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.
>> MODERATOR: Good morning. Thank you for coming to this policy network on internet fragmentation session. We are just setting up. We are going to start now.
Welcome, as I said, I think I can sit down. I am head of global engagement at Global Partners Digital. I am also co‑facilitator of the policy network and I'm joined by my fellow co‑facilitator Bruna will introduce herself, and we will set up the plan for the session and so you know how we are going to conduct it when you can come in with your perspective, of course, if you are online and want to share anything on the chat, you are welcome to do so, Bruna.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: My name is Bruna Martins Dos Santos. I'm a MAG member but also a part one of the co‑facilitators. Welcome to the session. We have an agenda for today. We are going to go with an introduction of the policy network on Internet fragmentation. Afterward we will talk about what the training means and then we will move to a Town Hall discussion with our panelists. We have them online and onsite so it will be a good session today. Can you guys hear well? Is this noise uncomfortable? Good.
Okay. So I think we can introduce the panelists. The network on Internet fragmentation is part of the intersessional work for the IGF. This is part of a community request, community proposal that was submitted to the MAG on the need, and by the Secretariat as well on the need to discussion and further discuss Internet fragmentation. Other than this being borne from a multistakeholder initiative, we also with the PNIF we aim to offer a systematic and comprehensive framework on this issue and discussions complemented by case studies, and also to define and try to define fragmentation and strategies to avoid it.
I hope the noise goes away. Yes the Policy Network on Internet Fragmentation is a multistakeholder effort to address and discuss what fragmentation means and what are the strategies to avoid it in a very broad and short explanation of this. It is worth mentioning that it's multistakeholder so we also have a group, a multistakeholder group that helps us steer the work and that's also part of the group that we have online throughout the year.
Other than that, this PNIF has held webinars and a few conversations with the community in an attempt to develop the framework we are going to introduce to you today.
So I guess we are set on the PNIF in general. I will give the floor back to.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you Bruna. We wanted to give an introduction to framework we developed in the last few months. The framework has been developed as a result of conversations that we have had with many of you who have attended the webinars that we have host the online, and the survey that we also published online, and these have been driven by some key questions which relate to what fragmentation is, how it's manifesting, where we have taken some examples of what people have commonly referred to as examples of internet fragmentation and posed it in the webinars and asked is this, do you think this is Internet fragmentation, do you think a network disruption is Internet fragmentation, do you think data localization measures are? Do you think alternate route servers are? And in that way we were trying to understand where there might be some commonality in the discussion because there are so many different perceptions of the Internet fragmentation.
We know the conversation has been going on for a long time. A number of people have been working on it, have published studies, have been discussing the issue, but it has become more salient in recent months, and it is, of course, one of the areas of the Global Digital Compact and part of the agenda this year at the IGF across different sessions, and we are going to do our best to try and make sure that we are bringing in the perspectives that have been shared at the other sessions on Internet fragmentation into this and, of course, we encourage you to come in with your perspectives as well.
So I just wanted to explain a bit about the framework which I don't think we have put up on the screen yet, but essentially as we were having these discussions, as I mentioned about what is Internet fragmentation, there were two main areas that people continue to speak to or we identified as two main areas. One was the fragmentation of the user experience and that, for example, can be a result of disruptions, intentional disruptions to information flows, for example, through network disruptions and other examples could be through policy measures that block data from flowing across borders. And there are a number of other examples as well that people, people shared where they the main difference to the other aspect which we identified which is fragmentation of the technical layer is that while the fundamental protocols and the technical layer of the Internet may be intact, the actual experience of the Internet as a space of information, free information flows is not the case for those who experience such measures as I have just mentioned. And as the increased tendency to use those measures manifests through policies and actions of both the state and commercial actors, that fundamentally shapes the user experience of the Internet.
So then we also discussed other types of fragmentation that are commonly referred to. Some of these may not have happened yet, but are often referred to and there is a concern around them. So that is, for example, proposals to have alternate route servers or DNS. Other practices that we are seeing that are actually happening that could impact the Internet, for example, rerouting, blocking, essentially digital sovereignty practices, some of which we heard at the Internet Society session yesterday that impact interoperability and can fundamentally impact the Internet.
So I think there are some areas of connection between these different aspects of fragmentation that we identified. One is, of course, a control over information flows that removes the ability for a user to decide if and when they can access information online. But there is also, so there is this question of control over information. There is also this arching point that kept coming up in our discussions which is around the governance of the Internet, and moving away from or perhaps not ensuring that there are linked up discussions that spaces where protocol standards and other spaces where policies are developed are disjointed and that that can contribute to issues around connectivity and interoperability that we are seeing.
And so there is a need to understand that the overall governance of the Internet is impacting across the two aspects that we have just discussed. So as I said, I want to bring in other discussions that have happened this week. There was a day zero session on Internet fragmentation on Monday. Many may have been there, some of the elements we want to discuss which is available online, I should have said if it's not up there, but it is available on the policy network web page.
