Lynn St. Amour of Internet Matters, CFR's Adam Segal, and Daniel Sepulveda from the State Department join Georgetown University's Catherine Lotrionte to discuss the future of internet governance. The panelists describe the current decentralized, bottom-up governance regime and explain why it is the best way to prevent government censorship and ensure free speech and free trade on the internet. They also stress that outreach efforts are needed to include more voices from the developing world in the internet governance process.
LOTRIONTE: Welcome, everybody. Take a seat and we'll begin our conversation today on the future of internet governance. Today we're - I'm very pleased to have with us a couple of the leading individuals who are on a day to day basis involved in the issue and to give us an update on how things are going in the space of internet governance.
First I'll just introduce all the speakers, and then I'll start off with asking some questions. We will open it up for questions from the audience promptly when we're supposed to. For the - I'm Catherine Lotrionte.
For the first - our - my first question will actually go to Ms. Lynn St. Amour. She is currently the president and CEO of Internet Matters. From 2001 to 2014, she was the president and CEO of Internet - the Internet Society.
We also have with us today Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda. He is the deputy assistant secretary and US coordinator for international communications and information policy at the US Department of State. And Adam Segal, who is the Maurice Greenberg Senior Fellow for China studies at CFR.
So if we can begin, one caveat if you will. This conversation will focus on the internet governance aspect and not what typically is a broader subject of cyber security. Just for your information.
First, if I could ask Lynn first question. If you could explain for us and the audience the internet governance model that you see today and how we should all understand that model as its developed, as it is in its form currently.
AMOUR: We use a phrase called the internet ecosystem to first describe all the stakeholders that participate in it. They're - very, very broad definition. So it covers things you'd expect such as naming and numbering and IP addresses, the role of internet standards. So organizations such as the IETF, Internet Engineering Task Force, ICANN, the regional internet registries, and obviously CCTLD and GTLDs as well.
Clearly it includes the private sector. They built much of if not virtually all of today's internet. Also includes all policymakers. So multilateral institutions, governments, intergovernmental organizations, and clearly users and civil society.
They all come together in a really rich set of processes and engagements that really rely heavily on the internet itself, heavily on a lot of forums and processes that frankly have been developed over 20, 30 years. That's not an exaggeration. The Internet Society itself is over 20 years old. The IETF is over 30 years old.
So a lot of those processes have been well-tested and I think the biggest proof point of that is of course the internet itself. So much of - within the internet community, the model we continue to support is one of evolution evolved from those forums, those processes, those practices.
And even for those issues that are very, very tough, and there are a lot of them, there have always been a lot of them, there will always be a lot of them whether it's intellectual property or it's net neutrality or it's the IANA function transition, we actually encourage working within the current forums with a broad set of stakeholders.
And - and frankly I think we need to do quite a bit more in most of those processes to get full participation particularly from the developing world. But that's coming along. There's been some great strides. We clearly need to do more.
But with that underpinning and perhaps striving to some more concrete outcomes for a couple of the critical forums such as the Internet Governance Forum, I really think today's internet governance model is also the future internet governance model.
As I said, it continues to evolve. It needs to continue to evolve, but I think all the core points and the core capacities are there today.
LOTRIONTE: Ambassador, what do you think of that model as - as Lynn has described it, particularly the Internet Governance Forum as a potential model for internet governance more broadly? And how do you think it fits into a US perspective?
SEPULVEDA: Well the US perspective, and the administration has been clear on this, is supportive of the existing model of multistakeholder internet governance. I think that there's a range of expertise in this room relative to what internet governance is in the multistakeholder process, as well as foreign policy.
And where those two worlds overlap is a - is not a well populated space, so I'm glad that there are a whole lot of people here so that we can start increasing the population of folks that have those combined interests.
It's interesting that the secretary of state has both of those interests, having been both the chairman of the Subcommittee on Technology and Telecommunications on the Senate Commerce Committee, as well as the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
And so he's been working on these things for quite a while and actually gave a speech to the Freedom Online Coalition maybe a week, two weeks ago - time starts to blur in this job - on these subjects and how the questions of internet governance are questions that are at their root about technology, but they are so much more than that.
They are questions of ethics. They are questions of the relationship between government and markets. They are questions about economic and social liberty. And as we've known the internet to date, it has been a force for progress in all of those areas.
And it has been a force for progress in all of those areas we believe in large part because of the large part that Lynn, Steve Crocker (ph), you know, and Bob Kahn and a number of other people have done to ensure that the underlying coordination functions of the internet, what enables it to interconnect and operate, the protocols, the networks and the community of folks that are - have in many ways voluntarily and - and - and without compensation in many - on many cases dedicated their lives to the proliferation of a global platform for economic and social growth.
I take our responsibility, and we all do, very seriously to ensure that our kids and our communities are going to be able to - to access what will be eventually a global communications network that encompasses everyone on the planet.
Right now we're are close to 3 billion people. The next, you know, 4 billion will be tougher in large part because we'll be going into places where either the infrastructure doesn't exist or the income is not in place.
And we have to work through organizations like ISOC and others to build the capacity necessary to ensure that a legal, regulatory and financial environment is in place to build out the network and ensure that kids and communities have the capacity to use those networks in a safe and secure way and in a way that creates both wealth and greater democracy.
LOTRIONTE: So Adam, building upon what the ambassador has said, do you have additional insights in terms of how you see the multistakeholder model working or working currently or working in the future?
SEGAL: I think both Lynn and Danny pointed to one of the major trends, which is that the past and the present of the internet has been Western and US, but the future is not necessarily in the West. In fact, demographically is certainly not in the West.
So we see - we see regions like Asia which are in second - second in use but only fourth or sixth in penetration. So we're going to have this massive growth in - in Asia of users. Most of those users are young, under the age of 30 if not 25. Those users are going to have a completely different conception about privacy and how data is managed and how the web should be used.
