SOTN22 07 The Fragmenting of Internet Governance In An Increasingly Authoritarian World
8:51AM Mar 3, 2022
So, Peter, top of mind, I think for a lot of people right now is the pressure that large tech companies are facing right now, from Russia, to censor their platforms in various ways or to stop doing the sort of fact checking and labeling that they do all around the world. And then they're facing opposing pressure, of course, by Ukraine, US lawmakers, lawmakers in Europe, to block Russian propaganda, giving your take on how tech companies ought to be navigating these dual pressures right now.
So I think that's a great opening question. And certainly something I know tech companies are grappling with. And I've been talking to a number of them over the last last couple of days. And I think we're seeing tech companies kind of try to navigate or maybe muddle through here of keeping services available to the Russian people, as Russia tries to restrict that, but also having to comply with a proliferating set of local laws and restrictions in Ukraine, in Russia and Europe, and elsewhere about what they can actually show in each of these countries. But I think actually, this kind of crisis we're seeing today, with Russia and Ukraine, and the kind of proliferating regulatory regime and kind of balkanized content regulations is very indicative or very emblematic of something that's been building over the last number of years now, right, where we are seeing the kind of vision of open, universal, interoperable, reliable, secure Internet that we've all believed in for many years, just coming under really severe threat across a number of axes, which, as today's crisis sort of brings home isn't just about the kind of revisionist revanchist on the march authoritarian powers like Russia and the steps they're doing, but also this kind of balkanized regime that we're seeing in the West, right. You're seeing that today, with, with with cracking down on on Russian propaganda, which I think most of us in this room probably is agree is a good thing. But we're also seeing the you know, balkanized data rules are seeing it with balkanized views of what the mode, you know, sort of technical nature of Internet governance is looking like I'm arguing with Europeans these days on whether cloud services, providers in Europe should not only have to localize data, but be 61%, European owned, right, I mean, this whole idea of an open and universal and interoperable Internet, I think, you know, is really under pressure on on many fronts, and I think it's, you know, sort of important that we have this conversation today. And the kind of crisis in Russia, you know, really crystallizes what is actually a broader and longer, longer term challenge that's been building.
What kind of guidance is the US government giving these companies right now, as they face this, you know, really urgent pressure in Russia and Ukraine? Well, look, we
certainly welcome tech companies keeping open platforms for communication by ordinary citizens. Obviously, companies are in a situation where they're finding themselves throttle, they're finding themselves blocked and degraded. And they do have to comply with with local laws, right. And I think this is just going to be a, you know, challenging situation over the next couple of weeks until the dust settles, and we get a sense of where the regulatory regimes will land.
So your view is that they don't necessarily have many options beyond compliance right now.
I mean, we're seeing you know, Google, I mean, we're seeing the Russian ISPs throttling platforms in Russia. I mean, you know, I think we would encourage and do encourage our companies to stand up and resist censorship. We always do that. We've had a long time, American policy of doing that. I want to encourage companies to do that. I think, you know, we have appreciated companies that have kept, you know, not only content online, we've appreciated, you know, the things companies have done in order to maintain the free flow of information in Russia and Ukraine, it's incredibly important that you look at the images of the battle that's coming out on social media before it hits anywhere else. And it's incredibly important to keep the free flow of information going. I think the companies are finding themselves, you know, throttle, they're finding themselves having to block things. I think it's a really challenging situation they face and we certainly, you know, hope that they will be able to continue to maintain, you know, free flow of information, while also taking steps consistent with their policies, their procedures, to make sure that Russian propaganda is labeled as such to reduce the spread of Russian propaganda on algorithms to make sure that, you know, disinformation campaigns, you know, it's been heartening to see the ways companies have been stepping up in recent days to try to crack down on misinformation online. I mean, it's really sort of a balancing act here, because we want to make sure they keep, you know, kind of legitimate free flow of information online, including in places like Russia. But, you know, the Russians are out in force, with misinformation, and it's heartening. And I'd also encourage the efforts to kind of crack down on the misinformation that we're seeing coming out of Moscow.
Jason, it is, you know, an interesting tension, because it does seem like even these baby steps that tech companies are taking, like fact checking, are provoking a really large response from Russia in terms of, as Peter was saying, throttling and restriction. And yet, there is a really good argument to be made that you want the Russian people to be able to continue to access information. And, you know, and yet there are places in the world where these companies have decided that that that is not worth it to them, namely, in China, they, you know, Google pulled out of China years ago, feeling like surveillance was too big a risk. And that data couldn't really be protected. Facebook has opted never to enter into China. I wonder if you think that companies are entering a similar moment with Russia.
