PANEL DISCUSSION - Role of Business in Advancing an Open and Free Internet

Panel Discussion I: The Role of Business in Advancing an Open and Free Internet

The business panel’s discussion led by Matthew Shears quickly turned to issues of trust. Technical progress has currently completely outstripped legal capacity to deal with issues in a balanced manner. Several panelists pointed out that some FOC member countries are being blamed for hypocrisy. There is a need to find multi-stakeholder consensus on privacy limits not just for the private sector companies but also for the public sector. Businesses are subject to audits by the government and governments should also be subject to thorough review on their actions online. Current audits have little grasp as governments make exceptions for their security services in nearly all laws within a country and all multilateral agreements with others. Regarding interceptions of data there are generally two types of countries: countries where there are day-to-day lawful interceptions of data and countries where the government has access to everything. The latter need not pursue court orders or any approval from separate or independent bodies. This should not become the norm. Richard Allan of Facebook reminded us that there is no perfect code and any computer system can be broken into. Transparent restraints should be imposed on governments and their agencies in order to curb infiltration. Cynthia Wong from Human Rights Watch revealed that businesses retain a lot of data simply because they can and because they might need that information in the future, saying this practice should stop as well. There was also a call for businesses to do more to influence government policy on all these issues as they have much more resources at hand than civil society does.