I encourage you to look at it. Are qualifying whether certain measures and actions could constitute Internet fragmentation. Some of the criteria discussed was around, for example, duration, if network disruptions last for a certain period of time, impact a certain number of people, then potentially we can say that that qualifies as fragmentation, and that the experience of fragmentation or the different manifestations in, whether it's at the technical layer or at the user experience could be on a spectrum that we can collectively identify and then be able to point to and say, well, at this point we are talking about Internet fragmentation.
This may sound a little bit abstract. The point is to have provided something that builds on the conversations of the past few months within the policy network that will hopefully provide a basis for us to continue discussion to unpack those elements in greater detail to develop as well hopefully not only a common understanding of the problem, but also some solutions and recommendations to different actors to address these issues.
And so that's what we want to discuss here with you today is how helpful the framework is, if it's helpful at all how it could be used and we want to unpack the different elements in more detail. Our speakers will help us do that, but we want to hear from you as well. Then we want to hear from you as well about how we can ensure greater discussion with more stakeholders and get them involved as well.
So I think, Bruna, we will turn over to the Town Hall discussion now. So I will turn over to you.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you so much. And before going to that, it is worth mentioning that the PNIF meeting is open, so if any of you is interested in joining these discussions, please join the meeting. There is a dedicated page on the website, the IGF website, so you can also pep us improve and advance these discussions on fragmentation. Also the idea today is to collect input on this and I have the honour to introduce in starting our Town Hall discussions ‑‑ the Deputy Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs back in Brazil. So our question to you is whether you can consider the framework to be helpful and what could.
>> TULIO CESAR MOURTHE DE ALVIM ANDRADE: Thank you very much Bruna and Sheetal for the invitation, for the opportunity to contribute to such an important debate. When I was asking myself whether the framework is useful, the obvious answer is, yes, of course. The framework is useful because it gives us the opportunity to launch debate, to exchange views and also it reviews outstanding biases that we may have. And one that came to mind is actually the focus on disability experience, which is a very, very important dimension of the roll up Internet which is very much on human rights, but in a particular civil and political dimension of human rights, and perhaps it may leave aside another varying is dimension of human rights which are those social, economic, and cultural human rights and in the context of the interdependency, this, we cannot live out.
And this is particularly important when we are talking about the role of the Internet in promoting the common good, public interest, and the connectivity and communities on the ground. We have been seeing expansion here and from many of the high level discussions a call from the international community upon us, the Internet community, to help solve global and collective problems for us to contribute to the promotion of the SDGs, for us to help solve of the climate crisis, to help prevent the next pandemic, and when we are talking about that, we have to ask ourselves, what user are we talking about?
Are we talking about the user in Silicon Valley or the user, perhaps, that can only access Internet in public schools or are we talking about hospitals that depend on data, and then the notion of data fragmentation is extremely important here as well.
So one thing that came to mind is perhaps the need for us to move from a rather individualistic approach to one that is human centric, but very much grounded on what we have as the most noble of human qualities, on empathy, solidarity. So this is one aspect for thought in terms of the focus on the user experience, but also the need for us to consider that the Internet now has a different role.
It has to be used not only in terms of the individual experience, but also for us to achieve and promote collective values and also to solve global issues that can actually bear human existence.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you so much, Tulio. I would like to welcome our online panelists if they want to weigh in on the work of the framework. If you also would like to add points to that. The audience as well. From what you are hearing so far, would you guys maybe we can try to have a show of hands, does it sound like an interesting framework or initial document of this that we will still be parking with. The PNIF has a two‑year mandate. This has just been the first one. Would you consider this also to be an interesting approach to the issue and discussion?
>> It's good to have the framework on the screen so if you could have the second or third slide projected on the screen. It might be easier for the people in the room.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Just giving you guys the opportunity to comment if you would like.
>> MAZUBA HAANYAMA: Hi. Yes, I mean, there more that we will discuss but I think there were interesting questions posed initially. I think the question around what user are we talking about is very, very interesting, understanding that there are multitudes of users, but how do we understand different groups and categories of users and the challenges they are facing, how do we infiltrate or incorporate that into the framework is a really interesting consideration and so just excited for this conversation today.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you so much.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: While we wait to get the slides up, I wanted to introduce Nawal Omar from research ICT Africa to, as we now go into the second question about the, the two aspects, the main aspects of the framework, one being around user experience fragmentation, the other one the technical fragmentation.
We want to understand better and we have done quite a lot of discussion around this, but we wanted to, of course, bring it to the IGF, and hear from you about what examples and what counts as fragmentation in those different areas. So now Omar, you are a research at research ICT Africa. I hope that you can come in and we can hear you. We would be very interested to hear from you about your understanding and experience of, user experience element of Internet fragmentation.
>> NAWAL OMAR: Hello. Hi, everyone. Thank you for including me in this discussion. Yes, so some of the examples of user experience for Internet fragmentation, so I'm going to talk about my view and my experience in Sudan for Internet shutdowns and censorship and blocking websites and web pages, and all.
So one of the examples are the restrictive Internet models which include censorship, Internet shutdowns and political control of the Internet, underlying architecture and also it has been used as an untargeted oppression tool which includes prohibiting certain web pages, social media services or blocking VPNs among others.