Thanks. Not sure if this is connected, but hopefully you all can hear me. Thanks, Izzy. And thanks to state of the net for organizing this. It's just really nice to be in person and see all of you here and wish that those of you who are following online could be here too. And hopefully the next time around, you can. Yeah, I think that the the parallel the sort of historical parallel with China is a is an instructive one. Obviously, the Chinese government has been much more assertive in its approach to censorship and information control, we have seen the Russian government over the last decade, become closer or more closely aligned, in terms of its efforts to create what they call a sovereign Internet, both in terms of imposing technical measures, as well as increasing the legal and regulatory authority of the state to be able to demand censorship or access to user data. I hope that, you know, for the sake of all of the users of the Internet, in Russia, the situation Russia doesn't end up becoming like the one that we currently see in China. But I think it's interesting, you know, to note that, you know, just to kind of build on what Peter was saying in terms of some of the tensions that companies have faced, but the companies are engaged in a balancing act, right. And, and that is not new. And that's been the case for decades. And that was the reason why the global network initiative was established, a dozen years or so ago to help companies walk the line between protecting user rights and complying with domestic laws and remaining accessible in countries all around the world. It was only a few months ago that Apple and Google were faced with requests from the Russian government to take down the app that was put up by nobody and some of his supporters in the context of the election, and they faced a lot of criticism for ultimately complying with that order. But, you know, we could sort of go back and run the counter factual, and imagine that perhaps if they hadn't, ultimately complied with that order, their services and their app stores could have been restricted. And where would that put the Russian population today in the midst of this crisis, right, if they didn't have access to a wide variety of applications on their, on their smartphones? So you know, you can see how these decisions can sometimes look, you know, you know, different in hindsight, or different depending on the amount of information you have. You know, one of the things that the global network initiative does is it creates a confidential setting for DNI members to be able to examine company decisions in response to government pressures and demands, including confidential information in in retrospect, and be able to see sort of the way that companies did balance some of the factors and considerations, how they ultimately were trying to protect their users rights, and then determine whether or not there are lessons that can be learned from those experiences, both for that company and also for other companies in the global network initiative. We are seeing unfortunately, more and more restrictions. And it's not just us companies. You can look at the example of Telenor in Myanmar currently, to see how European telecommunications companies are also increasingly struggling with, you know, this this kind of challenge of more authoritarian and more aggressive efforts to control the information space and so this kind of sharing of them promotion and collaboration, I think is, is even more important today than 12 years ago when GE and I was founded. Well, you
did say the word confidential a couple of times in that answer, but I'm going to ask you anyway, what can you tell us about the coordination between these companies right now? Because it occurs to me that there's, you know, there's probably strengthen numbers, if they come to some common understanding of, you know, how they want to proceed is that are those conversations happening?
So I think those conversations happen across a number of different fronts and mechanisms, depending in part on the topic or the region. So in some countries, you know, companies have local representatives, and they may be communicating among themselves in a local context. That certainly happens when the issues are less sort of urgent, right? When we're talking about, you know, changing regulatory landscapes in a particular country, companies often come together informally, through industry associations to come to common positions. At the global level, we have, you know, there are, of course, industry associations that also operate at that level. GSI is really a unique space, because it brings the companies together with civil society, organizations like CDT and others, and academics and investors. I think when it comes to this, you know, situations like this one in the Ukraine, you know, it is probably a kind of all hands on deck situation. And there isn't an existing mechanism for cross company coordination on disinformation, the way there is for extremist content. There's the global Internet forum to counterterrorism that was set up a few years ago, that does allow for a formal hash sharing database where companies can sort of post content that they found to violate their own rules, in case other companies want to also restrict that same content on their platforms. That's something I know Emma has done a lot of work on as well, you know, thinking about both the pros and cons of that kind of coordination, I think, was Dr. Polyakova, who made the point on the earlier panel that she'd like to see more of that kind of coordination with regard to disinformation and the current situation in Russia. I think there are pros to that. But I think there are also some real challenges, and there can be benefits to companies taking different approaches. And especially when we, as I was sort of saying at the beginning, we don't ultimately know, you know, what steps are going to lead to the kinds of reactions that the Russian government has, you know, threatens right? throttling is one thing, complete blocking is another. And so the question of how you walk that line, might be easier to determine if companies are sort of probing in different directions in slightly different ways of trying to navigate the tensions, as opposed to they're all kind of walking in lockstep?
Me, you know, with all these calls for blocking, it occurs to me that CBT tends to be an organization that airs on the side of freedom of expression. So walk me through your view on how companies have been navigating the space in the last week?