Lynn hinted at some of the problems have been that the multistakeholder model has lacked some legitimacy in these areas partly because of a lot these developing countries haven't known how to access the process.
They don't have the resources to go to these meetings, you know, spread around the world. They don't have the private sector that's involved in developing the standards and pushing forward and - and promoting their own commercial things, so they haven't been able to participate.
And so a big issue has been for these organizations is how do you become more transparent, how do you become more inclusive. And I know that the US government and Danny in particular have been working very hard in trying to tap into countries that are naturally inclined to support a bottom-up approach but also see attractions for the more state-centric model.
I think the other larger trend we need to think about is is that every government around the world now is reasserting its sovereignty over the internet. That is a trend almost across the board no matter what type of regime we're talking about, right? It's not just authoritarian states, but as we saw in Turkey over the last several months, even multi-ethnic, multi-party democracies are seeing reasons for intervening into the internet to control flows of information.
And so what before was considered a kind of relatively unregulated space is now increasingly contested for economic, political and strategic regions.
LOTRIONTE: Ambassador, if I could come back to you, you spoke and Adam mentioned efforts to reach out, engage with the developing world. It was I guess a little over a year or two ago that CFR under Adam's leadership put out their digital task force.
And one of the critiques I think of the US government was to say that we really need to do more in terms of efforts to reach out to those countries. I know you've spent a lot of time on the road. If you could talk a little bit about how you've been engaging with the developing world on these issues and give us maybe some of - some insight about their perspectives on it, you know?
SEPULVEDA: Sure. I have been to Latin America five times, to Africa three times and to Asia at least twice, and I'll be going to Mexico later this month again. So we're looking at some key markets, some places where there are large populations with a desire to access the internet or who already have a fair amount of access.
So you're looking at Mexico, Brazil, India, South Africa, South Korea, those kinds of places where you also have essentially democratic governments and a real interest in ensuring that the platform reaches all of its people and that it's a force for good.
So what I'm going down is to listen to people and to get a sense of what their concerns are with the system and - and what I've heard are essentially two sets of concerns. One is relative to how the existing multistakeholder institutions incorporate or fail to incorporate the points of view of people from the global south.
And two, they have a set of concerns about outcomes. So to some degree they feel left behind, like consumers of a service rather than participants in a market. And they don't know enough about how to protect themselves from cyber threats. And they have heard enough stories to feel like they are vulnerable to real harm.
And so our challenge has been how to meet all of that. So how do you make the multistakeholder system more inclusive? Because it's not structurally closed. If India wanted to send 1,000 people to the next ICANN meting in London, they could. The ICANN would not stop them.
"What before was considered a kind of relatively unregulated space is now increasingly contested for economic, political and strategic regions."
So what you do in that situation is try to make it that they have the capability and capacity to feel - one, feel welcome, and two, participate in - in those discussions and negotiations on - on an equal playing field with everyone else there, right?
And having - I've been to a couple of ICANN meetings. At first it - it is different than any other sort of gathering that I've been to as a government official and it takes a little while to get used to, to understand the norms of procedure and to understand how conversations move policy. But once you get used to it, you see that it works. So I think to some degree it's a - it'll feed itself if people start participating, so we've been encouraging participation.
On the other issues, we do work both through our office of cyber security, and our cyber coordinator is Chris Painter, in the State Department, DHS and DOD and others with specific country participants abroad to look at the creation of regional serves (ph) and other mechanisms by which they can protect themselves from cyber threat.
And then on a third question of aspects of inequality of access, we promoted through the Alliance for an Affordable Internet and through both private sector and public sector interactions mechanisms by which not only can you create a legal and regulatory environment that encourages investment, competition and innovation, but also putting on the table some real investments in real ideas for how particularly we can use wireless innovation to achieve greater and lower cost distribution of services.
I will be leading a group going to Colombia I think in Bogota in July to talk about how the private sector and the public sector can come together to make services both affordable and relevant to the lives of people living on less than $2 a day. There are 2 billion on the planet living on less than $2 a day.
If we're really serious about universal service and we're really serious about making this something that is relevant to their lives, we need to come together and construct and work on what their needs are and how the - how the networks are meeting those needs.
LOTRIONTE: So if I can kind of go back to the developing countries and ask from a perspective of all three of you, but maybe Ambassador since you've dealt with them a lot recently, when we talk about values - and State Department has been pretty outspoken in terms of US values with respect to the internet - do you find that the - those states - those countries in the developing part of the world agree?
Are they on the same page with the United States in those values? And maybe if they are or not, you know, particularly if they are, to what end do they see those values being important?
SEPULVEDA: Well, I think if - if you look back obviously, and we all can go back to 2012, or I don't know if you all were following these issues, but in 2012 there was a major conference in Dubai of the International Telecommunications Union to construct the international telecommunications regulations update.
And there was a move to inject some aspects of internet governance into that conversation. And as a result, the United States and 54 other governments voted against, 89 governments voted for it.
Our challenge since then has been to go to countries with whom we share values, like Brazil, like Mexico, other - and others, and say, look, the best mechanism by which to further these shared values, freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of commerce, is to work together with the multistakeholder system to make it more democratic and inclusive.
It's not to concentrate power in the hands of 193 governments in Geneva. And if you look at what's happened since then and you look particularly at the recent events at NetMundial, which was a global gathering of stakeholders from around the world but there was strong Latin American participation there, the first principle to which there was a rough consensus of the group was the principle of multistakeholder internet governance.
At the - a year ago you would not have believed that you would have gotten that kind of agreement behind that principle in the global south. And we were able to achieve that, and that has to be recognized for the critical achievement that it was. And we are going to build on that progress and move forward and - and hopefully keep winning support for the system.