Also, another technique that was used for untargeted depression, suppressing freedom of expression and press, curbing the Internet or forcing it down for a long time in Sudan. So Internet shutdowns are welcoming commonly deployed as strategic measures in countering political instability, and a tool used by authoritarian regimes. So targeted Internet disruption including shutdowns and social media restrictions have gone hand‑in‑hand with political turmoil in Sudan since the onset of protests in 2018. That led to transition and civility of rule.
We have been experiencing total network disruption, manifesting in telecommunications blackout or almost like nationwide, almost all population. So viewing the country longest record network disruption, Sudan cut social media for 68 days to quell protest, all social media has been down. Also from 21 December, 2018 up to February 26, 2019, Internet has been forced to shut down full scale leaving Sudan offline for 36 days from 3 of June to 9 July, 2019.
Also we have been experiencing Internet shutdowns for more than 24 days in 2021 after coup, so it's a lot period of time to keep people offline, and it has its effects on all kinds of users, people that work online, platform work. It has affected people that are studying online, people that have exams online.
We have also experienced Internet shutdowns due to like exams, national exams, school exams. So, yes, that's like the intensity and severity of Internet disruption, social media has left Sudan to live second among African countries.
I just think that the user experience for Internet fragmentation is very important to take it into account. It's really affecting from all kinds of users to if we think about the low level of users like to drill down even someone that wants to use the Internet to just watch TikTok videos, we have to preserve the rights of all users to use open Internet.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you for sharing those perspectives and bringing detail to the discussion and explaining the different ways that these shutdowns and how long they were as well impacted people is really important to consider, and is one aspect of the user experience element of the model or framework we have developed that really kept coming through in discussions. There are others, of course, and we can go to those.
Now I want to turn to Olaf Kolkman from the Internet Society. The other element of the framework that we have been discussing is fragmentation at the technical layer. Now, perhaps you can shed light for us on what that means to you. I know we have had some discussions about that, but this is an area where I think we do need more discussion to better understand what is happening.
>> OLAF KOLKMAN: Hello, everybody. Good morning, good afternoon wherever you are in the world. The beauty of the Internet is that we are now together. Isn't that amazing?
The way that I want to approach this is through the document, through looking at the document. We have provided a number of bullet points which we describe fragmentation at the technical level, and what fragmentation is.
The lens through which we look when we look at fragmentation at the technical level is the infrastructure level, and that's captured by this term called the public core of the Internet. In the document it says the public core is not universally defined, and it's a term that came up in the discussions around cyber stability in the UN.
It was a term that was coined by, in a Dutch report, a term that was adopted by the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace, so a fairly useful term that indicates or is defined by roughly the naming the routing, the forwarding and the cryptographic infrastructure that needed to operate the Internet at global scale.
So naming, DNS, routing, address distribution, and decentralized routing that makes up the Internet, and then the encryption infrastructure is also infrastructure that we need collectively to interoperate. If we don't have a certificate authorities, for instance, if we don't have common protocols to work with the encryption, it will not work.
Obviously that's not the only infrastructure that we have around. And it might be that in the course of technical development, infrastructure becomes important for the Internet. Just to give an example of that, if you log into many websites nowadays, you can choose, your Google ID or Facebook ID or your GitHub ID to log in.
The underlying technology that is used for that is called OLA, but those services now become infrastructure for other services so where the boundary is between the hard wires and cables with the routing infrastructure on top of that and where infrastructure stops is a matter of trying to find where that point is on the sliding window that Sheetal mentioned in the beginning.
If you look at the examples, there is another example I want to point out, because it might be a little bit dense in the way that it's written in the report. The example that is given is routing of Internet traffic via private infrastructure by big tech companies. If you read it like that, it may be a little bit curious to say what does that have to do with fragmentation.
This is sort of an example of a long‑term commercial activity that might, and it's almost a capital letter M there in might lead to fragment Ace in the long term. What could happen is investment in the private infrastructure, so big Google building cables to move the data that they used to feed their data centers, and not using the public Internet, if you have a lot of that type of infrastructure, then what you might see is under investment in in transit infrastructure.
So the infrastructure that people use to get to other content than that of the biggest Cloud providers so to say. And if that under investment happens for a long time, it might be that those types of transit approaches become less stable. That lead in the end to fragmentation.
That is perhaps a little bit of a long stretch and sort of a theoretical example, but we have it there because fragmentation can happen in very many ways and we wanted to trigger people's imagination a little bit. Another part in the document is fragmentation of Internet Governance and coordination.
As you all know, the Internet infrastructure is run by many organisations. The infrastructure is decentralized, the naming structure is decentralized. There is a route server or there is a root of the DNS which is centrally managed, but underneath there there is a hierarchy of independent organisations that run their own name space, so to speak., perhaps based on context with ICANN but also completely independent.
That type of architecture, the type of architecture that the information is, the naming, the routing and the forwarding, again, of the core, the management of that is basically a multistakeholder way of managing that layer. And it's important that we don't see the fragmentation of that.
For instance, it is very important that Internet addresses are uniquely distributed so that every network operator has a unique set of addresses to work with and that they can route. Any fragmentation of the system of allocation might mean that we have conflicting information there, that the registry is not intact. And that would lead to disastrous effect, I think.
