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.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Perfect. We will wait for one more minute, and then we'll start.
Just before we start, it will be a town hall session and, well, we have a big room and not that many people. So maybe it be ideal to move a little to the front to have a discussion, because I think that could be the best way of getting the most out of this session. Thank you.
>> ERICA MORET: We can't see you. I think Neeti and I can only see each other and not the room.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Yes, we are working on that.
>> ERICA MORET: Yeah, we can see now.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Okay. Let's just start. My name is Guus van Zwoll, and I work with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We will talk about Internet sanctions, infringement to the multi‑stakeholder model. We want to talk about the EU ban on RT and Sputnik by the European Commission. We have a great panel to discuss this topic, and ‑‑ but the aim of that town hall is really to have a broader debate about this important issue. I will introduce all the panelists to you. We will have a quick recap on what the issue actually is.
So after Russia invaded Ukraine in remember this year, the EU decided on the 2nd of March to prohibit the broadcasting of two Russian media outlets, R2 formerly known as Russia today, and Sputnik. Interestingly enough, this was not only for the television broadcasting of these stations but also for the websites and channels that would stream content from these websites. So other websites that would stream directly from those websites.
The prohibition to broadcast was proposed through restrictive measures taken by the EU against Russia, in regard to the war, not to abide this measure in the Netherlands would be a criminal offense. In the Netherlands six websites were mentioned by the AMS, which it the Dutch, and it said these six websites should be banned and shouldn't be provided to the consumers who are requesting the website, right? And this could be a interest at least, that's basically what we're going to discuss about. This could be a hint on new area of Internet Governance in which governmental bodies impose policy regulations top down, thereby bypassing the consensus driven model that we have regarded as the stakeholder model for Internet Governance.
The questions that we wanted to ‑‑ that we are very much alive, what is the scope for those sanctions? What extent should governing bodies be able to impose these sanctions and can they block certain websites and to answer those questions, two Dutch organizations AMX‑IX and ECP, brought together a public? Private partners no discuss in neutral and well, closed settings to create an argument that you will have received if you don't have one, there are more up here in the front. ‑‑ to discuss arguments for and against this Internet blockade.
The question that started this discussion is the request he that's in the middle that is what are the arguments in the Netherlands for and against the EU regulation requiring internet service providers to block the website of R2 and Sputnik news? So 30 experts from different organizations, governments, private sector, NGOs have discussed the question and they came up with several arguments that are presented here on this map. And today we will run through them, but also see how they echo in the more international surrounding or if they could come into a broader international discussion. So let me start by introducing the panelists we have two panelists online and two panelists here in the room. We have got Neeti Biyani from the Internet Society. She has here online and we have Mieke van Heesewijk and Erika more receipt from the graduate institute of Geneva.
With whom ‑‑ I will just run the list by ‑‑ as I presented them. So maybe I could ask Neeti Biyani to introduce herself a bit and also to have her reflections on the argument as it has been presented.
>> NEETI BIYANI: Thank you. Thank you so much. I have already been introduced and I will say this about the Internet Society. I'm Neeti and I work with the Internet Society, I'm based in India. It's a global not for profit organization, that works for a trustworthy Internet. So, you know, just a few reflections based off the argument map that's been shared with everyone here, the argument map is basically based on the blocking of RT and Sputnik news. Because of the tumultuous year with Ukraine and Russia and the Ukrainian crisis, the request to block or sanction didn't just stop at the content level which is what we see with the news websites in remember, Ukraine asked them to shut down root servers in Russia. They asked them to revoke the rights of Russia to IPv4 and IPv6 and then we saw them shutting down Russian networks from the Internet. And these actions have several different motivations. The requests the Ukraine had made was to shut down the Russian, where is Cogruex and Lumen, their actions were motivated to pick a side as many businesses, organizations, individuals and governments have to do in such a conflict. And Cogruex and Lumen thought their businesses would do better if they would completely withdraw from Russia.
At the Internet Society, we are of the position that Internet is a great, great, shared resource. It's force for good for everyone and it's a resource that belongs to nobody and at the same time, it belongs to everybody. We believe that motivated decisions that impact the global Internet, fundamentally undermines everything that the Internet needs to exist and all of those conditions that the Internet needs to survive.
And at the same time, political sanctions, politically motivated decisions go against the multi‑stakeholder model of Internet Governance. These proposals and acts we have seen, they result not only in sanctioning, you know, what we know as a nation state. It is after all a social construct, right, a nation state. But what happens is that the proposals and actions result in disconnecting users and therefore, threaten this open, public, you know, very, very crucial resource that we have for everyone.
