The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Welcome, everyone. Please take your seats. We are starting a little bit behind schedule, but very happy to see the crowded room, so welcome.
>> CHRIS BUCKRIDGE: Okay. Good morning, everyone. So my name is Chris Buckridge. I work for ICC. I am also on the MAG, and I will be moderating this session along with my colleague. Internet fragmentation, I think we have already had an awful lot of discussions about this just in the last three days, so 2.5 days, so I hope this is an opportunity in this main session to bring together a lot of the discussion and learnings that have been happening not just at this event but in the lead up and some other areas where this work has been going on. As we are all aware, these IGF this year is structures around a number of themes which are reflecting the themes that the Secretary‑General of the United Nations laid out for Global Digital Compact.
So the idea is that the IGF community will be able to structure input, its feedback and knowledge in a way that will inform that Global Digital Compact and ensure that that can be a really useful and effective document.
So avoiding Internet fragmentation is one of those themes, and it's one that I think that as perhaps more than some of the others required some deep diving some digging into what does fragmentation actually mean? What do we mean when we talk about avoiding it? What does that mean for the users of the Internet, for the Internet itself, and for what the Internet can actually bring to our society?
So in the main session here today we have quite a large panel actually, but I think a panel that will bring a lot of very different diverse perspectives and knowledge to the discussion. We have Amandeep Singh Gill who is the UN Secretary‑General Envoy on Technology. We have Tatiana Tropina, we have Edmon Chung, CEO of DotAsia organisation and a member of the ICANN board. We have Raul Echeberria, who is associated with the Latin American Internet Association, LAIA, Amiel Ugandi, Meta, Sheetal Kumar is Global Partners Digital, and has also been one of the drivers and Chairs of the Policy Network on Internet Fragmentation. We put out a call to get a short video from youth. Some of them here, but a lot unable to make the journey. We would like to play that. I hope this will also inspire youth to speak up later when we have more open discussion and to contribute. Can we?
>> (Video is inaudible).
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: We thought it would be interesting to have this first video on the perceptions from the youth as kind of this new generation, the Internet born generation and the ones that are closest to our technologies and so on. And also to highlight how different the perceptions can be depending where you come from, what is your background, where is your region in the world and even your job and what do you do. It's enlightening to be able to hear those inputs on that. We are moving onto the conversation avoiding Internet fragmentation is one of the complex disability issues the United Nations Secretary‑General recommended that is addressed in the Global Digital Compact.
So I would like to ask you if you would be able to elaborate on how you think fragmentation should be a risk or a focus in upcoming UN negotiations, discussions and processes, and the idea for us is for you to help us understand what is the perspective from the UN on this topic, and this has been a question in the previous session too.
>> AMANDEEP SINGH‑GILL: Thank you so much, congratulations to you, Bruna and Chris for flipping this session, bringing the youth voices up front, and it was very instructive listening to the youth perspectives. You see clearly that the user experience is fragmented today so that's a reality as we move from one geography to another or one set of complications to another we don't have a smooth transition. We get limited in the ways that we use the Internet. So this user experience fragmentation is a reality.
Is this, are cracks on the top are of sufficient width or seriousness that they threaten the fundamental foundations of one Internet? That's really the key question. And the reason the SG has argued for this to be included in the considerations for the Global Digital Compact is because of the seriousness of this particular risk. And the fragmentation of the Internet is the direct opposite of digital cooperation. The kind of collaboration we need across countries, so multilateral in a sense and across domains and stakeholders, multistakeholder, so this is the exact opposite of that.
So that's the seriousness of the issue and that's why it deserves to be treated as part of the TDC discussions and consultations. Now, what is contributing to the fragmentation? There is, of course, at the content layer there are different views of the social and economic consequences of what happens on the Internet.
Different countries, different cultures may have different regulatory approaches, whether it is religious or other cultural sensibilities or particularly national perceptions around data protection and privacy. So some of this is legitimate. Some of this may be done in a way which is blunt and which kind of leads to those fragmentation issues, so that's one aspect of the story.
The other is the economic opportunity drivers for fragmentation. It's ironic because on the one hand the one open, free, secure, inclusive Internet has delivered such tremendous economic benefits, and one of the youth participants mentioned this aspect of the opportunity, but then when you see these gigantic market capitalization figures and you see these other aspects of success whether hyped or not in the media or otherwise, there are some who consider why don't we have an equal share in the pie?
So they start to look at how do I cultivate my own digital economy and for that do I need to have a control over data or over platforms? Do I need to, like in the old days, in the industrialization sector, do I need to protect and build up my own national champion?
So that's another driver. A third one is simply lack of sufficient international collaboration. People are just being left to do their own things. Lack of sufficient multistakeholder collaboration, and we need to work harder to address that problem in the context of the GPC and beyond.
You mentioned self‑reflection for the UN forums. Are we also contributing to fragmentation in terms of the governance discussion? And frankly, one of the three pillars of my office's work is coherence. So it's as important as the governance work, as the SDGs enabling work. This is how much the SG wants us to be aware of this. The different organisations across the UN system, whether they be engaged more on the physical networks or they be engaged on the human rights implications, education, et cetera, are more coordinated.
So that many other stakeholders do not have to be confused as they deal with different aspects of the digital, and we are delivering as one UN for different stakeholders.