LOTRIONTE: You mentioned NetMundial - sorry.
SEGAL: Before you go on, Catherine and I (ph), I - I do think the values are important, but I think it's also important to - to mention, as Danny did, economist interest, right?
So as Danny said, lots of these countries feel like they are consumers, not producers. And so one of the issues for these countries is that they - they see an internet where they believe that US companies have a - are differently competitively advantaged. They capture most of the gains.
And - and so what you see at the ITU and wicket (ph) and these other meetings is telecoms - national telecoms trying to figure out how do you make money from the internet, right? We're tired of carrying the data for Google and Facebook and how do we - how do we make money.
"The best mechanism by which to further these shared values, freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of commerce, is to work together with the multistakeholder system to make it more democratic and inclusive. It's not to concentrate power in the hands of 193 governments in Geneva."
And I think the other thing to - to bring into the conversation since it's going to come up eventually of course is the Snowden revelations, which is that the other countries are also looking at the US's position in the internet and the dominance of US firms and thinking that, you know, the US is again competitively advantaged for its strategic and security and surveillance reasons and they don't have those kind of capabilities.
LOTRIONTE: Lynn, your experience in terms of assessing NetMundial as it came up it terms of, well one maybe you can describe from your perspective what is it and the significance of it and how you see the states and their different perspectives maybe on values and how that was played out in Brazil.
AMOUR: You know, the internet community was very pleasantly surprised with how NetMundial came out. Frankly there was some concern when it was first mooted. It was a very tight time table. Some of the countries that were active in that area don't necessarily consistently share our values.
So we came out of those, those who believe in an open global internet and multistakeholder open processes, very well and probably as well as we could. Everybody there affirmed human rights. They certainly affirmed multistakeholder internet governance. It was - there was a lot of common positions that were taken for granted and the debates were more around the phrasing and the terminology.
I think one of the biggest wins for us as an internet community is it actually showed that those open processes can in fact deliver agreements that can actually be used to help advance some of the tougher issues we're - we're all dealing with today.
And I think it also pointed a way for some more evolutions in the internet governance framework, for the IGF. And we - we talk about internet governance. We talk - most immediately ICANN comes up. And there are so many other organizations. There are OECD. There's the ITU that all play roles in - in various components of that. There are certainly other regional internet registries.
In this case, Latin America was a really strong supporter for NetMundial, and that came through a lot of the internet community that was there. And we - we sort of lose track of I think the distributed decentralized nature of so many of these forums and processes which are all open, as Danny said earlier when you were talking about ICANN.
You can say the same thing about the IETF, the IGF, the regional internet registries, even a lot of the international institutions, OECD, LIPO (ph). All of them are taking steps to open their processes as well. And I think we really need to - to play up more of those stories.
That's a really good story. If you want to affect, and you're in Latin America, your IP addresses, who gets them, for how long at what price? What happens when you're done? You go and you participate in a forum that's driven by Latin Americans in Latin America.
You don't go to ICANN. You don't go to the ITU. You don't go to the IETF for that. There are really strong forums across this entire world that are multistakeholder that take place at a local level that don't actually get I think the attention for they deserve for the role they actually play in giving us the internet we all enjoy today.
"Everybody there affirmed human rights. They certainly affirmed multistakeholder internet governance."
—Lynn St. Amour
And that's something I'd like to see be a bit more balanced in a lot of these discussions, particularly when we look towards the IANA transition as well because I still think that's not particularly well understood by a great deal of the world.
LOTRIONTE: So in terms of the multiple forums that you mentioned, how does State Department ensure that they maintain engagement in - in all of these forums? Can - is it possible to even do that?
SEPULVEDA: It is possible, and we are blessed in the sense that we have the kinds of resources to do it. I - we divide up the task. So myself, I lead delegations to the ITU, for example. Larry leads our work at ICANN. Larry Strickling, the assistant secretary at NTIA. Chris Painter, our cyber coordinator, does a lot of whole of government bilateral negotiations abroad with a number of different key markets and countries.
And obviously we have a wide range of firms and civil society activists that attend each and every one of these meetings. I myself have a fairly large staff that I send out into the world for the meetings that occur at staff levels on issues as they lead up to larger meetings.
But we do - we - it's a challenge. And for - for countries that are not as wealthy as the United States, it's going to be an even bigger challenge. And one of the things that we have to do is in a sense use technology and make a real commitment, a real financial commitment to making it possible for participation to occur on a - on a wider, more democratic basis.
LOTRIONTE: Looking ahead just a bit on the horizon, we have the next significant ITU meeting coming up in Busan. So before we go to questions, although I'll defer to you if you want - if any of you want to add something else, I want to get your perspective on that - on that meeting itself.
I know it's only one of the many forums where issues will be debated, but wanted to see from all three of you if you have thoughts in terms of the significance of that meeting and what might you anticipate to come out of that - that ITU meeting.
AMOUR: I - I personally think it's a very significant meeting. Talking about the ITU Plenipot which takes place every four years and basically sets the ITU's strategy and their operating budget and chooses all of their new officers, again, for the next four years.
You know, the ITU for years now - I've been going to Plenipots for 20 years I think, probably longer. There's no - they see their future engagement in the internet as deepening. We can use more aggressive language if we want, but that's not particularly helpful.
You know, this is their opportunity to actually place another stake in the ground with respect to having a significant role in the internet's development and its internet governance. And I think the wicket (ph) Danny was talking about earlier was one of the, you know, I guess key milestone markers or something en route - it was one of the most aggressive intergovernmental UN meetings I've ever been to for many, many years.