And ultimately, if these actions do go through, thankfully, you know, world leaders have been resisting these calls, the net community in totality have been resisting these calls. Ultimately, if these acts were to go through, you know, network operations would be disrupted far beyond a certain country's borders and they would undermine the use of Internet by people in Russia. It would most importantly, I think, fragment the Internet along geographical, political, commercial and technical boundaries. And everyone who is in the Internet community or part of the technical community or even just uses the Internet knows that the reason it is so seamless is because there are no boundaries in the Internet or on the Internet.
And also as a result of these actions we don't want to go about setting a dangerous precedent that would undermine trust in the multi‑stakeholder governance process. So I'm just going to pause here. These were, like a few initial thoughts but over to you.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Thank you, Neeti, for these reflections, I introduced you to the two speakers here and the organizations they are working for. I want to mention that they are speaking on their personal capacity, and not per se representing as I understood it, the organizations that they are working with as well.
So let me move here to in room. Next to speak is Bastiaan Goslings. The same question to you.
>> BASTIAAN GOSLINGS: Which was?
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: If you could introduce yourself and also have a first reflection on the argument map.
>> BASTIAAN GOSLINGS: Some very interesting and it reflects from the Internet Society but not directly related to the map as such. I'm Bastiaan Goslings and I'm Dutch and I work for the RIPE NCC. So actually, what we are discussing here is also something that takes place within our service region. And so from that perspective, there is an interest.
I will be speaking out with my personal behalf on unless you know at a later stage we also want to feel we want to discuss elements like what the Ukrainian called the RIPE NCC to do in terms of deregistering resources from Russian networks.
But with regard to the argument map, I ‑‑ I feel that there are, like, basically two angles that you can look at this from. Initially, the order ‑‑ the order itself, how it came about, and what the underlying rationale of it is. From what I have learned, it actually ‑‑ it happened over a weekend. It went really, really fast. Unanimously the Member States of the European Union decided that this was necessary and had to be implemented.
The parliament was only informed ex‑post and they were not a part of this. Some argue that you can question the actual legitimacy of this order. And also in terms of the proportionality of it, the European orders they specifically refer to the fact that this order is in line. I think they use the term "consistent." With the European Convention on Human Rights and they refer to freedom of expression, freedom of information, stuff like that. So it's not conflicting as such with those fundamental rights.
And on the other hand, and I'm totally aware of the fact that human rights as such are not absolute, right? There's always a balancing that has to take place. And the European Union in this case refers to the public order aspect of it and the security potentially of European citizens being affected. So that would then be a reason and the way I read it, to emphasize that and that being more important than maybe the aspect of freedom of expression and information being limited here.
I personally feel that that is not substantiated sufficiently that argument. I think people who are opposing that have a point there.
And as a bit of context, in the Netherlands shortly after these orders were published a number of ISPs, journalists and NGOs decided to take this to the European courts related to the aspects I just mentioned with regard to the legitimacy of that proposal and the proportionality of it.
On the other hand, I said there are two angles I won't go into too much detail with regard to the second but with regard to the implementation side of it. The order itself is generic and referred to the Dutch regulatory authority that listed these websites for Dutch ISPs it's unclear what there are they meant to do. The websites, it’s just an assessment of the regulatory authority. They are not mandating ISPs to do so. I think they are blocking it in the DNS. If you want to circumvent that you use a third browser or change your DNS settings.
Also for the ISP, it's unclear how long do they comply, how long are you comment to comply with this? Until the war ends? There are a number of practical questions that I think are quite concerning here. I will leave that at my introduction.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Thank you for the words and it's very nice that we will do angles. I think that, indeed besides the political arguments or the political view on the legitimacy of such a blockade, the issues are very much real. Regarding the end of the year blockade, I think the European Commission said there's two ways for the blockade, one is to stop after Russia has stopped the invasion of Ukraine and when RT and Sputnik will stop Russian propaganda and disinformation. So that's a very, very challenging and ambiguous end phase of this ban.
Let us move now back to online, we have a second speaker online, which is Erica Moret I want to ask you the same question, if you could please quickly introduce yourself, but also have your reflections on the blockade of RT from your own expertise.
>> ERICA MORET: Thank you very much. My name is Erica Moret. I have Bon working on sanctions, tackling a whole range of objectives. And so what I will try and do today is draw from some of that wider reflections from the sanctions world as well if you will permit me.
