Opening session: Internet for democracy – a tool, a trap or what? – 2011
30 May 2011 | 12:00–13:30
Programme overview 2011
Participants in this session are asked, both from a pan-European and global perspective, to give their views on the role of the Internet for democracy. Are social media applications indispensable tool for “people’s power” – and what else is needed for its victory? Is access to the Internet a fundamental right, or an optional extra that the government can deny to its citizens at any time?
- Carl Bildt, Minister of Foreign Affairs (video message)
- Jasna Matić, State Secretary for Digital Agenda, Republic of Serbia
- Erika Mann, ICANN Board Member
- Birgitta Jónsdottir, Member of Parliament of Iceland
- Marietje Schaake, MEP
- Marek Slacik, Telenor
- Peter Matjasić, European Youth Forum
- Vujica Lazović, Deputy Prime Minister, Montenegro
- Patrik Fältström, Cisco
- Yrjö Länsipuro, ISOC Finland
A key question of the fourth EuroDIG was: “Internet for democracy – a tool, a trap or what?”
“[There is] a trend also among democratic governments to join with those who want to regulate more and more. And I can certainly agree, there are needs as there are in all of society to have an amount of rules and an amount of regulation and an amount of codes of behaviour. But I think it's exceedingly important that we don't carry these too far. (…) from the European point of view our emphasis should be on the freedom issues of the net. There are other voices in the world that are pressing in another direction, and we should be on our guard against those particular tendencies. And I think we need to develop as unified and as strong a European voice on these issues as we can. (…) the Internet is under threat and freedom is under threat, and we in Europe have to stand up for the freedoms of the world and for the freedom of the Internet.”
Extract from the video message of Carl Bildt, Swedish Foreign Minister
Bildt further underlined that the Internet is about rights and freedoms in particular that it paves the way for freedom of information. He continued by saying that it makes it much harder for dictatorships and authoritarian regimes to control things, therefore standing up for freedom of and on the net is important.
It was also stressed that blocking and filtering should be avoided. While some governments have become more sophisticated in resorting to these methods, it was emphasised that such behaviour is not in line with European standards and principles and not acceptable. Solutions must reflect European standards and principles, as well as the plurality of European societies. Restricting rights and freedoms cannot be the answer to public problems like malicious content. The way forward is rather to address these issues in society. A free society should retain a free Internet.
Furthermore, the responsibilities of all actors and stakeholders involved who decide or influence the restrictions on Internet content was highlighted. Responsibilities need to be shared and cannot be delegated. Private companies need to be encouraged to behave responsibly on the Internet. The role of self-regulation was deemed important in this light.
During the opening session it was underlined that if countries and societies in transition can make use of the Internet tool, this can promote democratisation and more rights to the people. It was said, that there should be the same rights online as offline. Information does not recognise borders; national laws are less fundamental than before and do not easily adapt to the information age. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) plays a crucial role in this evolution and thereby should fulfil its responsibilities, like others in this field. Access to the Internet – in terms of infrastructure and content – is considered a fundamental right. It is up to people what they do with it. But freedom always requires a sense of responsibility as well. There was broad consensus that most people have the desire to be free and to decide for themselves, and will use the new tools and liberties linked with it in a responsible way.
“Several European countries already offer their citizens a legal right to access broadband Internet. Social networking is becoming an essential part of people's rights to communicate and assembly. It is thus not surprising that time spent on the Internet is ever increasing.“
Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General, Council of Europe
The role of law enforcement has to be reconsidered so that principles like openness are not endangered and abused for reasons of security and protection. Debates on this issue need to be organised and conducted in a manner to include all stakeholders and parties.
Youth representatives underlined that the Internet is not just about the new promises of technology, but rather it is about what people do with it – this can be good or bad. New options like e-voting systems might be useful tools but must promote and ensure better public participation in democracy.
Discussions pointed out the need for more public awareness of the positive and negative aspects of social networks, particularly the privacy implications and potential for interference. The social responsibility of users was underlined; it is not just about corporate and social responsibilities by business. Bridging gaps in society necessitates e-inclusion measures at different levels as well as ongoing programmes to assist vulnerable and marginalised groups. Minority voices need to be better perceived and respected.
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This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.
>> So welcome everyone. We are a bit late so we would like everyone to take a seat as quickly as possible.
For those of you who are – that are hungry, that are nervous about being able to get some time to eat food, the organizers are working on that. So, don’t be nervous, there will be time for eating. On the other hand, it might be the case that some of the other sessions this afternoon will also be delayed, because we want to ensure that the discussion on this session will actually be interesting, even though we might not run for one and a half hours as planned.
To launch off this session with the distinguished panelists, we have one of the intended panelists, the Swedish foreign minister, could not participate. So we have a video message from him that will help us launch the session. So please play the message.
