Q4/2018 - Web-Summit

Lisbon, 4 November 2018

The so-called Web Summit – an Internet fair with a high-calibre agenda, which was founded by the Irish conference organiser Paddy Cosgrave more than ten years ago – has become one of the largest international Internet events in the recent years. The Web Summit in November 2018 at the former EXPO site in Lisbon was attended by roughly 70,000 visitors, 3,000 of them industry experts. Among the participants were the UN-General Secretary António Guterres, EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Brad Smith, President of Microsoft.

In his speech, UN-General Secretary António Guterres highlighted three issues that call for enhanced international cooperation: The future of work, combating fake news and hate speech, and a possible militarisation of cyberspace. He underlined that the international law of the UN Charter also applied to cyber space, but that not all problems of the digital world could be solved with the classical instruments of 20th century diplomacy. A new innovative cooperation of all stakeholders involved was needed. The UN could offer a platform for such cooperation but did not see itself as a regulator of the Internet.

A special highlight of the Web Summit was the renewed initiative by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, who suggested to work out a global Internet Charter. He proposed a new “Contract for the Web”. The draft contains three clear and unambiguous commitments for governments, businesses and citizens respectively on how to keep the Web safe, open and free. The Contract for the Web is supported by a multitude of governments, including France and Germany, large corporations, including Google and Microsoft, and hundreds of experts and institutions. According to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a final version of the Contract for the Web will emerge during 2019 on the basis of the feedback and critical comments received. In which way that document is going to be adopted and what will be its political significance remains to be seen.

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Web SummitQ4/2018