So I think that's an indication of how important it is to the ITU, how important it is, as they will say, to their member states. And it's clear that there are a number of nations that actually do care significantly, do want much more control over the internet and over those governance structures that support it. And the ITU is a great vehicle for them to exercise that. So I think it will be a very, very significant meeting for the world.
LOTRIONTE: Ambassador, will you be there at that meeting and - and what are your thoughts on the significance and maybe your role at that meeting?
SEPULVEDA: Well I'll be heading the delegation to that meeting. It won't be - it won't be a meeting in isolation, right? So we - we did have the situation with the ITORs (ph) in Dubai, but since then we've had the World Telecommunications Policy Forum, to which I led a delegation of 50 people.
We've had two ITU councils, which are the interim meetings between the planning potentaries (ph), and we've had the World Telecommunications Development Conference, all of which have gone very well. In the World Telecommunications Development Conference, I led a group of 60 people, right?
Between now and - and Busan, we will have a number of ITU meetings but also a number of other meetings. London ICANN 50 will be occurring soon. We will have the IGF in September in Istanbul, the Internet Governance Forum. And we obviously just had NetMundial and all of this will feed into Busan.
And we've been working very closely with our colleagues in South Korea and also been going to those markets that we believe share values with us and can sit with us at the table when we're in Busan. And I think we're going to be prepared.
We do have a structured and strategic process by which we're preparing led out of the NSC with my colleagues and expertise from a variety of different agencies leaning very heavily on the expertise out of NTIA and also out of the FCC, DOD, DOJ, DHS.
And what we're working together on is identifying those issues that we expect will come up because they've come up before, looking at proposals that have been made relative to those issues. Those that we disagree with, constructing alternative proposals and working towards building an alliance around those ideas.
The International Telecommunications Union is neither inherently good nor bad. It's an institution that does many things and it does some of them very well. It has an honorable purpose and a useful one, particularly in the space of spectrum and our return on investment for the work we do at the ITU for wireless communications and satellites and our defense is - is - is exceptionally valuable. If we didn't - if the ITU did not exist we'd have to invent it, right?
But as it - as communications shifts towards internet protocol and the internet system, institutions like the ITU feel an existential form of challenge. Like what - what can and what should they do relative to the internet? And we believe that there are things that they can and should do that are positive. Capacity building work relative to regulatory and legal frameworks in nations around the world. Technical assistance relative to the analog to digital transition. Assistance with the construction and development of universal service funds. Any number of different things.
What they should not be doing is replicating, duplicating or trying to supplant the very good work that comes out of the naming and numbering system out of ICANN, the work out of the IETF on protocols, the work that ISOC does on - on issues relative to ensuring that there are internet exchange points around the world and that people have knowledge about the technology available to them to help deal with issues like child online protection and issues like that.
So at the end of the day I think it is our task to define and explain what we believe is a positive and useful role the ITU and urge deference to the existing institutions for continuing work on those other issues that - on which they do a very good job and the proof point of which is 3 billion on a connected internet.
(UNKNOWN): Adam, do you want to add to that on ITU and Busan?
SEGAL: I think on the - on the positive side, you know, hearing what Danny is talking about the US government is doing in preparation, I think there was a sense that for the wicket (ph) in Dubai that we were kind of caught unawares, that there had - part of that was internal politics at ITU and kind of may in fact surprising lots of people by - by moving on the ITRs.
But it sounds as if we are coordinating more broadly. We are preparing. We are thinking about what the good and bads might come further in advance than we did out in - in front of Dubai. I think that's all positive. And I think, as Danny mentioned, we have all of these kind of mileposts that happen before where we have these positive reinforcements of the multistakeholder model. So that I think is all on the - all on the good side.
I think the negative though is that, you know, the - the larger trend that I mentioned, which is I think that states for the most part are thinking about their own domestic, national - domestic, economic and national security interests and the ITU, these other agreements are less important for what they're doing, that they are going to do what they're going to do through domestic legislation.
SEPULVEDA: I want to address that though real quickly. I think that's actually absolutely correct in terms of states will act in their own interest, and you've seen some bad ideas come out of different parts of the world relative to the internet and international commerce or international speech on - on that platform.
But you've also seen them defeated. So if you look at what happened in Brazil where there was a call for local data - data localization requirements in the original (inaudible) bill, that was pulled out. If you look at Europe where at one point they were talking about ending the safe harbor agreement, that is not going to happen. We are working in active negotiation to update the safe harbor and will reach some form of agreement with our colleagues in Europe on this matter.
At the end of the day, if countries believe that they can use the internet as a piggy bank or a form of control over their people, we will oppose it and it will not work. But more importantly, their people will oppose it and it will not work. And so...
SEGAL: You could - you could create another list though with Russia and Turkey and others on the other side. So it seems to me the jury is still out.
SEPULVEDA: Right. Obviously the China - the internet in China doesn't operate the way it does in the United States or the internet in Iran - actually now after what happened in Turkey, we've actually had some very positive dialogue with them. And you've had the Twitter situation to a large degree resolved, and YouTube is back up, and we're in constant conversation with them.
Turkey does want to be a part of the Western world, and we are - what - it will take constant and diligent diplomacy and engagement to ensure that the proper policies are in place to reflect those values.
SEGAL: But in each - in the positive cases, which I agree with, there is a critical factor which is an active and vibrant civil society and domestic companies. So Brazil I think you're right, but Brazil is a - kind of an example unto itself, right? Brazil already had this massive movement on the (inaudible) and had domestic stakeholders who were arguing that data localization made no sense.
And you can imagine in many other cases without that civil society in place and without economics (ph) in place where the the arguments are going to go the other way.
SEPULVEDA: Which is why we have to work on building civil society around the world and encouraging the deployment and connections between technologists - young technologists in places like South Africa with their governments, and that kind of engagement will result in the kinds of public polices that we've been supporting.