>> CARL BILDT: I’m very pleesd to be able to say a couple words to you in Belgrade. I’m very sorry not to be there. I would have liked to be so.
I think you have an important possibility of European Dialogue on these important issues prior to a lot of people getting together for the Internet Governance Forum in Nairobi in September of this year. I understand the subject of your opening session is Internet for democracy, a tool, a trap or what? I think most of us know roughly the answer to that particular question. But we also know the importance of really addressing these issues at a critically important period in time. We do see and just look at development that we have seen in the Middle East and in North Africa, but also in the east of Europe. The importance of the Internet is something that paves the way for more freedom of information, that makes it much harder for dictatorships and authoritative regimes to control things. It was not a coincidence that Mubarik, in his dying days, tried to close down the Internet. And we have seen that same pattern repeat each and everywhere. So we have to stand up for the freedom of the Internet off the net and on the net for this crucial period of time.
At the same time, it’s separate but they are related, we see a trend among also Democratic governments to join with those who want to regulate more and more. And I can certainly agree, there are needs as there are in all of society to have an amount of rules and an amount of regulation and an amount of codes of behavior. But I think it’s exceedingly important that we don’t carry these too far. And although there is a need for discussion on these issues, I would say that from the European point of view our emphasis should be on the freedom issues of the Net. There are other voices in the world that are pressing in another direction, and we should be on our guard against those particular tendencies. And I think we need to develop as unified and as strong an European voice on these issues as we can.
I hope that you’ve seen the report that was presented by the UN special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression that he presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. We have been helping him and others in their work over the past year because we think the issues are of paramount importance for the future, and we hope this report will be the basis for a broad discussion not only in Europe, but we need to broaden it across all of the countries of the world. Because the Internet is under threat and freedom is under threat, and we in Europe have to stand up for the freedoms of the world and for the freedom of the Internet.
One issue and one conclusion that is coming out of this report, which I think is important, is that blocking and filtering of content, popular in certain quarters, should be avoided. A number of governments have become more sophisticated in trying to monitor the behavior and also to a certain extent to censor the content of the Net. We must send a strong message that according to the values that we represent, this is simply not acceptable.
The solution –
– is another one. Of course, there are even things on the Net, there are bad things on the Net. The Net reflects society. As a matter of fact, there are bad things said on telephones and evil things said on telephone, they happen on television and in public squares. But the answer is not to close down the telephone system or ban television or prevent manifestations in the streets, it’s to address the issues for society. The Internet is – mirrors society, and a free society should retain the free Internet.
Another important aspect of the freedom on the Internet is the responsibility of actors other than the governments. For example, the intermediaries of the Internet, deciding on the limitation of the Internet content that might be there, the state should never hand that responsibility over to the private sector to defend intermediaries. No one –
– no one should be responsible for the content that is distributed, provided it’s not the author, unless one has specifically accepted to do so. And we need to find effective ways to protect intermediaries internationally. One could be to promote national systems by which content can only be ordered to be blocked after ruling by a court.
Obviously, on the Internet, government would have to respect the obligations according to fundamental rights, and I’m pleased to see that we are getting more and more clarification regarding how this is supposed to be done.
But we should also encourage private companies and different sorts to behave responsibly on the Internet. That should be based on voluntary commitments.
I welcome this particular context, of course, the work that is under way in the framework of the Global Network Initiatives. And I would encourage more and more European companies to join that particular important work.
I see that the Swedish investment firm, Folston, is one that joined recently, and I congratulate them on that mission. I’m pleased that the current revised guidelines for multi-national enterprises does encourage enterprises to support cooperative efforts to promote Internet freedom through protection of Freedom of Expression. It’s simply an association online. This revised guideline should be seen as useful tools to enhance the different cooperative efforts that obviously are so necessary in this area.
Despite the fact, which is undisputable, that governments are getting more and more savvy on how to monitor and control the Net, my strong sense of belief is that the social media, with its powerful and unique way of communication, is here to stay. To promote open societies, to promote freedom, to promote a more open world, it is simply not possible to control fully.
And what we are doing, of course, is also that we are giving some means of support and some means of help to those that are able to provide the technologies that makes it possible, really, to access all of the Net, even in situations – even in IRS, even in countries where our governments are trying to suppress the freedom of the individuals. That is important and we will continue to do that.
There are many very concrete, very difficult issues that I hope you will be able to address during your days in Belgrade. I think it is important that we have a strong European voice in the global debate on these particular issues, both on the freedom of the Net and the security of the Net.
And I always stress that I think it’s important that these two are addressed together. Otherwise there is risk that we get a freedom lobby and a security lobby and a civil war between them. They should be one Internet lobby that meets with both the security and freedom issues and shows that they go together.