And the IGF actually plays a very, very important role in those considerations around coherence and coordination so that we in the UN system are not contributing to an already difficult problem. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Amandeep. Some interesting discussions there and the idea of Technical Envoy role against fragmentation of governance is an interesting perspective to put your office in. So thank you for that. We are running a hybrid session here. In the spirit of the modern IGF, our next speaker is Dr. Tatiana Tropina who is still back in The Hague, I think.
I'm turning to you as someone who has been involved very much in the tack democratic discussion of fragmentation. I know you have, I know you have done work that has summarized a lot of other discussions that are going on. The question, I guess, we wanted to pose to you is what is the current status and existing risks of fragmentation looked at from that academic perspective?
I think also importantly has that changed significantly in the last few years? We have seen this topic really come up in priority, come up in sort of focus. Has that reflected changes or is that just, well, the Secretary‑General, perhaps, bring it onto the table, so thanks.
>> TATIANA TROPINA: Thanks for having me. So let me start with the idea that have already been floating here and has been expressed by Amandeep. We are looking at fragmentation from various lawyers, technical lawyer and content layer and also infrastructure layer. And from my perspective, Internet has always been fragmented.
It is a mesh of network, self‑governing autonomous systems, so it has been fragmented already, but it is not at the same time because connectivity remains. All of the systems speak the same language. There is a dominance of protocol. There are unique identifiers like domain names, IP addresses and they are governed globally, and this connectivity has not been challenged.
So in a way as long as it remains, Internet is not going to be fragmented. Everything that we thought about five, six, ten years ago in terms of Internet fragmentation challenging this connectivity like, let's say, the new AP or something else that will break or split the Internet into some islands of connectivity, it did not materialize or it did not materialize yet.
What we are seeing and why this debate is very important today is barriers, governmental and intergovernmental organisations, initiatives tackling global connectivity, tackling this technical layer.
Authoritarian regimes, Democratic regimes, it's not relevant because some of the recent EU initiatives almost tackled, well, thankfully we got out of it the root zone service. So something that is going on now which has not broken this connectivity yet which hasn't challenged it until the end yet can eventually result in the loss of this global connectivity.
So this is one of the reasons why this debate is relevant. Now, going beyond the technical layer, and I very much like that the term user experience fragmentation has been used here already. When I look beyond the technical layer, when I look at the quantum layer, at the infrastructure layer, it is not Internet fragmentation, because as I said, the global connectivity remains.
But what we see here is that, again, authoritarian and democratic regimes alike are using the same tools for different reasons, some of them for survival of their own political system, some of them under the reason of protecting their citizens, the restriction of information flows, restrictions of connectivities, building the borders around the national Internet, treating this connectivity and the global network in some way as an extension of their sovereign soil.
And in this regard, the user experience in various parts of the globe can be very, very different. Many of these restrictions are purely human rights violations and this is why I am so uncomfortable to call them Internet fragmentation because it just diminishes the problem a bit, however, I do agree that this control and the imposition of these restrictions around the globe is a very, very dangerous trend which at the end maybe will not challenge the global connectivity in terms of unique identifiers and how Internet works, but it can significantly fragment the user experience, it can significantly challenge the openness and the global nature of the Internet can just basically break the promise of innovation and connectivity.
Ultimately, and I know that I don't have much time, Internet shutdowns, again, I would not call it fragmentation of the Internet, however, this is to me purely human rights violations and there again not even, not even change user experience, not even fragment user experience. They just simply do not allow users to experience the Internet.
Now, just bringing this all together, why we are having this now, I think that today this debate is as important as ever, and the reason for this is this appetite for digital sovereignty, appetite for regulation, and we have heard here already about multistakeholder stakeholder collaboration. I think what is going on right now are that we somehow lump into things multistakeholder collaboration, which is very important. But also the multistakeholder model of governance of the technical layer which already exists, and I think a strong commitment to this governance, model of governance is being significantly watered down.
And if on the content and infrastructure layer these changes to user experience are reversible as long as global connectivity remains, once we lose the technical layer, we will lose Internet as we know it. Thank you.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you very much, Tatiana for the input. I think we do agree that regardless of the place that you are discussing whether you are talking about basic human rights violation or even fragmentation, a lot of these debates that we have about this topic, they started in the infrastructure layer and as somebody else pointed out in the previous session, if there is fragmentation at the infrastructure layer, there is fragmentation for everyone basically and for the Internet as a whole.
Moving onto the infrastructure discussion, I would like to ask a question to Edmon Chung, how would you consider this is a concern for the DNS or the operator community and the second question is whether this aligns with what was just explained by the UN Tech Envoy. Thank you.
>> EDMUND CHEN: thank you for having me here, this is a hot topic, Internet fragmentation. I want to start with really building on what Tatiana said. What is or is not Internet fragmentation?
So there is different aspects of user experience. Diversity, for example, shouldn't be a fragmentation. When I go to Google, for example, here in Ethiopia, the first time I see it it's an Ethiopian language. That's user experience, and probably not fragmentation, but so I think the framework that the Policy Network has been putting together is very useful to allow us to discern what is and what is not fragmentation, and the layers of fragmentation that we can talk about, the technical layer, the governance layer, the content or the user experience layer, and other things is that the Internet itself is a decentralized system. The decentralization of it shouldn't be considered fragmentation.
Just, for example, we operate DotAsia. We have slightly different policies than Dot com or DotJP, and Dot Kids, for example, that we help operate. It's very different, the policy would be different for Dot Kids would be different than Dot com, and it is safe spaces for children and children's rights.
