USCIB Members Address Network Security During Crises, Environmental Sustainability at IGF

The fifteenth Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which was held in two phases November 2 -November 17, featured expert commentary from USCIB members that addressed two of the key thematic pillars of this year’s event – trust and improving the environment. Chris Boyer (AT&T) moderated a USCIB-organized workshop, in which Kathryn Condello (Lumen) highlighted how business and government closely collaborated from the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure secure, stable and reliable connectivity and, in so doing, create a framework for trust in the online environment.

In another USCIB-organized workshop, Matt Peterson (Amazon) and Caroline Louveaux (Mastercard) described their respective companies’ efforts to leverage technologies and their networks to address the planet’s environmental challenges through such initiatives as Amazon’s “Climate Pledge Fund” and Mastercard’s “Priceless Planet Coalition.”

According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, both USCIB workshops attracted thirty-five to fifty virtual attendees from stakeholder groups throughout the world and garnered praise for the relevance and insightfulness of speakers’ comments in view of the still-rampant pandemic and challenges to the global environment.

Under the overarching theme ‘’Internet for human resilience and solidarity,” the annual IGF was hosted virtually by the United Nations given COVID-related travel restrictions. Given its virtual nature, the IGF Secretariat estimated that the event brought together more than five thousand leaders and ‎stakeholders of all sectors and all parts of the world, to discuss the impact of the Internet on ‎our lives within four key thematic tracks: (1) Data; (2) Environment; (3) Inclusion and (4) Trust.‎ As mentioned, USCIB members chose to showcase their corporate expertise under the trust and environment themes in two of the more than 200 IGF workshops.

USCIB Provides Feedback on AI to the National Institute of Standards and Technology

As the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) works on its principles of explainable “Artificial Intelligence (AI),” USCIB welcomed an opportunity to submit comments on behalf of its members. The comments, sent to the NIST Director and Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology Dr. Walter Copan, draw from industry experience, as well as from USCIB’s direct input to the development of the OECD’s AI Principles through USCIB’s affiliation with Business at OECD (known as “BIAC”).

“NIST’s effort represents a positive first step in terms of grappling with the issue of AI explainability,” remarked USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. “The draft, and NIST’s broader program to develop approaches to AI trustworthiness, should significantly contribute to the private and public sector’s understanding of the many considerations necessary to implement AI, while ultimately enabling broader, faster and more responsible use of AI. We believe that, to be most effective, humans and machines should collaborate, combining their respective strengths to provide sustainable value for consumers, businesses, governments and society.”

In its comments, USCIB also highlighted the work of USCIB members such as Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft within an Experts Group that developed the OECD’s AI Principles. The U.S. government also contributed actively to the development of the OECD principles, under the leadership of the State Department.  On May 22, 2019, the OECD’s 36 member countries, along with Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, and Romania,  endorsed the OECD Council Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence. The principles contained in the recommendation were subsequently endorsed by the G20.

USCIB Urges US Government to Ensure Data Transfer in Light of Ruling by European Court of Justice

USCIB co-signed a multi-association letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in response to a July 16 ruling by the European Court of Justice (CJEU) that invalidated the 2016 EU-US Privacy Shield framework governing the protection of transatlantic data flows.

The Privacy Shield plays a critical role for data transfers for over 5,300 U.S. companies, 70 percent of which are Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). These companies contribute significantly to the nearly $1.1 trillion in U.S. total trade in goods and services with the EU. Companies in the automotive, retail, hospitality, logistics, health care, manufacturing and human resource management fields are all certified to the Privacy Shield Program.

The multi-association letter urges the U.S. government to work collaboratively with EU counterparts “to develop a stable and sustainable mechanism for companies to transfer data between the EU and United States” and to ensure that EU regulators allow data transfers to continue while a new agreement is under discussion.

The letter further notes the urgent implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has required many American businesses to use remote services and rely upon the ability to move data across many borders.

The CJEU did, however, uphold the validity of the Standard Contractual Clauses (SCC) privacy protective mechanism for transferring data.

Virtual ICANN Focuses on COVID-Related Domain Name System Abuse

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) held its second meeting of the year June 22-25. Due to COVID-19-related safety concerns the meeting, originally planned to take place in Malaysia, was again held virtually. USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner joined the meeting remotely, along with several USCIB members as part of ICANN’s Business Constituency (BC).

As ICANN President and CEO Goran Marby noted, the ability of the ICANN community to adapt to this challenging time represents a “testament to our shared goal of [working to ensure] the continued security, stability and resilience of the DNS [Domain Name System].” Marby also noted that protecting against DNS abuse never has been more critical since “bad actors” have exploited the pandemic.