Among the things that I hope that you can perhaps in the distinguished panel, in this first or one of the first sessions I understand in Belgrade, which I hope that you’ll be able to address, I’ll just mention, too: Is there a need at the international level to develop more adequate norms regarding companies, government, and individuals’ behavior on the Internet to promote, protect the freedom of the Internet? And if the answer is yes, what kind of normative action should then be possible? What could be the most effective in conformity with the values that we have been discussing?
And, secondly, how do we best respect the right to privacy of the individual? I think this is going to be a more and more sensitive question in our different societies. Do you agree with what the UN special Rapporteur States or says? That except for very limited strictly controlled situations, we should issue that individuals can express their themes anonymously online and refrain from adopting real name registration issues. These are among the issues that I hope you’ll be able to address.
And let me also say that we – I’m pleased to announce, someone else might be announcing it, that Sweden through the Telecom Agency will host your next meeting in 2012.
So have a nice time in Serbia. And welcome to Sweden next year.
>> MODERATOR: Well, thank you Carl Bildt.
Now we have three quarters of an hour time to debate the question Internet for democracy, is it a tool, or a trap, or what?
We are lucky to have a panel of distinguished, insightful and knowledgeable people here to discuss that. Thank you all for coming.
I’ll introduce the panelists as we go. One by one. So let’s get going.
And we start with a question on the basis of what we have seen around the world, in North Africa and elsewhere, is the Internet and its applications. Definitely a tool for democracy or is it a trap? Is it a delusion, like one scholar put it? Even Mark Zuckerberg in Paris, in his typically modest way, said that Facebook had nothing to do with those revolutions. So, how essential has the access to the Internet and its applications been for these mobilizations? Of course, communications were always part of political change. Guttenberg or telegraph or whatever.
So, let’s go from here, and the first – first I would like to give the floor to you, Mrs. Marietje Schaake.
>> MARIETJE SCHAAKE: Well, coming from a country that has undergone it’s own revolution ten years ago, and after numerous efforts of our people to have something like that happen, I can certainly say that Internet in my opinion is a democratization tool, because access to information is the key to democracy. And we in Serbia have suffered from lack of information, from misspent information, and if we had widespread use of Internet that would have been a different story for us. So there is no dispute in my mind that, as any other platform or technology, Internet can and will be abused by autocratic regimes.
But on the other hand, it will provide a freedom of information which is unprecedented in the history of humankind.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you.
Next, Mrs. Birgitta Jonsdottir, is a member of the Parliament of Iceland and a founder of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative. How do you see Internet in the service of democracy and political change?
>> BIRGITTA JONSDOTTIR: It’s absolutely essential, and it’s essential that we have the same rights online and off line; that we are considered to be citizens with civic rights online, just the same as we are off line.
And it is essential that we create a standard for laws protecting freedom of information, speech, and expression that reflects the reality that information doesn’t have any borders.
We are way behind in most countries – most countries have legislation in this regard based on the 17th century French revolution, so it’s time to upgrade our laws to protect sources, information, whistleblowers, freedom of speech, free press, essential history protection and so forth.
And I don’t want to have a long speech, so I just encourage you to go to the International Modern Media Institute. IMMI.IS to look up what we are we’re suggesting. And I hope that the European Union will adopt this into their law, because they are lagging behind.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Next I would like to ask Mrs. Erika Mann, who is a member of the board of the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Number, ICANN. What are the implications for ICANN if the Internet is really, you know, identified with the political change?
>> ERIKA MANN: I think that’s something where ICANN is actually used to. Since the very beginning, we were in the center of the focus because of the stakeholder role and because of the uniqueness. Many governments would love to have a different environment. So I think it’s something where the ICANN board is very much aware of how unique this role is and how important the role is.
And the open Internet architecture and the open Internet ecosystem as a whole, it’s highly important for all of us. It’s important for the people who are engaged in a revolution and who want to connect with similar people. But as much it is important for the other ones, which are watching it. And I remember very well, you know, when I was watching, you know, the spring revolution in the Middle East, that I was, you know, drawn to Argis Iva. I was drawn to the information that I received through Twitter or Facebook from my friends who are engaged in the event or who were watching it like I did. So it’s important for all of us.
In the past we were used to being national citizens. We are still national citizens and proud to be one, but at the same time we are part of an international global process. We are all engaged in it. And so it’s a similarity, which is so important and interesting.
And since you asked for ICANN, I think ICANN is in the center of it, part of the evolution. It’s very different because it has a different role to play, like we all have to play. And we all need to understand our responsibilities. So we are not, you know, we have a unique role and we are not governing the Internet like some people do. But we have our, you know, role in running the numbers and the name, which is important. But it’s a limited role, which we play.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you.
