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Messages from SEEDIG 2016

22 April 2016 | Belgrade

Summarising SEEDIG 2016 debates

The ‘SEEDIG Messages’ are the main takeaways from our annual meetings; they reflect the discussions and are endorsed by participants. 

The Messages below reflect the discussions held at the second SEEDIG annual meeting (Belgrade, April 2016).

Who governs the Internet in SEE?

  • Internet governance (IG) is evolving with time. This evolution of IG makes the main actors be more open and inclusive.
  • IG is mostly and mainly about dialogue and collaboration between different actors. And ‘consensus’ is the key word in IG.
  • There is no single main actor in IG: governments are important, but so are users, the technical community, and the private sector. Civil society is bringing up a lot of important topics, but the governance of the Internet is further implemented together with other stakeholders.
  • Multistakeholderism is not a single model, but a set of (good) practices and behaviours that helps to improve the governance process and make more voices being heard. Participating on equal footing and inclusiveness are key words for multistakeholder Internet governance mechanisms.
  • Representativeness of stakeholder groups and ‘legitimacy’ are a matter of continuous discussion in IG. But, as long as the governance process is open and inclusive, we can call it multistakeholder.
  • (Better) global IG discussions should be shaped in a bottom-up way: from national level to (sub-)regional, and all the way to the global level.

Bridging digital divide(s) with a #SEEchange in digital literacy

  • There are many layers of Internet development in the South Eastern European region, from access and infrastructure (broadband included) to cost and affordability, literacy, content, and services. Deployment of infrastructure is insufficient in itself, and needs to be complemented by measures focused on education and development of local content, among others.
  • Internet access solely via mobile technologies should be seen only as a temporary access solution. Mobile technology does not provide complete access to the breadth of the Internet, and, as such, must be reinforced by fiber networks and better use of spectrum, especially in rural areas.
  • More efforts are needed in the region (both from the governments and the private sector) to improve the adoption of IPv6 and other Internet technologies that can contribute to bridging the digital divide.
  • Digital literacy and awareness about content like e-services or e-government, specifically in local languages and scripts, are critical to bridging the digital divide.
  • Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) can contribute to bringing more people online. Supporting and encouraging the development and use of IDNs in the region is therefore extremely important.

Discussing cyber(SEE)curity: global issues in regional context

  • There are differences in understanding what cybersecurity is among different stakeholders, be they public or private. This lack of harmonised approaches to the cybersecurity definition is combined with the lack of clarity concerning the role of different stakeholders, such as state, private sector, and civil society. Thus, a dialogue between different stakeholders has to be based on clear understanding of the definition and possible roles.
  • The role of various stakeholders in protecting cybersecurity will continue to be shaped by the major shift from the concept of security as the duty of the state, to cybersecurity and protection of individuals as a shared responsibility. The distribution of duties and responsibilities among different stakeholders in the South Eastern European region is not established yet, and has to be figured out taking into account rule of law, human rights, and the balance between public and private interests. Governments and other stakeholders have to work together to find the best mechanisms for safeguarding cybersecurity and for a more balanced cyber environment.
  •  Accountability of all players, especially governments and security services, is a precondition of any working multistakeholder solution.
  •  Since many of the cybersecurity strategies in the region do not include human rights issues, more attention and awareness is needed to develop the approaches that will implement human rights ‘by design’.
  •  The rule of law is very important, especially when it comes to protecting humans rights and conducting criminal investigations in the digital environment. However, the law on paper is not enough – legal frameworks should be operational and functional.
  • Governments are expected to play a vital role in protecting critical infrastructure, combating cybercrime, contributing to education (including through public-private partnerships), and protecting human rights. However, users should take their part of responsibility in protecting the security of their data and/or devices (for example through using end-to-end encryption), and not only rely on governments and private companies.

Come and solve the human rights puzzle with us

  • Privacy is one of the most important human rights online. Privacy and anonymity are needed to ensure that other human rights, such as freedom of expression and assembly, are freely exercised and protected.
  • Freedom of expression in every sense should be protected online.
  • Access to information will help ensure equality online.
  • An important question that needs further consideration is who should be more responsible when it comes to ensuring the protection of human rights online. Governments or the private sector?
  • Remedies to issues regarding human rights online need to be discussed by all stakeholders in length and depth.