Are we all OTTs? Dangers of regulating an undefined concept
07 December 2016 - A Workshop on in Guadalajara,Mexico
> GONZALO NAVARRO: Hello. Can you hear me? Perfect.
Welcome all to this panel, of we are all OTTs, dangers of regulating an undefined concept.
It's to get a clear idea about this concept and the boundaries of this concept in terms of revelation, which is one of the most important topics nowadays in terms of Internet, and it's probably going to be one of the most important ones in the next years, over the years to come.
So to address this issue, we have super interesting panel, and I would like to introduce, Mr. Vinton Cerf. He's an Internet evangelist to Google. He contributed to policy development and continues to spread the Internet widely.
He's known as one of the fathers of Internet, he's part of the ICT protocols and the architecture of Internet.
We have Mr. Alexander Riobo. He's a director with Telefonica. He has a degree from the university of Colombia. At my right, Mr. Raul Echeberria. He's with ISOC. He was one of the founders of LACNIC and he was chairman of the board of LACNIC between 2000 and 2012. And he also has a lot of important positions in the Internet field in the last 20 or 25 years.
Natasha Jackson, she's the head of public policy at GSMA, leading the association and the responsible approaches to trust and safety, including data privacy, security and child online protection.
We have Brett Solomon, with Access Now. We have Eric Loeb with AT&T. He's the senior vice president for external affairs. He's focusing on the international departments of the US government and the governments outside the US.
We have Mr. Robert Pepper. Dr. Pepper is with policy and planning. Previously he was Cisco's vice president for global technology policy. They are into developing the ICT and development.
Finally we have Bertrand de La Chapelle. He's with the global stakeholder policy and he's a former member of the board of ICANN from 2006 and 2010. He was first an ambassador for the Information Society.
He is well known face in the IGF space and this is our panel. As you can see ‑‑ well, we have a little things to talk.
Let me get ‑‑ explain to you the rules of engagement for this panel and the order of the speakers because some of them will have to leave early, to the main session. So we will try to maximize the time we have with them.
So we are going to ‑‑ we have suggested to them a couple of questions regarding these topics and we are going to have a ‑‑ an initial round of five minutes of interventions from each of them. After that, we are going to open the mic for some comments or questions coming through the floor and after that, we are going to have our second round of questions and interaction with the public.
Let me remind you, while you are interacting with the panel, please be respectful and if you can, short and brief because as I say, out of respect not only for the panelists but also the rest of the audience and the people who want to comment because we have a limited time, unfortunately.
So let me open the mic to our first panelist, Mr. Vint Cerf. And the question we have questions, Vint. What do we understand when we talk about OTTs and subquestions, should we classify them separately?
>> VINTON CERF: Do I have a microphone. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for the kind introduction.
I will make this very simple. The Internet was designed as a neutral platform for packet switching on top of which anything that you could packetize and transmit could be implemented. Over the course of the last 40 years, the capacity of the system to carry these simple and uninterpreted packets has increased by a factor of a million. The original design had a back bone that had 50,000 bits per second. Today you find 50 gigabits to 100 gigabits per second is very common and even higher speeds are coming. The edges of the net have also increased in capacity.
Why is that important? Well, it's important because the applications that can be supported on this simple neutral platform have expanded dramatically from simple text exchanges in the earliest days now to full speed high definition video interactive conferencing and a variety of other applications.
So the notion of OTT, in my view is simply a misunderstanding of the design of this system. Everything is an application on top of this underlying high‑speed packet switch network. And so the idea of regulating that seems to me completely out of ‑‑ out of character. It's not necessary. It's unnecessary to regulate all of those applications that we could do now and the applications that will be invented in the future. It's simply all enhanced application space.
Mr. Chairman, I'm going to stop there and encourage the rest of the discussion to continue.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you, Vint. Our next speaker is going to be Mr. Alex Riobo from Telefonica.
