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France’s president calls for internet governance reform

The 2018 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held in Paris recently saw the first appearance at the annual event of a UN secretary general, and also a speech by Emmanuel Macron, in which he said the internet is “profoundly threatened” by cyber attacks, hate speech and disinformation, and by the internet giants. Macron said regulation is needed for the success of the internet and that a middle course must be charted between a self-governing “Californian” model and an authoritarian “Chinese internet”, and that the IGF “needs to produce more than just debate and reflection... and become a body producing tangible proposals”. He suggested putting the IGF directly under the UN secretary general and outlined several initiatives on content, including cooperation between France and Facebook on fighting hate speech, and support for the “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace”. The call was issued during Paris Peace Week, which included the inaugural events of the Paris Peace Forum and the GovTech Summit.

In his address, UN secretary general António Guterres called for a multidisciplinary approach, including experts not usually involved such as philosophers and anthropologists, and encouraging a shared language to make the IGF’s work more inclusive.
Artificial intelligence was prominent at the IGF from ethical and legal perspectives. There were concerns about the use of biometric data, protection for journalists, and rights for disabled people. Cybersecurity continues to be a major theme, and current processes to strengthen it were highlighted, and also new principles for the internet of things. The EU’s copyright directive was criticised, and there was much discussion on platforms and content. Links to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals were, as expected, still prominent. See IGF report.

  • Tuesday, 18 December 2018

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