And first of all, I would like to congratulate you on the work you have been doing here. I found the argument map a really comprehensive and very useful tool for which to base this type of discussion and I wish I would see similar things elsewhere, when we are looking at sanctions in other areas. I think it's fantastic that you are having this discussion today and using this map.
So I would like to take a step back and take a lot of these debates that you are referring to today and outlined in the argument map are ones we are seeing elsewhere in other sanctioned regimes. And what we are seeing is the explosion of sanctions, across various different targets in the world, to tackle a growing range of objectives and using new types of sanctions as well. So I would say that we can think about these Internet sanctions as part of that kind of expansion of sanctions which are becoming a kind of ever popular tool of foreign and security policy.
Another really important thing to note here is that we are seeing increases use of sanctions outside of the multilateral framework and outside of the UN Security Council, and there's a core set of sanctions actors. That is to say the EU alongside the United States and United Kingdom and Canada with a number of countries joining in as well. I think it's really important here when we think about EU sanctions, this is also very typically in collaboration with other actors as well, with other close allies. And therefore, we need to be thinking about some of the cumulative impacts as well across the board, that are happening more widely in geographical terms.
Some of the topics that you highlighted as well such as over compliance and difficult understanding what is required and the risk of protracted sanctioned regimes, and the delicate balance between human rights and other considerations is, again, really topical at the moment across other areas of sanctions as well.
So I also wanted to just take a step back like Neeti and mention following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, we see a new page, of course in international relations and diplomacy and global security but it's also changing the face of debates regarding sanctions generally, including against Internet service providers. And I think we can look back to the call from the government of Ukraine, which was really unprecedented to cut off Russia's access to the Internet, which if it was enacted it could turn Russia into a digital island. And that when the Russia Today and the Sputnik sanctions came in.
The assigned names and numbers, responded to this request turning it down, highlighting it wasn't within their power to enact such a move and Wright also argued that the means to communicate should not be affected by domestic, international conflicts and war. What we have seen, however, is more nuanced adoption of sanctions against these TV stations is somewhat similar to earlier moves we have seen elsewhere, including against certain targets in Iran, Sudan and Syria. And there's a mass withdrawal from Russia by a range of multinational firms. And this included technology, Internet, social media companies and so on.
And this takes a number of forms. It can be adherence to sanctions in place, and over compliance and financial sector derisking are wider voluntary sanctions.
And so this increasingly complex and far reaching sanctions landscape that we have already seen explained well in the sanctions map ‑‑ excuse me, in the argument chart, presents multiple challenges to private sector companies as well as NGOs and other individuals too that may struggle to understand what actives are allow and what steps must be taken to avoid falling foul of the measures.
I will conclude with a few reflections. Global sanction regimes can reflect in a variety of different ways. Firms, in particular, are not really equipped with sufficient tools or know‑how to navigate these regulations effectively and I think this is a big problem that we see not just in ‑‑ likely in the Netherlands but elsewhere in Europe and elsewhere in the world. This risks putting companies in breach of international law or regional national legal frameworks and it could put them ‑‑ make them subject to fines and criminal prosecutions and it could be over compliance. It could be under compliance or noncompliance and incorrect application. It could be compliance that's too early it can link to financial derisking, where they step away from certain organizations or countries either because of the risk of penalties or because of the bureaucratic burden or it could even be customers seeking compensation or suing for damages.
And then we have the pertinent questions that remain on human rights, merits of an open society and security and privacy concerns. I will look forward to engaging in more detail. Thanks.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Thank you so much, Erica. It's very interesting to place these very concrete sanctions that are effective in the European Union in the broader scheme of discussions that we saw also happening at the same time with the call to have broader Internet sanctions where I had to think about back on this paper from 2016 where they list basically three forms of Internet fragmentation, mainly the ‑‑ they make the distinction between the technical fragmentation, which are called from the Ukraine government from ICANN and RIPE and they define governmental fragmentation which I think is something that we are discussing right now and then they also discuss commercial fragmentation which has to do with platforms.
Not to bring something new to the discussion but just to reflect on the fact that we are really looking to the real implications of those possibilities that were discussed in the paper. Six years ago -- so maybe food for thought later in the discussion.
Let me move back here in the room to Mieke, if you could introduce yourself and have your personal reflections on this argument map.
