Q3/2019 - French G7 Presidency

Summit, Biarritz, 24 to 26 August 2019

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.

G7 Biarritz Strategy for an Open, Free and Secure Digital Transformation

With the “G7 Biarritz Strategy for an Open, Free and Secure Digital Transformation“[1] 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.

Digital Trade, AI & 5G

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.

G7 Digital Transformation in Africa

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[2].

Mehr zum Thema
  1. [1] G7 Biarritz Strategy for an Open, Free and Secure Digital Transformation, Biarritz, 26. August 2019: „1. We, the Leaders of the G7, Australia, Chile, India and South Africa, meeting in Biarritz on 26 August 2019, together with the Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, have discussed the best strategies to promote an open, free and secure digital transformation, and reiterated our determination to protect it from current challenges. 2. We recognize that the Internet, and related technologies used in the digital transformation, are key enablers of our societies and economic development. It has brought new ways of empowering all individuals and communities, and provided access to an unprecedented body of information and knowledge. However, there are negative effects threatening social cohesion and democratic values. Online abuse, in its various forms, especially targets certain groups, particularly women, minorities and vulnerable users, and restricts the full enjoyment of many human rights. 3. We are committed to the rights to freedom of opinion and expression. We believe access to information from diverse perspectives is essential to democracy. While coming from different legal and political traditions, we appreciate the value of thorough and constructive exchange of views with relevant stakeholders. We were informed by the French Presidency on the progress made on the establishment of an International Partnership for Information and Democracy and on the results of the Global Conference for Media Freedom held in London, on 10-11 July, aimed at mobilizing a consensus behind the protection of journalists. 4. We are determined to work collaboratively to reinforce our democracies against illicit and malign behavior and foreign hostile interference by state and non-state actors. We will continue to bolster our capabilities to address hybrid threats, including in the areas of cybersecurity, strategic communications and counter-intelligence. We take note of the ongoing work of the G7 Rapid Response Mechanism. 5. We note the continued momentum provided, inter alia, by the Christchurch Call and the G20 Osaka Leaders' Statement on Preventing Exploitation of the Internet for Terrorism and Violent Extremism Conducive to Terrorism, as we work with international partners towards our mutual objectives for an open, free and secure internet. We reiterate that positive narratives to counter terrorist propaganda will continue to be an important element of this effort. We were informed about the views regarding an Internet multi-stakeholder charter which aims at realizing the positive effects of the Internet while addressing illegal online content and activity and while respecting our democratic values and the rule of law. 6. We recognize that cross-border flow of data, information, ideas and knowledge generates higher productivity, greater innovation, and improved sustainable development, while it can raise issues related to privacy, data protection, intellectual property rights, and security. Data free flow with trust will harness the opportunities of the digital transformation. In this respect, it is necessary that legal frameworks, both domestic and international, should be respected. We will cooperate to encourage interoperability of different frameworks, and we affirm the role of data for development. We agree on the need to address the threats posed by security vulnerabilities in 5G networks and supply chains. 7. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are bringing about radical transformation of our societies and economies. They can open an unprecedented cycle of innovation and growth. AI can provide innovative solutions to advance progress toward achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as significant benefits to help address some of our most pressing challenges. Leaders recognize that AI is transforming societies, the global economy and the future of work and has the potential to improve the welfare and the well-being of people, but may have disparate effects regarding the economy and privacy and data protection, and implications for democracy. 8. We recognize the Italian and Canadian presidencies' work on the future of artificial intelligence. We acknowledge the need to support and guide the responsible development of AI, that is grounded in human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation and economic growth. We will continue to explore ways to advance our work on AI to understand and share, on a regular basis, multidisciplinary research results on artificial intelligence issues and best practices, as well as bringing together international artificial intelligence initiatives. We acknowledge in that regard the Global Partnership on AI, an initiative proposed by Canada and France, as well as other related initiatives. We welcome the willingness of the OECD to support our work to advance AI, in line with its Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence adopted in May 2019. http://www.g7.utoronto.ca/summit/2019biarritz/biarritz-strategy-for-digital-transformation.html
  2. [2] G7-Digital Transformation in Africa, Biarritz, 26. August, 2019: „ 1. Digital transformation could be a game-changer for the African continent. It is an opportunity to boost economic growth and industrialisation, alleviate poverty and improve people's lives. The use of digital technology and services will contribute to the African Union Agenda 2063.2. Digital technology can drive innovation, economic growth and job creation in many key sectors of the economy, and allows for greater interconnection of African markets with one another and with the rest of the world. It can enhance both market and financial access for all, particularly in marginalised areas neglected by traditional financial institutions. Promoting digitalization in Africa will maximize our impact in sectors such as health, energy, transport, agriculture, education and facilitating access to basic social services, consistent with our broader good governance and development policies and programmes. 3. Accessible, secure and reliable Internet is critical to closing the digital gap and reducing inequalities. It can greatly contribute to enhancing human capital and providing new opportunities for young people in Africa. Women and girls, especially those living in poverty and in rural communities, are most likely to be more affected by the digital divide. We welcome the G20 #eSkills4Girls initiative that promotes digital skills for women and girls and which will contribute to supporting their participation in the digital economy. 4. We collectively endeavour to provide strong support to bridge the digital divide and promote digital transformation in Africa in line with our national commitments. We note in that respect the recommendations from the EU-African Union Digital Economy Task Force, the Digital Economy Moonshot for Africa and Smart Africa initiatives. Our common strategy for Africa will be based on the following objectives: a. Enabling the necessary digital infrastructure in order to reduce the digital gap and inequality, including in isolated countries and regions that are excluded or underserved, and b. encouraging the transport and logistics activities that serve e- commerce and e-government on a regional basis. Fostering fair competition and transparency in building digital infrastructures is key to this end. This needs to be complemented by the right investment climate in order to attract private sector resources. C. Developing digital literacy and skills, particularly in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), in order to equip young people, especially young women and girls, with the skills necessary to take advantage of the growth and prosperity promised by the digital economy, whilst protecting against online risks and harms, and promoting inclusion, notably for women. d. Fostering digital transformation for growth, entrepreneurship, job creation, and private-sector empowerment, particularly digital start-ups, SMEs and innovative community initiatives, by using digital technologies to provide support. e. Expanding new solutions offered by digitalization across other sectors, such as health, agriculture, energy, e-commerce, electronic payment and governance. f. Creating enabling environments to allow national stakeholders to manage digital risks in coordination with the existing work of international and African organizations. g. Sharing best practices between G7 and African partners, including experiences about creating legislative and regulatory frameworks, notably regarding data protection. 5. Improving the enabling environment and encouraging private sector investment and funds is a central part of this process. In this regard, we underline the need to boost private sector financing, including by using blended capital and other risk mitigation instruments. We encourage countries to adopt sound and predictable tax and regulatory frameworks in order to build stability and trust for investors in the digital sector in Africa. 6. We also commit to addressing telecommunications security – including 5G security – and to ensuring that the digital transformation benefits all and promotes good governance, environmental sustainability, equitable economic transformation and job creation. 7. In the context of the digitalization of Africa, we recognise the need to address the specific situation of fragile regions, such as the Sahel, Horn of Africa and Lake Chad regions. Siehe: http://www.g7.utoronto.ca/summit/2019biarritz/digital-transformation.html