Next week is the 14th annual meeting of the United Nations Internet Governance Forum. The event will be held in Berlin and is hosted by the German government. IGP has put together round table discussions on two of the hottest current problems in Internet governance: 1) the rising tide of technology nationalism and 2) an analysis and critique of  “cyber sovereignty.” Both workshops will be co-moderated by Milton Mueller, Director of IGP, and William Drake, an International Fellow and Lecturer in the Media Change & Innovation Division of the Department of Communication and Media Research at the University of Zurich. We encourage you to attend, and if you are not in Berlin there will be live Web access (see the links below). Here is the rundown on both of them.

Tech Nationalism, 5G, Cybersecurity and Trade

  • Tuesday, November 26, 11:30 – 13:00 (05:30 – 07:00 US Eastern time)
  • Link to Session:

US intelligence and military agencies have been targeting Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer, for many years, but recently the attacks have reached a new level of intensity. There are other manifestations of tech nationalism as well, with data localization policies being promoted in China, India and certain African countries. Oddly, rational, direct debates between the two sides of this debate are rare to nonexistent. This session will discuss the competition over 5G and other “strategic” information and communication technologies that are alleged to be critical to national power. The workshop is structured as a debate, as there are two distinct sides to tech nationalism (basically pro and con), but the speakers are not polarized and will be able to appreciate the claims of either position. The debate will explore how the securitization of software and equipment affects Internet governance and the digital economy. The panel will include perspectives from the Australia, Europe, India, and China.

Panelists include:

  • Moderators: Dr. Milton L. Mueller and Dr. William J. Drake
  • Jyoti Panday , Researcher, India Telecom Center of Excellence, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
  • Jan-Peter Kleinhans, Project Director IT Security in the Internet of Things, Stiftung Neue Verantwortung
  • Tobias Feakin, Ambassador for Cyber Affairs of the Australian Government
  • Donald Morrissey, Head of U.S. Congressional, State, and Local Government Affairs for Huawei Technologies LLC (USA)

Digital Sovereignty and Internet Fragmentation

  • Wednesday, November 27, 15:00 – 16:30 (9:00 – 10:30, US Eastern time)
  • Link to session:

The tension between national sovereignty and the global Internet is probably the single most fundamental Internet governance issue today. The purpose of this workshop is to explore the new discourse of national sovereignty over cyberspace and to consider its implications for Internet openness vs. fragmentation. In cybersecurity, traditional security and stability practices have had to be modified, often relying on multistakeholder cooperation and cross-border operations in which the power of states is shared with many other actors. Today, in a context of cyber-attacks by state actors and a globalized digital economy, efforts to assert territorial control into cyberspace and project it onto all things digital are gathering momentum.

Among other questions, the group will discuss: What is gained and what is lost by trying to make cyberspace conform to principles of territorial sovereignty? Is digital sovereignty compatible with a global internet or will it lead to fragmentation of the infrastructure or the services and processes that it supports? How do attempts by some countries to create a “sovereign Internet” affect the human rights of Internet users?

The session is an interactive roundtable. It includes a diverse and expert set of prominent personalities:

  • Moderators: Dr. Milton L. Mueller and Dr. William J. Drake
  • Vinton Cerf, Google
  • Lise Fuhr, European Telecommunications Network Operators Association.
  • Alexander Isavnin, Internet Protection Society of Russia
  • Ambassador Achilles Zaluar, Foreign Ministry of Brazil
  • Xu Peixi, Communications University of China
  • Ilona Stadnik, St. Petersburg University, Russia.
  • Mona Badran, Cairo University Egypt

IGP Director Milton Mueller recently published a detailed scholarly analysis of cyberspace and sovereignty in International Studies Review. The full text is available at that link.

We invite you to join us, either virtually or in person, at these panels.