Mixed Messages at Recent Meetings on Global ICT Policy

Barbara Wanner, was present at both events, alongside USCIB members, joining global business colleagues under the aegis of ICC-BASIS at the IGF and as part of the Business at OECD (BIAC) delegation to CDEP.
The two meetings could not have provided more different messages about the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation of the economy and how to address them.

 

The 13th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and meetings of the OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) and its Working Parties met in Paris, France the week of November 12. According to Barbara Wanner, who leads USCIB’s work on ICT policy, the two meetings could not have provided more different messages about the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation of the economy and how to address them.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who opened the three-day IGF on November 12 at UNESCO, depicted a digital economy fraught with danger from cyber-attacks, the proliferation of hate speech, and anti-democratic forces requiring development of a “better model” featuring regulation of the Internet and its actors. The OECD CDEP, in contrast, proceeded in a workman-like, measured manner to move its Going Digital Project toward completion as well as advance work on Artificial Intelligence (AI). Going Digital (GD) is an ambitious horizontal endeavor involving 14 OECD committees that takes a largely evidence-based and holistic approach to considering both the economic and societal benefits and the challenges of the evolving digital ecosystem.

Wanner, was present at both events, alongside USCIB members, joining global business colleagues under the aegis of ICC-BASIS at the IGF and as part of the Business at OECD (BIAC) delegation to CDEP.

“Our messages, as IGF workshop speakers and BIAC interveners, generally emphasized the commercial and developmental benefits that can be realized through the creation of a pro-innovation policy environment, the effectiveness of business-informed, risk-based approaches to privacy and security, and the importance of the multistakeholder model in considering the complexity of digital economy issues,” noted Wanner.

According to Wanner, by the week’s close, members agreed that the “watershed” moment at the IGF created by President Macron’s remarks will require further internal discussion about what business wants and needs from the IGF and strategies to tackle likely new challenges at the United Nation’s General Assembly and other multilateral organizations. Concerning CDEP’s leadership of the Going Digital Project, members generally were encouraged that the final product – to be issued at a special forum on March 11-12, 2019 – would reflect business inputs and provide a practical guide to tap the potential of digital transformation.

Staff Contact:   Barbara Wanner

VP, ICT Policy
Tel: 202.617.3155

Barbara Wanner directs USCIB’s work on information, communications and technology issues. She works with members and government officials on a wide range of international business issue that include advocating for the continuation of the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance and for policies aimed at promoting the stability, openness and innovative flexibility of the Internet. She represents USCIB members’ interests in several international forums, including the UN, APEC and the OECD.
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