According to Wanner, the spike in COVID-related DNS abuse was a hot topic at ICANN 68. USCIB reiterated acute concerns expressed at ICANN 66 and ICANN 67 about inaction by ICANN Org and the contracted parties in mitigating domain name system (DNS) abuse that continues to escalate by the day. The BC asserted there should be an agreed approach to implementing tools to combat such abuse that is institutionalized as a process and memorialized in contracts between ICANN and the registries and the registry/registrar agreements.

“ICANN Org continued to insist while it expects registry operators to enforce their agreements with registrars prohibiting DNS abuse, there continues to be a lack of clarity about what constitutes DNS abuse which complicates contractual enforcement,” said Wanner. “The contracted parties, in turn, underscored their commitment to combatting abuse and highlighted voluntary efforts to develop a Guide to Abuse Reporting Best Practices. By the meeting’s conclusion, there was no clear path forward, although several approaches were proposed.”

USCIB Opposes New IP Protocols at International Telecommunication Union

USCIB submitted recommendations on June 7 regarding industry priorities to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) that advance international communications and information policies at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as well as on matters that will be addressed at the 2020 World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-20). Most notably, USCIB’s comments expressed deep concern over the proposed “New IP protocol system,” which would be composed of a suite of protocols following a top-down design.

“We urge the U.S. government to strongly oppose this proposal,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. “The proposal would deploy new protocols that would not be compatible with standards already used by billions of devices, so it would result in fragmentation of the current operation of the internet. In fact, creation of a new protocol and network architecture in the ITU is likely to create the same kinds of interoperability problems that the proposals ostensibly want to avoid.”

Another concern is that use cases envisioned by said protocol are not sufficiently developed to be standardized by the ITU. The proposals aimed at developing a new IP protocol system should remain within the realm of research where they can see experimentation and measurement, rather than moving precipitously to standards that industry is expected to implement. Additional concerns outlined in USCIB’s comments are past failures of similar type of monolithic top-down architectures and the fact that many of the challenges identified in the “New IP protocol system” have been addressed or are currently being addressed.

“In our view, it is not the ITU’s role to impose a single technology or approach on a global scale,” added Wanner. “To reiterate, we urge the U.S. Government to strongly oppose resolutions supporting a New IP. Other parties involved in standardization share our concerns.”

USCIB is committed to working with the U.S. Government to identify opportunities for constructive engagement that helps to advance U.S. policy objectives. In its recommendations, USCIB emphasized that inputs of all stakeholders produce a flexible policy environment critical to empowering the rapidly evolving digital economy; stakeholder inclusion can lower the risk of unintended consequences and increase legitimacy and adoption of policies. The turbulent economic and political backdrop caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes such multistakeholder participation even more important to ensure that Internet policy remains grounded in sound commercial, technical, and human rights-related expertise.

Other recommendations outlined by USCIB included the need to ensure a resilient, secure and diverse 5G supply chain.

To view USCIB’s comprehensive comments and recommendations, please click here.

OECD Digital Economy Policy Group Discusses Data Governance, Privacy Amid COVID-19

The OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) and one of its working parties held virtual meetings April 21-23 against the uncertain global backdrop caused by the COVID-19 virus. USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner participated.

By necessity, the normally week-long meetings were streamlined, focusing on only a few items pertaining to data governance and privacy as well as pursuing “alignment and agreement” on the 2021-22 CDEP Program of Work and Budget. These meetings were preceded by webinars on April 15 and April 17, which focused on (1) “Data Governance and Privacy Challenges in the Fight Against COVID-19” and (2) data portability, respectively.

“Not surprisingly, discussions in the data portability webinar and CDEP meetings repeatedly circled back to the appropriate use of digital technologies and data to address COVID mitigation and recovery,” said Wanner.

According to Wanner, CDEP’s consideration of the 2021-2022 Program of Work and Budget featured numerous government interventions noting the importance of addressing COVID-mitigation in the near term, but urging the CDEP to view the COVID-19 crisis through a wider lens in the medium term and consider how technologies and data may be galvanized to address future global crises.

“The CDEP’s focus should be on [the role of data and digital technologies in] crisis management, in general, since the next global crisis may not be health-related,” the European Commission representative urged; the U.S. Government concurred.

Under the auspices of Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB members stepped up in both workshops and in the CDEP meetings to provide expert commentary that detailed how they are endeavoring to develop privacy-respecting COVID solutions. In BIAC’s PWB intervention, BIAC CDEP Co-Chair Makoto Yokozawa echoed the theme of government interventions, encouraging OECD current and future work-streams to consider lessons learned from the pandemic about the use of data and digital technologies.

