The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, Germany, from 25 to 29 November 2019. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: Good afternoon, everybody, and we're going to be starting in a couple of minutes. We are not expecting football‑size crowds to this meeting so if you could please come into the inner table, that would be great, fitting slightly to assuage for the people behind me. If you have come forward there will be materials at the desk, and we'll be starting in just 2 minutes. Thank you.
Well, welcome, everybody. Welcome to the open forum Freedom Online Coalition.
My name is Charles Bradley, and I work at the support unit of the Freedom Online Coalition, and it's my pleasure to welcome you here to discuss a number of key sort of priorities and focus on areas of the FOC under chairmanship.
Just a little introduction, the Freedom Online Coalition is a network of 31 member states who work collaboratively to promote and protect human rights online. It was founded back in 2011 under the leadership of the U.S. and Dutch as a way of coordinating efforts within like‑minded governments to ensure that the principles ‑‑ the principle of human rights offline appear online and since that date it has worked in a number of different ways to make sure these rights are right, and there's a strong coordinated efforts in like‑minded governments and in key spaces where norms are shaped.
In front of you there are a couple of materials which may be quite familiar if you're unfamiliar with some of the details of the FOC. The first is the A4 document, which is the program of action 2019‑2020 which really outlines key areas, and we're very lucky to have Dr. Albert Antwi‑Boasiako from Ghana to talk about the Ghana championship and the upcoming conference, which will take place next year.
And the second document is very elaborately named basic documents packet. This provides a full list of all the core documents from the FOC from the founding documents through the to the current Stockholm terms of reference, which is the constitutional document of the FOC as well as of the end of 2018 all of the joint statements that the Freedom Online Coalition have made collaboratively and by consensus since forming in 2011.
If there's any questions on this we can talk about those later, but we're very we'll provide those and hope you'll share those with colleagues as well.
So the format of this open forum really is talk about some of the key priorities of the FOC under the chairmanship of Ghana, and we'll talk about some work that the FOC on the issue of disinformation and human rights and also on the advisory network, which is the multistakeholder body which advises the FOC to do.
So we have three panelists Albert who's the cybersecurity advisor on the government of Ghana.
Rauno Merisaari, who's the human rights ambassador in Finland; and Mallory Knodel, who's the head of digital efforts, so without further ado, I'd like to hand over to Albert to talk about the Ghana championship and other activities.
>> ALBERT BOASIAKO: Thank you.
On behalf of my country I think this is appropriate to recognize the great work you are doing, you and your team. We have Mina here, and you have a great team who have been supporting us as we chair this body but also the friends of the chair. I've seen all the hard work the correspondents and the engagement and the advocacy that has gone on through this period, and I think we're really happy for the support you're giving us to run this.
It is important to congratulate the government of Switzerland for joining the FOC. It happened during our chairmanship, and we really appreciate that step has been taken.
I also wish to report that we are having engagement with the government of Denmark who president is joining the group. As part of this, we are hosting the Danish ambassador in Ghana and Zumba, and we are going to discuss their membership of the FOC and hopefully we can get them to announce this at a conference in February of 2020 but permit me also to commend and congratulate the government of Germany for being selected as a chairmanship. The German government deserved that. They have proven to be working as champions bringing everybody on board, and I would to express my government's support for that kind of responsibility.
Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot talk much about the relevance as a team specifically about the FOC. This is a very crucial moment. Even when you look at the development ‑‑ or the globe, there are a lot of changes going on. There are changes relative to legislations to address imagine consensus in a global domain. Countries are actively taking up steps to introduce cyberstrict legislations with the aim of addressing the various concerns that they have. It is a period that the wake of the FOC becomes, you know, very critical.
How do we achieve this? I've always stayed to the balance, and I don't know what I do with my background in philosophy. And as a body, we need to be mindful of whatever concerns that are necessitating and to support this country's ‑‑ these countries to support and aligned in the promotion of the rule of law in this task base.
I think some colleagues that sent out by the executive indicating the growth of internet on the African continent. If you look at the global statistics, the top countries with active presentation in social media. You know, on the global side, Ghana is among the top 10 countries, Nigeria is there, Egypt is there. You know, it gives you certain insight, that citizens are active online. I'm upholding them to a number of activities that they didn't have without technology. Indeed, I'm speaking here also to argue that.