So this is something of an example where fragmentation of the Internet Governance coordination might be problematic. Also a very theoretical example, I think that the fragmentation of the Internet technical layer is, perhaps, the last type of fragmentation that we will run into, but these are the examples in the framework that we work with.
I hope that clarifies somewhat. Sheetal, back to you.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you, Olaf. I think that was very helpful in helping us understand what we mean when we talk about fragmentation and the possible fragmentation we may see. You spoke about the importance of protecting Internet infrastructure, and where on a sliding scale perhaps we may see practices, whether it's around commercial activities or otherwise that that could lead to Internet fragmentation as a result of different impacts, for example, perhaps in under investment in transit infrastructure.
You also spoke to the need to maintain a governance framework, a multistakeholder governance framework to ensure an open, interoperable Internet linking those things together, the independent and different actors. That have been working together and how that may be under threat.
So I think it's a good time to open up, maybe. If anyone has any reactions, you can also speak to whether you think the framework is missing something or unhelpful in some way, or if you have other examples that you want to share to unpack the different elements, the two main elements. Three, actually. We would love to hear from you.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: If anyone on the Zoom wants to come in as well, just raise your hand and let us know in the chat.
>> Thank you, Sheetal before we go maybe it would be good to go through the framework on screen. I'm happy to do so if you want, because I think before we go to the discussion that Sheetal has asked feedback on the framework itself and how it is useful, I think it's good to repeat again what exactly the indention or the aim is or the conclusion through the discussions at the different webinars we came to, and that is that focusing too much on discussing what fragmentation is and trying to come up with one overarching definition just gets us into trouble and into hours of debate.
And with this framework, we actually try to come up with three baskets and say if people, if you hear people at the webinars, we organize within the policy network, if you hear them talking about fragmentation, either they are talking about something that can be linked or put in a basket fragmentation of user experience, or they are talking about the really core architecture and technical area of the Internet or, third basket we define through discussions is talking about fragmentation of Internet Governance or governance of parts of the Internet.
So that's the reasoning behind the framework itself. It's not to define what fragmentation is. It is based on what we heard through the webinars, what people are talking about if we ask what is fragmentation, what is fragmentation that should be avoided. So that's the idea.
And I think that was Sheetal's first question. Is something missing or is everything we would ask you or the panelists what actually is in your definition or your minds fragmentation? Does it fit in one of those baskets? The follow‑up questions are and probably work still needs to be done is really look into the links of the fragmentation, and I think then the second part of the today's meeting also will be the question on if you look within those three baskets, what should be the next steps in the discussion and what can be done to avoid these types of fragmentation?
So I just wanted to clarify.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you so much, Wim. I hope that was helpful. Does anyone want to share perspectives? I see one here. Okay, we will take three and then we can back.
>> AUDIENCE: Hi, I'm just looking at the graphic, one thing that isn't coming up in the discussion is framework of what fragmentation we are talking about is that some fragmentation of the user experience isn't going to result in technical fragmentation. Technical fragmentation will also result in broader fragmentation.
I think there is sort of, we think about it, there is certain forms of fragmentation that is going to be devastating and long term and so on. There are other forms of fragmentation that arise by commercial activities happening and we need to be aware of it and we need to work on ways of bringing back global Internet, but I do think if we really want to get into the nuts and bolts of the problem of fragmentation, we do need to sort of understand that there are certain, that technical fragmentation is at a much lower level, and it's got much more adverse ramifications.
So I would sort of almost put like a pyramid than the sort of interaction type mechanism. I don't think private companies sort of deciding to do business in one market or another is going to have the same ramifications as anything on the technical layer such as corruption in Africa.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you for that. Interested to hear other's views on that as well. Yes, the person at the back and then you in the middle, please, if you don't mind introducing yourself. Sorry, I forgot to say that earlier.
>> AUDIENCE: My name is Shatan, I am from the international Center for not for profit law. I want to thank you for presenting on the framework. I think one of the things I struggled with at IGF is when I have been attending the fragmentation sessions, it just seems like there is very differing perspectives that are shaped by political views regarding what is fragmentation and which aspects of fragmentation are most relevant, and I think that that was a struggle because this, like, initial framing wasn't in place for those discussions.
And so I found this discussion quite helpful, and I hope that that framing is used more readily in the future. I guess my question is if you could elaborate on the criteria that you have mentioned. You had said something about duration and the extent of the impacts, and I was wondering in terms of the human rights framework that maybe was used to think through the extent or the, how problematic each type of fragmentation is, and if that was part of the discussion or part of the underlying thinking behind the framework as well.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you. Happy to answer that. The person in the middle, please.
>> AUDIENCE: I am from Ethiopia, I am working in Ethiopia. The topic is good talking about the policy the fragmentation is good, but when as we all know, resources are not ample. We have scarce resource, for example, let's see at this point how many of us are connected to the Internet? But how many of us are using actively? If we are not using it, why do we connect it? This also takes out our resources and enables us to consume properly. Thank you.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: I think that's a really important point about scarce resources and using them in a certain way, and the sort of commitments, values, principles that shape, drive where and how resources are spent. And so we have a question there. I just wanted to, maybe we take the first three. Okay. And one here. Okay. We is can respond to the first three. I want to check if the panelists want to, perhaps, take any of those questions, including the first one which was around how technical fragmentation has broader perhaps more serious impacts and always impacts user experience but not vice versa. Is that a problem? Could we still continue to discuss and, of course, try and understand the links between the two? Any reactions to that? I think that was an interesting perspective, and then I do have a response to the question about, you know, what we discussed when it came to the human rights elements. Panelists first, and then we will come to you if that's okay.