Yes, it's and I may not be totally up to date on the latest that has happened, because it seems like every, every hour, there's a new kind of development, either with different companies making different decisions, or different countries making decisions about what kinds of content is lawful or not in their jurisdiction, which I know is something that the prior panel also talked about. But I think I agree so far with what Peter and Jason have both talked about the kind of balancing act that companies really have to face when they're in these situations there is and we've seen in different countries around the world over the past 1015 years, many variations of this this set of trade offs, right? Do you comply with the local law, the local governmental order to block certain content, or not comply and risk being blocked entirely, and thereby depriving everyone who's in that country from any of the access to information that they could get through a product or service. And that is really a difficult trade off to make and varies a lot case by case it varies with what is the country's actual technical capability to fully block a service, right. There are definitely countries in the world where it is much harder to completely cut off access to a particular product or service online, their populations where people are much more familiar with using VPN technology and being able to do things that might circumvent a block that their country might put in place. But one thing I really wanted to come back on is a dynamic that we're seeing, particularly in Russia, but in many other countries around the world. That's mentioned a little bit and in the context of complying with local law. So these are obligations that various countries, including Russia, but also many other countries in the world, India and their intermediary rules has recently passed this kind of provision as well, where it's a requirement to have local personnel to have staff from the company located in the country. One of the shorthands for these kinds of provisions is the hostage provision, right, that this is actually a desire by governments to have someone in country that can be held personally liable, personally responsible put in jail if the company does not comply with the access to data demand that the government makes or the desire to restrict certain content. That is a really, really concerning kind of provision. Right? Let the the potential coercion of effects that that has over companies is really very clear. I think Jason mentioned what's happening with Telenor in Myanmar right now, where literally, I think for over a year staff, including executives for Telenor have not been allowed to leave the country, because they're being kept, they're not allowed to get on planes and fly out of the country, as the the ruling party in Myanmar right now decides whether the sale of Eleanor's assets is acceptable there, they're holding people in the country to exert control over over the company. And this is something that I think we really need to take into consideration when we talk about companies complying with local law, because it's not just Russia, who or Myanmar, that are having these kind of proposals, we see this proposal in the Digital Services Act, Article 11, of the Digital Services Act being discussed in Europe right now has a personal liability for staff for the company, and requires that they have not just kind of a registered agent for service of process, but somebody who has the power in the company in country to to respond to the demands from the European governments or potentially face direct liability. Now, the reasons that Europe is doing this, look and feel a lot different from the reasons that Russia is doing this. But this is one of the the kind of bigger picture questions when we're thinking about what are the geopolitics of Internet governance is that there are a there's a lot of potential for double standards, or for kind of the the appeal of certain kinds of laws or regulations for rights respecting countries for countries that consider themselves to have good human rights records, good rule of law, to say, well, we're going to do this, but also maybe condemn it when authoritarian countries do it. Or even worse, not necessarily condemn it when the authoritarian countries do things like require data or personnel to be located in country, because that's something that they're looking for as well. And here's where final point on this just want to underscore, the US really needs to think very carefully and take on a leadership role here. Because of all the countries in the world, we have the least interest of having a data or personal personnel localization law, because for most of the major tech companies, we already have the data and the personnel in country. Right, that question of does the US have jurisdiction over major tech companies is not really a question. And it hasn't been since these companies were founded and launched. So it's something that the US should avoid doing for, you know, for services that are located in other countries. But it's also where we need to look at the root causes, why are countries including our allies in Europe, looking to have these kinds of obligations in place, and it's about a variety of different things, but including protecting the rights of their own citizens against what they see as potential abuses by US companies. So there's a lot to kind of unpack there. But that would be where I would want to see the US government really kind of focus on leadership and coordination and harmonization, including with allies, how can we address those root causes? So some of these higher level ideas about how to deal with jurisdiction, make people be physically in your country, can be kind of roundly criticized and left and pointed out as No, that's a method of authoritarian control. That is not how we do human rights respecting Internet governance.