>> ALEXANDER RIOBO: Hello, good morning to everybody, and thank you for inviting me to this panel. Thank you, Gonzalo. It's a difficult question whether or not to regulate OTTs and to answer to that question, I would say I have to ‑‑ we have to look at it from different angles, from different perspectives. There is an economic regulation and from that perspective we have to ‑‑ what is that regulation for?
The regulation was created in the '80s, when the public utility companies were privatized. At the time it made sense. It made sense because there were monopolies. There was one provider for water and sanitation services and one provider for electricity, and there was also one provider for fixed telecommunications. So the regulation made sense. It made sense at that time.
But things change in the telecom world and new technologies emerge. And then it didn't make sense to control the tariffs that those providers were charging to customers or the conditions in which they were providing their services. And the regulation change shifted from ‑‑ from the objective to promote competition, and that's the only purpose of regulation is to promote competition.
So now in the digital ecosystem, we have to think differently. We are not talking anymore about the telecommunications industry that has changed. We're talking about the telecom system in which a lot of agents, different agents compete and cooperate, because we wouldn't have the network we have today if there weren't those contents and applications that we use everyday and that make our lives easier.
But there won't be applications and contents if there wouldn't be networks. So we compete and we cooperate. And from that perspective, sorry, we would have to analyze in which of the new markets would in that ecosystem, facing competition in which there is not.
So I would say, for instance, the ‑‑ when you make a phone call, you don't care if you are making that phone call from an application, or from the server provider. Is that protective? No. It doesn't make sense to regulate a market in which there is more competition now than it were some years ago, but there are some new markets in the ecosystem that have to ‑‑ that have to be reviewed, and in those new markets, well, the answer ‑‑ I don't know if it's good to regulate or not those marks. First, we will have to analyze if there's enough competition.
So to make it simple, in some ‑‑ in some markets, there won't be necessary to regulate. It will be to deregulate the former incumbents, which have more competition today than it had before. But in some other, we will have to analyze and each compared to analyze regarding their national frameworks and decide where not some of those new markets need the regulation.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you very much, Alex. Bob pepper, I know you have to leave early.
>> ROBERT PEPPER: Thank you very much. Yeah, so unfortunately, I apologize, I have to leave early because we have a main session that I invite you to when this is over. The main session on sustainable development, Internet and inclusive growth in the main room.
Let me go back and start sort of framing my views on this, aligning really with Vint as we usually do.
That's right. You know, the old guys with the gray beards. That's right.
There's a symbiotic relationship between the application providers, online service providers, some people call them OTTs. I'm not sure what OTT means. It is about applications, right? But there's a symbiotic relationship between the application providers and the underlying network providers, the transmission networks. Without ‑‑ you know, online content is driving demand for the broadband networks, and, of course, as was just pointed out by our colleague from Telefonica, without the networks there would not be the connectivity.
I also think that it's clear, and so we just heard, as the market evolves, the notion of what applications and what services, you know, either rely on one another or compete with one another is blurring. And in a market where there is more competition, there is less need to regulate, and, in fact, there are regulations on traditional telecos that have become outstated as there's more competition. And all too often the regulators ‑‑ there's a lag in the time between competition and the assessment or the review of those regulations in order to deregulate, perhaps.
But let me just ‑‑ there's also some fundamental differences between the online services and the applications and the underlying networks. But those differences really also are the result of a fundamental change in the networks themselves and the services.
If you go back 30 seconds and before, there were five essential assumptions that underlaid the entire telecommunications industry, both the business and the regulation, and they were correct 30, 40 years ago. Number one, the product was voice. Number two, the metric by which you measured it, build it, build for it, paid for it and regulated it was the minute. And using sort of economic principles, if you have an ‑‑ what we called a traffic sensitive or an incremental cost, a traffic sensitive cost or an incremental cost, you would have a traffic sensitive or incremental price.
So the longer you talked, the higher you cost, so there were more per minute. The longer the distance, the higher the cost.
Where you were located affected the costs and so there were different prices based upon location. But today's networks are completely different. And this is Vint's point, I think.
