Q3/2019 - French G7 Presidency
The G7 Summit in Biarritz was dominated by the current political crises and conflicts in the Far East, the trade war and the climate change. Nevertheless, Internet-related topics were discussed everywhere.
With the “G7 Biarritz Strategy for an Open, Free and Secure Digital Transformation“ another important document was adopted at G7 level, which has an impact on the development of a global policy on Internet issues at G7 level. The document gives general guidance how to deal with the hybrid nature of the Internet, i.e. on the one hand the vast opportunities for economic growth, new jobs, more democracy and human rights, and on the other hand the risks of social networks being abused for spreading hatred and lies, of cyber terror, cybercrime, security risks in relation with new technologies, or imponderabilities in the context of Artificial Intelligence.
Originally, the French Presidency had planned to adopt a separate G7 declaration on the role of the mass media and social networks in combating terrorism. Together with New Zealand, France had adopted the so-called "Christchurch Call" after the attack in the mosque of Christchurch, which calls on governments and online platforms to actively take measures against the abuse of the Internet for terrorist actions. France wanted to expand the "Christchurch Call" into a "G7 Multistakeholder Internet Charter". However, this was rejected by American President Donald Trump. The "G7 Biarritz Strategy" nevertheless refers to the "Christchurch Call" as well as to the "G20 Osaka Leaders' Statement on Preventing Exploitation of the Internet for Terrorism and Violent Extremism Conducive to Terrorism", which was passed at the G20 Summit in June 2019. The US government declared that in principle it shares the ideas of the French proposal, but for constitutional reasons (First Amendment) cannot enter into any binding obligations.
A key topic was cyber security, in particular in connection with the expansion of new networks, such as 5G. The G7 requested to subject the complete IT supplier chain to a consistent security check. The G7 supported the "Data Free Flow with Trust" (DTTF) concept adopted under Japanese G20 presidency in Osaka in June 2019. The DFFT is also an issue of the negotiations conducted within the framework of the WTO.
Special importance was attached to the future approach of the G7 states to "Artificial Intelligence" (AI). AI has become a high-priority issue of the G7. Already the Italian and Canadian G7 presidencies had given considerable weight to AI in 2017 and 2018. In their declaration, the G7 point out the hybrid nature of AI: On the one hand it offers vast opportunities to enhance democracy and prosperity, on the other hand there is an increasing risk of new technologies being abused, and this could bring mankind to the brink of disaster. The Summit acknowledged the "Global Partnership for AI" that has been initiated by Canada and France. It also welcomed the AI recommendations adopted by the OECD in May 2019, which were supported by the G20 member states in Osaka in June 2019, too.
Involving the developing countries into the global G7 digitalisation strategy was an issue of great priority. A special focus was on Africa. The G7 leaders of Biarritz think that the "digital transformation" of Africa can turn into a "game changer" for the entire continent. The G7 support the "AU Agenda 2063" announced by the African Union (AU). In 1963, most of the former African colonies were admitted to the UNO as independent states. The strategy of the AU aims at the 100th anniversary of this event. The G7 states want to assist Africa with a bundle of measures. They do not only want to help closing the "digital gap" but also trigger new dynamics in Africa’s economic development through creative digitalisation strategies and create new jobs, especially for females. The instruments to be applied include the "EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force", the " Digital Economy Moonshot for Africa" and the "Smart Africa Initiative". A stronger involvement of the private sector in establishing the infrastructure and developing e-commerce is promised. Security in relation with new networks, especially 5G, is also addressed in this context. All these declarations must be considered taking into account the increased engagement of China in Africa (Belt & Road Initiative/BRI, digital Silk Road, Huawei, Alibaba.