Right. And I definitely want to come back to that. But first, I want to bring Ivana in. Because speaking of democracies doing as authoritarian countries do last week, you wrote a piece about Russia's psyops strategy and how it sort of brought us to this point and you argued that in a lot of ways the US should be adopting more of that strategy as well. So let's take that into parts. How has Russia's SIOP strategy actually worked out for it? In this moment, when you see the international response to what they're doing? Has it hasn't worked the way they planned
right now in Ukraine? Say that right now in Ukraine, Russia is doing? Well. Russia is doing quite well, domestically, which is precisely what Russian wanting to do. But Russia has been also very successful. Launching Information Operations also globally, even though we see numerous things in Twitter, and photos from Ukraine. Still, there is lots of disinformation but one thing that I would like to emphasize is why that actually happens. Number one thing is that we really perceive Cybersecurity Information Operations from very different perspective than Russia. And always keep telling people who really want to counter Russian Information Operations, you need to think like the Kremlin, what they don't even have a word for cybersecurity, they call it information security. And some of you might think, I mean, that's also how we call it here. And that's correct. However, if you read carefully Russian national security strategy, you will actually realize that it falls into two different components. One is technical, what we call Hill cybersecurity, and the other one is information psychological, and de do not perceive these two components from two separate perspectives. They're very intertwined. And I think that's something that we should actually start pursuing. If you read also, for example, word Russian, get a seam of Chief of Staff also stated, who has who has information superiority is winning the war. He also mentioned a non military to military measures are four to one. And the reason I'm emphasizing all these things, it just helps you understand how much information security is important to Russian military, it's, I would call it also maybe a strategic non nuclear weapon. And if you, for example, read very carefully, also, the latest Russian national security strategy was adopted. Last July, that was the first time that they talk about information security. So to put things into context, in the context of Ukraine, the concept of hybrid war is also very different from the way that we perceive it here. It starts with Information Operations, cyber security, plus kinetic years of force, they do not divide it sticks. And what we've seen in Ukraine, they've been launching very, very successful Information Operations. So what we see here, I think we really need to counter back and we do have capabilities. And what people before we're talking about fighting disinformation, and exposing their false flag operations and disinformation is tremendously important because Information Operations for Russia thrives in silence. And one of the best way really to counter them is to expose them. That's one thing. And second thing in terms of our military, I think we should also go back to and revise also our Information Operations, not only from a defensive perspective, but also offensive perspective.
And I want to make sure people understand what you're talking about. I mean, I think, from based on reading your, your article, you're not talking about fighting misinformation with misinformation. How do you envision this working?
No, that will be precisely what Russia would love to see, I don't think that we should ever do that. We should just, you know, provide people in Russia with correct information, to spread our liberties and democracy. That's something we've been doing for decades. And I always like to tell people, I mean, one of the main reasons why I am in the United States, is because of American Information Operations. You've been using very successfully, American Hollywood movies, American modern art, no judgment on that part. And different cultural things that really made many people from my part of the world to believing that it's anything, we should not underestimate that power. And the reason why I'm emphasizing this, if you carefully again, read Russian national security strategy, you will notice a specific put his paranoia for our Information Operations, he truly fears, our Information Operations, what he calls that can actually destroy Russian, Russian moral values. And some of people here might wonder, like, who cares about that? I mean, that's probably not how we perceive things. Well, that's really something that Vladimir Putin cares about. And I think it's really high time for us if you want to spread democracy to allow people in different parts of the world to have digital democracy.
Peter, what's your view on that? Do you think the US is doing enough to match Russia's Information Operations?
So I think we've you know, what we've been focused on is how do we a identify the missing information? I think you see us doing this with our European partners too, right? There's an active effort on how do we identify the misinformation? How do we encourage the platform's to identify it and take it down? And then as as Ivana says, How do we get the facts actually out there? Right. And so I think you've seen the State Department's Global Engagement Center try to put out, you know, what is actually going on out there. And I think that's a valuable work stream. But I think we also have to recognize that some of the most powerful, true information is what's coming out of the ground in Kiev, and that and Kharkiv. And places like this right, and sort of elevating not just from what the government is doing, because let's be honest, around the world, there's a lot of distrust about anything, the US government puts out even very factually true statements. And that's just an unfortunate reality. And so I think it can't just be about what the government is doing to get true information out there. The American government is very much about what, you know, outside validators, fact checkers, reputable news organizations, you know, and other actors in the information space can do to get the correct, you know, actual facts out there.
