The Gaps in Global Internet Governance Are Growing, According to New CFR Interactive

With over 40 percent of the world’s population now online, the Internet has revolutionized the way the world communicates. But with fast evolving technology, a proliferation of actors with access to the Internet, and an absence of international consensus on what should be permissible, the gap between existing world arrangements and the challenges posed by the Internet is in fact widening.

October 22, 2015

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October 20, 2015—With over 40 percent of the world’s population now online, the Internet has revolutionized the way the world communicates. But with fast evolving technology, a proliferation of actors with access to the Internet, and an absence of international consensus on what should be permissible, the gap between existing world arrangements and the challenges posed by the Internet is in fact widening, according to the latest addition to the Global Governance Monitor, a multimedia resource from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). 

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Produced by CFR’s International Institutions and Global Governance (IIGG) program and CFR’s digital and cyberspace policy program, the interactive guide assesses the global challenges of governing in cyberspace. They include:

  • Privacy: A patchwork of incompatible privacy regimes challenge new business models and services that rely on the collection of data from the Internet, exemplified by the European Court of Justice’s recent decision to strike down the Safe Harbor Agreement that allowed transatlantic data flows.

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  • Online espionage: "The United States has tried to develop norms of acceptable espionage, distinguishing between spying conducted for national security interests and the theft of intellectual property for commercial gain," but no international consensus exists yet.

  • Cybersecurity: With no standard definition of cybersecurity, "it is no surprise that efforts to improve online security are fragmented."

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  • Trade: Absent precedents or clear rules on the trading of digital goods and services, the international free trade system is strained as electronic commerce continues to grow.

  • Freedom of expression: Anyone can express his or her views in cyberspace, and many protestors have used the Internet for organizing, information sharing, and calling for increased government transparency. However, some governments have used the Internet to surveil their citizens and to censor dissenting content. Terrorist organizations have also begun using cyberspace to recruit new followers and spread extremist ideologies.

First launched in 2009, the Global Governance Monitor uses images, video, text, and interactive maps to track multilateral efforts to address global challenges. The guide’s nine other components monitor global cooperation and recommend policy options to improve the world’s capacity to tackle challenges in nuclear proliferation, armed conflict, transnational crime, global finance, oceans, climate change, human rights, terrorism, and public health. The Global Governance Monitor has received several Telly and W3 awards for its quality of content.

Like those before it, the Internet component includes

  • brief video of Internet-related governance challenges;

  • an issue brief, arguing that while collaborative governance structures are emerging, they are not developing fast enough to tackle policy challenges associated with the Internet;

  • matrix cataloging relevant governance institutions and documents;

  • an interactive map detailing critical countries and events; and

  • resource guide for further information on the topic.

View all of the monitor’s components at: www.cfr.org/ggmonitor.

Produced in collaboration with MediaStorm, the feature is made possible by a generous grant from the Robina Foundation.

More CFR interactives can be found at: www.cfr.org/publication/interactives.html.

The International Institutions and Global Governance (IIGG) program at the Council on Foreign Relations aims to identify the institutional requirements for effective multilateral cooperation in the twenty-first century.

CFR’s digital and cyberspace policy program focuses on how to keep the global Internet open, secure, and resilient in the face of unprecedented threats. 

MediaStorm is a production company whose principal aim is to usher in the next generation of multimedia storytelling by publishing social documentary projects incorporating photojournalism, interactivity, animation, audio and video for distribution across multiple media.

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