LOTRIONTE: So Lynn, on that point, how do you build civil society in states that are more closed, right, and where it might be more difficult for the people to oppose their government's regulations?
AMOUR: I think there are a lot of different ways. I think a lot of the IXP work that, you know, many organizations are doing not only have the benefit that you get from putting an IXP in place, but it starts to build a community.
SEPULVEDA: Do you want to explain what an internet exchange...
AMOUR: It's an internet exchange point, which basically - if you're in Africa, most of the country that's going - most of the traffic that would be going from one country in Africa to a second country exits to the US or Europe before going to that second country, which is inefficient and expensive.
So internet exchange points keeps the traffic local either in a nation or in a continent. It can drive the costs down significantly because they can peer and share traffic so there's no financial transaction that needs to occur.
So it's a great thing for building a more robust internet infrastructure and certainly for helping it to scale, but it also builds community because you actually need operators to speak to each other and to share a common set of values. So that starts to build - one of the things we've seen is that it starts to build a strong community out.
The regional internet registries, again, meet three times a year. They have an awful lot of processes as well online. That starts to build another set of community and another set of shared values. Again, I think that's partly why NetMundial was so success was - so successful because of a lot of the work in Latin America.
So I think all those efforts, I think the efforts of, you know, ICANN or IGF or the IETF or ISOC to bring people in from developing countries to participate in those forums. It's not just what they learn as a direct part of participation. It's the connections they make and what they take back.
So I think it's - it's - we certainly need to do more of it. Again, I think the basics are - basics are there. It's, you know, to make people aware. The Internet Society also has chapters, a little over 100 chapters around the world. That's - that's one way. Most of the organizations I talked about earlier are building out local structures or meetings or forums.
The Regional Internet Registry in Europe holds regular meetings with the governments in Europe there as well. They do the same thing with other - other communities too. But I think it's - it's got to do with participation and inclusiveness first and foremost.
LOTRIONTE: OK. Want to thank you. And we're going to open it up to the audience now. We have folks with microphones that will be passing around. So if you could just look to somebody. I will just start from this side of the room and scan over there. Can you introduce yourself when you ask your question and just let us know where you're from?
QUESTION: Thank you. Alan Rawl (ph) from Sidley Austin (ph). Ambassador Sepulveda mentioned values that are shared, expression, commerce, and how maybe we've dodged some bullets at ITU, wicket (ph) and others, risks from authoritarian regimes that don't necessarily share our values.
Adam Segal mentioned national interests and assertions of sovereignty over the internet. We had a development this week out of the European Union and the European Court of Justice issued a decision regarding the right to be forgotten, which compelled Google to remove from its search listings certain truthful information that was properly available on the internet originally in the (inaudible) newspaper out of Spain.
And the European Court of Justice said that notwithstanding the interest in freedom of expression, notwithstanding the right and interest of internet users to receive information, notwithstanding the right of companies to engage in commerce that nonetheless the primacy of concern was over the - the right to be forgotten and of an individual to exercise kind of certain self-censorship rights to take down information.
Do you think that this sort of a decision, which could really end the internet as most of us have known it as a free-flowing source of information, could really change internet governance if it stands? There was a mention of some pushback from civil society in different countries and companies in Brazil that resisted the localization requirements there.
Do you think there'll be pushback in Europe on this from technology companies, from citizens who - who want access to the information, and is this a diplomatic issue for the United States that the State Department is going to work on?
SEPULVEDA: The decision was just made. And so we're in the process of analyzing it. I will say that it has raised concerns for many of our domestic constituencies and on its face raises a number of concerns.
I do want to clarify, however, that the decision is relative to the links that Google makes available to information. You're not - there isn't actually a right to be forgotten in the sense that the information is gone. It's still there. The question is can Google link to it.
We have tended to argue historically in the United States that we try very hard not to regulate technology but behavior. And so if someone is exposed to harm as a function of a Google link, you will address the - either the person perpetuating the harm or help that person avoid the harm themselves.
You don't tell a technology company how to design and how to deliver its services. So that has been the underlying principle. On the basis of that, we are working internally to - to fully assess the decision and what it will mean, and we will work with our colleagues in Europe to see through dialogue what we can get to in terms of a future policy on these sorts of questions.
You had the big data report that Mr. Podesta put out to - to the president just recently which looked at a number of similar questions. And these are really, really hard and difficult questions, and they will differ in their approach from market to market because sensitivities relative to these issues are different from market to market and region to region.
In - in Europe, as you know, there's a long history in which these sorts of issues are considered - are treated as human rights issues. In the United States, we treat commercial privacy as a consumer right issue. Those are just different frameworks. And we have to - we have to talk to them about how - what are the best mechanisms for moving forward together.
There really isn't probably a part of the world with whom we have more shared interest than with Europe, so we really do need to - and I think - I think that that - that pathway is open. Cathy Novelli, who is the head of the E bureau at the State Department and my boss's boss, as well as Ambassador Rivkin, who was the ambassador to France before this job is my direct boss, will also be actively engaging these questions.
And Ms. Novelli just got back from Europe. So did I, and I'll be going out again in the relatively near future. The OECD is meeting on a number of these questions in the next month. We have London ICANN 50.
So again, we have a large number of opportunities to engage with our colleagues in Europe and we will have to assess what it means, what these sorts of decisions and regional activities mean relative to the whole of the global internet.
QUESTION: Thank you. Tacy Schafer (ph) from Mahorty (ph) Associates and Brookings and formerly from the State Department a long time ago. I feel as if with the exception of a very brief part of the conversion we've kind of been talking to ourselves assuming that the same values are more or less universal, and I think that is not at all the case.
Everybody may be in favor of free speech, everybody except some people. Nobody's in favor of being allowed to cry fire in a crowded theater. There is a lot of dispute over the dividing line between those two.