Sure, just want to say, maybe Peters too humble to say this, but I think, you know, for what it's worth, I think the administration has done an incredible job so far. And most of that was before the invasion, right was using the information that clearly the US government was able to glean through intelligence actions to, to basically say, you know, Putin is going to invade Ukraine over and over and over again, and they got a lot of flack from people, including Vladimir Putin himself for saying that, and maybe it was a little bit of a gamble. And who knows, you know, what impact that will have on long term intelligence assets in Russia, but it clearly worked to take away the justification that Putin wanted, right, all of the attempts that he was trying to do to create pretext for invasion were essentially undermined. And so he effectively had to go in without a pretext. So he was sort of already on thin ice going in. And I think, you know, we won't be able to really study this or quantify this for some time. But, you know, the fact that he had to constantly say, No, we're not going to go in, including two people in Russia has now unsure undermined the confidence of the Russian public, in their government, right, the fact that they now see the government doing what they said they weren't going to do, has to have people in Russia wondering, even those who weren't already dissident or in the opposition, wondering what else their government is not telling them the truth about. And as I think they continue, they will continue to see other evidence contradicting the government's sort of party line, that will have real implications domestically. So, you know, that's not necessarily, you know, a digital tactic, but that is information, you know, warfare, if you want to put it that way, or strategic, you know, information management. And I think, you know, the Biden ministration did a great job. I think now, the sort of the concern I would have is, you know, to try and actually not do too much, right. I mean, let the facts on the ground hopefully, make their way, you know, it's hard to know what's what's necessarily coming through in Russia, but around the world, the narrative is clearly in the US disfavor and so I don't think the US needs to do a whole lot. In fact, I think if the US tried to be more proactive, it could have the the reverse impact. So it's kind of now about, you know, playing Judo against, you know, Putin, the judo master and letting his own inertia of lies catch up with him. And getting out of the way and letting that I think that happened.
That's a really good point. Peter, you've been leading the NSCs effort to create this alliance for the future of the Internet. And I'm wondering if you can talk about how the situation with Russia is informing that alliance is a building momentum for it. Is it prompting adjustments in strategy? Are you getting a ton of calls about people suddenly interested in pushing back against authoritarian uses of the Internet? Well, I'd
say my short run, you know, for the last week or two, it is probably slowed our development only because we are totally focused on the immediate crisis Rasta to Russia, which just in the real world, for those of you have been in government means it's very hard to make any progress on you know, anything else for at least, you know, at least a couple a couple of weeks. But as I said, beginning, I do think actually, some of the things we're seeing playing out here, you know, have reaffirmed for us and frankly, for our kind of partners around the world that we're working On this initiative with about the need for allied governments to come together to kind of reaffirm our vision for the future, for the future of the Internet, because, you know, they said, and I think we all see, like the vision we all share for the Internet is under threat. It's not just about in the Human Rights domain, right. It's also in the economic domain with data localization, it's about is the Internet going to continue to be governed by a multi stakeholder governance model are things whether it's what the Russians doing at the UN, or, you know, frankly, even some of the steps our allies are taking pushing, you know, more state control of the technical governance of the of the Internet, like, are we going to get organized, reunited around a set of principles in today's world, that we can all we can all get behind. And, you know, from our perspective, we certainly think the events here, you know, reaffirm the need for that kind of positive vision. And that's certainly what we're hearing from our allies, our allies, and our allies and partners around the around the world, I do want to just sort of use the opportunity to be here today to level set a little bit about what we're doing, because I think there's been a lot of misinformation out there about what we're doing, you know, prompted, in part by some leaks of some very early internal documents, you know, it's sort of unfortunate in a way you try to brainstorm with colleagues across the world, you know, in very early sort of internal discussions, but where you're really trying to build something that's not an American idea, but a collective idea, and, you know, put a couple of paragraphs down on paper, and then it leaks out and press and everyone thinks, oh, this is some fully baked thing we're pushing. No, this is a few ideas, we're sharing with a few key allies to then you know, consult on and begin to consult with civil society and other groups around the world. And so I do just want to sort of take that on head on. And I think where we are today has been heavily informed by, you know, a set of discussions that we have had domestically that our allies and partners have had with their domestic audiences that we have had, with, you know, governments, from Asia, to Latin America, to Africa to Europe. And where I think we're headed is to try to get these governments together, to really lay out an affirmative vision that isn't just about human rights, or about economics, or about Internet governance, or about closing the digital divide, right. I mean, the UN determined last year, 3 billion people have free cell phones in my pocket right now, but 3 billion people have never been online, right? That's a huge digital divide that we need to, we need to close, what we need to do is come together get organized behind that vision as a group of states, you know, around fund of human rights and fundamental freedoms around closing the digital divide around data security and data privacy, around a competitive Internet ecosystem around a multi stakeholder governance model, come together, and then go out and sell it and elevate the work of the many other organizations, whether it's a Freedom Online, coalition, whether it's a GSI, whether it's some of the multi stakeholder, technical governance organizations kind of re energize and re elevate all the work that we believe in so much. So I think we'll be coming to, you know, on the sort of way the urgent distracts from these longer term initiatives, you know, we have a commitment from the National Security Adviser along with his relevant counterparts across a group of the number of dozens of countries we're putting together here, to have an event to kind of watch this affirmative vision date is a little bit in flux because of current events. But that's that's where we are.
