gives us many possibilities.

Then my last point is about the, I'll just say, the glue of the action of the coalition. So we started some way as a classical coalition for open Internet and supporting the Human Rights Defenders online, et cetera. Over the past ten years, the scope of the themes has been widened. We are discussing more technical solutions. A good example is the artificial intelligence work. Done by our Canadian colleagues. I believe in some way, we must come back to that point where we finally are defending and supporting the Internet users. People, persons, on the Internet. And to be that way a human rights coalition. Thank you.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Great. Thank you. I do want to check, are there any participants in the room in Poland what would like to ask any questions? I think you have microphones in front of you, if you do. And so please feel free to come off mic right now to ask your question.

Oh. It looks like someone is asking a question, but we can't actually hear.

>> Okay. Well, I think because the Internet, obviously, it's not governed or ruled by anyone or anything. And the Internet has no borders as we know it in our physical world. But to guarantee a free, open, and global Internet, it could be useful to have a set of rules or worldwide laws that guarantee this freedom and security. But then how would we get there? That would be just an open question. In order to secure human rights on the Internet as well. That was my question.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Great. Thank you. Would any of our panelists like to offer thoughts on that? Sort of it, sounds to me like kind of a question at the core of what the FOC is designed to do as far as kind of developing and establishing norms that persist across nations. You know, I think the likelihood of getting kind of a single treaty that governs all of the different questions and challenges that arise in thinking about Internet Governance seems probably unlikely and maybe inadvisable depending on who you talk to. But I can just share from my perspective. I think part of what the FOC is trying to do through the process of things like developing joint statements and the diplomatic coordination that member governments do before they participate in different fora around the world is to really kind of do some of that development and make sure even if it's not all exactly the same law covering every, you know, the Internet entire, that at least as nations are building their laws and their systems, or negotiating treaties on particular issues like cybersecurity or agreements on privacy or things like that, that there really is consistency and coherency, the human rights framework as the underlying basis.

I see we also have a question for maybe I think it's a comment in our chat that I'll read just in case the folks in the room can't see. Someone noting that guarantee of openness is a duty not only of society but also about governments including connectivity and participants on the Internet, not limiting access to service and product. So I think really underscoring kind of themes that we heard a lot on this panel about how crucial this issue of connectivity really is to enabling participation online. Especially as I think Philippe was mentioning, connectivity on its own neither solves nor creates problems but it's how we go about enabling connectivity and all of the support and information and opportunities that people need along with access to the Internet. So that they can really kind of make their best use of it and find it as an empowering function that really drives toward inclusivity.

I think we are running fairly short on time. So if there are no other questions in the room or in the chat ‑‑ oh, we do have one more in the room. Yes.

>> Yeah. Thank you. I'm representing UNESCO. Sorry about being late. Because UNESCO has been supporting on the part of FOC since a long time ago. Congratulations for holding such a useful session.

I'd like to first react to the question for, yeah, raised by the colleague sitting in front of me about how we promote human rights online. I have to share our work. You know we have an international standard of human rights in place for a long time. All the rights should be promoted online, offline, are well recognized. The implementation, particularly at a national level. It's why we it's lack of evidence‑based approach to improve as a practice. And policies at national level. That's why we're advocating to other member states and stakeholders to do assessment and using UNESCO's Internet indicators to see what extent are those human rights are being protected or being violated at a national level. To look at the existence of the legal regulatory framework. And protected human rights like free expression, privacy, rights of association online. And also to give the recommendations, what are the gaps. What should be improved?

And the one common sharing, challenge, now we have applied the indicator assessment in 34 countries across 5 continents including many of the FOC countries. One strong call is really to have the Internet recognized as a human right. To be legalized. Because Internet's a public good. And all the rights. Internet means rights to everything. Right to education. Right to participation. Right to health. Everything. So that's a very crucial challenge. I also count on our FOC coalition to advance this agenda at the national level as well.

That's my two cents. Also I have a question to you, FOC. Because at this IGF, we heard a lot of discussion on the United Nations action to have global digital compact through the digital collaboration. That would be a moment, I see we can drive global changes including advancing the human rights open Internet agenda. So what's your action on the strategy of FOC in facing this new initiative from UN as intergovernmental coalition? It's a very unique network in the IT ecosystem. And how you would suppose UNESCO and other stakeholders collaborate you to join synergies supporting this global digital compact. Thank you.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Yes. I see Rauno then Philippe.

>> RAUNO MERISAARI: Thank you, and thank you for the question from Katowice. Let me just say we're very thankful to the UNESCO. You have been a very good and close partner today to the Freedom Online Coalition. We have a diplomatic network in Paris. Philippe can maybe tell more about the future of that. That diplomatic network. And we certainly shall do more work together using your assessment tools. That's something we can still improve our performance.

And then about the UN. So that has been one of the guidelines of the Finnish chairship. I believe Canadian colleagues will continue the work to work closely with the different UN bodies and UN initiatives. Thank you, Emma.

>> PHILIPPE‑ANDRE RODRIGUEZ: In one minute, very, very quickly. One, the FOC already facilitated a lot of consultations across the roadmap for digital cooperation including especially on issues related to artificial intelligence through T-FAIR last year. We're already part of that process as an organisation.

And Canada actually co‑champions alongside Mexico, another FOC member, the roundtable on digital inclusion in that process leading to a UN digital compact. So really ‑‑ I don't like that word. But the synergies between what the FOC does and what the UN Secretary‑General's office does, we're working quite closely. We're talking quite often about these issues.

So, really, we're working forward to working together in 2022 and 2023 on these issues including through Canada's chairship.

Also, obviously, Finland has played a really important role, I should say, in facilitating and really giving a voice in Paris to the FOC in processes related to UNESCO. So we're definitely looking forward to continuing that conversation in Paris and beyond. Thank you.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Yeah. Thank you, both. And thank you for the great question. Unfortunately, that is I think all the time that we have for questions today. And we've already lost one of our panelists. So thank you to Dr. Regine Grienberger. I wanted to give Adeboye an opportunity for a closing thought. If you'd like to give any kind of conclusions, reflections or what you'd like to see the FOC do in 2022.

>> ADEBOYE ADEGOKE: Thank you. I'll leave my camera off. So just know, for me, it's great to see the FOC, number one, continue the work that it currently does. Collaboration. Provided support to ensure the FOC's work. That should be sustainable. The leadership of the FOC.

I'd also like to see more leadership on part of the FOC in terms of trying to provide guidance. In addition to some of the statements that have been put out. I think more can be done in terms ‑‑ (?) Statement, perhaps, more specific work can be taken on in terms of providing leadership for many. Members of the FOC who can benefit from this. I think the countries can benefit from that.

Lastly, I also think that (?) membership and a lot of countries that need to get onboard. I think the FOC should work more to see how other countries that are represented can also be brought to the FOC. Thank you.

>> EMMA LLANSO: Thank you so much. Adeboye, thank you for all your work on the FOC Advisory Network. A big thank you to the Government of Finland for the wonderful chairship over this past year. Good luck to the Government of Canada for taking this work over in 2022. Most of all, thank you to the participants who joined us for the panel today and especially to our virtual participants and to everyone who's in the room in Poland. I hope you're having a wonderful time seeing each other in person and hopefully at next year's IGF, wherever that may be, we can all be back together in person again. Thank you, all.