So this is, I think, the risk when we talk about it is when we take it too far. This concept of Internet fragmentation, and one of the good examples is digital sovereignty. I think many different Governments like to talk about digital sovereignty, but when you try to apply it down to the technical layer, the fundamentals of the Internet, it breaks the one Internet that we talk about. That's a problem.
That's when we should really be weary of those who try to break the institutions that, and the multistakeholder models that we have built over the years, so to make the Internet work or just work as it is right now, I think reinforcing the institutions, reinforcing ICANN, participating at ICANN, participating IETF, those are important aspects, participating here at the IGF and the Internet Governance ecosystem, I think that's the kind of things that important to the topic of the day, which is to have to avoid Internet fragmentation.
And to avoid the fragmentation I think in terms of technical layer when you think about the DNS or the fundamental layer, it's important to continue to adopt and upgrade some of the standards moving from IPv4 to IPv6, DNS wise, DNS security, international domain names, domain names and E‑mail addresses in your own language. Upgrading those protocols is an important part. I wanted to pick up on one of the things that one of the youth participants in the video said, it's really about trust.
If we want to avoid Internet fragmentation, trust is kind of the glue that keeps the Internet whole and unfragmented. If we try to introduce multiple incompatible protocols and standards, if we try to challenge the governance of the mechanisms, the institutions that we have by certain local or regional legislative rule making, we kind of dissolve the glue that binds the Internet that we love, and that's, I think, the threat and the Internet fragmentation threat that we need to be wary about and concerned.
So I guess I will close here, and there are three things I want to highlight. One is discerning what is and what isn't fragmentation. Number two is the protocols and the standards, they get upgrades, get updated and continue to have these open standards and importance, and third and most importance to avoid fragmentation, I think in the technical layer is to reinforce and come participate at ICANN, come to participate at the IETF and at the IGF.
They are not perfect institutions. They need improvement, they need to be more cognizant of human rights, they need to be more cognizant of Democratic principles, but come and participate and improve them. I want to leave with in terms of avoiding Internet fragmentation.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Edmon. I captured some very fundamental points there, and left a lot of open questions as well, I think, which is handy for the discussion.
Next, I wanted to throw to Raul Echeberria. You have background in technical communities, but today you are coming from the industry side, the private sector, and bringing the private sector perspective into the discussion is fundamental.
I think looking to you and looking to the organisations that you are working with in Latin America there, what are the concrete examples you are seeing with technical, commercial, policy measures are leading to fragmentation or effects we can call fragmentation?
>> RAUL ECHEBERRIA: Thank you very much. Thank you for the invitation to the organizers. Thank you for the opportunity to pair on the panel with such distinguished colleagues here. I think that we have to start saying something that we have to state more clearly that fragmentation is bad. It's something, this is why we want to avoid, and the global reachable is one of the key factors for the success of the Internet. And I would add also trust.
The problem is that when people get different responses to the same action on the Internet, similar actions, different responses just because they are connected to different networks within the same country or in different countries. So the trust is lost.
You cannot trust in the tool that you are using. So we already talked and I think that the policy, the framework that the Policy Network is providing is very useful for that. We understand the different kinds of fragmentation. Also other colleagues are talking about the experience, the user experience of fragmentation.
So let's focus more on the technical aspects or the technical layers. We know also that inside of that category, there are different situations. There are intentional fragmentation, and I think that's in the previous session we heard about concrete story about a country where it is happening, and so when that fragmentation is intentionally provoked, so it is not, it's a political issue.
I think that this aligns with what Tatiana said before. This is not just a fragmentation. We don't have to keep the idea that it's something that we can resource just with technical measures of the it is something that is in the political layer.
We have, and I want to focus on the other part and other category it is unintended fragmentation. This is more of a political thing, it's a policy thing. And I think to the English language that give us the opportunity to differentiate between political and policy, something that in Spanish is more difficult.
So what you are asking for concrete examples, and we see that in many other colleagues already talking about the secure Africa component, the fragmentation between different places but we see fragmentation also inside a single country. And why? Because policy makers are trying to solve concrete specific problems and trying to look for simple solutions. And so one example could be to protect, to block or filtering content because they are violating IP property rights or because they are considered illegal or we see examples regarding gambling or many other cases.
So we see laws and regulations that simply say to the Internet Service Provider or to the platforms, you have to remove or you have to filter this content. But unfortunately, filtering or removing content is more complicated than what it seems. So policy makers under estimate because sometimes because they don't embolden the stakeholders from the beginning of the discussions.
There is a very interesting paper from Internet Society, I think, from 2018, not sure, that explains all of the ways that existing mechanism to filter content, and it explains all of the risks associated with each of them. So this is not simple.
And the risk beside, of course, the obvious risk as I said to the affecting rights, especially freedom of expression, that is a huge risk of fragmentation because different ISPs can take different actions to comply with the same order to filter content. We are seeing now, right now, that all of us are following, I guess, what is happening with the work up, and we have seen a lot of initiatives, policy initiatives in different countries that are trying to protect the rights of those who have the rights about the transmission of the games.
So they know it's regulations, let's say to the ISPs, you have to remove the illegal streaming on those games, and it leads to the problems that I mentioned before. But it could be even worse. There is also an example that we know as kill switch that is when, what it is about is when the law, just say if a site or a company don't comply with certain rules, it should be blocked. But it ignores the evolution of the Internet architecture in the last few years. So it's not that we can just block a site simply because the architecture has evolved and we have Clouds, we have platforms that host sites of other companies or other services. You cannot just block MSN.com or Facebook.com or something like that.