>> MIEKE VAN HEESEWIJK: Thank you. My name is Mieke van Heesewijk, and I work as the deputy director the SIDN Foundation. And I used to be on the board of adopt org as a trustee member. So I couldn't agree more with the reflections ever Internet Society on this topic. And a lot has been said already and I'm really on the right side of the argument map and the discussion today is not about the core of the Internet, although it was mentioned a couple of times before. And I take a really democratic point of view. I don't think it's up to EU commission to take this sanctions on Russia, because why not take sanctions on other countries which are more? So that's ‑‑ I think that's my main ‑‑ that's the main argument I stand for.
And this also makes that people are going to distrust the core of the Internet, but also distrust Internet as a whole is not good for a free and strong Internet. So I leave it there.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Thank you, Mieke.
So now we have a little bit of an overview of where the different speakers are coming from. Well, the idea is to discuss in a town hall this map, and I turn to you. Was everyone able to take a look at the map? I see a lot of people nodding. That's great.
And I think that for us ‑‑ well, not for us, for ECP, who wrote the map, not per se for Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it's very interesting to hear what the different views are and I think that there are a few key questions that we would ‑‑ what we are looking at. So what arguments do you think are most valuable, and how we should weigh these arguments, but also are there certain arguments missing in this map? And how could we add or contribute and improve it on a more international way? I saw one finger, two fingers ‑‑ well, let's start.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, Paul here. Two things in the discussion that hasn't yet come up that I think is important to keep in mind. The first one is that while there has been an effort since the invasion of Ukraine, like the Ukrainian government to isolate Russia's government from the global community, the reality is that Russia isolated itself. It isolated its own interest net in 2012. There's blacklisting of IP addresses and domain names. The Russian state does not have a ‑‑ it already has a fragmented Internet. I think any discussion about what actions cause a fragmentation of the Internet should not lose sight of a country that has done so. Russia has very much dictated what its own people are able to access on the Internet.
The second thing that we should not lose sight of, we are able to have this discussion about the European Union's directions about what the Dutch government today. We are able to criticize. We are able to critically and academic and however we want to engage. I can say that the Dutch government are total morons and they have ugly shoes and the gentleman from the foreign ministry will smile and I will not be kicked out.
I very strongly am of the view that the European Union has misstepped in some respects as to what their response has been. With regards to blacklisting RT and Sputnik, I think we can look at particular points on the map but we can have that discussion. We can say that Ukraine was well within the sovereign rights to request assistance in defending itself in a war of aggression but by the same token the infinite community responded accordingly to that request. You can say that you had every right to make the request, and we didn't accept it.
That's not the attitude from certain states, and I think we shouldn't ever lose sight of that. Lest we tolerate hypocrisy and nonsense. And, no, I don't think the Dutch are stupid.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Great. I want to ask your last name so I can put you on the blacklist.
So let's move to the gentleman in the front who also had his hand up. There's a mic coming over.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you very much. It was very interesting issue to be raised here. Actually, I think we are ‑‑ we have been discussing a lot about the notion of fragmentation and also national sovereignty and I couldn't find a good balance between these two, that we are ‑‑ at the same time, we are looking for a universal Internet and not fragmented Internet. On the other side of the page, we are dealing with the kind of national sovereignty terns.
What is happening here in the case of Russian and Ukrainian conflict, and the map, the argument map, is that the main argument is that the dissemination of the misinformation. Yesterday in the early morning in this room, we had another session about the level of the misinformation, disinformation, has been propagated by the Ukrainians. One of the gentlemen presented slides with some statistics and such. And if the rationale behind those kind of sanctions is the misinformation and the disinformation, it should be ‑‑ it should be applied in a balanced way. And two sides not only one side. What is happening now in the case of the EU sanctions is something different from the national sovereignty concerns that. Some countries because they ‑‑ they have their own policies but what is happening now is the politicalization or over politicalization of the Internet.
That just has been done by the misinformation and disinformation and while at the same time we have another claim that has been presented yesterday just here about the other side of the conflict and it's the over politicalization that we see. I'm from the university of Tehran.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Thank you very much. Let's have two more ‑‑ I see three more hands ‑‑ four more hands. That's great. Maybe the person in front and then we can go to the ‑‑ you can pass it on. Would you please introduce yourself.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm with UNESCO. First of all, I want to commend you for this presentation of the two sides of the argument. When I look into all these discussions on the issues of disinformation, this morning in this very room, we have been discussing on the regulation. And I believe that in ‑‑ most of the European countries they have law in place, regulatory for disinformation. Disinformation doesn't come only through Sputnik or RT. It comes from different channels and even social platforms that are also relaying different types of disinformation and also social platform at the main layer of disinformation than even traditional media or even Sputnik and RT. I'm concerned, what's the types of message that this has been conveying in terms of addressing the issues of disinformation?