For example, shutting down internet that's not only important rights, you know, in the transition of right it has a huge economical consequence for developing countries. Permit me to make that argument because from the global side there are a number of countries including my own country developing a country with true delineation.
For online banking for Ghana has introduced mobile money, financial operability where transactions is done through mobile phones and the volumes of transactions should the internet be shut down for half a day, four hours the country stands to lose a lot even from an economical environment. I think it should be part of our argument as to raise awareness as to why we need to take the necessary steps to avoid in taking extreme positions.
But we can't just do that through advocacy. There are certain government who are really committed to promoting rights. They know the benefit of an internet, and they know the responsibilities of guaranteeing the freedom of speech online, but sometimes they are challenged, and now permit me for one example.
Some of them for the abuse of internet or criminal use of the internet ‑‑ sometimes we do not get any help, international corporations feel that Ghana has gone through, and because we did not want to go through serious consequences we had to rectify the convention as a way of building collaborative environment with a criminal use a subset of mechanisms to address those issues. We ought to have a responsibility to give a direction to certain countries. This is an alternative.
If we speak out against shutting down the internet without providing alternative ways of revolving judgment concerns, and I don't think they will take us serious, and we need to promote international cooperation consistent with the rule of law that respect the right of citizens, and that is why I mentioned like the Budapest convention so on, and so forth, and that is just my introduction even though I was ask to market the upcoming event in Ghana, which is confirmed, I hope we can see everybody present here we are building a very good program we have confirmations, but we also want to permit me to wear my African hat we want to promote a lot of awareness of the aware of advocacy, and I've gotten approval to all our bathrooms but certain specific countries, so that it can come in and have conversations and true to reach out to them and promote some of those ideals, and I believe is good for the worth.
I don't think I have much, but I prepare myself with the questions. We look forward to make the event very successful one. The government is fully involved. My minister is aware. We work together. She announced that, and she invited people to join us, so we have a top government commitment, and we look forward to enrich our peers. Thank you so much.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: Thank you very much, and for showing great leadership or these issues on the region. It's going to be fantastic to see this come to fruition in the conference, which I will plug is the 6th through the 7th of February in Accra and more information will be online shortly so thank you, Albert for that.
I wanted to come next to the Finnish government to talk about the issue of disinformation as you'll see from the program of action the FOC is one of the priority areas, and talk about it in an FOC perspective.
>> RAUNO MERISAARI: Thank you. Good afternoon, everybody.
Finland is one of the 31 member states of the Freedom Online Coalition. We have joined the coalition to ‑‑ to promote the human rights online that are respected offline. And in raising circumstances, of course, we have to work together not only the governments but also the ‑‑ with civil society, business, academia to different and promote the internet open and ‑‑
>> RAUNO MERISAARI: Because as we know this kind of internet is also challenged, this work. One of the tasks of the Freedom Online Coalition is doing is to shape norms soft law if you wish and currently Finland is put together with the United Kingdom on the statement of this information and human rights, and this is because we are deeply concerned about the growing threat of both online and offline, and we will be the information is the deliberate registration and the dissemination of information that is known to be false and with aim to cause harms for certain persons or for the whole society, so this kind of information can erode the thrust of public information and democratic information. It may fracture community cohesion, polarize societies most information is violation. Governments can do a lot to promote disinformation. The first is free media it's the first to build disinformation other elements of disinformation, is internet coalition, high‑level education and media. We have different ways to promote human rights online on member states.
In Finland, the right to public documents to public authorities is a constitutional right with certain restrictions. We have ratified in Europe that particular issue, and we encourage all participating states to sign and rectify the convention.
We can also build societal resilience on this information by fact‑checking experiences. We have good experience with that, and we need to have open communication between governments, civil servants, civil society, schoolteachers, et cetera.
Any strategy to counter this information should be multifaceted. It should combine proactive governmental responses, education and promotional of media and digital literacy as well as free media and responsible media companies.
And all actions taken to prevent disinformation have to be in line with human rights provisions including freedom of expression and the right to access to information.