One example was USCIB members’ Apple and Google application programming interfaces to make it possible to trace COVID transmission. Importantly, the venture addresses many of the issues identified by the data regulators as necessary to build public trust and safeguard privacy protections. For more information on this joint venture, please click here.

USCIB member Microsoft’s Carolyn Nguyen intervened on behalf of BIAC. Addressing the topic at a higher level, she cautioned the OECD to avoid policy siloing in developing COVID-19 policy recommendations, urging a holistic, cross-committee/cross-sectional approach as was used for the Going Digital project. Nguyen further underscored the importance of public-private partnership and voluntary and responsible data sharing in enabling rapid response. She also suggested that the OECD’s review of the 2013 Privacy Guidelines review and the Enhanced Access and Sharing of Data (EASD) initiative should take the Covid-19 experience into consideration before going forward.

“It’s clear that technology can and must play a part in creating the environment in which we can safely and carefully begin to return to work and re-open businesses. It also is clear that any solution needs to be approved by elected officials, designed with strong privacy protections in mind, include clear and transparent communications with citizens, and only be used to address public health needs,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen further noted Microsoft’s efforts to build privacy compliance into its tools and services has made it easier for the organizations that it supports to focus their efforts on advancing their missions of combating the pandemic. For example, she noted that Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot is being used to build COVID-19 self-assessment tools by organizations around the world, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Information, Communications and Technology

Trends and Challenges Facing the ICT Sector:

  • The digital transformation of the economy affecting areas from trade to tax to labor as well as emerging technologies such as AI, IoT and Blockchain
  • The efforts of some UN Security Council members to bring governance of the Internet, management of the domain names system and cybersecurity norms and regulations under the purview of the UN and other intergovernmental forums
  • Privacy regulations that prove overly burdensome to business operations or hamper innovation

USCIB’s Response:

  • ICT Policy Committee’s 2021 Goals and Objectives
  • Works actively on ITU and Internet Governance issues through two newly created task forces that focus specifically on those topics
  • Proactively shape the development of the OECD’s Going Digital Project and ensure consistencies with G20/B20 work on the digital economy
  • Advocate a multi-stakeholder model to manage Internet-related issues and to enable business to play a leading role promoting policies aimed at ensuring the safety, security, stability and resilience of the online ecosystem
  • Support approaches aimed at regulatory interoperability by meeting with USG officials to elevate the Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system and to raise support for the joint work of the APEC Data Privacy Subgroup and the European Commission on certification of international data transfers

Magnifying Your Voice with USCIB:

  • USCIB is the only U.S. business association formally affiliated with the world’s three largest business organizations where we work with business leaders across the globe to extend our reach to influence policymakers in key international markets to American business
  • Build consensus with like-minded industry peers and participate in off-the-record briefings with policymakers both home and abroad.

Positions and Statements

Global Business Statement on Safeguarding International Data Flows (1/13/2021) - USCIB joined dozens of global associations in a letter to the EU expressing concern to ongoing developments in the European…
USCIB Announces 2021 Priority Issues for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) (1/6/2021) - Washington D.C., January 5, 2020 — The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading…

Read More

News Stories

Global Business Statement on Safeguarding International Data Flows (1/13/2021) - USCIB joined dozens of global associations in a letter to the EU expressing concern to ongoing developments in the European…
USCIB Announces 2021 Priority Issues for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) (1/6/2021) - Washington D.C., January 5, 2020 — The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading…

Read More

Press Releases

Addressing Tax Challenges Arising from Digitalization of the Economy: USCIB Submits Comments to OECD (12/16/2020) - Washington D.C., December 14, 2020 - The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America's leading global companies, provided comments to the…
USCIB Statement on USMCA Entry Into Force (7/1/2020) - The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomes today’s entry into force…

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Op-Eds and Speeches

Hampl Gives Testimony on US-UK Trade Agreement (1/29/2019) - Following USCIB’s submission on January 16 to USTR regarding negotiating objectives for a U.S.-UK Trade Agreement, USCIB Senior Director for…
USCIB Op-Ed: Time for Some ‘Tough Love’ at the UN (5/2/2017) - USCIB President Peter Robinson, writing in The Hill, urges U.S. officials to help the United Nations focus its efforts and…

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Chair

Ellen Blackler
Vice President, Global Public Policy
The Walt Disney Company

ITU Task Force Leadership

Amy Alvarez
AVP – International External & Regulatory Affairs
AT&T

Christopher Wilson
Senior Manager, Public Policy
Amazon

Internet Governance Task Force Leadership

Flavia Alves
Head of International Institutions & Relations
Facebook

Ben Wallis
Regulatory Policy Analyst
Microsoft Corporation

Staff

Barbara Wanner
Vice President, ICT Policy
202-617-3155 or bwanner@uscib.org

Erin Breitenbucher
Senior Policy and Program Associate, Washington
202-682-7465 or ebreitenbucher@uscib.org