And is, is this grand vision. You mentioned the IX, I believe there were some more leaks today recently. Is this vision still open to edits? Should people still be coming to you for
working? I think we're working things are I think the draft, I most recently saw that it leaked from the press, I actually saw first in the press, it was something that the Europeans had been iterating on that I actually hadn't seen. So I think it is very much a, you know, kind of an iterative document. I think the fact I saw that first and the press, you know, reflects the fact that this is really something we are trying to do collectively with a group of allies and partners. You know, challenging is that can be when sort of every sentence gets into political
am I'm going to come back to you in a sec to talk about AFI, but I heard that Peter might have to leave early. So I did want to pass you one more question because there is a member of our audience who referred to you as a sanctions badass to me. And so I would have to ask you some questions about about sanctions against Russia right now, what else is on the table that people should be aware of?
I can't predict where we're going. I mean, I have the sort of fortunate or unfortunate role of the White House of having a broad economic portfolio. When I was hired into this, I had a background for those of you know, me that included a bunch of work on sanctions, was hired into this job, I was told no, that'll just be a tiny part of your portfolio, you got to go out and get new Privacy Shield deal, that'll be a big piece. Let's think about, you know, Internet data flow issues, try to figure out where we're going to be on the DMA, and dsa and all these kinds of things. But of course, world events intervene. And I've certainly spent most of my last couple of weeks on Russia related related issues, I can't predict exactly where we're going to go. But I do want to talk for a moment on Russia, because I do think you have seen an incredibly United allied response, not just out of Washington, but out of Brussels and Berlin, and Paris, at a Tokyo and out of the Australians. And I think there is a recognition that, you know, a line has to be drawn, we have to hold Vladimir Putin to account, we have to signal to him, not at all to the Russian people, but to him, that this is going to be a strategic failure, it's going to be a strategic failure because of what's happening on the ground. And Ukraine, it's going to be a strategic failure, because he is choosing to create a situation where his economy, his financial system, his technology sector is going to be evicted from the Western, Western sort of financial and economic and technology order, he saw that with the export controls we announced last week, you saw that with the way in which companies are subject to sanctions, you know, lose access to Western Tech Services. You know, this is a choice he's making, he is choosing to sort of fundamentally move away from the sort of integrated Western order that Russia had been sort of moving to join in certain respects since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. And, you know, he's choosing to kind of try to restore an earlier kind of pre World War Two version of international relations that we're just not going to accept, not just here in America, but around the world. It's very sad, right? It's, it's, it's, it's very sad to see him make that choice. It's incredibly sad and dark for the people of Ukraine today. And it is going to have very long term consequences for Russia here. You know, which is very unfortunate for 150 million Russians who are not involved in this conflict for the 1000s of Russians, we're seeing take to the streets in Russia, you know, many hundreds, of whom maybe even 1000s, of whom, at this point, have been arrested for protesting domestically in Russia. It's very sad for them. But it is the worldwide where Putin seems to be trying to create and we are absolutely United across the West, that we will not accept it, and that this will be a strategic failure for Vladimir Putin.
Thanks. So let's go back to the alliance. I know you've been involved in discussions around it, you were talking about how you would like to see the US play a leadership role in pushing back against these hostage taking laws. What, what more do you want to see from this alliance? What specifics? Do you want to see governments come together around?
Yeah, no, I think I really appreciated Peters kind of overview of the goal of the alliance and really elevating so much of the important work around human rights in the multi stakeholder model that work in the technical communities that's been happening for the past 1520 years, 30 years of Internet governance, because there there really does seem to have been a a loss of focus among human rights, supporting governments in that kind of core Internet freedom message. And so having something that revitalizes that, and brings it back to the forefront of not only kind of foreign policy and Internet governance conversations, but how governments are operating in all of the different spheres where they're interacting internationally, but also, ideally, to reflect on their own domestic policy. I think that's one of the biggest disconnects that a lot of us who work on both domestic and international aspects of Internet governance can see whether it's in the US or in countries around the world, the conversations that foreign ministers or foreign policy experts are having with each other, sometimes really don't reflect what's going on at the national or state level in given countries, because the conversations are just sort of disconnected. And so I think the US has that challenge of both kind of advancing these ideals globally, but also trying to get them to reflect back on the US conversations we're having around things like content regulation, what if anything should change about section 230? What kinds of expectations we have from companies about how they do things like content moderation. But I would say with the with the Alliance, I really hope to see it build on the work that has been done around what human human rights centered approach to Internet governance looks like. And I think that has been one of the concerns that I and others and civil society have had about, you know, any new initiative, any new sort of statement of principles or formulation of a vision, it's just to make sure that we don't lose any of the ground that has already been gained in the fights to ensure that, you know, governments agree to things like in the Freedom Online Coalition, you know, agree to certain standards of human rights and respecting the rights of their users. And then one other element that I think that we've talked a lot about a lot in conversations around the alliance is how to make sure that it doesn't turn into sort of an exclusive club where we worry about the human rights of the people who live in the countries that are part of the alliance and sort of leave everyone else to fend for themselves. When we talk in, in global civil society about wanting to protect and promote human rights online, is for every Internet user, no matter what country they're in, no matter what kind of government that they have. And so making sure that that ability to promote democracy, promote human rights, but also promote the kind of tools and technologies like strong agenda encryption, like access to things like VPNs that people really need when they're in countries that aren't respectful of their rights, to protect themselves to shield their privacy to ensure their access to information. I really hope that can be a key focus of what the alliance is looking at as well.