So I wanted to push you a little bit on the question of values, how you define them, how you draw dividing lines, and what happens when different countries or different judicial authorities want to draw different dividing lines. And the Google case in Europe is clearly an example of this.
Does everybody get to write his own rules? In which case we've got, what is it now, 183 different Internets. Is there a mechanism for sorting these things out? And isn't this going to be in the air as we debate all kinds of issues relating to internet governance?
AMOUR: I mean, it's a very good question because obviously the values aren't that consistent. There's I think some core set of values that we can begin building out from. All these processes really require time, require thoughtful listening, good discussion. There are trade-offs that have to be made. Those trade-offs will be different in a country like Russia or Iran than what they would be here. And I think we need to understand that.
On the other hand, I think there are some governors where those countries at the same time won't take themselves fully out of the global system economically or even in an education sense either or an international sense. And I think we just need to allow time for those balances to - to come through.
SEGAL: The way I often speak about it, especially contrasting with the Chinese - we'll just use them as a - as a good example. The US has said what our values are in cyberspace in an international strategy towards cyberspace and they're global, open and secure. That's what we're looking for.
Well if you think about what China wants, China wants one of those tings, and really it's two halves, all right? So open we already know, as you suggested, that the Chinese have a very vibrant internet within China.
But they have what's known as the great firewall that uses technological and other means to keep information that's threatening to the regime out, and then domestically they censor and control other information that they think may lead to domestic instability. So they clearly don't share open in the way that we think of open.
Secure is a half because we tend to talk about cyber security, which is the defense of networks and routers and computers, and the Chinese and the Russians and Tajikistan and other countries talk about information security, which has to do about information sovereignty and information spheres and how information can destabilize a regime, right?
So then you get into comparing Twitter versus somebody who's hacking into the power grid, which is a conversation the US doesn't really want to have. But the Chinese are worried about conventional cyber attacks and they're becoming more vulnerable as their economy becomes more dependent on the internet, and so that is half of a shared agreement.
Global and interoperable generally to the Chinese means American technology standards. So they hear that and they think, well you mean Microsoft and Intel and Cisco. And so the Chinese, as we discussed earlier, have lots of economic interests for creating their own standards, their own companies.
But as Chinese companies globalize, they have the same interest in global standards. So you know, Lenovo speaks the same language as US companies, and even Huawei, which we don't trust, now speaks the language of global competitors. Transparency and third-party inspections and everything else.
So you have this massive difference in values and interest that I - that's just going to be very hard to get around any type of international agreement. That said, I think you can still have an internet that for the most part has fairly low friction transporting information back and forth for the reasons that - that Danny's been suggesting, which is that you have to convince these countries that it's in their economic interests, right, and they're going to benefit from it.
And that's why China still, you know, doesn't really have a - I mean, it has a tightly controlled one, but they haven't reproduced a DNS system. They haven't done all those things because they still see economic gain from it. And so how do you have that conversation to convince these countries that the global open secure internet is in their economic interests has been harder than you'd imagine because most of the data comes from the developed world.
We can show that an open internet helps us in the OECD countries. We've had a harder time doing it for developing countries.
LOTRIONTE: Ambassador, did you want to...
SEPULVEDA: No, I think we should just...
QUESTION: Hi. I'm Nollman Rubin (hp) with the House Foreign Affairs Committee. There's been some discussion at the FCC about the internet. There's - right now they're proposing new rules. And I'm curious about how that would impact discussions on internet governance and how would that complicate our discussions with the ITU which we've been discouraging from being more engaged in internet governance.
SEPULVEDA: I'm going to go ahead and take this one. There is another event taking place on these issues at the FCC today. I think there are more people watching that one probably than this one. The question is on the open internet and whether or not there should be rules to provide for the continuation and preservation of the open internet.
That - that underlying question deals with infrastructure, the local last mile loop. And at the end of the day, the FCC's an independent agency. They're going to go forward and do what it is that they're going to do. But I think the outcome of that case should not and would not affect our positioning relative to the International Telecommunications Union or what it does.
If it did, we couldn't have a child online protection provision, which we do. We have a privacy act as it relates to children online. We have a universal service fund that regulates and provides subsidy across the country for the provision of infrastructure in places that are not economically accessible.
I think there are many good arguments - there are many arguments on both sides of the net neutrality question. How - doing it or not doing it is not dependent on what we want to argue before the ITU. I think that - that we should decide what is in the best interest of the United States of America and our market and see whether or not this is something that works well for us.
And then we will - we will deal with the issues that take place at the ITU separately because it would - it should not impact those discussions. Europe has network neutrality regulations. Brazil has network neutrality regulations, and we're going to count on both of them to be allies at the ITU.
It cannot be that if you support network neutrality that you support regulation through the ITU. These are separate questions, and one deals with domestic and national rules and regulation and the other deals with international rules and regulations.
So I would - I would separate the issues. I would not bring them into confluence. I think it's - I think for those people who are making those arguments, it's a purely political one.
QUESTION: John Negroponte, and I co-chaired that task force with CFR that you referred to earlier. I'm not entirely certain I understand what kind of instrument is at stake at the ITU meeting. Because we were told that 89 countries voted in favor of this draft treaty.
I take it it's still a draft and that the decision-making process of the ITU is by some kind of consensus and therefore hasn't gone into force, although I'm not certain. So can you explain that? And how does that affect American thinking?
I mean, what if 140 countries end up being in favor of that treaty? What's at issue here with regard to this treaty? And I haven't heard enough about what it says that we don't like. And maybe you could talk a little bit about that.
SEPULVEDA: Sure. Lynn, do you want to cover the history of the WCIT and why it is that impinged on the internet and how the ITRs are different from the ITU plenipotentiary?