Today the product is connectivity. The metric is bandwidth and the networks, you are either on or off. They are time, traffic, distance, location, and sensitive. So trying to think about imposing the old pricing regulatory structures on these new flat IP broadband networks in which it's just packets doesn't make sense. And trying to have regulation on the applications that ride on top of those networks as though they were inextricably linked to transmission in the old days of telephony makes no sense.
So we really need a completely different way about thinking about the regulation and really understand this symbiotic relationship between the transmission, the networks and all of the applications that ride on top.
One last point. For example, in 4G, LTE, there is no voice like this was in 2G or 3G. The voice is voice over IP on top of the network. It happens to be called voice over LTE or VoLTE. It's nothing but an application. So thinking about regulating it as if it's traditional voice from 40 years ago makes no sense.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you. Natasha. I hear that you have a presentation.
>> NATSAHA JACKSON: It's okay. So I think we are in danger of agreeing, which is always dangerous. But the world is different. It's definitely different, and at the GSMA, with the association for mobile operators around the world, when we try and understand and talk about OTTs, really we think you need to start by looking at their role within the digital ecosystem and what is that ecosystem. And really, it's so niche and so varied and there are so many different actors within it, whether they are coming from the content side, connectivity, whether they are providing the sort of user connectivity or the interfaces. There are such a multitude of actors and business models and commercial relationships within it, that it's absolutely huge.
And at the center of this digital ecosystem, we see these digital platforms, which are essentially combinations of hardware, the apps, the content and the communications coming together to provide services to users, whether they are video game services, social media, music services, whatever they may be. Essentially collections of digital platforms and OTTs are now one of these other platforms which connects different groups of users, enabling models, new commercial models and different relationships and primarily they do so by leveraging innovation and scale and reducing the costs. And often they offer these at zero cost, not always. It depends on the business model.
So you have these variety of business models that are constantly changing, because what we have really is really dynamic competition within that ecosystem. Companies are competing all the time on creating new products, new services, entering the market, lowering the cost models and the innovation makes it so high and often we have this very disruptive innovation that we see every two to three years. So OTTs as we are calling them are naturally testing the boundaries of these existing laws and regulations, which were designed, as Dr. Pepper said, on a bygone era.
So we see that the challenge for regulation is not to apply rigid definitions that have existed in the past, but really to understand how these different actors and business models work and put into place new regulatory frameworks that support the investment and the innovation that we really need in order to deliver huge benefits for the consumers and for businesses.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you very much, Natasha. Brett.
>> BRETT SOLOMON: With Access Now. It's great to be on the panel with Vint Cerf. I'm a representative from civil society and it's also great to be on a panel with businesses and business associations. Obviously ‑‑ well, our perspective is one from that of the user. Not necessarily about competition or about market access, or about holding on to existing parts of the markets, but about how is the user actually able to experience and enjoy the Internet?
And I think it's really essential that we see these through the human rights framework. How do you ensure that the user is able to experience the right to freedom of expression, opinion, association, the right to privacy, and so on?
When we come to OTT, I think it's important that we look at actually what is the genesis of this concept and whether it's an appropriate term to be using in the context of who are the users of Internet and the users of the Internet in the future. There are a number of billion users still to join us. And we want to make sure that they are able to experience those rights in a way that existing users do.
So to that end, I think that this concept of regulation is important to see in the frame of how do we ensure the continued openness of the Internet? And how do we ensure regulation if it is to take place supports the users' rights to be able to, as I say, express, to think, to publish, et cetera.
Our concern is, and I think as you look across many different jurisdictions, this concept of OTT regulations threatens those rights. So it threatens the openness and the ability for innovation, for new services, for new players to be able to enter into a market, and so very much in support of any form of regulation that supports only those rights.
So for instance, the in European context, there's discussion around the privacy directive, and which has traditionally been relevant only to the telecom sector and whether it should be applicable or applied to OTT, so‑called OTT application services in which we think that there's a good ‑‑ there's a good argument for that.
But when it's actually about competition or trying to protect incumbents position, we think there's some serious questions about freedom of expression and opinion and innovation that are potentially at risk as a result of that. So I will leave it there.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you, Brett. Bertrand de La Chapelle.