>> TULIO CESAR MOURTHE DE ALVIM ANDRADE: It is testifies to the value of the framework because it provides us a platform to discuss, and building on many of the views that have been expressed by not only the panelists, but also some from the audience, if we are to engage also in addition to the missing link on the connectivity, on the roll out connectivity, on us to move from paradigm of individualism to a paradigm in which we are going to accept our radical independence as one humanity, this is one aspect we would need to have reflected in the framework, but there are also two others that are related to that.
The first one is to move beyond coordination towards a framework of cooperation. We need to enhance cooperation among all stakeholders, and a motto of leadership in which each stakeholder will exercise leadership by empowering the other stakeholders and leadership of mutual empowering.
So this element of cooperation is something that is very much important when we are talking about Internet Governance. The technical aspect of the Internet is not enough anymore when we are dealing with something that is extremely important.
It is fundamental for us to achieve not only the full potential of the Internet, but also for us to address some of the key challenges that we have before us. Like climate, for example. Going back to the technical aspects and the core infrastructure of the Internet, the framework does enumerate a number of risks. There is one single risk that is largely based there, which is the legal risk.
We have to consider also the fact that when we have ICANN which is a cooperation that is subjected to the legislation of the State of California, we do have the legal risk of a single judge in California to also be a driver of Internet fragmentation.
This relates to outstanding work that within ICANN, the ICANN community has signaled importance in terms of accountability to work on jurisdiction. We have not worked, we have not fulfilled this mandate within ICANN, and until we fulfill it, until we conclude this, we are still going to have the legal risk in terms of Internet fragmentation.
These are three points. The first one, the need for us to move from an individualistic to a collective framework, the need for us to move from only coordination to a model of cooperation and mutual empowerment among all stakeholders, and the third also this legal risk which related to pending work on jurisdiction in ICANN.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you, Tulio, that was bringing more into the discussion which I think is helpful, but we still have this reference of the framework and the different ways we can approach what you have just mentioned. I just wanted to answer quickly the question about criteria and then we will take two questions just so we don't miss that.
So in terms of the criteria, what we have been discussing and what I heard earlier this week as well is that what would be helpful, and we don't have that yet, is once we unpack what we mean in each area of fragmentation to perhaps identify at what point certain practices would constitute or qualify as Internet fragmentation because of their impact, for example,.
So would one instance of a shutdown that lasts an hour, say, this is an example, to help elucidate the point, is that the same or would that count as fragmentation? Or would it require a certain number of a certain type to qualify? Similarly, with some of the points that Olaf was making about, perhaps consolidation and commercial activities at the technical layer or and this is a sliding window that we mentioned.
So what is the criteria that gets you to a certain point where you qualify something as a manifestation or a measure that has a fragmentation impact? That's a question. It's not an answer. It's a question. We can frame it in a better way, but one thing that was mentioned that you have alluded to, I think, is using a framework like the international human rights framework to decide whether an instance of fragmentation is back, so to speak, and has the impact on an open and interoperable Internet that we would want to stop and avoid, for example, with governance frameworks.
It was brought up and please correct me if I'm wrong, but it was brought up during one of the webinars that while a data governance framework might result in the short term certain requirements around certain safeguards, for example, that must be, must be in place before data flows, if the result, the end result is stronger norms and user rights are respected, then we, perhaps, wouldn't call that Internet fragmentation because the net result is positive for the user.
Again, this is just an example. I'm not saying that it's correct or everyone agrees on that. But it was discussed. So can we take those two questions and then we can come back to the panel?
>> AUDIENCE: I have a question regarding the fragmentation of Internet Governance and coordination. So I am looking at the document and it mentions that the Government and stakeholders to address global Internet policy issue from a human rights and free flow of data perspective, but it is showing divergence on the data governance worldwide, especially the major colonies like European Union, China, India, so my question is how do figure out the policy fragmentation and what will the changes be to achieve the international coordination? Thank you.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you for that. If the panelists want to respond, please do. We will take one more question and then go to the online panelists.
>> AUDIENCE: I have a simple typology taxonomy requests for professionals in the field, would you consider Darknet part of this discussion?
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: We haven't had that question come up yet, so who would like to answer? Anyone or the panelists, please do. I know there was already hands up for answering the other questions so I think we will go to those. Olaf,.
>> OLAF KOLKMAN: Yes, that last question is very inspiring, actually. It's a good question. So let me start with the Darknet question. If I look at the Darknet, then in essence from a technical infrastructure perspective, the Darknet as we all know are those sites and information that cannot be readily found through the regular search engine.
But this information is available through the Internet in some way or through some set of protocols. So in that sense, internetworking and interoperability for those types of information there is no fragmentation. However, if you keep search engines in your broader definition of what technical infrastructure is, you could actually argue that there is some fragmentation because search engines don't pick up this information.
