The ICC United Kingdom’s global Internet policy advocacy work is unique. No other national industry voice in the world covers all three of these key areas of global Internet policy with the same depth - of access, influence, experience, or expertise:
There is no other business representative working across these three multilateral policy venues in a position to materially affect the outcome:
Industry confronts key challenges in these fora - and great opportunities. Avoiding harmful results and seizing opportunities requires sustained engagement both at formal meetings but, crucially, working day to day on a bilateral basis working with delegations to influence their positions before they are firmed up.
Why do these processes matter?
The International Telecommunications Union (“ITU”) is the UN agency is responsible for telecommunications: standards development, allocation of global spectrum for wireless communications and services, and development assistance for member-states in implementing the above and improving telecommunications regulation at the national level. Since 2000, the ITU has increasingly sought to expand its mandate, looking to and become the UN’s “Internet agency” responsible for everything from Internet Protocol enabled transportation, artificial intelligence policies, and pushing for developing country telecommunications regulators to charge foreign Internet services for using national telecommunications infrastructure and regulation of content online. Moreover, countries around the world are attempting to leverage standards development to facilitate their strategic objectives in technologies like artificial intelligence, ‘big data,’ and identification and monitoring of natural persons using ICTs. Others seek to create international standards and policy recommendations to justify unilateral limitations on access to Internet services. The UK is one of the most active governments in the ITU in promoting an open, inclusive multi-stakeholder approach to the evolution of the Internet.
The UN General Assembly’s cyber agenda, particularly the Open-ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies (2021-2025) ("OEWG")
In a globally connected world, international law such as the UN Charter plays a critical role in setting the rules of the road for countries’ behaviour and providing certainty and predictability for business. These, in turn, underpin all other agreements between countries and create the foundation for industry’s ability to operate
The UN General Assembly has been working on Internet policy for 20 years and the current OEWG is the heart of that agenda through 2025. It is the forum for member-states to set cybersecurity policy, the heart of creating a consensus amongst the world’s governments of what elements of international law bind them in the online environment which makes the outcome of these negotiations profoundly impactful for global business.
Cybersecurity is a good example of this: the costs for industry of cybercrime and offensive cyber operations is estimated at US$600 billion annually. Given that the private sector is in the front line responding to cyberattacks, business needs to rely upon consistent legal frameworks nationally and also globally. That’s just one example of why the OEWG matters and why industry needs to be engaged behind the scenes to help member-states understand how expanding the core concept that international law applies equally online as offline is critical to economic development.
Digital trade negotiations at the WTO
80+ countries are engaged in formal negotiations to modernise the rule book on digital trade covering a wide front of economic activities from digital payments to international transfers of data (“data flows”) to obligations to prohibit localised hosting of data and computing facilities to intermediary liability protection for platforms. These negotiations create the opportunity for industry to help define the future foundations for trade underpinning a quarter of global GDP – and to define the trade negotiation practices of countries in their regional and bilateral trade negotiations as well.
We work in partnership with the Digital Trade Network (“DTN”) which gives industry a specialist voice in the WTO ecommerce negotiations. ICC United Kingdom is a DTN founding supporter and sits on the DTN Advisory Board.
The advantage of covering multiple policy domains
Most policy advocacy has specialists who handle one policy domain but we believe it is now necessary to cover all three and ensure we have a holistic approach to internet policy development, particularly in the current context with the rapid digitisation of the global economy.
This way we can better support industry engagement and support governments to take a balanced approach across each policy domain to deliver fairer outcomes for all.
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