AMOUR: Well, so the ITRs will be implemented in 2015 despite 54 countries not - not signing on.
AMOUR: Yes. Sorry, yes. They're the regulations. It's - it's international telecommunications regulations. And the last time...
AMOUR: Happy to.
SEPULVEDA: You should mention that it's an update of pre-existing ITRs. So the underlying ITRs still bind everyone who did not sign that agreement.
AMOUR: And the underlying ITRs were roughly done previously 20-odd years earlier, and they were actually a good thing. They liberalized the telecoms markets in Europe. And what we were looking for, the internet community going into the WCIT, was more of that good work.
The - some of the member states in the ITU took advantage of WCIT to try and introduce language that some nations felt were a segue to internet governance issues, content for instance. And the United States, the European Union, a number of other nations, were adamant that they did not want anything that spoke specifically to the internet in the ITU ITRs. And in fact, there will be a treaty document.
SEPULVEDA: Let me build on that a little bit. So the International Telecommunications Union, the ITU, governs telecommunications infrastructure, which includes all telephone to telephone communications, all satellite communications and all wireless communications around the world.
So it says this is the band and the airwaves in which mobile cell phones are going to work, right? And that's where they work all over the world. That way you get economies of scale and you can build one handset that operates everywhere in the world.
The question at the - for the ITRs was that they want - some countries wanted to expand the authority of the International Telecommunications Union to go beyond telecommunications networks to all the networks that compose the internet, many of which are private networks and constitute computer to computer telecommunications, not telephone to telephone communications or satellites to - or human to human communications even, right?
So at the end of the day, what they tried to inject was language relative to - just to take one example with spam, they wanted to be - there to be some form of international regulation relative to unwanted communications.
We in the United States disagree with that for a large number of reasons, the most important of which is one man's unwanted communications is another man's political speech. Two, there are multiple mechanisms by which ISPs have technology in place to ensure that their consumers - and you do this now on your Gmail or whatever email service you use.
You have a spam folder, and those things that you would normally intellectually consider spam are moved there. And that kind of competition within the private market to provide technological solutions to what is an irritant within - within communications is what we'd prefer, right?
But what we didn't want to see is that conversation moved to a situation in which you're having an in-depth discussion with the Russians and the Chinese about what considered - what should be unwanted email and who in Geneva should decide what technology and how that communication should be governed. We're not going to allow that.
And one of the points that you made earlier was that this - UN bodies tend to be consensus bodies. The ITU is no different. This was the - as far as I know, the only treaty at the ITU that has ever taken place on a non-consensus basis. And we have pushed the leadership to move back to consensus. And the leadership has assured that they are going to move back to consensus.
And since the - since Dubai 2012, they have. The WTDC was conducted by consensus. The WTPF was conducted by consensus. And we will work to conduct the Plenipot by consensus. It is a union, and therefore we need to operate by consensus.
QUESTION: I'm Marc Levinson with the Congressional Research Service. Let me ask what may be a bit of a naïve question. If someone in the US makes a movie and tries to distribute that movie to cinemas in another country, that is - and the other country blocks it, that's a restraint of trade, OK?
We deal with that through the WTO process. We can file complaints. There's a process for adjudicating. In the extreme, there's a process under which we can retaliate. If someone makes a movie and tries to distribute it into another country over the internet, we don't treat that as a trade issue.
This goes into an entirely different set of institutions with an entirely different structure and an entirely different set of outcomes. Can you explain why that is or why it should be?
AMOUR: I think I'm allowed to say no one's.
SEPULVEDA: OK. So the question on the table is if you make a movie and put it on YouTube, how is it determined whether or not that movie can be accessed by a person, a human being anywhere on the planet?
And there are places in which it can't, right? But that is done through adherence to the terms of service that Google places on YouTube and their relationship with whatever market you're talking about. So there are many forms of video, to take a specific case, that are visible in many parts of the world and are not visible in others.
And that's a negotiation that takes place between the platform provider, Google in this case, and the government. And - and you could take Turkey as an example. And they work it out, right? And that has worked well relatively to date. It is fundamentally different from - I used to work at USTR - the traditional mechanism of dispute resolution between states on questions of unfair trade practices.
And the way it works now may or may not be the way it works forever. We have found that the way it works now without international centralized regulation or dispute settlement mechanisms has worked to the advantage of creators and to the advantage of consumers worldwide net-net.
If that doesn't turn out to be true over an extended period of time, then people may look to solutions like the creation of some sort of mechanism or go to places like the UN for dispute resolution. We don't believe that's necessary.
We don't believe it would be helpful, and that's why we argue what we do now. But it is a statistical outlier in international commerce, right? It was created organically by the founders of the internet to be decentralized.
And it - it is challenging for those of us who have only worked in government and have worked around very structured rules of procedure and rules of evidence and in places to go where you adjudicate an outcome that is considered just to look at something at this and say, why don't you bring different parties together and have an unconstructed conversation about how you can get to yes between various parties on an underlying question.
SEGAL: There was a - there was a large discussion I think in part pushed by Google and some others about using the WTO and free flow of information in particular on China was a focus, but that didn't go very far.
QUESTION: Thank you for this discussion. Esther Brimmer now at George Washington University Elliott School. It's not just because the authors are here. I should say that your task force report's on my - on my syllabus.
And also I'm just back from Brazil actually where I was on a panel on human rights issues on Tuesday with one of the legislators who supported the (inaudible) and (inaudible) he's now talking about using the internet for voter access and information. So it's interesting (ph) on that point.
But as a former assistant secretary for international organizations, I've spent a lot of time worrying about a variety of international organizations, including ITU. What approach - this is an area with a rich alphabet soup of organizations. I'd like to press you a little more on exactly the next 18 months, which really could be pivotal, and sort of what you see as where we basically need to have some wins.
