Elon University

Breakout Panel Session – National Network Regulations Versus the Global Cloud

IGF USA LogoBrief session description:

Monday, July 24, 2017 –  This panel took place during the afternoon session of IGF-USA 2017 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Read the print story and see video highlights on this page. You can view the full, archived video of this plenary panel session here.

The growth of global cloud services have enabled individuals and businesses of all sizes to cheaply and easily access data and powerful digital tools anywhere there is an Internet connection, but only if data can flow freely on the Internet. The problem is that more and more countries are individually coming up with different ways to regulate the networks that enable the cloud and often these regulations conflict with each other while also dramatically increasing costs and complexity. The panel was aimed at addressing questions such as: Is there a right and a wrong way for national governments to address their citizens’ concerns about Internet security and about inappropriate online content? Is there a role for international trade agreements and global norms in resolving conflicts between national network regulations?

Details of the session:

The session was moderated by Michael R. Nelson, a leader covering Internet-related global public policy issues for Cloudflare, previously a principal technology policy strategist for Microsoft. Other panelists included:

  • Laura DeNardis, professor of Internet architecture and governance and faculty director of the Internet Governance Lab at American University and author of “The Global War for Internet Governance”
  • Fanny Hidvegi, Access Now’s European policy manager, previously International Privacy Fellow at the Electronic Privacy Information Center
  • Masaaki Sakamaki, executive vice president and member of the board of directors for Docomo CS Inc., NTT Docomo, based in Japan; previously an office holder in government roles including director for international policy and director for information and communications policy
  • Nigel Cory, trade policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; previously a researcher at the Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

Panelists focused on extensive issues such as data retention, Internet interconnection, data localization and the importance of transparency.

Laura DeNardis helped set up the case studies by clarifying that, “the Internet is not actually a cloud. Unfortunately, that conception and some of the policies that are assigned to that don’t actually match how the infrastructure of the Internet works.”

Regulations Panel Discussion PhotoAlthough ISP data retention isn’t heavily talked about on this side of the world, panelists focused extensively on the topic and discussed when companies are going too far when keeping track of what their users are doing.

“The main points why you can’t have a general data retention obligation on ISPs include different arguments, mostly about it cannot be applied to everybody, to every individual, unrelated to a specific crime,” said Fanny Hidvegi, European policy manager for Access Now. “It’s close to impossible to imagine coming up with a legislation that will oblige ISPs to retain data and at the same time meet the requirements of the court.”

Michael R. Nelson of Cloudflare was struck that there isn’t common policy in each individual European country.

“You’ve got the data privacy commissioner saying protect the data, and then you have law enforcement saying grab as much data as you can get,” Nelson said. “No one points out that the two policies are colliding.”

Regulation Panel Discussion IGF PhotoNigel Corey, trade policy analyst for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said there is a misconception about the nature of the Internet and how it works.

“As we look at the issue of data localization, we see it as a major issue,” Corey said. “Given the way technology continues to move into our lives, and more things are connected and sending bits and pieces across the world, these issues will only get worse. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen a spread of data localization requirements.”

“Strong encryption is an actual solution to the problem that data localization often purports to solve,” said Laura DeNardis, professor at American University. “The same countries that want to protect privacy through data localization are often the ones that resist the strong encryption and I think that’s important to note.”

Panelists concluded the session discussing Internet interconnection, with a common theme developing: transparency. DeNardis suggested that if there were more transparency in the interconnection space, some data problems might not exist.

“Transparency comes first as a priority and important aspect, and then consistency in translation and enforcement of the legal system,” said Masaaki Sakamaki, executive vice president of Docomo CS Inc. “If you have transparency, most of the problems will be solved. The problem is that there is not much transparency in other countries.”

Nelson ended the session by asking the panelists to come up with a 140-character tweet to summarize the session.

Hidvegi offered her theoretical tweet that put a cap on the discussion: “Both the private and public sector must respect fundamental rights including privacy and data protection.”

– By Ginna Royalty

Click here to return to IGF-USA 2017 homepage.

The multimedia reporting team for Imagining the Internet at IGF-USA 2017 included the following Elon University School of Communications students, staff and faculty:

Janna Anderson, Bryan Baker, Camille Behnke, Liam Collins, Diego Pineda Davila, Colin Donohue, Maya Eaglin, Christina Elias, Meagan Gitelman, Alex Hager, Tommy Kopetskie, Deirdre Kronschnabel, Jared Mayerson, Emmanuel Morgan, Grace Morris, Jackie Pascale, Mariah Posey, Alexandra Roat, Ginna Royalty, Alexandra Schonfeld, Jamie Snover, Erik Webb, Brooke Wivagg