I’d like to ask, Mrs. Birgitta Jonsdottir, who is a Dutch member of the European Parliament and belongs to the alliance of liberals and Democrats for Europe. But I think that you got some greetings here from Iceland about the European policies.
And I would like to ask you, is there something that Europe could do, meaning the European Union, the European Parliament, in order to help those who are using the Internet for democracy around the world?
>> BIRGITTA JONSDOTTIR: Yes, we can. My political party is called D66. And we have as I think one of the first political parties in one of our previous conventions about two years ago accepted the access to the Internet as a fundamental right for people. And initially, there was a bit of laughter and skepticism. But I think increasingly we see that it’s become indispensable.
But to ask whether the Internet is a tool or trap for democracy is like asking whether paper is a tool for romantic literature or spreading hatred. It’s in the hands of people that these tools develop into what they are. And I personally believe people have an unstoppable desire to live freely and be independent.
Monopolies of access to spreading information, printing information, communications have been broken, and the individual has become much more empowered. And I think it’s appropriate as we are in Serbia to commemorate and to congratulate the Ultpor movement of resistance against the Milosevic government, which inspired the peaceful calls for freedoms across the world. These are people resolutions as any other demonstration and calls for freedom has been. And I would like to emphasize the importance in policy making to keep in mind that we’re talking about the rights of people.
The Internet changed a lot, but not the fundamental rights of people. And we must work in frames that defend and respect and guarantee these fundamental and inalienable rights of people, and not get too distracted about which specific technology may lead to what. We must assess based on whether human rights could be compromised now or in the future, whether and how to deal with certain technologies, but the basis should always be the rights of people.
And I think the EU has a massive challenge ahead. There are fundamental threats to Internet freedom right now within the EU. It’s nice to talk about the rest of the world, Internet freedom is a hype and buzz word that a lot of ministers increasingly enjoy talking about, but just to list a few challenges in the EU and then I’ll end because I’d rather engage in discussion with the audience.
Cybersecurity is a massive hype and reminds me a lot about the way in which we dealt with the war on terror. We must not invent medicines that are worse than the disease, and always look at remedies or solutions or threats to our security in the same light as in the guarantee of fundamental rights and Internet freedom.
The way in which intellectual property rights are enforced, such as through inspections and intermediary liability, is creating a slope that can lead to dangerous censorship, and we must be careful about letting economic interests break Net Neutrality and allow for the infringing measures to take place.
Another risk that I want to highlight is an increasing reliance on self regulation, where Democratic oversight is compromised, and it’s difficult to see who is ultimately responsible for, for example, for blocking content or cutting people off the Internet. And so Europe needs to practice what it preaches in order to ensure credibility in the world and trust of its citizens.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you.
Now, we have Marek Slacik on our panel. As you see, CMO, Chief Management Officer, of Telenor Serbia. And my question to you is, really, are we on a shaky ground here in the sense that Internet is fine and it can be used this way or other? And then what happened in Egypt is that somebody pulled the plug and here we are in the proverbial Egyptian darkness. So what is the operator’s view on this?
>> MAREK SLACIK: Well, I guess, this is way above us. We are just the providers of the service. And it’s probably very little to do, when somebody just makes a decision and turns it off. So from that perspective, you know, representing the pure commercial view, obviously it’s a loss of revenues.
But looking at it more from the bigger picture point of view, I think it is just proving that the Internet has become so effective a way of spreading any piece of information at a rapid speed that ultimately the only way to stop that avalanche is actually to switch it off. And that is proving the concept, in a way.
So from the industry point of view, I do feel sorry for our colleagues in Egypt for getting their networks switched off. But at the same time, I think it’s – I think it’s a celebration of the concept, because that concept has proven to work very well.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you.
We have Mr. Peter Matjasic from the European Youth Forum, the President of the forum, and perhaps it’s good to have a youth perspective on all of this, and what is going on, especially – I mean, I think that it was said that Twitter doesn’t make revolutions, people do.
>> PETER MATJASIC: Thank you very much. We believe that the Internet is a tool. It can be used for almost anything. It can foster democracy, it can bring people closer together. It is a tool to empowerment, but it also has a dark side, as humankind has as well.
In the European Youth Forum, we believe that Internet access and digital literacy are essential tools for active participation in society. We believe the view for organisations as providers of nonformal and informal learning can serve as hubs for ways of fostering digital literacy for young people and other stakeholders alike. Moreover, peer-to-peer approaches by using collaborative online tools can lead to empowerment of both organized and unorganised youth.
In Europe, we are still fighting for human rights and youth rights. The Internet needs to be widely accessible, both in terms of infrastructure and in terms of digital literacy. And it has to stay free from anybody who is trying to control it.
Therefore, the way forward is the example of estonia where it became a constitutional right. We now have an increasingly high interest of government, we heard that already today, in Internet Governance, but this interest is mainly an economic driven one.