So that's the way that I would think about this. The reason why I raised my hand was actually because of the chat. Alona Stetnik asked a question. I'm not quite sure if I transliterate her name correctly., but basically she asks whether the introduction of certificates by Governments to basically intercept user traffic as was proposed in Kazakhstan a couple of years back and apparently two days back by the Russian Government is interference, is actually causing fragmentation.
And looking at the definition that we have interference with the public core of the Internet, I would actually say, yes, this is clearly a fragmentation. The way that it works is basically that once those types of certificates are inserted or are being used, then there will be fragmentation in the application space of, applications that will most certainly block this type of certificate.
Now, the question is what to do about it. And I think we have to be honest and clear that our framework doesn't address actions to deal with that fragmentation, and very specific cases. It's really a way to identify what might lead to fragmentation, and indeed then have the follow‑up discussion, but I don't think the framework answers those questions in detail.
Alona, I would say this is something that is of interest in for like the global encryption coalition. So most certainly bring it up there.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you, Olaf. Are there any other panelists who want to respond?
I think we can move onto the next part, I will hand it over to you. Wim, you have your hand up.
>> WIM DEGEZELLE: I wanted to add there is one question in the chat asked what the UN, United Nations family can do or, for example, initiatives such as the Global Digital Compact could do about fragmentation and deal with it, but I think that this is a question that really fits within that set of the next discussion.
So I would suggest that the panelists when they answer bring that also up, who should be doing what, that they also add this dimension on either specific actions related to the global community that should be added instead of answering.
>> TÚLIO CÉSAR MOURTHÉ DE ALVIM ANDRADE: Thank you for the question on the chat because it will be one of the key priorities in terms of digital governance and cooperation and the upcoming work around the Global Digital Compact, and this is a very good reminder because it is indeed the issue, the mission of avoiding Internet fragmentation is specifically mentioned in the report from the Secretary‑General, the United Nations Secretary‑General, and the motion that is put out there is to some extent very much different from the one that we are talking about here because over there it's about the fragmentation of the information the need for us to actually have a convergence in terms of ideas, the convergence in terms of knowledge, the convergence in terms of avoiding chambers, and this is something that the framework does not capture.
So it would be very useful for us to also reflect this within the framework, go beyond, again, the technical dimension of this which as some has raised may actually be more faithful to political priorities, so to speak.
So avoiding Internet fragmentation is one of the key points of the agenda of our IGF here in Addis, and it may be a very good opportunity for us also to make a slight adjustment in our policy network, policy network on avoiding Internet fragmentation.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you so much, Tulio, and it's good we went into the responses conversation, because I also want to bring in Mazuba back again. Mazuba is the Head of Human Rights Policy for Africa. Our question to you is if we are discussing approaches to avoiding fragmentation, what kind of responses do you think is necessary both from policy makers or other stakeholders or even places? Where should this discussion be taken to? Thank you.
>> MAZUBA HAANYAMA: Thank you so much. Yes, I think certainly a consolidated, structures and strategic response is needed. I really appreciated what one of the panelists said around going beyond coordination and thinking about cooperation, and that's a really important part that I hope we come back to.
There are a number of stakeholders who play a role and who come together to share how we can be responding, particularly technical companies being amongst these, Government, policy stakeholders. I think as a company we recognize the role the Governments play in avoiding Internet fragmentation, and I think we have discussed this a little bit as we think about Internet shutdowns.
I think also we talk a little bit about this earlier, but I think the Russia Ukraine war has accelerated trends of deglobalization, protectionism and nationalism and this is playing out in the digital sphere too, the rise of an authoritarian Internet model, the citizens segregated from the rest of the global Internet and subject to extensive surveillance. This presents a real risk to the open, accessible Internet as we know it.
And we are constantly encouraging Governments to heed their human rights obligations and protect and promote free flow of action, recognizing access to Internet as a human rights and to refuse to resort to Internet shutdowns which inevitably harm human rights including freedom of expression, access to information.
And then, of course, we recognize the role of tech companies such as ourselves play with almost 2.5 billion monthly users, Meta products impact human rights for good and for ill more than any other companies in the world and this is a responsibility we take very seriously.
In our view some of the most important tasks we have to promote open Internet and avoid Internet fragmentation is to, one, maybe make sure human rights is centric as we develop our products and policies and that is something that my team and many other teams at Meta are very focused on doing. We are also very committed to recognizing instances where Governments play a role in defending an open Internet. And then inside of this conversation we are having now we are interested in promoting a multistakeholder and international cooperation initiatives that defend an open Internet.
I can talk a little bit more about this as we continue because I think there are a few more questions that speak to stakeholders and inclusivity.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: You spoke about human rights being at the core of the discussion. I think that's a lot of us agree and bringing a human rights framework to our own framework and the discussions we want to promote within the PNIF is relevant as well because it's kind of a streamlined discussion, and also effect to this, and not just a technical simpler in a way debate around fragmentation.
I'm not sure if the other panelists want to weigh in on this as well. I know we have been doing a little conversational responses too, but if there is anything that has not been said yet, just raise your hand and I will be happy to hand the floor to you.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello? Could I jump in?