Yeah, she'll make a brief response, because very much appreciate the the remarks. And I think actually one of the most important pieces of feedback we've gotten, as we've done, consultations, both here in the US and our allies have heard as they've done consultations is exactly this point about what is our message, you know, it may be that the 1.4 billion people in China are behind their firewall, and you know, that's going to be where they are, but how do we make sure we are doing everything we can, to not reinforce that firewall to make sure we're reaching out to them. And I think that's been a really important piece of piece of feedback, and very much have appreciated that. And I think you'll see us, you know, want to continue to talk about how we can operationalize that going forward. It's a hugely important piece of feedback. I also didn't want to talk just very candidly about a point. And you would also you made this point just now. And you also made it in your opening remarks about what we do at home, and what our allies do at home. Because I do think we are at a period in time where a number of the things that we sort of took for granted and that our allies took for granted are under review, at least by parts of government, and some of that's positive, right section 230 reform, or at least has the potential to be positive, you know, about has a potential to be positive. And some of that I think we just need to think carefully about I mean, you know, it was interesting to me, and in some ways where some of this thinking comes from right, we are out trying to figure out what are, you know, beginning of last year, first couple of months last year trying to figure out how are we going to go out and promote an open, free flow of data agenda. And at the same time, I'm part of the team that is developing the executive order the President Biden issued in May of last year that's directing the Commerce Department to set up a new regime just to study and potentially take action against Chinese and Russian apps and software in the US because of security risks, right? Something commerce is moving forward with and right. So we are taking steps at home. And we are going to be taking steps at home quite different from what I think many of us would have expected a couple a couple of years ago. And I think it's really important that we be thoughtful about how we do that, to the point you were making your opening remarks that we don't undermine our global, our global affirmative agenda. And I think it's really important. We have some space and some forums to have those conversations about how we handle issues like the security risks, and privacy risks posed by Chinese and Russian apps with our allies and partners. So we don't set up a kind of balkanized race to the bottom. It's this idea of what do we do at home? And the fact that an inflection point in what we do at home, I think, is really, it makes it particularly timely for us to think through our affirmative agenda and not lose sight of our broader goals. And to do that in a multilateral context.
Thanks, Yvonne, I'm going to round it out, to get to give people something to think about what's on the horizon. And you said there are really two, two big area of areas of concern for you. One is that the US has announced support for Russian led efforts within the UN to develop a cybercrime treaty to develop some rules of the road around cybersecurity, and and the second is the US and Russia vying for the same seat to lead the UN's International Telecommunications Union. So walk us through what is at stake in both of those issues.
Yes, so I would like to go back to what Peter said about revenge his goals of Russia and through right international liberal order. So Russia is that Clearly using the United Nations and international liberal order to draft new regulations on information security. And some people might wonder, why would Russia and China actually care about international organizations, they do not plan to abolish them, they want to be there be very active, enter right, international rules that regulate in a way that suits their, their interests. So I think there are two major events in 2022 that we should pay attention to. Number one is that there will be the continuation of negotiations regarding the regulation of information security. And the second one is that the United States and Russia will compete for deceit at the United Nations Telecommunication Union. So regarding the first one, this is really nothing new because Russia has been trying to regulate the Internet for the past two decades. We do have Budapest international treaty, but Russia never ratified it. Also, China didn't ratify it. And then they decided, well, let's completely start the whole conversation in the United Nations. And they've been doing that for almost seven, eight years. And then in 2019, there was a huge problem, how are we going to actually use International to regulate cybercrime. So both the United States and Russia decided to go into different directions. So they open to different subcommittees and guess was in 2019, the United States was very isolationist, when it comes to international institutions. So Russia, one United Nations approval to draft such a treaty. But it seems to me that we are back end in 2021, December, both the United States and Russia jointly submitted this treaty. Sorry, this, this, this draft now, one concerned about this, if you read carefully these draft, it actually really relies on the previous efforts by Russia and what Russia really wants for this trading, just like China to control the Internet, what we've been discussing before. And what Jason also mentioned, are these draconian law that Russia adopted last year, to regulate Internet back home and to impose sanctions and all those social media platforms unless they delete contact. So this is really nothing new for Russia. But the problem is that this very, very vague treaty had been used, the different sorts of regulations can be used for authoritarian regimes to to also punish political opponents back home this is really also the question of human rights certainly how we are going to regulate this particular this particular treaty. Because this is really also I am international winner, but I do not have lots of hopes when it comes to us Russia cybercrime regulations, because this is also the question of, of ideology. They talk about, they talk about Internet sovereignty in cybersecurity sovereignty, we have a very different approach when it comes to when it comes to cybersecurity. Another thing that I would like to mention there is the United Nations Telecommunication Union. Right now, right now China is leading over there. But later this year will compete against Russia, I think, given what's Russia doing right now in cyberspace, I cannot think of hopefully, many countries in the world that will support this thing. But nevertheless, I think it's really pastime for us to to make allies and to make the Coalition of the Willing and not to allow authoritarian regimes to regulate to regulate Internet. So these are maybe two events that I would like to stress here that we should pay attention to. And I really hope that the United States is back and will lead efforts in international organizations, if not, you know, for idealistic reasons, but at least also for our strategic interests.