Furthermore, they make the fundamental mistake of only looking at it from the protection and control point of view, rather than making the process more user centered, focused on values of democracy, freedom, Human Rights, and ensuring equal Web opportunities for all. Internet is for everyone to share and use. It is not the next territory to conquer.
E-Democracy is not about having –
– is not about having an e-Government. Because that focus, as we heard earlier today on providing public services to citizens, it’s not only about e-Voting, it’s about participation. Participation in all possible forums, both online and off line and for all age groups, but especially for young people as the users of today and tomorrow and the ones who should be really shaping the policies. And that’s exactly what the New Media Summer School that was organized over the weekend with the support of Council of Europe and the European Youth Forum did this weekend. What and why? Because they wanted to empower young people to be able to participate in this meeting now, in the coming two days, in order to talk about new media policies, for having them tell to you what they think of this. And empower them to also be able to do the basic stuff, standing up and explaining their point of view, which is not always self understood given the educational system here.
So it’s important that you also listen and are open to their messages. They will be standing up during the workshops. They will present their questions and messages to you. They have a stand outside, so please take the chance to use this.
But it’s important to mention that e-Democracy is also about Freedom of Expression. Therefore, we shouldn’t filter or block the Internet. If we look at current examples of the Spanish revolution, would you consider Spain as a country could block the access to Internet as China does? I don’t think so. Would it change anything? No. Because at the end of the day people are just using the tools, as was mentioned, in order to come together and express themselves freely, and that’s the main point.
And to finish off, I want to say when we talk about Internet and governance, we can’t think of a fortress to protect, but we have to think of it as a global issue. We thought we were done with walls in Europe, and it’s important to make sure that Europe now plays a leading role in setting the agenda for its citizens to be really involved in the shaping of the Internet of tomorrow.
>> MODERATOR: And to conclude this round of views from the next hostess of the EuroDIG, please, Marietje.
>> MARIETJE SCHAAKE: Many of the Swedish perspectives were put forward by the Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, so I’ll try to make it short.
One thing, like the Internet, talking about the Internet being the measure of democratization, I agree with many of the other speakers. But mainly it’s a tool of communicating. But communication and dialogue and reaching information and also spreading information, they are important tools. So it hangs together.
But on the other hand, the Internet is really the best revolutionary platform for that. But on the other hand, as our Minister Carl Bildt said, the Internet is also a mirror or a reflection of our society. Some of the words that we have in the off line world appear in the online world. They are the challenges that we have to discuss.
I hear many questions coming up, so I’m interested to continue to discuss.
>> MODERATOR: I think we will lose one panelist now because she has to go to prepare for hosting a lunch. The others are waiting for our lunch, a bit more than planned. And we still continue. Thank you very much for your participation.
And now, over to you, Patrik.
>> PATRIK FALTSTOM: Thank you very much.
So one of the things that I think we heard all morning and what you heard the panelists talking about – and I think one of the best illustrations of that, you can see outside, outside this room, one of the drawings that Diplo had done which was a scale, which is the balance between various forces that tried to – one of the forces is that we would like to have more openness; hear more about it. We have heard so much about it. Then we have other forces which talk about being able to – interests from law enforcement agencies to do their job, whatever we have asked the law enforcement agencies to do. Of course then we have commercial forces that would like to make as much money as possible, more economic forces.
We heard that many of the – one of the panelists, the discussion has to do with innovation and to make the society more effective. And the question is how much of the openness or law enforcement interest is balanced into that? I participate myself in some of the discussions with law enforcement agencies in the Commission, and it’s kind of interesting to see how little of the interests of openness that we hear in this room exist. On the other hand, I’m also a bit surprised that we don’t hear a lot from law enforcement agencies like in this room.
So is it the case like Carl Bildt said that we start to see two different forces and they are talking sort of less and less with each other? Is it a risk that we will see very diverging views and very, very hard to bring this dialogue together?
And anyone have any idea on how we can bridge this?
>> BIRGITTA JONSDOTTIR: I think you framed it nicely. I think because of the character of the Internet, because it can be controlled quite easily, let’s be very frank, I think as to which somehow – somehow from some governments to create an environment which is sterile, which is completely different than our daily life. Because in our daily life we are used to different scenarios. We know bad corners of the city. We know how to prevent certain things. But somehow, the Internet should be perfect. And I don’t think that the Internet should be perfect. It’s like everything else, it has its shadow and positive sides.
Now, I think what is really important for the role of States and of governments, what really is – will be important, I think first off, whatever government will or should do, it should be guided by – you know, they should become an agent to us. Or whatever they do, it should be trust worthy, which in itself is not something not easy to reach.