>> BERTRAND DE LA CHAPELLE: Thank you, Gonzalo. Good morning, everyone.
First of all, I do expect that my presence here is not to represent some form of government. I'm not in there anymore.
The second thing is I'm not sure that after the previous interventions people have a strong sense of why there is a problem, because there seems to be a relative convergence that the environment is changing, that there needs to be adaptation, but fundamentally, the question that we are being asked here is: Is this concept and this word an operational word to describe the problems that we are facing?
And I suppose that one of the reasons why I have been invited here is because as an executive director of Internet and jurisdiction, it's more a contribution on the methodological aspect than the substantive aspect, really. And one of the big challenges in most of those discussions regarding governance on the Internet in general is that we are often in situations where people, entities, governments, civil society, companies and so on, have a problem with each other. So they throw accusations over the fence, saying you don't do this. You should do that. You shouldn't do this. Or you should do that.
And in those cases, the reason why there's those fights, is because there's an underlying question that needs to be formulated as a common challenge, rather than a problem that people have with each other.
And to be absolutely frank, when Gonzalo invited me to be with this panel, I was struggling with OTT and it's operational or not. And I dug a little deeper and spoke to a few people. As I was thinking about it, I felt there is an underlying ‑‑ there are a few underlying, I would say, two fundamental questions but there's one underlying question, which is much more of a common challenge than a problem that people have with each other, which is very simply, how can we collectively and collaboratively ensure that the necessary growth in 9 infrastructure to accommodate the needs bandwidth and the universal access can be financed?
That's fundamental question that we are all facing. And most of the debate that has been going on, as I understand, particularly in the region, Latin America, and other regions is the rehashing of the discussion that took place around the net neutrality debate.
And if you look at the question of how can we collectively finance the infrastructure to cope with the increased need of bandwidth and to enter universal access, then it becomes a different challenge and it's becoming more and more obvious that regulation, to take the second term in this title, is a very loose word to describe a lot of different things, and some of those things are mainly cooperations. It has been said over and over again that there's a symbiotic relationship and the need for bandwidth is linked to the availability of applications and that the applications could not exist if the bandwidth is not there.
There are many different challenges, whether you are talking about last mile connectivity, fiber to the home, in urban areas or in rural areas, whether you are talking about the special needs for spectrum that people have to allow mobile access in broadband, there are a lot of different issues, but one of the main challenges that I have with the way the problem seems to be framed, seen from the outside, is that it looks very much like the classical issue of how do you divide a fixed pie, rather than discussing how the whole ecosystem can grow in a collaboration together?
And I think this panel is an opportunity to highlight the need for those questions to be discussed in collaboration with the different ‑‑ the different actors. When you see that today some of the largest OTTs or applications are developing their own infrastructure, and that most of the telecom operators are going into the content area, the provision of applications, it is clear that the distinction between those layers is growing sufficiently for requiring more of the cooperative approach. So in my perspective, if this panel can serve one purpose, it's to encourage all the different actors to formulate and frame the problem in a way that becomes a common problem, rather than the problem that they have with each other because otherwise, they can continue forever. And the final point on the question of regulation, I find very interesting that in the different presentations, there are two dimensions of regulation that have been invoked in passing. One is the promotion of competition, which is one tool, but the other one is the regulation that Brett was mentioning that's more related to content, privacy and so on. These are two different types of regulation, and I think it's important to distinguish them.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you, Bertrand. Eric?
>> ERIC LOEB: Thank you, Gonzalo. Thank you so much for organizing the panel and bringing everyone together.
I will be relatively brief on the thoughts for the first part because I think I will live up to the famous saying in Washington, D.C., that everything has been said but not everyone has said it.
I will avoid that if I can.
But a point that we have convalesced on, and this is just one to reflect five years from now, there will be no panel called OTT. It's a term with a limited shelf life, and it is a concept that because of the dramatic changes in technology and commercial models, just sits out there as a false dichotomy. If you think of the operations and practices of companies, the ‑‑ the move, convergence as a word means so many things but it's not just at a services and service provider level which is how people think about it. It's that people that have starred at the edge have moved to build networks and people who build networks, particularly as you think of the software defined network ecosystem, everything as Vint said is an application.
