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Third Global Internet & Jurisdiction Conference

Stakeholders Plenary

“The way forward for the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network

Jan Kleijssen,

Director, Information Society and Action against Crime Directorate, Council of Europe

Berlin (Germany), 5 June 2019


Speaking points:

  • Dear participants, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
  • For many years now the Council of Europe has partnered with the Internet and Jurisdiction Policy Network. In many respects our efforts go in the same direction, allowing for fruitful cooperation.
  • I value the fact that both our organisations recognise the importance of content and privacy-related issues, and work on them together in a multi-stakeholder approach, of which this conference is another proof.
  • In the highly complex context where major global developments in the online environment carry with them real “offline” consequences, the Council of Europe’s key priority is to ensure that internet governance policies respect, protect and promote human rights. And the CoE is well-equipped for this goal.
  • The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading human rights organisation. It comprises 47 member states, 28 of which are members of the European Union, and all of them - parties to the European Convention on Human Rights, a landmark treaty the implementation of which is guaranteed by the European Court of Human Rights.
  •  The Convention effectively secures the human rights of 830 million people in Europe. However, global challenges require global responses, and some of the CoE’s international legal instruments are open for signature by non-member states (Convention 108(+), Convention on Cybercrime, Ovieodo Convention on Bioethics and the Lanzarote Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, - to name just a few).
  • There is also a rich body of CoE standards and guidelines developed on the basis of input from leading experts from various relevant fields. Equipped with these solid and time-tested instruments, the CoE sees its role in helping its member states to gradually, step by step, map the way through the digital transition, with due fulfilment of their human rights, democracy and rule of law commitments.
  • How will the Council of Europe take this forward?
  • The high-level conference “Governing the Game Changer –Impacts of artificial intelligence development on human rights, democracy and the rule of law” that took place in Helsinki in February this year has demonstrated a common understanding that landmark international human rights conventions remain applicable irrespective of contextual changes brought about by technological development. The CoE will therefore continue supporting its member states in strict implementation of their provisions.
  • The conference also made it clear that either we govern the game, or the game will govern us. We need to act now and put human beings, their dignity and their rights at the centre of digital technologies and the design of automated decision making. Participants also agreed that the development of codes of ethics and accompanying institutional structures may be an important complement to, but not a substitute for, legally binding commitments to human rights.
  • At the meeting in Helsinki on 17th May, the Foreign Ministers of the Council of Europe member States agreed to continue to examine the protection provided by existing European standards with a view to identifying gaps and developing sector specific recommendations, guidelines and codes of conduct, as well as, if required, new legal instruments.
  • In particular, in this context the CoE will examine the feasibility and potential elements on the basis of multi-stakeholder consultations, of a legal framework for the development, design and application of artificial intelligence, based on the Council of Europe’s standards on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
  • We will also work on guidance on best practices by and with internet intermediaries and other stakeholders towards effective mechanisms for the restriction or moderation of illegal or harmful content, in line with the rule of law and based on a clear legal and procedural framework for self-regulatory and co-regulatory mechanisms.
  • Through our Parliamentary Assembly, our inter-governmental committees, our academic experts, our youth work, and through our cooperation with civil society and businesses the Council of Europe is already serving as a platform for multi-stakeholder cooperation. We will continue strongly promoting this approach, where all sides work together recognising their specific obligations, duties and responsibilities.
  • No country or other actor can alone address the challenges stemming from the online environment, but every stakeholder’s involvement counts for our joint success. During these three days we all have made another step further in multi-stakeholder cooperation. I sincerely congratulate the hosts on this most fruitful conference and look forward to the continuation of this dialogue.