A United Nations Intergovernmental Process road map on the Global Digital Compact has been announced by co-facilitators Rwanda and Sweden. To gather input for this new road map, the UN held a consultation with the private sector and the technical community on February 10. USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner spoke on behalf of the U.S. private sector, alongside the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and ICC-UK.
Wanner’s intervention focused on three issues—internet fragmentation and the growing digital divide, data protection, and the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Throughout her intervention, Wanner urged the Co-Facilitators to continue establishing meaningful ways for stakeholders, like the private sector, to participate in all aspects of the Compact’s development. According to Wanner, multistakeholder cooperation and input will best leverage the expertise of the private sector and civil society and avoid unanticipated consequences.
“The involvement of stakeholders holds the best chance of success and garnering broad support,” she stated.
Regarding internet fragmentation and the digital divide, Wanner noted that various technical, legislative, and policy developments, such as restrictions on data flows, interference with free expression and Internet shutdowns in recent years have caused fragmentation and digital divides to grow.
“Such fragmentation is disrupting the open, interconnected and interoperable Internet and undermining the associated benefits to economic and societal well-being,” said Wanner.
On data protection, Wanner stated that the Compact’s call for data protection and the need to foster trust involves ensuring a safe and empowering online experience.
“USCIB encourages cooperation across government, business, and society to help individuals, especially youth and vulnerable groups, make healthy decisions online, stay safe, build resilience, and develop 21st century skills to thrive in the digital world,” emphasized Wanner.
Regarding AI, Wanner noted the potential of AI to address economic and societal inequalities and environmental challenges but that AI governance policies should be carefully considered to ensure they are narrowly tailored to address specific concerns as they arise.
USCIB also submitted more detailed comments to the UN Tech Envoy’s office.