The second thing that is important, because that’s the role of government, is to look into education. Many of the things that government thinks the Internet should do is actually education. How to do search engines right. That not everything that I see – you know, you have to really understand how you do it. You have to know how to prevent certain areas, you know, for parents to understand how kids are doing.
And on the crime side, I think it’s really important for governments to concentrate on how to have order in the process. So not to go outside of the that. So in most of our countries, we have a fair use exception in place, at least in the European countries. So, it would be very important to understand the role, you know, what that is.
>> PATRIK FALTSTOM: You bring up a different point, that also the view of what is right and wrong is different between countries. And that makes it hard because of the globalisation that you, living in Iceland, being an Icelandic citizen, you do a transaction which might be, under some legislation, be interpreted as happening somewhere else. So within the stakeholder groups that there are gap, and that is the responsibility of the participants in that stakeholder group to bridge that gap as well.
>> BIRGITTA JONSDOTTIR: Well, I think that we take it on a bigger level. We need to just make sure that within the UN declaration of Human Rights, that we, the users, are considered – online users are considered to be citizens and that we have the same civic rights there as we have in the physical space.
And I think it’s important – I myself am in a weird court battle in the United States because the Department of Justice in the United States is trying to dig for information that could criminalize Rakovics. So I have my information stored on the Facebook information, all the social media stuff is hosted on servers in the United States. And yet, I don’t have – I’m not protected by the first and fourth amendments in the United States, because I’m not a U.S. Citizen. So this is a very critical issue.
At the same time, I’m also a Member of Parliament and should say I should have some diplomatic immunities, which I do not have in the United States.
And for me, I said okay, it’s great that they are going after me. Because this is an issue that very many citizens online might be under threat of governments abusing information in different countries, without their knowledge. Like my Twitter case. It was very interesting. If Twitter would not have stood up for their user, including me, in this particular case, I would never have known that I am the subject of a grand jury investigation. And I think we need to make ourselves aware of what it means to, for example, keep our stuff in the United States, and demand at least that we share the same civic rights everywhere.
>> PATRIK FALTSTOM: So to some degree, the four largest Web sites in the world are incorporated in Southern California and might have implications on the legal implication on service for the Internet?
>> BIRGITTA JONSDOTTIR: Yes. It’s very interesting, my case is in Virginia. And the Judge stated in the first hearing that we, as users, use that word, we do not have the rights to defend ourselves. When we sign the agreement with Twitter or Facebook or Google, we are signing off the right to defend ourselves. We have to trust the social media companies to defend us. And that is maybe not always in the interest of them. So we have to make an international standard on the right of us to be treated as citizens.
>> PATRIK FALTSTOM: When you talked about blocking what happened in the media, for example, Marek, you talked about – what I heard you saying is that you as an intermediary is only acting when you are asked to act. But then we hear from Birgitta that Twitter as an intermediary, according to some classifications, that there are some ethical responsibilities for the intermediary to say no and challenge.
For example, in Sweden, we have a new legislation where the older of IPR can go to court and with a court order they can go to the an ISP and ask who had an IP address at a specific point in time. That – the first case that happened in was against the incumbent in Sweden, but they decided to challenge that and now that’s in the European court.
So, do you have any comments on this, on the responsibilities?
>> MAREK SLACIK: I think we are sometimes or very frequently too much into the operational issues. And we as a business are probably not dealing with these agenda high enough.
I think we should definitely become more proactive, dealing with these issues, because we are, in a way, communicating and interacting with the customers on a daily basis. And I think there is a lot we can do with just the basic awareness and education on some of the risks and challenges that customers can be facing on an everyday basis.
So I would, in this specific case, I would a little bit criticize the business community. And I think maybe it’s the – it’s the issue of sort of the business related matters that we always prioritize over the social responsibility and our role in this value chain. But I think we should definitely become more proactive at bringing these issues up and running our own campaigns to educate the customers.
>> MODERATOR: And also there will be a session on ethics later today, around midnight if we continue to be delayed.
But this weekend, the youth, did you discuss this sort of balance between like how to – how would – did you talk about how to fight crime and other kinds of things on the Internet?
>> PETER MATJASIC: I would say that we ask directly the young people in the audience and let the audience speak rather than us here on the panel.
>> MODERATOR: That is fine for me as well. So...
>> AUDIENCE: Now it’s working.
>> MODERATOR: So the question was like we have this balance that is hard to calculate between the Internet that is supposed to be open and everyone is using it, the world is nice. But on the other hand, the Internet is the reflection of the real world. In the real world we have bad guys as well and we need to fight crime. We have to be able to give tools or whatever to the law enforcement agencies so they can do their job. So how are we going to get more dialogue and try to solve this bridge or this gap that is, what I claim, is widening, and we have to see that it’s getting closer?
>> AUDIENCE: The gap that is existing definitely needs to be brought together with using different means.