We are quite far to draft the freedom of online coalition statement. But we still are happy and welcome if you would like to comment this particular issue, and we hope you can work with us to implement the activities to ‑‑ for resilience and against disinformation. Thank you.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: Thank you very much.
And I think this issue as you so eloquently describe shows the type of issue that the FOC is trying to grapple with and trying to bring together through consensus of all the members some common positions and language including sort of definitional clarity, which is often missing in many of these conversations and issues. It's no mere feat to get where we are, and we hope to have a public statement as a deliverable in the coming months and definitely before the FOC company in Accra which we will be able to share and widely publicize.
I just wanted to talk one additional point on the sort of utility of the statement from your perspective, obviously, it's a huge amount of the time and energy taken from your time and your government's time as well as all the other participating governments as well.
What do you see as the main sort of utility of the statement and how would you sort of like to see it be used going forward?
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: I think that's the common challenge for all
>> RAUNO MERISAARI: Within the FOC and outside is to is to defend democracy and the public trust in democratic institutions, and then we have certain own challenges or own priorities.
In Finland, we have a geopolitical position where it's all ‑‑ it's utmost important to us to be able to prevent the cross‑border disinformation. Must mainly ask the question: How to force the democracy?
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: Great, thank you very much.
And at any point you have questions, and I know other member states are in the room and if you would like to add in, please do put your hand up in this sports hall would be great.
I'd like to come back to Ghana, we're very pleased to have members of parliament to join us now and to provide the floor for you to make your intervention.
>> Thank you very much, and a very good afternoon to the members of the session.
My name is the Honorable Santi George, a member of parliament in Ghana and member on communications that has the responsibility of the technology space.
I believe that Ghana is one of the countries leading the way in Africa when it comes to freedoms for people be it in cyberspace or traditional media. We have recently after 22 years passed a rights‑to‑information bill that is supposed to give wider freedoms to access information.
However, in the digital space, it's important for us to seek out the rights of citizens even as governance and as legislators we want to make sure they're setting boundaries and guidelines that ensure that nobody is bullied. We also believe that the fundamental principle of the internet as a free internet and free impression by users of the platform, so parliamental Ghana has been working, and we've been working with Albert, who's our national cybersecurity advisor on putting in place proper frameworks of cybersecurity legislation that gives rules and protects the rights of our citizen to be able to express their opinions.
We have a very liberal system. We may not have the Fifth Amendment as the United States has but local jurisprudence has great respect for individual rights and liberties.
About 20 years ago, we decriminalized libel. We repealed ‑‑ we had what was called the criminal libel law which the states could use to arrest, prosecute and jail for comments that people felt were injurious to political personalities. We have repealed that. It's been almost 20 years ‑‑ I think that was appealed in 2001, and so on an African continent where there's still a lot of stifling of free speech, Ghana is one shining example, and I'm happy to say ‑‑ I'm happy to allowing us to host the FOC conference because it's national recognition of the work we're doing, and it makes it easier for us to continue to champion cyberfreedoms and be an example to the rest of the African continent. So all in all, we are comfortable and confident that we will continue to see a free internet space, liberalization of the internet space, and we will continue to work with organizations like the FOC to see how well we can strengthen internet freedoms in Ghana.
There are one or two challenges that every country does have in this era of hate speech and violent extremism and terrorism and all of that, and we're reminded of our responsibility by governments and legislators to protect our citizens without necessarily infringing on their fundamental right to expression, so I'm grateful to be part of this session, and I'm sure that we can have the conversations on this matter.
>> Just a comment because those of you who are familiar with African continent, George is a senior member of parliament ‑‑ in British political terms. I serve under the current government. I'm in the party that's in power. He's from the other side, but I just want to highlight to appreciate that when it comes to cyber‑related issues it's a country with a tradition. We have a common thinking, a common approach to think, and he give you in parliament ‑‑ a historical background because it's not party A or party B. It's a common vision of Ghana, and it's good to let you know that I represent the opinion of a government in power. He's from the opposition, but we're saying the same song when it comes to the rights of our citizens. Thank you.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: Thank you very much and thank you very much for participating. It's been too long that we haven't had lawmakers and parliamentarians here.
>> Watch out for his face when you're in a crowd so thank you.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: And as these issues become more complicated and the national approaches because more legal it's going to be ever more important to have your voice at the table when we get ‑‑ when we get to that, so thank you very much.