So how the ISPs try to comply or try to implement resolutions like those is high, risky and this is the kind of thing that should be avoided.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you very much. And I think you captured a really relevant point and also why we insist this is bigger global cooperation and why this is something so relevant to be discussed at the IGF, that is this willingness from all stakeholders to take part in all strategies and mechanisms to avoid fragmentation from happening.
So now we have a question to Emilar Gandhi. Facebook and other social media platforms play a complicated role in discussions about fragmentation, so how do you see the private sector or even these platforms playing or even helping prevent fragmentation from happening?
>> EMILAR GANDHI: Thank you so much, Bruna. Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for inviting Meta to be part of this conversation. And also thank you for centring the youth voice. There are so many panels or workshops that I have attended really put the voice of the youth at the centre of this conversation, so thank you for that.
As my previous panelists have mentioned, ICTs and digital technologies when used responsibly and equitably can create opportunities for everyone. Transforming lives in communities is a formidable engine of innovation, but this unique potential as Raul and other panelists have mentioned can only be harnessed if the fundamental nature of the Internet as an open, interconnected and interoperable network of networks is preserved. And one of the things that one of the panelists mentioned also is that we need to preserve the right, the freedoms, the trusts, and safety of the people who are using the Internet.
Platforms like Meta, we do have a major role to play in avoiding Internet fragmentation with almost 3.5 billion users monthly, in our view one of the most important tasks we have to promote an open Internet are three fold.
One is to make sure that human rights is centric as we develop our products, as we develop our policies. Secondly, recognizing instances where Governments can play a role in defending an open Internet, and, third, promoting multistakeholder and international cooperation initiatives that defend an open Internet.
How do we see these play out as Meta? So first of all, as some of my panelists, fellow panelists have mentioned is that people all over the world are increasingly exercising their right to freedom of expression, but it's putting online some of you are enjoying the World Cup and hoping an African nation wins the World Cup.
Access to information, health, education and so much online, but at the same time we cannot run away from the crucial challenges. We recognize those crucial challenges. First of all, people are being siloed, people who are using our platforms or using the Internet are being siloed and limited on the ability to use our platforms to express their rights due to restrictions on the open Internet.
Secondly, violations of human rights are increasingly taking place online from hate speech, bullying and harassment to misinformation and disinformation, surveillance and many other things that have been covered in other IGF workshops. What have we done as a platform, and, you know, to avoid this fragmentation? What has been our approach?
We have taken some steps to put human rights at the centre of how we approach this work. So, first of all, we have built a human rights team, and I'm sure some of you have met part of our human rights team. We have adopted an ambitious human rights policy, launched an oversight board, created a Human Rights Defender Fund. We have also joined the UN Global Compact and recently published our first ever Human Rights Report. One of the things we are doing beyond the things we have mentioned that my team focuses is on putting stakeholder engagement at the heart of how we develop community standards, focusing also on underrepresented and often marginalized and minoritized communities which are in the periphery of policy development making processes.
Those are some of the approaches that we are taking. One thing that I also want to mention is that I'm not sure if some of you were part of the Opening Session, and one of the things that our VP for Africa and middle eastern tech is we are working also to promote efforts to expand meaningful connectivity to the Internet.
I think some of my fellow panelists mentioned already around the content layer and how that contributes to Internet fragmentation, but we must also acknowledge that, you know, access in itself is not enough, but meaningful access and meaningful use of the Internet which has enabled by digital literacy, online environments that are free from bullying and harassment, discrimination, violence and others, is Meta wants to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
But we also understand that we are part of an ecosystem and this needs to be a cross functional industry wide collaboration effort. Over to you, Bruna.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you.
One of the complexities in putting this session together and in addressing this has been having parallel but I think complementary work going on in the Policy Network on Internet fragmentation. So our next speaker is Sheetal Kumar, who is with Global Digital Partners but is also able to speak to what has been happening in that Policy Network.
There has been a lot of meetings. There was a session immediately before. And just before I go to Sheetal Kumar, I wanted to mention in the spirit of the hybrid meeting there has been interesting discussion in the Zoom chat.
So if people are even in the room interested in jumping into the Zoom chat there has been discussion there, and one of the interesting points of contention has been a bit about that sense of fragmentation of the user experience versus fragmentation at the technical level which I know the framework has really addressed. So perhaps if you can give us some context on the work of the Policy Network and how it fits into this discussion, that would be great.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thanks, Chris, and thanks for having me, everyone. As you mentioned, I am one of the co‑facilitators along with Bruna of the Policy Network on Internet fragmentation, and we actually ended the session just now which was just prior to this one with questions about where does the Policy Network go next.
There was a question about, which essentially the question was is it happening or is it about to happen, you know, fragmentation is actually happening. I thought that was interesting because we are at a pivotal point essentially where we are experiencing and seeing a move away from an open interconnected and interoperable Internet.
Unpacking that and understanding what is at stake is, of course, part of the exercise we are taking part in. There is clearly something we care about here that is under threat, and now we have to do something about it.
So the Policy Network was set up to address these questions about what are we talking about when we talk about Internet fragmentation, and when we started, we understood there was a lot of different perspectives.