But that for sure should not be censoring within the Internet or not allowing access for people. I think that all of this bad – that much good behaviors that are over there and are expressed also with the Internet as a tool should not be – should be – should fight back within the people. So a hate speech can be overcome with the good speech also over the Internet.
Other – this would be my example I would say. Maybe some others would also like to speak up.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. So one example is that there is a discussion regarding the impact on privacy if you compare retention and – I forgot the other word. Trying to do two things at one time. – between retention and preservation of data. Preservation is not so intrusive as data will be stored about an IP address or a person.
Anyone who would like to take up that?
>> Just very briefly. It all falls in the need for developing skills and focusing on education and inclusive matter. So it’s something that we should be aware of.
And, also, we should be aware of which – which existing laws can sometimes be a limitation for people who are in need of the spoken word rather than written word, for example. There are also copyright or intellectual copyright protection mechanisms which exclude people with vision disability, et cetera. So it’s very important to be inclusive and to focus on education.
>> AUDIENCE: I’m not young anymore, but I hope I can make a comment, a general comment.
We are discussing very much about the need to keep – and I’m exaggerating the position here for the sake of argument – the need to keep governments outside of the Internet. But then I hear about new international instruments for making online user citizens, cyberspace citizens, pay attention to Human Rights. And I’m wondering who is going to do that in the current international environment? This is the general comment.
I would like to react to the statements made by Peter Matjasic, I hope I pronounce the name. I think, Peter, that you made a factual, in your very broad categorization of all States or governments is equal, which is not the case, you make a factual mistake. Because there are States in the EU, this is what I know, that do not see Internet policies only in economic terms. And I can provide details of that if you are interested.
And then I have a question. I’d like very much for the metaphor that “the Internet is not a territory to be conquered,” I think that is what you said, my question, it’s an honest question: Let’s assume that the EU decides that the Internet is not a territory to be conquered, but some of the countries in the rest of the world decides that the Internet is a territory to be conquered. How should the EU react? Just say okay, conquer it, but we think it’s a territory not to be conquered?
>> I suggest that we put it in the – what you are referring to, as to citizenship and cyberspace, that we put in it in the UN declaration of Human Rights. Each citizen is born free and shall be granted all Human Rights in physical reality and in virtual spaces. And I think it’s important to help me make this part of the UN declaration of the Human Rights.
>> It’s going to help the States and governments. That is my comment.
>> What I think is going to happen is that there will be an increasing push globally by citizens to make decisions. There is an emergence of global solidarity for freedom and rights because the Internet is such a connected space.
When the Internet was shut off in Egypt, a Dutch commercial Internet service provider immediately offered dial-in services for spreading spoken words, translated into written Twitter messages and otherwise.
So, I think that what is very important is that we stick to our values. I personally believe that there are universal Human Rights and that they overlap with European values. But it’s a concept struggle and we are not perfect in the EU. It’s something that we have to hold ourselves responsible for as well.
But what I predict is going to happen is that there is going to be the emergence of sort of safe havens for people to go to, and virtual territories to flee to or to seek shelter. And there will be cross-border lobbying and challenges to the legitimacy of States, nation state based laws and rules and governments, through pressure, where majorities and voices can be easily made visible as well.
So it’s easy to see where there is you know, 2 million people who are demanding A, B or C. But we must be careful, because one aspect of democracy is also that the minority voices are respected. And so this balance has to be struck. And I think sometimes sort of calculated political responses and a dominance or dictatorship of majority voices can be a real risk.
So, I think all in all, these developments will lead to the emergence of new kinds of leadership with different legitimacy attached to them coming from people across borders and not only confined in the nation state that the people live in.
>> I was aware while using the term “Euro,” I was aware we are in the Council of Europe here which covers the entire continent and not the EU. So I’m aware that not all Member States of the EU or the Council of Europe have this new approach.
What is needed, especially in terms of how far you mention it, if there is a danger from other spaces and other places in regions in the world, that they would like to shut down and/or conquer in a negative sense the Internet, is that we have a European approach, a European approach in terms of rights. We were discussing rights. The European framework when it comes to Human Rights is best dealt with in the Council of Europe.
Here I want to state also why I believe some of the things that I mentioned very particularly in terms of how the governments are focusing only on the protection side and the economic interest and business. I see a very big parallel between how the governments generally treat youth and Internet, for both groups. The Internet rights and youth rights. Why? Youth is usually, not always, but usually seen as the problem. The issue of connected to the crime, the drug addict, the party animals that don’t do anything but they are seen as the problem. They are rarely seen as part of the solution to the things that the society has. We as young people claim that we are active and we can be part of the solution. The same goes for the Internet. There, it’s always this protective approach with good means and good intention, but we know that the road to hell was paved with good intentions, so please make sure that such events as EuroDIG, the stakeholder events include the voice of everyone is actually the way to move forward in terms of Internet Governance.
