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Take-away from the I&J Project Workshop at the UN Internet Governance Forum 2015

by Prasad Krishna last modified Nov 30, 2015 02:09 PM
The Internet & Jurisdiction Project organized the workshop “Transnational due process: A case study in multi-stakeholder cooperation” at the Internet Governance Forum convened by the United Nations on November 13, 2015.

This was published on Internet & Jurisdiction website.


The 4-day conference convened over 2000 high-level participants from states, major global Internet companies, technical Internet operators, international organizations, civil society groups and academia.

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The workshop organized by the I&J Project discussed how to address the tension between the cross-border nature of the Internet and a patchwork of national jurisdictions by enabling multi-stakeholder cooperation. Sunil Abraham, the Director of  CIS India, stressed the limits of traditional modes of inter-state legal cooperation on the Internet:

The MLAT system is completely broken […] both from the demand side and also from the supply side.

The US Cyber Coordinator of the State Department, Christopher Painter, stated the need to streamline procedures of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties, but also highlighted the importance of pursuing in parallel more innovative approaches, such as the Internet & Jurisdiction process:

MLATS are not always the right answer.  There are other answers between law enforcement channels in terms of joint investigations and there are also creative solutions that might take some of the burden off that MLAT process and I think that those are worthy of exploration.

Representing the Canadian ccTLD .ca, Mark Bull reflected upon how to develop such solutions to maintain the global nature of the Internet.

We are talking about incredibly complex issues here and I believe that complexity necessitates a multi-stakeholder process to identify solutions.  And that is what I think the beauty of the Internet & Jurisdiction Project is. And it’s why because of the multi-stakeholder structure, that’s why we believe it is the best and the most effective form for discussing issues this complex.

Panelist Eileen Donahoe, the Director of Global Affairs at Human Rights Watch applauded the progress the Internet & Jurisdiction process made since 2012:

Let me say that the work of the I&J Project has been relentless and it is really important. This is one of the most complex spaces in Internet governance

The jurisdiction topic has become one of the most pressing Internet governance challenges, as  I&J Project Director and Co-Founder Bertrand de La Chapelle pointed out:

There is a real element of urgency. The jurisdiction issue is at the core of many Internet governance problems. And it has been said in many workshops here in the IGF, but also outside of it. The problem is really getting worse. The jurisdiction problem is probably one of the biggest threats to the fabric of the Internet as we know it.

The objective of the workshop was to gather participants in the global Internet & Jurisdiction process from different stakeholder groups to report on progress and achievements. Furthermore, the workshop deepened the understanding of how to address jurisdictional tensions around the Internet and establish innovative legal cooperation mechanisms to prevent its fragmentation along national territorial boundaries.Council of Europe’s Elvana Thaci reminded participants of the importance to develop harmonized procedures across borders, as

Harmonization of substance is very difficult because the understanding of unlawfulness of content is very diverse.

Facebook’s Head of Policy Development, Matt Perault, talked about the need for appropriate procedures:

I am here because I believe the I&J Project is devoted to figuring out how to think about mechanisms for a race to the top on the issue of jurisdiction.

The pioneering Internet & Jurisdiction process has engaged more than 100 key entities around the world, creating a unique neutral space to build trust and catalyze operational solutions. As Will Hudson, Google’s Senior Advisor for International Policy, said:

We need to find solutions that work for all parties. It is one of the great strengths of the I&J Project, that it is looking at this challenge head on. We need to do things in this multi-stakeholder manner, and talk as a community because everyone has a stake in this and we cannot do this alone.

Participants

  • ANNE CARBLANC, Head of Division, Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry, OECD
  • BYRON HOLLAND, President and CEO, CIRA (Canadian ccTLD)
  • CHRISTOPHER PAINTER, Coordinator for Cyber Issues, US Department of State
  • EILEEN DONAHOE, Director Global Affairs, Human Rights Watch
  • EVANA THACI, Administrator, Council of Europe
  • MATT PERAULT, Head of Policy Development, Facebook
  • SUNIL ABRAHAM, Executive Director, CIS India
  • WILL HUDSEN, Senior Advisor for International Policy, Google

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