Now Peter wants to jump in, then I'll come to you
and I'm afraid I'm gonna have to run after this right back. But I did want to say just because talking about the ITU, I do hope you all are tracking the election this year from an American government perspective. We are 100% or 110%. Behind Doreen bug than Martin we have to get her over the finish line. I think having a Russian former Huawei executive in there was not the direction we should be going and Doreen is just an absolutely phenomenal we've met with her many times as an administration. She's met with the National Security Adviser, we're fully behind her and going to be doing everything we can to get her in and would really appreciate that support from anyone who can help on that. So just wanted to echo those remarks and say thank you for putting that on the table.
Chang indorsement. Thank you, Peter. And Jason, can you I know this was top of mind for you as well, what what's riding on this?
Well, so I think both what's happening in the UN, the first committee, which is where this sort of conversation around cyber norms has been happening for many years, and there's a new working to working groups addressing the issue there what's happening in the Third Committee on the Cybercrime Convention, and what's happening at the ITU are all important battlegrounds in this sort of larger contestation around Internet governance. You know, I think it is important to realize that, to some extent, that's not new. Right. The ITU has been a really important place where countries not just authoritarian countries, but countries that have had a more sort of skeptical and statist approach to Internet governance have always sort of seen as more advantageous turf. Right, because the ITU was where sort of telecom policies kind of originated a lot of countries, had state owned telecom companies and got a lot of revenue through telecom license agreements. And, and so there's always been, I think, of sort of, more attention to and more concern for those kinds of interests there. Nevertheless, the US I think, does have a very important opportunity, not just the US but but sort of Western governments have an opportunity to sort of bring the ITU into the more into the Internet era, and the idea has been slowly moving in that direction. But But what they haven't done is open up quite as much to kind of the multi stakeholder approach in terms of giving more voice to civil society, in terms of being more transparent about processes that are taking place. The ITU is an incredibly I was in the US government 10 years ago, when we were preparing for the pointy part in South Korea. It is an incredibly arcane and complex organization. But, you know, there's there's certainly a lot that can be done. And the it's not just the the election for the Secretary General. But there are a number of important committees at the ITU that will be having elections this year at the planning part. So it's a really important marker. I think, you know, the cue Russia, you know, obviously, is, is, you know, facing a different focus on a different issue right now, but I do think by invading Ukraine, they have severely undermine their own interests in these multilateral venues. And that's an opportunity that we should fully exploit and take advantage of, you know, go go into all of these forums and say, Do we really want to follow the Russian lead here? You know, do we really think this is good, this is a country that has credibility that has standing to make a case for international leadership. So hopefully, again, we'll be able to sort of use, you know, about Amir Putin's momentum against him, again, to continue with the judo analogy. But that will that won't necessarily be easy. It will require the United States leading and not just leading with, you know, European support, and Australian and five eyes support, but really building bridges to the developing world countries that, you know, make up the majority of the countries and therefore, the votes at UN specialist agencies at the UN General Assembly. And that is the long, hard and sort of undervalued work of, you know, US diplomats and diplomacy. That, you know, I think, unfortunately, did get de prioritized, perhaps in the last administration, but hopefully is being reinvigorated today.
Well, thank you all so much for for joining us. This has been a really fascinating and unfortunately, urgent conversation. Now it is time for lunch, everyone. So thank you all for joining us.