Secondly, we all know from academic literature that wherever there is war, there's propaganda from both sides of the war and all the parties involved in that. If the European Union is so much concerned about the disinformation, are they addressing the disinformation from the different sides, not only the parties involved in the conflict but also the parties that have some interest in seeing either the conflict or to continue or to stop? War the actions that they are taking to actually address the disinformation that all those entities are actually manufacturing and distributing through different channels?
So it looks like ‑‑ and finally, Ukrainian war is not the only war ongoing in the world where disinformation is being spread through traditional means, traditional media and also social networks and so on. Why the EU is not also in its engage to addressing the issues of disinformation also taking action to counter the disinformation related to the wars that are also going on in Yemen and we know how this is impacting the life of people out there. So we want to see what is the real message that EU is trying to convey through these types of decisions? Thank you.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: That's a great question. You can just move the microphone not back. Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you so much. My name is Micaela Shapiro, I work for Global Partners Digital. I also wanted to pick up on the point of what the ultimate message is. Coming from the European Union, I was thinking about this from the elements ‑‑ I think it was Erica who mentioned the technical aspects of how to enforce these kind of sanctions that the private sectors, the firms that have the most technical know‑how are often unable to comply with these, due to lack of technical know‑how or the tools existing to do that.
So I good he is to me, the technical element of how to enact and implement these sanctions is something that I was hoping we could talk a little bit more. To me, at least from the map, that was the one element that was a little played down that you can circumvent this relatively easily and that was something that also came up. I was recently at an ITF session that was all about how to circumvent when governments are blocking certain websites and in this case, ostensibly more likely to be accurate information, but you can see it from both sides that there's technology to circumvent the websites. If it's purely symbolic, maybe that's the better way to present it. Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I will hop in here as well. I work for Freedom House. Many compliments on this map. It's very useful and I suppose my only complaint is that my team and I spent many hours deliberating and didn't come up with anything quite so clean and beautiful.
So I look forward to sharing that with them. One question that we lost some amount of sleep over that I might pass on to the panel and to the room, you know, our view is that the procedural circumstances of the sanctions contributed to a certain extent the greater harms that we see represented on the con side. This rushed process, producing an overly broad set of sanctions documents with lack of clarity for ISPs, no sunset provision and all of these things that the panelists discussed.
I wonder the thoughts of the panelists under what procedural circumstances such sanctions could be appropriate and less harmful when we speak about the human rights concerns. You know would follow proper consultation with other stakeholders have mitigated these harms or proper procedures. Very curious for your thoughts.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: We'll take one last person from ‑‑ the person from the room, not last but ‑‑ and then we can go back to the panelists and back to the room again.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you. Again, a fabulous map. Really helpful. Really comprehensive. I thought of one possible argument in favor that is not represented. And I would like to put it to the panelists for their thoughts.
And because it's very controversial, my name is Malcolm, I have no surname and I have no affiliation with any organization. I'm just a concerned citizen of the streets.
When we talk about policy at the IGF, we have normally different consensus of the good, we are trying to collaborate to improving the world this is not one of those cases. This is geopolitical conflict. The argument here is really that this damages Russia, and we are going to do it because we want to damage Russia and they are invading Ukraine ‑‑ we here being the policymakers that are doing, this not me.
I think that's the really the argument. The EU doesn't want to acknowledge that they are in a low‑level economic war with Russia because that's an escalation from itself to acknowledge that. And so it comes one this stuff about disinformation, and those arguments as weak as they always are, whenever this type of mechanism is used to block access to the content on the Internet, but this is not the same kind of circumstance because we are not aiming at making the world a better place, we are looking at harming the other guy so he can back off. And to put it slightly more differently, it's better to do this, that advance the British and the American Army into Crimea and that's the justification.
So I would like to hear the panelist view on that as an argument and I would like to hear their reaction to the implications of that for whatever precedent value this might have. This would take this out of the scope of any assessment of being a precedent for other kinds of disinformation. It would be relevant for geopolitical conflict but not as a means to address other matters of public concern or public policy issues.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Thank you very much. It's a very interesting point.
I thought that I wouldn't say too much myself this session, but I will provide one insight. It is my personal insight. When this regulation was made, I think very interestingly that we are discussing this from an Internet Governance perspective, which is not strange. The blocking of RT and Sputnik started out as a blockage of the television stations that can -- due to the European signal markets were placed under the license of Sweden but were sending out ‑‑ were channeling through to Estonia, Lithuania, and countries that have a big Russian population. And so we had at least of the Dutch perspective is that we had two television channels that were basically owned by a nation state actor and aimed at European ‑‑ well, members of the European Union and people living in the European Union. And so they started ‑‑ I think this started out as the television blockage and then, of course the question is if you are going to block channels, they can still look at it online. So you also have to ‑‑ there's a need to block it online.