Virtual ICANN Meeting Focuses on Domain Name System Abuse

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) held its first virtual meeting, March 7-12. The week-long meeting was originally scheduled to take place in Cancun, Mexico and gather thousands of participants. According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, who participated virtually, “Although the virtual format did not enable the face-to-face engagement that constitutes the ‘ICANN DNA,’ in ICANN President Goran Marby’s words, ICANN 67 nevertheless enabled the stakeholder community to engage in discussions on a prioritized set of domain names system (DNS) issues and move forward current work-streams.”

In particular, ICANN’s Business Constituency (BC), of which Wanner serves as representative to the Commercial Stakeholder Group (CSG) and which also includes several USCIB members, reiterated acute concerns expressed at ICANN 66 about inaction by ICANN Org and the contracted parties in mitigating domain name system (DNS) abuse that escalates by the day. ICANN insisted that it expects registry operators to enforce their agreements with registrars prohibiting DNS abuse, but current contractual language does not enable it to “enforce this expectation.”

By the meeting’s end, ICANN Compliance had agreed to facilitate dialogue between the BC and registries/registrars about possible contractual amendments or other mechanisms that would better enable the contracted parties and ICANN to go after the chronic bad actors, estimated to be between fifteen and twenty.

Also related to DNS Abuse, members of the Commercial Stakeholders Group (CSG) pressed ICANN to resume implementation of the policy outcomes of the Working Group for Privacy and Proxy Services Accreditation Issues (PPSAI). ICANN suspended this work on grounds that it needed to determine how the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) relating to publication of DNS registration data  would affect the PPSAI’s previous work. In the meantime, as several CSG members noted, bad actors have been abusing proxy services offered by registrars, which originally were designed to protect the privacy of legitimate domain name users.

Finally, the ICANN community had many questions for members of the ICANN Board about their role in vetting the Public Interest Registry’s (PIR) sale to private equity firm Ethos Capital. The $1.135 billion deal would put a for-profit company in charge of a domain (.org) that generally has been assigned to non-profit entities.

USCIB Priorities for the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly

Ahead of November’s World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-20) in Hyderabad, India, USCIB prepared priorities for the U.S. government delegation to pursue. The recommended priorities included avoiding premature regulation or standardization of emerging technologies to ensure future investments in markets all over the world, avoiding top-down mandates on internet protocols, and advocating for resolutions that bind the scope of study groups to the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector’s (ITU-T) telecommunication/ICTs remit.

“USCIB holds in high value the work of the ITU-T in the development of international standards that promote the interoperability of telecommunication networks. In recent years, however, the T-Sector’s workstream has expanded into areas in which we do not believe the ITU has the expertise or mandate,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. “The WTSA-20 presents a key opportunity to ensure that the ITU-T’s structure and work program remain firmly rooted in its technical telecommunication/ICT standardization core competency. USCIB is committed to working with the U.S. Government to identify opportunities for constructive engagement that helps to advance U.S. policy objectives.”

The letter also stressed that further expanding the WTSA’s work program beyond its proper remit would compromise the industry’s ability to address Internet governance-related issues and explore standards and best practices for emerging technologies that are more effectively addressed in existing multistakeholder policymaking and standards-setting bodies.

ICC Comments to ITU Emphasize Enabling Environment

In an effort to inform the work of the United Nations about the tremendous potential of emerging ICT-technologies to help realize economic and social prosperity, USCIB has been working with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) over the past several years to develop policy papers and statements. On January 22, USCIB submitted comments to the Open Consultation convened by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Working Group on International Internet-related Public Policy Issues, which focused on required components that would foster the development and disseminations of emerging technologies for sustainable economic development. Importantly, this approach would help to meet specific targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, these components go beyond simply building infrastructure. The components include a foundation composed of infrastructure, applications and services and user engagement, a layer composed of policy issues – economic, technical, social/cultural, governance, and another layer featuring participation of relevant stakeholders from business, government, civil society and the technical community to inform the policymaking process.

USCIB cited ICT, Policy and Sustainable Economic Development, a policy paper prepared by the ICC Commission on the Digital Economy with active contributions from USCIB members, as the basis for its comments.

“We urge the ITU to use this document as a reference since underlying elements of the framework – everything from infrastructure and spectrum allocation, to data protection and cross border data flows, to digital skill development and access – will continue to be necessary to effectively harness the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies going forward,” said Wanner.

USCIB also endorsed comments submitted by ICC BASIS as part of this public consultation.