I have to note for you panelists that Rauno has to go to the airport, which is very far away but thank you very much, Rauno, for your participation today.
Mallory, I'd like to come to you. Mallory is one of the cochairs of the advisory network; has been a longstanding participant and engager with the FOC. Probably knows more about it than most people, including myself, so I'd like to sort of pass forward to you to make your intervention, so thank you.
>> MALLORY KNODEL: Thanks, Charles. And thanks to the important speakers. It's important that the internet governance is a member state coordination group, but it's a little been committed to multistakeholderism, and that is why the advisory network exists and why I wanted to talk about this in the roundtable today 'cause it's very important.
So I know that there are other advisors in the room. If you are on the advisory network for the FOC, could you just raise your hand. Some of you are not awake. That's fine.
And if you've been part of a previous working group of the FOC, can you also raise your hand? No? Okay. Good. It's a few more people.
So you noticed, you know, there's actually ‑‑ the advisory ‑‑ I would say the history of multistakeholder position in the FOC goes beyond the advisory network and its history. So when it was first started, it was ‑‑ there were not really formal mechanisms aside from the conference itself for participation although I remember very well at my ‑‑ at the job ‑‑ at my job at the time that we would regularly reach out to the internet governance to let them know that there was a topic that we felt they should write a statement, things like that, so that was the sort of early days of multistakeholder engagement.
And then they formed three working groups that were multistakeholder, so it was the member states as well as a nice balance of private sector and civil society and academic participation. They paid attention to think like gender balance and other intersectionalities on diversity, and it was they all mixed results that they were in existence, but it was to build over a specific piece of work, which is over a period of time, which is almost the polar opposite which the IGF is it's a multistakeholder space, and then you go home, but they were meant to build trust and actual outputs and that really led to, I think, great stuff.
Full disclosure I was on one of those working groups it was the internet free working group 1, and there's even a website that exists with all the products that you can go. You can go to freeandsecure.online. Those are some really good products. There was also one on transparency and data protection, and then, I think, the other one was on surveillance?
>> Digital development.
>> Digital development, sorry. They sunset it in 2017, so it's been a while since I've had to enumerate them.
So that's sort of the history, and then, you know, after they sunsetted the working groups in 2017, there was an establishment of the advisories network, and that's the current model today so both private sector ‑‑ well, not both, private sector, civil society, and academic folks can join the advisory network that is ‑‑ it's a fixed number at the moment, but there's no reason for it to be. I'm a cochair, as well as Bernard Chin from Microsoft, and we're currently looking at, you know, changing some of the ways the advisory networks work and also renewing membership, and so there are some folks who won't be continuing after a few years, and they'll be open slots, and we'll be doing a public call for applications, and we would really like for more people or even folks that were involved in previous work with the FOC to consider coming back, and we really strive for balance, so that we have private sector membership and not just civil society and academics and researchers are also very, very welcomed.
And the reason why this is important as you can see from the plan of action there's a lot of really substantive and important statements that are done, and that's the sort of backbone or baseline, if you will, of what the FOC does is it comes out with statements, but it goes beyond that, too.
But if you just look at the topics that have been under discussion this year and are planned for next year, I think that you'll see there's a lot of room to bring your research, your perspectives your advocacy targets into those conversations so one of the statements earlier this year was on defending your civic space, which, I think, was launched in May there's a statement that has not launch Judd but hotly divided in digital divides, which is really important ‑‑ very, very important topic to get right, and it's okay to do that.
And there's also one on disinformation which you just heard about, and there's a debate on the cybersecurity laws and the human impact of cybersecurity that is obviously a really big topic if you've been at the IGF for the past few days you'll know that.
And then lastly, for next year we're also planning on doing ‑‑ or the governments rather, and we'll be advising on the statement on artificial intelligence, so there's a lot of opportunities. That covers a lot of issue ground in the internet freedom space and, so it would be great if you can join us as part of the advisory network, but the other way you can get involved is just by coming to the Accra conference. That's another great opportunity to talk to advisors and, obviously, FOC members and to be proactively engaged.
