Global effort needed to rebuild trust and resillience in the open internet

Today the Global Commissionon Internet Governance launches an important interim report. Toward a Social Compact for Digital Privacy and Security argues that it is now essential that governments — collaborating with businesses, citizens and civil society, security agencies, and the Internet technical community — take steps to ensure that the human rights of all people are respected on the Internet.

As our dependence on the Internet increases — through public and private interactions — so does our mutual vulnerability. Unilateral actions can harm the resilience of the open internet. The Global Commission proposes a social compact as a framework in which each player has the responsibility to act not only in their own interest, but also in the interest of the Internet ecosystem as a whole.

As a Commissioner on the Global Commission on Internet Governance, it is key to note that  new social compact does not necessarily mean that a multi-stakeholder process replaces judicial oversight and international human rights law obligations of security agencies.

Among other things, the Commission considers that three important elements need to be a part of such a social compact. Communications should be inherently considered private between the intended parties, regardless of communications technology. Governments should not create or require third parties to create “back doors” to access data that would have the effect of weakening the security of the Internet. And finally, efforts by the Internet technical community to incorporate privacy-enhancing solutions in the standards and protocols of the Internet, including end-to-end encryption of data in transit and at rest, should be encouraged.

The Global Commission is a diverse group of experts chaired by former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt and was launched by CIGI and Chatham House in January 2014. It will produce a comprehensive stand on the future of multi-stakeholder Internet governance, in a final report in 2016.