So I don't think ‑‑ I think it's a very interesting argument and I urge all the panelists to block it as a possible way of harming Russia, but I think the first intention was to protect European citizens being specifically targeted for Russian state disinformation.
And also, I doubt how much Russia made ‑‑ I don't know how much they made with advertisement on those two channels, I don't guess it will be that much. I don't know what the economic effect of that ban. It would be interesting to take a look at.
We now had six very interesting comments and I wrote them all down. I hope that you also did. I'm not going to ask specific panelists to reply to specific points made, but I do want to hear your reflection on this. And let us start with Bastiaan, maybe you could start with ‑‑ with some reflections on the comments made.
>> BASTIAAN GOSLINGS: Yeah, no, thank you.
Great comments. Very interesting. I took a couple of notes. And with regard to the disinformation that UNESCO mentioned, I think it was an interesting take, and I do agree. Whether that means that others who are also involved in spreading disinformation would need to be treated the same way, in terms of being sanctioned, I would ‑‑ that's not what you said, but I think I would disagree there. That would for me be a reason not to impose these type of sanctions. I don't think have a ‑‑ a principled perspective, I don't think we want to fight disinformation by using censorship measures which I think this basically S. not everyone will agree with that. I'm the sure the European Union will not agree with that.
Gentleman, I forget his name, with regard to circumvention, and there was a lady so the technical means, the circumventions, I think that's a very interesting one. I briefly refer to the fact that the comment I get Dutch ISPs that it's trivial to circumvent that. That's more of an argument, right, like is it going to be effective this type of measure?
And maybe a quick reflection on what Malcolm mentioned. I think that's an interesting one as well. My take on what I are a Ed, what the European Union came up with and what I heard from others, I think I would be inclined to agree with who is from foreign affairs that this is ‑‑ from my perspective, it was not the intention to punish Russia as such, but more from the angle of protecting the public order and the security of our European citizens, but as I referred to earlier, I don't think the arguments are very substantial there. So that might indicate that this could be a precedent that if it's so easy to come up with these type of orders and looking at the arguments that they use, that could be used in other areas as well so that could be a concern, I think.
I don't know if that helped ‑‑ if that's useful or not.
>> MIEKE VAN HEESEWIJK: Yes, I would like to reflect on the gentleman with the beard. As my mother told me, she said don't do to others what others do to you, and if we stand for an open, free, strong Internet, we should stick to our principles in this regard, I think.
Although Russia and maybe China take different measurements on in affecting the open Internet. I couldn't agree with this gentleman more, we have a lot of wars in the world and why should politicians decide what is disinformation. They will be very busy if this will be a task of, I don't know, the European Parliament to start sanctions on every war and pick a side there. I ‑‑ I totally disagree with that.
So that's my reflection.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Thank you, Mieke. Let's also move in line. Neeti, I hope you were able to follow the discussion here and I was wondering if you could also reflect on the comments made.
>> NEETI BIYANI: Yes.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: And I thought the question was very interesting regarding could it be ‑‑ what procedures would justify such a ban, both for you and Erica to also answer that question. Because that hasn't been answered yet.
>> NEETI BIYANI: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things that I heard in many different ways is that the Ma. Is probably lacking a human rights analysis. Has it considered international human rights laws, human rights treaties? That is one big element that I felt was missing when I was looking at the map.
You know, the ‑‑ the gentleman at the very start mentioned that Russia chose to disconnect itself in 2012. What we are ‑‑ at least putting in the request to disconnect Russia is not out of our right. You know, we can go on all day about this argument whether we are within our right to ask and entire country to be disconnected and also we can keep arguing that they are fundamentally disconnected. They don't use the same similar Internet that the rest of the world does, but we do believe in the absolute value of the Internet being used by the end user. The Internet is a place of opportunity and if there's even one person in Russia who believes that the Internet is that place of opportunity that they would like to use, we absolutely want to and would like to ensure that the Internet remains open and connected and cure and most importantly trustworthy for them to be able to use. So yeah, I think it's an argument that we can go back and forth on, whether it's right to ask and entire country to disconnect from the Internet. As the Internet Society, we don't want to see that at all.