I would just say as cochair of the advisory network, I would be really happy to hear from people who want to engage and think that maybe the advisory network could do a better job of representing the larger space so proactively reach out to us, and I think based on our last meeting that we just had on Monday, in fact, our internal meeting, there was a really good idea to actually have our own sort of side meeting alongside the FOC conference in Accra as a way of doing a better job of communicating out and bringing feedback, back into the FOC via the advisory network and trying to show better leadership on engaging people who are not in that limited fixed number of advisors at the moment.
So that's, I think, my update and my plea to continue to stay involved and to continue to raise important issues and your perspectives on those as part of the nonstate stakeholders that care about the FOC. Thanks.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: Great, thank you, thank you very much.
Yeah. And I think that gives a really good picture of the evolution of the multistakeholderism of the FOC, which is multilateral as you mentioned at the beginning. I think the FOC went through a 5‑year strategic review back in 2016 through 2018. And from independent assessments, which was carried out as well as the internal conversations, it was really sort of underscored the value is still this multilateral approach that there was no other way the existing mechanism for that engagement and the FOC predates, you know, the human rights discussion really at the IGF. It predates Rightscon it was created when these things were very, very new and had to sort of find its purpose again in that ‑‑ in that conversation.
What you touched on was sort of some of the really value‑adds of that deeper connection, which is clearly a work in progress between the network and the member states, which I wanted just to talk to a little bit more on, if that's okay.
As you mentioned the cybersecurity statement is currently being developed, this is an issue that many countries around the world do not have a shared position on, then you add the complexity of the 30 nonstate actor state, and we're trying to get a consensus state, so 31 member states have to ‑‑ have to agree to that language.
We've sort of had an innovation in the process to try and bring closer the advisory network inputs as well as the member states.
I'd like to get your experience of that and how valuable that's been from someone, you know, who is trying to shape this conversation from the outside and the value of being, you know, closer to some of the governments in the wordsmithing and red lining that's currently ‑‑ currently going on, on that statement?
>> Yeah, thanks for the opportunity to talk more about that, so it does sound like hard work, but I would say that there's a lot that's already been done because there is an existing statement or endorsement that the Freedom Online Coalition had released at the San Jose meeting in 2016 around the recommendations ‑‑ well, it was a definition ‑‑ a sort of narrative of the complementary of privacy and security and a list of recommendations for cybersecurity privacy making that respects human rights, and it was years of work, and it was hard.
The statement that we're working on right now is less ambitious and really leans on the work that was done previously, and so it's hopefully just months long instead of years‑long process, but you're right, it's like the stakes are high given the larger ‑‑ the larger conversation when there isn't a lot of alignment, but I think that's also why the Freedom Online Coalition's commitment to human rights is the highlight. You can't ‑‑ you can't make a statement that says all the things or that, you know, gets into the thornier issues that, for example, were discussed this morning in the trust and norms session like transaction and things like that, but I think the internet governance has done a good job on recognizing what little that it can contribute to that discussion, and it is around sort of human rights‑centric approach, and so it doesn't do too much, but that is a massive contribution, and I think it's really guiding not just, hopefully, the interventions that internet governance member states are making in the UN processes in the first committee but also the engagement that the civil society and private sector stakeholders are making in their process because it's a little bit more open this time, so that's the hope and to definitely look out for that one when it comes out. Hopefully, it's something that we all agree on.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: Great, thank you very much.
And opening to the floor, questions, comments, contributions to the conversation?
>> Thanks. It's good to hear that there's an interest in engaging with people who have not ever been able to formal by involved with the FOC despite contributing a lot of time and organizational efforts, so I look forward to forwarding to some of that, but I have a question on some of the governments taking part in the FOC, you know, coalition, which is redundant anyways and specifically, you know, many of those ‑‑ you mentioned that disinformation is a priority but many of those governments are at the helm of disinformation campaigns and do not have electoral laws or, you know, other regulatory frameworks for preventing political campaigns or government officials are conducting disinformations, online harassment campaigns and other forms of computational progress propaganda so how does that fit in the agenda.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: If member states would like to take part ‑‑
>> And I'll be happy to take part that'd be great.