So we had webinars, we had discussions, we had a survey to try and distill when we say Internet fragmentation, what do we mean? What are people referring to? And assuming other people are referring to the same thing. And what we essentially came up with was two elements of a framework where most of what people were referring to seemed to fit to some extent into either of these.
One of them is as you mentioned and many have mentioned, user experience of the Internet being fragmented, and that might mean that the connectivity, the interoperability, the actual technical layer is functioning, is connecting, it's possible to connect to it, but in practice, what people are experiencing as a result of measures that disrupt information flows intentionally and cut them off completely, for example, is that they are not connected to an open, interconnected and interoperable Internet.
So that is a user experience element, perhaps, and then there is the technical layer. We had a speaker earlier that spoke to the technical layer of the Internet and the importance of protecting the public core and how if you undermine that you are undermining core principles of the Internet. You mentioned, I think, about how the information is evolving, and I think there is a lot of questions at the technical area of how you continue to evolve the Internet so that it remains open, interconnected and interoperable.
So I think there is a mix of things actually happening and a threat, and then what we are trying to ensure doesn't occur. And then there is, of course, types of practices that perhaps are intended ultimately to control access whether it's blocking content or otherwise that can then, if they are normalized in certain ways could impact the technical layer as well in interoperability.
So those are the two elements. We are still unpacking them. We are very keen to hear feedback on them. They may not be comprehensive. They may, you know, I think they need more work. One of the comments we had was the need to perhaps in each of the elements unpack what is and what isn't, for example, user experience fragmentation, what is and what isn't technical layer fragmentation.
So we can do that, and we really count on everyone's engagement to support that. What, I think another thing I need to mention is that an overarching comment that we continue to have during the discussions within the Policy Network was that the governance of the Internet, if it's not multistakeholder and doesn't maintain the different independent actors working together, but actually working together, and actually collaborating, then that's a threat to the Internet as well.
So we do have to maintain and strengthen that. So that's an overarching element which speaks to the fact that whether it's policy, commercial or other measures, those have an impact on the Internet. So that, I think, and hopefully summarizes where we have got two of the Policy Network, but I think we have got there over the past few months and we intend to work on building on what we have and with a more common understanding of what the issue is provide and support solutions or recommendations to the global community to avoid Internet fragmentation and to support and to defend an open Internet which as I think as you said, we all love.
I think it's not overly emotional to say that. So it's an important conversation and I, again, encourage people to get involved with the Policy Network to continue it. Thank you.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: I would just like to give the chance for panelists if you want to add anything to what has been said so far and if not, you can take the floor.
>> EDMON CHUNG: I wanted to add as always talking about World Cup, I think it's important when I am here in Ethiopia, when I open my app to my TV, it doesn't necessarily work, I mean, because of the license. And I think that is not a fragmentation, but what I do is I VPN back to my office and then I can watch the TV. But if I cannot do that consistently, that would be a fragmentation, right. If I cannot consistently VPN back to my office and actually do that, that would be a fragmentation. The fact that I couldn't do it just without the VPN is not fragmentation I think it's important.
>> AMANDEEP SINGH GILL: I think in my previous remarks I didn't go into what should be done to avoid Internet fragmentation. I was saving it up for the second round. One thing is very clear from the previous interventions. We need to keep this under watch. So whether it is the consistency of certain fragmented experiences or other indicators or potential fragmentation, the work that Sheetal mentioned, that needs to be done on a continuous basis so we have early warning signs and can take preventive action.
The other aspect is the technical layer. We have had a couple of close calls, but wisdom prevailed and there was flexibility, but clearly from the governance institutions we have had the IANA transition and other points where we kind of tied over that.
So I think reinforcing trust in the multistakeholder governance of the technical layer on I continual basis, that's the second important aspect of our work going forward. And the third one is essentially when it comes to the policy area, the governance area, I mean, many of you might have read about in the three Internets, four Internets, you know, the book, make it's caricaturized, but I think we need greater collaboration across the major jurisdictions that are legislating on the digital domain, whether it's the European Union, the United States, China, India, Brazil, in the African Union, so I think that aspect of digital cooperation, that needs to be facilitates and it cannot be left only to bilateral channels.
Yes, there is the TTC between the U.S. and EU, there are many other channels, but there are aspects that are of interest to the wider global community and that's where I think the value add in terms of the Global Digital Compact lies.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We are going to throw the floor, and just before we do that, and, I'm sorry, I'm taking note, I wanted to ask, I think Amandeep took us into that space that this panel, this session, I think, should move towards, which is what are the measures we can actually do practically particularly looking towards the Global Digital Compact?
So I don't know if other speakers here or online, I'm looking at Tatiana and Emilar, but if we throw the floor and people come up with ideas and they would like to comment, that's fine too. Gentleman in the front row.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Just introduce yourself and speak loudly.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello, thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk. My name is Timothy. Today we have talked about different definitions of fragmentation, well, I might have a nice example how I face Internet fragmentation basically every day. The end result of Internet fragmentation is when end users like me can't reach Internet services or are limited to use them.
Well, nowadays my country, 140 million people can't use the broad services for just one simple reason, we can't pay for them. Because United States, you know, very good imposes sanctions resulting in Visa and Master Card payment systems cut off Russia. Why these sanctions led to such consequences because it turns out key services such as payment systems are historically concentrated in the United States and much more important are not protected from political interference.