On the question of misinformation, there were a couple of questions asked on misinformation, I feel like there are very many proposals from countries to tackle this exact same question, right, misinformation. There's so much harmful content and child sexual abuse, and so much misinformation and propaganda and therefore we must reign in all of these conversations happening online, but as you very rightly said, chair, you know, the governments would be busy if they were to sit down and decide what people must consume and what people must not or, you know, how they will judge certain content to be true, and certain content to be truthful and how they would not. Because, you know, if I am to philosophize this, we have all of these different questions of what the truth really is or what information is or what misinformation is. But then having said that, you know, these proposals that we are seeing increasingly point towards the same thing that we have a problem with content moderation.
Now, at the Internet Society, we do believe that content moderation is essential. You know, spaces need to be safe but at the same time, is it worth them meddling with the core of the Internet or the infrastructure of the Internet. That's my view in a nutshell. I will pass it over to Erica in the interest of time.
>> ERICA MORET: Thank you very much, Neeti.
My reflection here is that it's really important to link in all of these arguments with the wider strategies that the EU is making use of. The first is really working out what the impact of these sanctions are intended to be. And when we look at sanctions across the board, we kind of often split it down according to different types of purposes. It could be just symbolic in value, it could be that the mere fact that these sanctions are put in place is to signal discontent that is contained in R it.
And put nick and symbolic objectives is a very common purpose of the sanctions. Whether they are intended to coerce some kind of change in behavior or constrain access to vital resources, and a key object sieve to constrain access to disinformation among European audiences. And I think that this needs to be communicated what are the objectives of particular sanctions. What are they intended to achieve? And that will help to answer the question as to whether it's just going to lead to a displacement of disinformation sources elsewhere, or if they are really intended to kind of shut them down. I think that's a really big question that will help provide more clarity on that level.
We also don't yet have effective tool to measure impacts and effectiveness of sanctions in the EU or most places, in fact, the EU is working towards developing tools to assess the effectiveness of sanctions and the US is starting to do the same. We have various mechanisms in lace to allow us to impact assessment of UN sanctions already. I think there's a lot to be learned from elsewhere here and I think it's really important that there is a reflection as to the utility of the measures that are in place.
Then I think turning to the question of lifting, but how long should they be in place and at what point should they be lifted. The risk is that what we see elsewhere is protracted sanction regimes that stay in place for a long time and don't always achieve their original purposes. Clear guidance for private sector and others is really vital as we have already established and then a wider strategy on disinformation, how is the EU tackling disinformation (how can it be linked into, whether it's the cyber toolbox or the EU versus disinfo website. I this think is vital here because this is an issue that will come up in a variety of other context and not just in relation to Russia.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Thank you very much, Neeti and Erica. I want to give the opportunity ‑‑ can I give the room an opportunity to react if they want? I don't know if there are any reflections. I just wanted to mention that ‑‑ I mean the whole map was created under Chatham House rule. We heard a lot of discussion ‑‑ a lot of arguments on the con side but, of course the pro side didn't fill itself. There were a lot of people, of course also there that were in favor. And regarding human rights approach, I think for what this ‑‑ if you take a look at ‑‑ and there's some people in the room that may be more articulate about it. I think within the freedom of expression space, there is a discussion happening whether and ‑‑ and that you also have to write on reliable ‑‑ like, correct information. That's also a part of what's intended ‑‑ or that ‑‑ this is a way of how you can read Article 19 and then, of course, Article 19.2 states out that the state has certain reasons when it comes to national security to infringe the freedom of expression.
I thought it was interesting people who are on the freedom expression side of things are very active and articulate on the reasons why we should try to counter disinformation, because a trap to the public and the journalists and media, et cetera.
That being said, are there any people here in the room that want to reflect on this?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you very much for an interesting and my name is Alex and I work in the UK government and the department of digital in the UK. I what was actually somewhat involved in the UK's in RT, Sputnik and I will keep my remarks fairly brief. I'm sure this will have interesting points too. I just wanted to draw everyone's minds back to the situation that we were in back in March and April certainly in the UK and I think it's fair to say in EU. We saw a very real threat in place to UK audiences posed by Russian information operations of which RT and Sputnik were part of it. There's a real threat to the UK social cohesion, to Russia's attempts to influence our populations as well. We needed to act fast and the reaction was not going to be perfect, but we needed to do something for our own national security.
I think in terms of some of the comments that have been made and some of the arguments on the map as well, which I thought was a brilliant piece of work. Just because something is not perfect doesn't mean we shouldn't do it, right? As some of the sanctions can be evaded by VPNs and other technologies. Just because it's not perfect doesn't mean that we shouldn't still try and do it.