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: , yes, please introduce yourself. Welcome.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello. Thank you very much for giving me the floor. Hello, everyone. And distinguished panelists, I'm Amir from Iranian community. I would like to talk about the main reason of Internet fragmentation. I would like to mention three main reasons. The first reason is increasing trends of Internet weaponization and Internet militarization and defending Internet as a new battlefield.
The second reason for Internet fragmentation is unilateral coercive measures in digital world, and third mention, I think, is non‑cooperation of global digital platforms by law enforcement of other countries regarding illegal content and investigation of cybercrimes.
The solution is defining Internet as a peaceful environment based on international agreement. My question is what would be the role of United Nations family to ensure having a good Internet as a civilian only and development‑oriented environment rather than an unstable space and new battlefield for cyber warfare. Don't you think that signing a global declaration by all Member States to recognition of Internet as a peaceful environment for public good could be confidence building and could be a solution for avoiding Internet fragmentation?
My question is what would be the contribution of Global Digital Compact in this regard? Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to rise my question. Thank you.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you so much, maybe on the UN responses as well it's worth mentioning that the UN Tech Envoy will be in the main session on the topic following this session. So it would be a good opportunity to understand what is the approach and how he is looking into it.
We have two more hands on the Zoom, but we also are heading to the end of the session.
>> AUDIENCE: Do you hear me? Thank you very much for giving this opportunity. My name is Iello Rashid from Australia, and I'm representing for the newly formed, new society which is digital network. It is a community‑based Ethiopian association. As we all understood, this event in United Nations IGF umbrella unification is the main theme in resilient Internet for sharing sustainable common future.
As all participants know and are aware, Internet is based on internationalization, digitalization, virtualization, localization. With inclusive connectivity, using advanced technologies such as Blockchain, AI, NFC, NFT and quantum commuting. Using the tools such as IoT, IEOS, based on these and the previous person from Islamic Republic of Iran he asked the question, what I am asking here is Ethiopia is the best example of disadvantaged and advantage of the Internet. We have 67 million Ethiopians connected and also as the Honorable Prime Minister yesterday clearly clarified, the Internet is the last two years distracted Ethiopia as a sovereign state.
So my question is what are the UN plans in the future? What are the plans of action to protect such countries and member countries from spreading false information. Two a sovereign state and also attacking financial institution. As you know the current situation of the wallet is two different financial war, currency war between the institution and the website, which is the current system and the newly established Brexit system.
Based on this, what are the UN initiatives, member countries using securely and properly the international based Internet for the spreading all over the world with peacefully, productivity and accessibility in the future on all UN member countries. What is the plan? This is a good opportunity for Ethiopia. You are in Ethiopia. You, the whole world does know Ethiopia, the social media and stream media was spreading false news about Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is peaceful now. You see six months ago it was a different face. Now, I'm asking on behalf of Alpha or alpha new society members, the United Nations has to start dialoguing and start international United Nations Internet Governance law. What are the plans? It's not a plan, I'm asking you on behalf of my community. And also as an Ethiopian, living in Australia, I'm asking on behalf of Ethiopian people, please understand draft international law then all countries, we know that. America has it, and all Developed Countries have their own Internet laws.
So there is no international law, so what are we waiting 17 times of this kind of Conference is not initiating international law. Thank you very much.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you for your comment and question as well. Just on that, I think other than the majority of the discussions we are having here, they also have some connection with the international cooperation and how all stakeholders can come to the same place and table and to address and understand each other's issues, so this is also part of our discussion as well, and thank you for the input.
We have some other questions from remote, but I will maybe ask in spite of time for our panelists to reply on chat if possible. So, yes, just to acknowledge them, we saw your questions Izaan and Bo.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you. So we want to spend the last few minutes asking you online and on site about the next steps, and what needs to be done. There are two questions there, what can stakeholders do to avoid fragmentation, to protect an open interoperable Internet? What can we discuss here that we can then continue to work on with reference to the framework in the next year? That's one.
And then if you have any points you want to make about the next steps for the policy network itself and how we engage others, please do share those. Shows are some questions to take us into the next stage of the policy network. If anyone has any comments or wants to share any perspectives, please do raise your hand. I'm not seeing any here. Are there any online. There is one here.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you for your clarifications. I am from Senegal. There is the assumption piece going in my mind. Is the fragmentation here is the concept or it's just a fact? And if it is going to be, if it is a concept that is going to be implemented, maybe it will have a huge impact on digital rights. Am I right with that? That's my question.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: I believe the understanding is it is happening and could get more serious, and now is the time to do something. Any other thoughts?
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: We have questions from remote.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: The impact on digital rights is certainly there. Sorry.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Bo, if you want to open your mic and tell us your question.
>> BO HAN: Hi, can you hear me, guys? So this is Bo Han from ISOC U.S. Ambassador. My question is according to the structure we provided to the meeting, I have seen that some kind of ideas or the, they should either have some kind of ambiguity because when we talk about the accountants or something like that is all of the behavior that limiting people from viewing the country in their Internet can be referred to the user experience part of the fragmentation of the Internet.