I think vulnerability of such services is root cause for global problems of fragmentation. So my question is to all of the panelists, what can we as IGF, as United Nations do to change that? Thank you so much.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you for the question. We are going to take a series of three or four. Yes. And then we are going to direct back to the panel. So maybe we can go here.
>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Thank you very much. I'm Anriette Esterhuysen here, association for communication on progressive communications. Thanks for a really good panel and the work of the Policy Network. I think it's very hopeful.
I want to emphasize two things that I think the panel said and ask a question. I want to emphasize what was said about normalizing fragmentation at the level of user experience. Actually, risking technical fragmentation like seeping in, of course, we acknowledge there has been technical fragmentation right now, but I think we should never under estimate the power of policies as well as experience to trickle down and actually affect what happens at the technical level. Innovation does not always bring good things. And then I think secondly, the risk I think of denying that fragmentation of the use experience is so important, and I think particularly access inequality because access inequality is a threat to an open, interconnected Internet.
I think if we normalize or under play the importance of access inequality, we will simply never get to a point where we can effectively benefit from the Internet. So I don't want to trivialize technical fragmentation. I know it's different and I know it's important, but I urge the tech community in particular to look at the reality and the real risks that are happening now and in the future from a user experience.
Then the question, which is also my proposal, what I think is extremely important and I see how effective it can be is collaboration between the technical and coordination layers and public policy actors. I think Amandeep also talked about how to enforce that cooperative collaborative tech coordination.
So what I want to ask the panelists is to reflect on how would you assess the state of collaboration between the technical coordination, the IAB, the IETF, ICANN, Internet Society, et cetera, the NROs, all of the technical organisations and their integration and collaboration that those that deal with public policy, other content, human rights, and vice versa? Had.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: Hi, everyone. Dear friends, participants and many thanks to panelists for insightful presentations. Actually I would like to add that foreign inclusive international governance of Internet and avoiding fragmentation, we need close cooperation among the developed and Developing Countries.
Unfortunately unilateral coercive measures as well as restrictive and blocking measures against some countries and their digital products make it impossible to reach their requested international cooperation.
For having meaningful solidarity and cooperation as recommended in the UN documents such as the shell corporation and Our Common Agenda can this enable international environment in impeded of technologies and ICT capacity building at international level are necessary.
So my question goes to Mr. Gill, as United Nations Under Secretary‑General what his team want to do for this kind of problem. Thank you.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you so much.
The last question ‑‑
>> MODERATOR: I think it's Mr., yes, in the back there, please, thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: So thank you for the ‑‑ for me to mention. I am going to speak in French.
I'm from the UN and I would like to contribute to this question. When we talk about Internet Governance, we ‑‑ certain things you are seeing and we are increasing the effects and different countries under the commercial role of fragmentation, it points to the fact of Africa today.
And here there are no roles which are very well defined. To give references, there are under water cables and protocols of communication which are specific, and there is need to ensure registration and standardization to ensure that the commercial flow in Africa.
With regard to that how Internet affects governance, there is an influence when we look at GAFA. We need to avoid this commercial fragmentation with regard to Internet which starts with GAFA, but where there is need to ensure that this commercial fragmentation is with a special free Internet. So how do we regulate this aspect? As we know, the Internet is used on a daily basis.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello, may I jump in?
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: There was a message from the chat, I think. Probably it's the person this opened the Mic.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello, could I jump in.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Yes, please.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank very much for giving me the floor. Can you hear me well?
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Yes, we can.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello, everyone, distinguished panelists. I am Mokabberi from Iranian academia community. I would like to talk about main reason for Internet fragmentation. I think the main reason in this regard are four reasons. The first reason is lack of respect for national sovereignty and values of our country and inequality in cyberspace governance.
The second reason is increased trends of cyber threats like cyber-attacks, and Internet militarization, and the growing use of Internet for illegitimate E‑mail and political goal.
The third reason, I think, is unilateral coercive members used in digital environment at all layers. The fourth reason is non‑cooperation of global digital platforms with law enforcement of other countries regarding illegal content, like entitlement to, like content related to incitement of violence and organized disinformation campaigns and lack of cooperation in preventing and combating cybercrimes.
My suggestion to solve these issues are, one, development of international regulatory binding on Internet Governance is based on international law. For example, international treaty on data sovereignty.
Second suggestion is establishment of framework rules and norms on reasonable and accountable behaviors of digital platforms and service providers.
Third suggestion is defining Internet as a peaceful and development‑oriented environment for public good through signing a global declaration by all Member States. Defining the nature of Internet as a peaceful only environment, not as a new battlefield as defined in some countries doctoring strategic documents could be lead to Internet fragmentation.
My question to all dear panelists, especially Mr. Gill is that what would be the contribution of Global Digital Compact to address these critical issues and implementation of this solution? How is digital global compact going to address this critical issues like national sovereignty, cyber threat and Internet militarization, UCM and non‑cooperation of user platform. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to rise my question. Thanks.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you for your question. We have a lost one here in the middle.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much, Bruna. We particularly appreciate also following the comment by the Tech Envoy how our youth was empowered and I'm from the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I was very happy to hear that the Brazilian representative from the youth also sees some of the key drivers of the Internet fragmentation, the fragmentation of global cooperation as well which is one aspect that we see as posing systematic risks for us.