Also, one of the arguments is the slippery slope argument, is this going to lead to more censorship and more crackdowns against stations or channels which don't fit, you know with the norms and the democratic values that he with have in the U. K? I would reflect that as well because we have very strong oversights and very strong interest from parliamentarians and interested groups. So I think, you know, give than we have such a strong thriving democratic society in the UK, and the EU as well, I don't think that's a very real risk.
I would also ‑‑ I would also really strongly agree with the last speaker, we have a need to have comprehensive disinformation strategies and to really have disinformation at the heart of when we are legging our online safety. It's been a ‑‑ legislating our online safety. And it's been a big part of our online safety act that is going through the parliament. And I think we need to continually think about how we are addressing disinformation and around both state sponsored disinformation and also disinformation against kind of health threats and other things like COVID as well.
And just a few thoughts there, I hope it's interesting. I will pass to someone else now. Thank you.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Thank you, Alex.
Oh, perfect. There's a question from the chat.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: So the question is from Amir from the Iranian academic community and their question is: What is the relation between the unilateral coercive measure in digital world and human rights and especially access digital resources, DNS, and capacity building, that are being applied by some states against other nations that could be a great barrier towards national development goals and constitutes violation of human rights applications, and lastly, what would be a contribution of the Global Digital Compact to address these critical issues and implementation of these solutions.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: I will look at the panelists. Maybe we should first look online. Neeti or Erica, do you have a a reply to the question of Amir?
>> ERICA MORET: Neeti, shall I go quickly and then hand to you. I think that's a really excellent point. Thank you for raising it. And I think that this is really a challenge of all sanctioned regimes today, that the unintended consequences need to be very carefully considered. And the more that that can be done at the point of sanctions designed ‑‑ so before the sanctions are even put into place, the better. There are, of course, constraints in the sanctions sometimes need to be adopted very quickly as we heard in this particular context, but with the ball string of expertise and capacity within governments and within the E U. itself, I think it would be vital to include experts on human rights in association with Internet access.
Also, alongside wider questions of human rights and humanitarian impacts and so on. I think this is increasingly being done, that help governments draw on expertise and thinking from various stakeholder groups and I think it's a ‑‑ it's particularly important in this particular example.
>> NEETI BIYANI: Yeah, I think I don't have a lot to add to what Erica has already said. I go back that there's multi years and campaigns to keep it I don't know I don't think we recognize the access to the Internet as a human right yet, but I know that all three generations of human rights are absolutely dependent on access to the Internet. And there are hundreds of human rights, is an attack on fundamental human rights. And we don't stand in an abstract way to violate human rights. There's economy will, healthcare, learning, trade, that and to be dented. Yes, that's my two cents on that.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Thank you very much, Neeti. Bastiaan and Mieke.
>> BASTIAAN GOSLINGS: Yeah, thanks. And I totally agree with the points that Erica just made. I remember when we were working on the argument map, I ‑‑ I think in all fairness, I'm more likely to go to the con side but we were meant to take the other side during the exercise, and come up with arguments as to why this is a good thing. I referred as an example that in the orders itself that the European Union refers to the fact that it's consistent with human rights and the convention of human rights, et cetera, et cetera. So from that aspect, them taking that into consideration is a good thing. But I totally agree that, what I hear about the process and the haste, I don't understand why, and that was basically decided by the Member States without the article being involve and certainly not with other stakeholders being involved. I think that's very unfortunate and from that perspective, I think the point that Erica just made are very relevant and good points.
>> MIEKE VAN HEESEWIJK: Okay. One last remark from my point of view. I think we're in a critical point in the development of the Internet and possible fragmentation of the Internet. And while we don't see the solutions yet, but I think this discussion helps maturing the net at this point. So I'm really engaged in this discussion and looking forward to the solutions.
>> GUUS VAN ZWOLL: Thank you. I will have a look at our rapporteur. I'm not sure if you want to give a wrap‑up or will you do that later? Okay. She will do that later. I want to thank everyone for your attention, and I want to thank the panelists for your excellent points. We have learned some excellent extra points that we can make on the argument map. I think the call to have it better articulated and more time to discuss this ban in a more multi‑stakeholder fashion would have helped with the legitimacy and the implementation of the blockade. So I think that these are very key points that we can take home.
I want to thank Marjolijn for hosting this session and this excellent map and I want to thank the panelists for all the excellent points. Thank you very much.