But we still have some, some behaviors such as fight against cybercrime or discrimination. So maybe in the future beyond talking about what is or what can be referred to the fragmentation, maybe we can talk something about what cannot be referred to the fragmentation in the future, especially when we think about fighting against cybercrime or the discrimination or other things against human rights.
These things cannot be referred to the fragmentation. That's my point. Thank you.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: I think that's very helpful in thinking about what is and what isn't and unpacking those different elements in more detail is something that the policy network could do. Any other thoughts on how we can move forward?
>> AUDIENCE: I wanted to respond to the last comment. The cyber, there are certain activities that have consequence of creating the risk of fragmentation or driving the fragmentation, but that is an inevitable consequence of law enforcement or the like. So especially if we consider like content moderation and that sort of thing, the fact that a particular country has a fact checking organisation or does something or another to engage with platforms it says, hey, this content is harmful content, please do something about it, does create a risk of fragmentation.
But when we weigh it up, we sort of come to the conclusion that there are other ways to navigate the fragmentation risk. We are not talking here about a technical thing. I think it would be unhelpful to redefine fragmentation to exclude things that are fragmentation but that we accept as acceptable. I think we need to sort of avoid this sort of if we like it, it's not fragmentation sort of discourse.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: I was going to say from some of your interventions as well, I get the feeling that the user, the user might be the one that we need to qualify Fay or better define the most or even like what, because as some of the interventions pointed out, geo blocking content, even content moderation, application of content moderation rules, content governance in general, this has been happening forever since the beginning of social media and intermediaries.
So that is also the part that we might need some better qualifiers as well. So if anyone has ideas or inputs to that, it will be very welcome to the discussion, because it's, we do want to know what is definitely the problem here.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: We will go quickly to the comments from the online participants and then we will be wrapping up. So Izaan.
>> IZAAN KHAN: My question was sort of asked a while back, so I think the time has sort of passed but in light of the recent contents, I think it's what has come to the fore. The question I have for the panel is does the framework address extra territorial measures that are globally applied? For example, you have things like global content takedown orders which may potentially go against certain human rights principles, but the user experience is not fragmented in that case, however, there is still overall loss so I think Olaf answered the question that arises which is should fragmentation be held up towards an ideal standard of what the Internet experience should be like rather than what it is, because you might have loss of rights even if the experience or the infrastructure is not really fragmented. That's the question that I have. Thank you.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Nawal has her hand up.
>> NAWAL OMAR: Yes. Thank you. I wanted to comment on the ramifications of Internet fragmentation on the emerging technologies and AI. If we look at this issue in the future, I think it will have an immense, an immense impact on those technologies, the free flow of data and information restricting the free flow of information and data will eventually exacerbate the issue of fairness and bias we see right now in AI.
It would eventually may need to stop these technologies or severely exclude those people and nations from the global space and be include in those innovation.
So I think it's important to also take into account the impact on the free flow of data and how it will impact the emerging technologies like AI and IoT and big data when those, like, societies or nations are imposing Internet fragmentation continues to exclude those people. Thank you.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you so much.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you for that perspective. I think you brought an interesting point about how fragmentation excludes people and has an impact on development and it really has a wide range of impacts, we spoke about digital rights there, I think human rights has come up a few times.
Well, that is, of course, one of the impacts of fragmentation and one of the reasons I think we are also concerned and committed to avoiding it and one step in that direction has been trying to understand better everyone's perceptions.
We hope that the framework is useful in that regard. We are planning to take this conversation U. unpack it in more detail, perhaps, the what is and what isn't in each area, consider what criteria or elements of a spectrum of what could constitute or qualify fragmentation in each of those areas might be, and ultimately, we hope we will be able to offer some recommendations to the global community to stakeholders for addressing Internet fragmentation for avoiding it, and one area is, of course, one opportunity is the Global Digital Compact and so with that, I want to make sure that nobody else wants to come in.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Just another comment on the draft as well. This was obviously one of the first opportunities of interaction between the IGF community and the draft framework. It's open for comments if anyone wants to bring in anymore ideas or if you want to suggest anything in qualifications or anything in that sense, it's very much open to anyone.
It's on the PNIF page. You can find it under the intersessional work of the IGF, so, you are all welcome to weigh in and add some more thoughts to this discussion.
>> WIM DEGEZELLE: Just to add on what Bruna said, the draft framework is there and the idea is if the PNIF net year continues its work, that it can start from this framework to probably discuss a lot of the discussions that have been raised today and have more detailed focused discussions but within the framework or using the framework as a background.
I wanted to add the PNIF is indeed looking forward to further comments and input. The framework itself, but also the summaries of the meetings we had that led to the framework are on the policy networks web page on the IGF website, and there is also a link to simple Google form where you can submit feedback either on the overall idea of the framework or if you want on any of the three elements or if you want to add in comments, we would very much appreciate it.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you all again so much for coming. We would also encourage everyone who can to come to the main session on Internet fragmentation which is starting at 11:00 ‑‑ oh, in 15 minutes where we hope to build on this discussion and hope to see many of you there. Thank you for coming.
>> BRUNA MARTINS DOS SANTOS: Thank you all.
>> SHEETAL KUMAR: Thank you to the panelists as well, of course, online.