And then you come to the question of introducing youth rights for a specific age group, because they have specific needs and introducing Internet rights based on the Human Rights equation, but also some specificities that tackle this area of work. And we have other regions who did both. The African youth charter that mentions the rights and access to Internet. So there are examples out there and we have to focus on that.
>> To your last point of the question that you raised, I think what will be important for the European Union and for the Council of Europe is to really understand what kind of role we should play in the international arena when it comes to cybercrime or to actions from rogue States or rogue States actors. This is what I wanted to ask, because I think it’s right. You shouldn’t be naive, but it’s the same in real life. To understand what kind of role we should play, how far we should go in preventing issues, or how we should stay when an attack, you know, happens – and I obviously like the image of the state military system. You understand that this is in the world. You know that a threat can happen. So you train your people, you train everybody. You prepare. But you don’t operate, you know, in a prevention case. Because you don’t know if, you know, if you prevent something, you know, if the – you know, if it will affect your environment in a more negative way. So be prepared. Understand the threat. But be proactive in a sense that you prepare your own people, but don’t go out, you know, too early and prevent certain things.
>> MODERATOR: We have two more people in the audience that have asked for the microphone.
>> ELVANA THACI: This is Elvana Thaci from the Council of Europe. And I had a question for the representative of Telenor, Mr. Marek Slacik. You voiced some sympathy for your colleagues in Egypt who were asked to pull the plug, to shut down the Internet, and I understand that solidarity. But do the feelings of the business community go beyond that, beyond sympathy? Are there expectations that you have from governments not to ask you to engage in action which might be detrimental to fundamental rights and freedoms? And if you have such expectations, what framework – how would a framework look like to address those expectations to bring those together?
>> MAREK SLACIK: Well, I think the things that we are discussing here in Serbia are a little bit different to what we have seen that was happening in North Africa.
I think that the industry in general needs to be brave enough to act as active as possible under any circumstances. But it’s always – it’s always difficult, because it depends on the case.
In terms of the general role of the government or the frameworks, I think we – I would like to bring here one point. We are sitting in the country which is planning to become a candidate for the States for the EU. And it’s not only the case for Serbia, but it’s also the case for lots of countries in this region, where we actually deal with a completely different issue. We deal with the issues of allowing and enabling Internet to the wide population. I think we should still, you know, draw the attention to the basics of how to actually enable Internet to people who don’t have access to it and cannot use it, don’t understand the concept, even.
And I think there is a lot of things that can happen between the industry and government in order to frustrate that.
Maybe I’m steering the question a little bit to a different direction, but I think it’s really important to have a dialogue on that as well.
>> MODERATOR: So in the back...
>> AUDIENCE: My name is Lugo. I was disappointed by that remark about conquering the Internet if other countries do that. I think we are past the stage of eye for an eye and teeth for a teeth. We should look for different solutions. And if other countries start conquering, like some of the panel said as well, we have to find different solutions, how to crowd and how people can work for that.
But I think it’s sad if, you know, we take the stand that if other countries start conquering the Internet, then we should do that as well. That’s just sad, sad and I can’t stand that attitude, to be honest with you.
>> MODERATOR: On that happy note –
>> BIRGITTA JONSDOTTIR: Can I just say one thing about this? I think it’s important, rather than having this attitude, use the same techniques as we did when they tried to shut down the Internet in Egypt, we should help open and find creative ways to not let them build the walls on the Internet. We cannot let the Internet become like the real world. We have to make the real world as the Internet is and make sure we don’t have any walls between nations, groups, or blocking information or content.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Birgitta, for saying that. It’s much nicer to end the session with that than the previous statement. What do you think?
>> MODERATOR: I think this is fine. But we still have one housekeeping announcement from Wolf, and then we close. I understand that to run 15 minutes over into lunch break is a crime, but I... I want to be forgiven for that.
>> Thank you very much. I have just some short housekeeping messages to make. Fortunately, a little bit we are behind our schedule. You have now lunch break, well deserved for attending this long morning session. Lunch is outside this main hall. There is a reception counter and close to the reception is a lunch Buffet. So please go have your lunch, relax, calm down. And we would all like to have you back to the workshops restarting at 3 o’clock. We have four workshops on the programme. They are all if you come back, go to this direction and you will see indication signals to the rooms where the workshops are happening. There is a clear and very good signalization system here, which can bring you to the workshop, which controls in which room workshop 1, 2, 3, and 4 will happen.
After the workshops, there will be again a coffee break and after the coffee break we would like to have you back to our last plenary today. But that will start at 5 o’clock in this room again. So I wish you all a nice lunch break. Thanks.
>> MODERATOR: And I want to thank all of the panelists and the audience for active participation. Thank you very much.