So the FOC some of the progress ‑‑ is to ensure some of the coordination across different agencies domestically as well as some of the competing sort of priorities that different agencies and different countries have and the FOC in the founding documents and different statements provide that standard and that bar that each of the member states are committed to both domestically as well as in their promotion of these values externally and none of the governments are, you know, perfect and there'll always be some imperfections in some of these challenges and some of the inconsistencies.
>> Can we hear from the governments because I feel like you're just giving generic statements.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: Sure.
>> And I would like to hear whether or not this is going to be on the agenda and, you know, obviously, no government is perfect.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: Sure.
>> And I've never heard about this ‑‑
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: I think Felipe would like to take it.
>> Thank you for your question.
I'm Felipe Rodriguez from the Canada, one of the countries that has a regulatory framework for our elections, and we've just gone through an election and the general feeling both from the government but also from civil society seems to be that there was very little if any disinformation during the campaign, so I think in the context of the FOC, we are having that conversation generally of, you know, when the FOC was founded, the questions that it was tackling were relatively narrow and increasingly we see a lot of different issues including disinformation being having been discussed, and so I think we are currently thinking about how to address these issues of, well, when governments may not be entirely acting in line with ‑‑ with the commitments that they ‑‑ that they have made in the context of the FOC, so this is an ongoing process of where are we going with this piece?
There was a bit of a spark plug there given that ‑‑ as you may be aware, the global internet forum for countering terrorism was relaunched at the last UN general assembly with the added ‑‑ one of the added elements there was that essentially countries can now can advisory part ‑‑ part of the advisory body of that organization and in order to be part of that body, you need to be part of the FOC, so this kind of ignited the conversation around: How do we keep governments accountable for the commitments that they have made under the FOC?
So there's a process right now. It's still very much at its preliminary stages, so we'll see where that goes, but at least there is a conversation that has been ignited and actually, you know, talking about the role of the advisory network, I think this is something that ‑‑ that the advisory network has been very vocal that we have that conversation a little bit more openly in terms of process so something keep an eye on in the next little while. Thanks.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: Thank you very much. And we can take specific questions, and I'll take it offline on the statement and the scope as well. I think that's a really important point so thank you.
One sort of part of the FOC that sometimes gets missed off is the digital defenders partnership, so I wanted to come to Farica. The FOC gave birth to this great initiative with some of the governments and for a long time but it'd be great to get a sort of update where you're at and the new strategic vision and what's going on there.
>> Hi. Yeah, thank you.
So exciting news we just launched our new strategy document, basically. Yeah, the initiative was started in 2012 by several FOC governments but are we part of the FOC or not? We're always humping in between, and we're neutral, basically, from the governments that we're working with, and we're aligned with them working with different embassies, and what we do is protecting human rights defenders who are under digital ‑‑ and what is new and exciting in our strategy is one of the things we're seeing new on the ground is that there is not enough local capacity to provide this holistic response, so we're field‑building at the moment.
And where are we at? We're, basically, fundraising ‑‑ can I say that? Fundraising for this new strategy paper and at the moment the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs and Finland are contributing. But we have been supporting seven FOC members so please come to me if you're interested in this new strategy document, and I'm happy to explain more later. Thanks.
>> Great. Thank you so much.
Any other questions? Thoughts?
>> I'm just going to make a comment, which, I think, the FOC as a point should look at more extensive, and it expands by the point by the lady over there. It has to do with the issue of disinformation and a centralized harmonized position by the FOC ‑‑ because when you look at the African content, and I always try to put things in the context of a can because the things I of the IGF this year I feel like most of the discussions are Euro‑centric and north American and very, very light on Africa, maybe Asia of the developing world.
But when you look at Africa and the elections and the issue of disinformation, misinformation and Fox News, these are very key things, and I'm glad they will be hosting next year. It will be fantastic if we could begin to build a setting framework on the auspices of the FOC that will guide countries that may not have the law as Canada has or an electoral ‑‑ guiding electoral processes that will help as legislation benchmarks that local legislation can span out from. That will help to control misinformation, disinformation and Fox News because one of the biggest challenges to freedoms of online users is when governments think that there's a lot of disinformation or misinformation, and so the natural reaction of power of governments is legislation. That's what you saw even here in Germany. I mean, the network enforcement acts as ‑‑ basically, as a response to social media content. And so if the FOC guide us for a setting benchmark that governments can localized to local legislation, I think this is something that will go a long way if there's a real study to go with it that will help build that framework and unable us to handle the problems and challenges of disinformation, misinformation and Fox News because take it from me, I don't think governments on their own just want to come down on free speech but if you're left without any framework to guide you ‑‑ when you see government officials and disinformation is not just by government propaganda. Opposition propaganda against government is also equally big. You get it, and so it cuts both ways.