And my question would be very much related also to the relationship between Internet fragmentation on the one hand and so we have a situation that is to be addressed. We are going to have fragmentation. We are going to have a fragmented standard. So my question is how would we move forward in moving beyond the model that we have now is self‑empowering, and how do we move to a position where we would be empowering by leveraging human empathy and human solidarity so that we can promote meaningful connectivity. And also how to make sure that the UN which represents (Unable to hear speaker).
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Thank you, Tulio. We have 15 minutes left. I think it was valuable and useful to hear all of those comments from the floor so thank you very much, and for the questions as well. I want to ask our panelists if we can maybe go back in reverse order and give you a chance to quite briefly make final comments, and I think actually some questions specifically from the floor, but, again, also coming back understanding that the IGF is working towards what can be messages to output towards those working on the Global Digital Compact, if you can maybe consider reflections on that.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you. There are lots of great questions so thank you for those. I wanted to answer two, perhaps, maybe connected and maybe some reflections more generally, Anriette's question about the engagement of different communities and spaces where decisions are being made that have an impact on others, and how much, for example, other stakeholders apart from the technical community are involved in certain spaces and vice versa.
It seems to me that there are certain actors, perhaps those are more of the commercial ones with resources who are engaged in a cross‑section of the policy and standards and other decision‑making spaces that have an impact on the Internet, but others are not so involved.
So I think there does need to be much greater understanding of the different communities, the work and the impacts of each other's decisions, certainly civil society, maybe less well resourced, but I believe it needs to understand the public interest impact and so do policy makers of decisions made where they may not always be present.
So there is that. And then I think you mentioned how those with larger resources may be able to shape discussions in certain areas more so than others, and, again, I think that's a call and a plea for everyone to be more involved, I think, in understanding those implications, especially from a fragmentation perspective and how well inadvertently or deliberately decisions can be made that result in a less open, less interoperable, less connected Internet, and understanding those ramifications, understanding how and why that's happening, I think, is really key. It's not necessarily happening at the moment.
So certainly more discussions like this and more specific nuanced one need to happen. I think it's great that we are bringing this discussion here. So I will stop there and let the other panelists intervene. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Emilar, can I turn to you for closing reflections.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: Yes, thank you so much. I will just briefly, and thank you to all for the questions. I think I would go to Anriette's question and some others on collaboration and cooperation. I think it's necessary, cooperation is necessary, collaboration is necessary. Is it going well? I think there is room for improvement, and as Sheetal says there are some stakeholders who are involved in others, and I think some of the conversations that we have had here show that there is still need for more deeper dialogue as well.
So cooperation is necessary, but I think action or follow‑up action is impossible without really understanding the issues at hand. So for policy makers, for fellow industries as well, I think there is a need for us to understand the Internet Ecosystem, particularly for policy makers, governance, Internet Governance processes or principles and agreements offer us a good starting point, and the IGF, for example, even the Internet fragmentation Policy Network forum give us a good starting point for dialogue.
I think the key is how do we take those conversations forward? How do we bridge the policy silos and grant the input and expertise of all stakeholders including us private sector, the business, civil society, and also the technical community. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks very much. We will continue in our reverse order here. Raul, would you like to make comments.
>> RAUL ECHEBERRIA: Thank you. Yes, I think that's speaking, again, about the fragmentation as unintended consequence of regulation or I think that we need to do a couple of things. One is to go deeper. I think the Policy Network is a very good instrument to continue discussing and going deeper and showing what is fragmentation, how fragmentation is caused, and to provide materials that can be used by policy makers.
We need to really to continue working on or convincing policy makers that they need to involve all stakeholders from the inception of the discussions on policies in order to be alerted about the consequences of some ideas that seem to be good, but sometimes have other consequences that are not those that they are looking for.
But for that, we also need to develop trust of more stakeholders. And I think that's why Mechanism like IGF are crucial for that. We need more clear to ask policy makers at the local and national level to trust in multistakeholder mechanisms, and I think that we have not produced as much as we should in that sense.
We have a lot of multistakeholder mechanisms, international, at international level, regional and global, but not enough empowered mechanisms at the international level we need much more of that and we need to work with those policy makers. And responding to what Anriette asked about the cooperation within the technical community, as an observer now, but as a former active member of the technical community, I think that the cooperation and collaboration is very good in that sense.
I think that we need, that the technical community participates more in the policy discussions that sometimes they perceive us as out of their scope, but they have to be, they have to be there in order to provide the technical view and the technical perspective in the policy discussions. I would hope that the technical community participate more in those processes and the Policy Network, of course, is a great instrument to increase cooperation. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. I think if we had a word cloud of the discussions here today, trust would definitely be a prominent word there. So it's interesting to hear that from so many different speakers. Edmon, some closing reflections.
>> EDMON CHUNG: Thank you for the thought‑provoking questions, and I wanted to pick up on things from Anriette that raised the topic of access inequality. I think it's very interesting, again, back to kind of a theme that I'm bringing up is what is or what is not fragmentation? If you just talk about the digital divide issue, obviously that shouldn't be considered an Internet fragmentation issue, but in terms of access inequality, the overlap becomes issues like zero‑rating, for example, providers that give you free Internet but only on their platform.
I think that is something that we really need to take to heart, and in response to Anriette's question and adding to what Raul has said, I think some ways the technical community really cannot take things, they have kind of taken things for granted for some time in terms of the governance, but we cannot take it for granted anymore. That's why I am here. I'm hoping more of the ICANN community could be here talking about these issues also from Internet Society, from the ITF and other parts of the technical community to come and participate.
