Isolating, Not Taming: What’s Behind the Impetus to “Digital Sovereignty” in Russia?

//Julien Nocetti, a Research Fellow at the Paris-based think tank French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), explores recent Russian claims and policies concerning the internet in an attempt to reveal what these claims and initiatives reveal about Russian authorities’ stance towards the internet.

April 2014 was a particularly bitter month for Russian internet users and the local internet industry. President Vladimir Putin unsurprisingly made headlines when, at the Media Forum in St. Petersburg, he publicly labeled the internet as a “CIA project” and launched an attack against Russian internet businesses. Putin particularly expressed reservations about the successful Russian search engine Yandex, as it is registered in the Netherlands for, as Putin stated, “not only… taxation purposes but for other reasons, as well.” A week earlier, during his annual call-in TV show, Putin also referenced the internet when, responding to a question from Edward Snowden, he rejected any mass surveillance of the network by Russian law enforcement agencies.

Simultaneously, an avalanche of internet related legislation, which would make any legal expert dizzy, passed in Russia. The State Duma approved a law which imposed stricter rules on bloggers, requiring blogs with over 3000 daily visits to register as mass media entities.  The Duma also released a draft “Internet Law” that would significantly increase the government’s powers by obliging all email providers and social network owners to store information about their users, users’ posts, and users’ communications on servers in Russia. In an apparent…

Click here to read more. 

The Complex Geopolitics of Internet Governance

Julien Nocetti, a Research Fellow at the Paris-based think tank French Institute of Intenational Relations (IFRI), explores the geopolitics of internet governance. This article was originally posted on April 4, 2014 on the Valdai Discussion Club and can be found here.

On March 14th, the U.S. government announced that it would relinquish management and coordination of web addresses through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is indirectly led by the U.S., to a global business community, public interest groups, academics, and governments. This is likely to open a new chapter in the way the internet is “governed.”

This happened a few days before an ICANN meeting in Singapore and, perhaps more importantly, a month before NETmundial, an international conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil on the future of internet governance.

There were three signs that supervision of the internet was about to evolve towards greater internationalization in coming months.

First, U.S. moral leadership on Internet issues was destroyed by Edward Snowden’s leaks regarding Washington’s large-scale cyber surveillance and its intelligence agencies’ collusion with major internet corporations. These …

Click here to read more.

A Shift in International Information Security: The Story of a Diplomatic Oxymoron

Gregory Asmolov, a PhD candidate in New Media, Innovation, and Literacy at the London School of Economics, uses the recent UN draft resolution “Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security” to examine shifts in international Internet regulation. On November 11, 2013 CGCS hosted a talk with Gregory where he used Russia as a case study to suggest exploring Internet regulation beyond specific measures suggested by government, such as new legislation or law enforcement that seeks to restrict Internet freedom.

The Past. Information security vs. cybersecurity: traditional disagreements.

Russia and the U.S. have historically had very different positions on international Internet regulation issues. Washington focuses on cybersecurity, Internet freedom, and limiting the field of regulation to technological infrastructure while Moscow’s position centers on the much broader information security. According to Russian information security scholar Oleg Demidov, Russia tends to focus on the regulation of state-to-state relationships in the information realm. The traditional western position, however, is more concerned with threats affiliated with individual actors, as well as with state actors that limit individuals’ freedom through cyberspace regulation[1].

Another point of debate is whether cybersecurity should be regulated by hard law or by soft law (set of norms without compulsory commitment). While many discussions take place in different international forums, the United Nations continues to be a major arena for Russia’s promotion of information security as a framework for international regulation. Russia, acts through the UN first committee in order to frame Internet regulation within the broader context of international security.[2] The U.S., however, frames cybersecurity-related regulation as “creation of global culture of cybersecurity” and promote its initiatives through the UN second committee.

The Present. New project of the UN resolution: Strategic shift.

On the one hand, traditional opposition to the Russian “information security” approach continues to be a major leitmotif in the Western…

Click here to read more.

After the IGF 2013—Bali barely relevant in the run-up to Rio

CGCS Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Ben Wagner discusses the Internet Governance Forum 2013′s relevance in the changing world of Internet Governance.

I’ve recently joined CGCS as a post-doctoral research fellow, and am currently working on a new CGCS project called the Internet Policy Observatory, a research program developed to analyse the dynamic technological and political contexts in which Internet developments and governance decisions take place.  Busy with the preoccupations of relocating across the Atlantic to begin work at Annenberg, I had to miss the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2013 in Bali. As I’ve attended every IGF since 2008, I found myself wondering what I had missed.

I’ve spent a lot of time and effort in the last few years in and around the IGF and from 2009 to 2012, running a ‘Dynamic Coalition,’ something like a working group at the IGF on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Media. The dynamic coalition brought together a colourful mix of individuals from civil society, business and government working on issues related to Freedom of Expression. In 2009 and 2010, some of our best years, speakers at our meetings included U.N. Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue, the Swedish Foreign Ministry speaking as Chair of the EU delegation and Sami Ben Gharbia of Nawaat.

This year I’ve been stuck to (mostly broken) remote participation, the transcripts on the IGF website and the interesting analysis of various commentators. What is notable at the IGF in 2013 is how little …

Click here to read more.