16.02.2023

Russian Expert Community on the Way to the Global Digital Compact

Russian Expert Community on the Way to the Global Digital Compact

This document is currently being developed under the auspices of the United Nations, and one of the tasks of the Centre as a “gathering point” for Russian initiatives is to balance the interests of all stakeholders: government, users, scientific community and business.

The wide circle of experts who took part in the discussion included Vadim Glushchenko, Director of the Centre, Vyacheslav Erokhin, Deputy Head of the Laboratory of the Federal State Budgetary Institution NIIR (Scientific and Research Institute), Andrei Vorobiov, Director of the Coordination Centre for domains .RU/.RF, Lenar Faizutdinov, First Deputy Director General of Dialog ANO, Artem Mikhailov General Director of e-Legion, Yuri Lindre and Roman Shamrayev , the Center's analysts, and Ekaterina Martynova, a graduate student and lecturer of law at the National Research University Higher School of Economics. The Roundtable was moderated by Roman Chukov, Chairman of the Council of the Centre.

The purpose of the event was to directly discuss, correct and supplement the proposals received from Russian experts. In addition, the Centre presented its new study - “Current Trends in Internet Regulation: from Open Space of Unlimited Freedom to Regional and Country Fragmentation. The main conclusion of the document: due to the growing contradictions between states and big digital businesses in the management of the World Wide Web, it is difficult to form a unified, indivisible and fair digital space in the foreseeable future. In the last three to five years, instead of a cohesive and coordinated action of the Internet community worldwide, we have seen a process of "rolling back" towards the fragmentation of the global network into separate country (as in China) or regional (as in the European Union) zones. Within these zones a unique regulatory landscape is emerging with its own understanding and interpretation of legal norms and ethical values and principles, the study says.

“However, content fragmentation of the global Internet is not as bad as it is usually described. We should take it as a given, simply because there is no way back to a single and indivisible Internet, the ship has sailed,” added Yuri Lindre. However, one cannot ignore the work on the GDC as an opportunity to consolidate the international Internet community in issues of Internet governance. 

During the discussion, a number of ideas were put forward that could become a part of common proposals of Russian experts. For example, in issues of differentiation between corporate rules and national legislation. Usually, rules for the user are developed in reliance on the laws of the country in which an IT company is registered. But what about users from other jurisdictions? This issue could be resolved by the introduction of clear rules in the GDC. 

The topic of expansion of the role of national languages on the global network was touched upon separately. 57% of all content on the Internet is produced in English. At the same time, the gap with the second most widely spoken language, Russian, is enormous. Its share of the World Wide Web is only 5%. “There's a need to maintain a balance so that people could communicate and consume and produce content on the Internet exactly in their native language that they understand,” concluded Lenar Faizutdinov. He also noted that the GDC can give an impetus to the search for new formats for digital cooperation, which would meet the interests of the peoples living in Eurasia. 

For his part, Artem Mikhailov noted that “this document [with the Russian proposals to the GDC] is not a message to the world from us, but rather a message to ourselves. We could popularize this document within our expert community. Let's implement it here, let's use it for its intended purpose.”  

In view of the fruitful work of the Roundtable, the experts proposed to establish a debate club on the basis of the created informal working group on GDC to discuss other issues related to Internet governance and digital cooperation.