On the reverse also, I think part of it, and, again, my second theme of the day, the other part is for this community to participate at ICANN for this community to participate at the technical communities because those are also quite open and multistakeholder, and last point I want to make in terms of the Global Digital Compact is really important is I think the reinforcement of the multistakeholder model, not only reinforcement of the multistakeholder model itself, but also the institutions that are leading the way for these multistakeholder model cooperation like ICANN, like IETF, like the different regional registries, Regional Internet Registries, and making sure, I mean, having, reinforcing their, entrusting their work in the Global Digital Compact will be very important, but, of course, it's not just whatever you write in that, I'm not saying that it is just a piece of paper, it is a very piece of paper into the future but more important than that is probably the participation, the continued participation.
And the technical community, I think, was very active in the early days, I guess, 17 years ago or more, 20 years ago, was very active and that set us on the path of the IGF and set us on the path of this multistakeholder model.
I think the technical community needs to come back again and be more active and the participation both here at ICANN and IETF, I think that ultimately is the way to avoid Internet fragmentation. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: I will throw to Tatiana on line.
>> TATIANA TROPINA: Thank you very much, Chris, I wrote four pages of various notes, but I will try to be brief. I think when we could see, or hear during this session round of questions is how diverse the issue of fragmentation is, how it pertains in different layers and different issues. And what I always find fascinating and frustrating at the same time in these discussions of Internet fragmentation is that we rarely move to what can actually be done. We always challenge each other in understanding of fragmentation, commercial practices of fragmentation, is technical layer fragmentation, is Internet fragmented instead of talking about what should be done.
I will be happy to move based on these questions and corresponding to what Edmon said in terms of what can be done. I think from these diversity of issues where fragmentation can be considered, I think that we are always focusing on what can be done in relation to the Internet, but I think that ‑‑ let me put it like this. The states have not, many of the states have not formally committed to the multistakeholder governance, many of the states have not formally committed to the multistakeholder Internet, and fragmented Internet. There are other instruments.
Some of the states document rights, many of the states commit to equality, commit to development, and some instruments can be used to address many of these issues that have been called fragmentation at this session. Where I would like to put the emphasis here is what Edmon said, the technical layer, the multistakeholder governance on the technical layer.
Let's remember that no Government and no national organisation imposed this technical layer. Community implemented the standards, community is viewing these unique identifiers because community put trust in it.
My word to the word cloud would be trust as well. So we have to understand that we have to untangle this issue of fragmentation, get out of this discussion of what fragmentation is and understand, and I'll go back to my first intervention, once you move the technical layer everything is lost, and technical layer is not only some identifiers or protocols, they are the model of governance.
Here I very much agree with Edmon. I participate in the technical community actively, especially at the ICANN. ICANN has a narrow technical mission, but I think that the technical community while having a narrow technical mission has to go outside of its ivory tower and explain to policy makers that firm commitment to this governance is important because once you break this model you break the trust and this is where you will lose the global open interoperable stable Internet. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks very much. So Amandeep, turning to you, an awful lot to digest and questions from the floor about the role of the UN as well. So thank you.
>> AMANDEEP SINGH GILL: Thank you. The commercial actors on digital have to assume their own responsibility for preventing Internet fragmentation. So what you described and you mentioned some of the big platforms, I think sometimes they don't realize how powerful they are, and what their actions can do globally.
So I think we need a greater recognition of that fact, and we need a greater resumption of responsibility by that part of the multistakeholder community in preventing Internet fragmentation because in the end it will impact them all negatively. And also, this diversity aspect, they need to recognize that if the innovation system is deprived of diversity, then our future is at stake.
So I that's, perhaps, a partial answer to your question. There were questions around some of the political issues of the day. I think those cracks at the top, if we are not careful, they can spread to the foundation. Edmon and I have mentioned that.
So I think some things did not happen which we should be grateful for that there was this debate around a Top Level Domain, whether access should be restricted, those the kind of things that take us down into very dangerous territory.
So I'm glad that we didn't go down that path. And these other issues, they have a kind of dynamic and so it's a chicken and egg situation sometimes. Some of the digital sovereignty type responses whether they are a response or something else, so, again, we have to be careful that that dynamic is not pushed beyond a point where, again, fragmentation gets pushed along.
(Speaking non-English language). The questions from our Iranian colleagues, I think valuable perspectives, you ask me how they will be reflected in the discussion, the Global Digital Compact so all UN Member States will be participating in those discussions, so each and every one will have an opportunity to state their point of view to participate in that discussion, and contribute to what is proposed to be a truly global document.
I hope that it ends up addressing the issues that have been raised in today's discussion. Very, very interesting, very, very valuable, so thank you to you for putting it together in such a nice way.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you so much, and thanks, everyone, for the very valuable input and questions as well. This is far from being the end of the discussions on fragmentation. There is a lot to unpack. There is a lot of qualifications whether we are just talking about things like jurisdiction or just infrastructure layer, but like one of the things we keep on hearing throughout the session is some issues around trust, but I would also add this reinforced commitments over the multistakeholder process around the IGF and so many of the things that make the Internet what it is today. So I would just like to thank everyone for attending this session, and if you ‑‑ I think like our plan for the session as well is just to reinforce that the consultation for the Global Digital Compact is open until the beginning of next year, and since this is one of the key topics in the discussions, please make sure to send in your contributions as well.
So thanks all, and have a good lunch.