NetMundial was effectively a positive experience, and essentially you try to buffer maybe the more difficult venues with positive results in the more favorable venues. Could you talk a little bit more about the strategy, which really are the really important milestones in the months to come to make sure we maintain the open internet? Thank you.
SEPULVEDA: It's a good question. In the - in the next 18 months I think the ICANN London 50 where there will be a ministerial of (ph) ministers from around the world talking about how ICANN can evolve to include more people from the global south in particular to ensure - we need the multistakeholder system to work for the people who find it unsatisfying and we have to discuss ways to get that done.
Beyond London, you have the Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul. There have been a lot of questions about how the Internet Governance Forum, which is a UN sanctioned gathering but it is a multistakeholder gathering, a non-treaty, non-binding gathering where we discuss issues that people have, differences of opinion and cross-values on how we can have an internet that respects differing values and move forward with some real and substantive recommendations that people can use back home.
And then of course you have Busan, which is where South Korea will be gathering the world for the International Telecommunications Union to assess its constitution and conventions and prepare a plan for the following four years.
There we will have our - our colleagues from Russia and our colleagues from China and elsewhere will bring forward that proposals that we will oppose. And we will have to have that debate and we will see where the world stands at that point.
And beyond that, you have the World Radio Communications Conference in 2015, which will be huge around how much space will be available worldwide for mobile broadband communications.
AMOUR: I can add to that as well. In fact, there's a ministerial that precedes the IGF as well. There are numerous regional IGFs that are taking place between now and then which are really important to not - in a lot of other regions.
There are the CSTD activity. It's Computer -
SEPULVEDA: The Council for Science, Technology and Development.
AMOUR: And - and there's a couple more. The WGIG, Working Group on Internet Governance, was - is being reviewed in a number of these forums. There are - even the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group, which are the ones that set the agenda for the IGF, has several meetings between now and then.
There's WSIS+10 review, which is a World Summit on the Information Society after 10 years review. All of those forums are really important forums. They're largely intergovernmental, so they're multistakeholder. And they're all addressing topics of internet governance and where - where to from here. So there are many of them. And again, there are IETF meetings, Regional Internet Registry meetings between now and then that will continue to reach out to those other communities as well.
SEPULVEDA: For those of you who are interested in these issues and want to learn more about it, I would refer you to the Internet Society's website which does both a historical and a - and it breaks it down into bite-sized pieces to understand.
Ms. Laura DeNardis, a professor - I'm not sure where Laura teachers, but she just wrote a major book on - on - on these issues called I think it was The Global War for Internet Governance, which is more dramatic than the book itself. It's actually quite substantive and nuanced and I would recommend it to you.
There's also some work being done out of a group in Canada called CGCIGI, and you can check out their website and they're doing an immense amount of work on these questions as well.
SEGAL: And the council in the next six months into Busan will be ramping up its programming in this area. There's a - there's a new backgrounder on the website on internet governance that covers a lot of these issues, and in the next three or four months we'll be producing more kind of briefs on country positions and international organizations.
SEPULVEDA: And the Congressional Research Service has put in some excellent work as well.
LOTRIONTE: There was a question way back in the back. I think somebody had their hand up for a while that I kept missing.
QUESTION: Hi. Jonathan Berman from Columbia University. I guess I've just been a little surprised that no mention of - pardon me - of surveillance - the NSA's surveillance that's come out in the last year has come up in conversation. Is this not at all relevant - pardon me - to the positions being take on by governments or our government's ability to serve as an honest broker.
SEPULVEDA: It is absolutely relevant and it comes up at almost every gathering that we go to. It came up at NetMundial. We had a long conversation and deliberation on the question. And it has come up at the United Nations General Assembly where Brazil and Germany brought forward a proposal to determine what constitutes a violation of privacy relative to state surveillance.
And the decision there was that if it was either - if it was unlawful and arbitrary, then it constituted a violation. And that was accepted by unanimous consent. I would say that while these issues are relevant for debate that they have been - that there are countries that have manipulated those questions in order to try to win the support of democratic societies for authoritarian controls over the internet.
And that - you have to call a spade a spade in those situations. At the end of the day, those authoritarian governments that are calling for centralized control over internet communications, it's not because they want a more free and more open internet, right?
So at the end of the day you have to - you have to try to divide these - these questions into areas of expertise and bring together the proper experts on those underlying questions and the proper jurisdiction on those questions.
The president has put forward a number of reforms and we're in the process of executing those. And so those conversations are taking place all the time at very, very high levels between experts on cyber security and - and - and state-to-state issues.
SEGAL: That said, Catherine and I are back from Berlin last week, and I think we were both very impressed - it's not the right word, but moved by the depth of emotion from the German side. I don't think there's any doubt that it's genuine and that they are - they are truly angry and upset and disappointed and cynical and skeptical and whatever other words you can use.
And I think that it is a big blow. I think, you know, when we think about all of the milestones that we listed moving ahead that we wanted to make sure that Germany, Brazil, all these other countries were pushing in the same direction with us. I think Danny's right. There is domestic manipulation going on. They still have the interest to push in those directions, but certainly trust has been hurt.
And I think at the - you know, at the lower levels cooperation is still going on, but at the higher level it's much harder.
SEPULVEDA: We are going to Germany I think next month at a very high level. Mr. Podesta will be leading a group over there. We do take their concerns very seriously. We understand (inaudible) we worked very well with them at NetMundial in particular, but also I worked very, very well with them at the ITU and a number of other organizations. We work very well with them at ICANN.
So at the end of the day, I think, again, we have more shared values than - than we have things that divide us.
LOTRIONTE: Unfortunately we're going to have to end it now, but thank you all for joining us here today and look forward to the next time we meet.