Like Albert told you, he represents the government of Ghana respective, and I represent the largest position in Ghana perspective. I would be playing an ostrich in a zoo that option, and it's a battle because there's no legislation that seems to control that space. It's an open space, and so if you're not careful, and you have somebody sitting in the minister industry of communication or in ‑‑ ministry of communication or government, saying look, we can't have a free for all battle what you're going to see is a legislation that may end up beating the freedoms of humans on the internet, and this is something serious that you may want to explore.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: Thank you very much.
And some of the challenges we are seeing are definitely some of those legislative and policy proposals to stop venues but to encroach on free expression and privacy.
Would you like to comment?
>> I'm part of the advisory network, and I stress, you know, the need to have parliamentarians like yourself to come to these meetings, so we can have an open channel to discuss all these issues, and I think there is a massive gap, you know, in the space like the IGF where the policymakers, you know, like the people who are calling all the shots and making legislation are not present in this space, and it would be good if, you know, you act as an agent of change, and you go back to change and the importance of forum, and I'm looking forward to come to Ghana, so we can engage more with people during the upcoming IFOC.
There is no easy way to do this because so much governments ‑‑ we have 55 governments in Africa, and it would be, you know, a dream to think that we can convince them all about the principles of the FOC, so I think if you took that challenge on your shoulder to be the ambassador of the African countries and to the cotton innocents, and I think it's a huge challenge, and it's probably nice to find allies in your local or regional context knowing that Africa is already kind of ‑‑ not divided but there are specificities, you know, according to the region ‑‑ the reason there's a language barrier, and it's a good start to start the conversation, and I really encourage, you know, the integration, you know, of the logistic, you know, part of the governments to be, you know, part of these conversations.
>> Spanning from the last comment, I didn't know ‑‑ what ‑‑ how this sits with you. Like I always say, I speak from the African context, and I speak about my country, Ghana, because that's where I can speak with authority and what happens.
I believe that one of the key things that you could do to reach out to Africa is to make a case with Ghana because a lot of countries in the of a can continent look up to Ghana as the gold standard for the issues of cybersecurity and the internet and freedoms.
If the FOC is going to be in Ghana in February, I would want to suggest to you to consider actively a direct engagement with the parliamental Ghana; specifically, the specific committee on communications. It's something that I can work with Albert to facilitate, at least a visit where the FOC gets the opportunity to interact directly with the parliamental Ghana and use that as a case study to show how this can work on the African continent, and then it becomes easy for you to replicate it across the continent when people see that, okay, it's possible. It's happened in Ghana. West Africa is going to happen. Once it happens for west Africa it’s easy for north Africa and South Africa. It's important an invitation of the FOC of the parliamental Ghana on communication.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: I think Albert can officially accept the unofficial invitation.
>> So he's my boss.
>> In terms of parliamentary oversight, so we cannot say no, and we take it in good faith.
>> CHARLES BRADLEY: Great, thank you very much.
Well, that brings us nearly to time and if any session ends early, you always get browning points, so I'm going to try to get us into the end of 4:00 so thank you so much for taking the time to come to this open on the internet governance.
A couple of final things just to put a fine point on it, the conference is taking place in the 6th and 7th of February in Accra, and you're all welcome to join us there. More information will be available but please follow the FOC on Twitter for that.
All the information that has been provided in hard copy as well as a wealth of other information about the FOC is available on the FOC website, which is freedomonlinecoalition.com. The great work of working group 1 is also available online, freeandsecure.online. Good to use those new GOTDs, which is good, and there's a public call for new advisory network members coming out shortly and the advisory network will be leading that process and working with others to ensure that there's deep engagement with external stakeholders with the FOC going forward.
So thank you very much. Enjoy the rest of your IGF, and I hope to see you in sunny Accra. Thank you.