So the utility of a concept of thinking about regulatory structures and OTT versus telco, it's not very sensible.
What does the future look like and how should we be thinking about important policy making terms? Because likewise, it's not a correct dichotomy, as Pepper was saying, to think that inherently you apply all regulations in one and not the other, or vice versa.
So there's a very interesting and sophisticated conversation to have, so that we think in a going forward manner to Natasha's point of modern regulation, what are things we value to Brett's point, what do we value from social policy, safety policy, economic policy, as core components that are important across jurisdictions?
And then in a careful way, how do we think in refreshed ways that work and encourage innovation and investment for everybody in all the spaces, to apply these in a manner that brings out the best and does not unnecessarily stifle based on historic models and frameworks?
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you very much, Eric. And finally on this first line of interventions, Raul.
>> RAUL ECHEBERRIA: It's difficult to be original in the speech being the last one in the panel, but I think that the ‑‑ I work for the Internet Society. So I think that's the name of the organization says a lot, Internet Society. We look at the Internet as a whole.
So we really don't see any application over the Internet because there are many things over the Internet but not the things that we are talking about. We see the applications are part of the Internet, of course. When we are using one applications, we say, I'm using Internet. We don't say, I'm using something that is out, up with the Internet. I think that's probably we could speak about things that are on the top, rather than over the top.
Maybe we can still continue using the are term OTTs but with a different meaning that is on the stop.
But what are the OTTs? I think that is ‑‑ I made this clarification, but I think we talk, everybody know what we are talking about. So it's just and certification. So with an increasing adoption of technology and ICT specifically, in every human and economic activity, we see applications coming up everywhere, doing many different things. I think that all of them could be considered in the same category of being on the top of the Internet.
There's a newspaper, an electronic newspaper, the most famous that uses it to work for radio, for many years. Now he has his own online radio. And he's ‑‑ he changed the business model. Now he's making contracts with the traditional radios for delivering his content through the radio but mainly he delivers on the Internet.
So when we think about a newspaper and e‑Government services, that's another example of on the top applications or Uber. Uber is also an OTT. It's a misunderstanding. Or anything. That's all the things that we have in mind, it could be considered. And so ‑‑ but sometimes we speak about things that are replacing or substituting or changing traditional business models and as an example that I mentioned about the radio, everything is changing things.
And we are discussing about everywhere in the world because it's very disruptive in the application, and so this is ‑‑ so what we could consider an OTT? I think we should discuss in any case, the complete range of and broad range of applications that are changing and things that are changing in the way that we do so far.
But when we discuss about the OTT, it seems like we are looking only to just a small part of it. It was called mainly communication OTTs. They are the ones that are improving, replacing, substituting or changing the traditional communications ways or other former applications. And this is ‑‑ in my view, this is just ‑‑ it's a small part of that. In fact, the disruption is much bigger in other areas. Much bigger.
So that's ‑‑ so when I still try to answer the first question, that this ‑‑ what do we understand when we talk about OTTs? I don't know exactly. I have think that we tried in this ‑‑ in this business, in this ‑‑ the people in this community, tried to limit conversation about OTTs to the community area, but this is a much bigger thing. So that's ‑‑ should we classify them separately? No idea. I think that we will ‑‑ while we take the time for classifying the OTTs, probably there will be other hundreds of category of things that will come up that we are not seeing today.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Super interesting. Thank you very much, Raul.
Now we open the floor for some questions. Let's see if ‑‑
>> VINTON CERF: Would you permit a response from the panel to what the panel has said?
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Yes. Okay. Okay, well, let's being flexible so let's say that we are going to open some five minutes to responses and then we can go to the questions. Okay?
So I suppose that you are first ‑‑ you are the first in line, right?
>> VINTON CERF: Well, I also want to point out that I didn't use my whole five minutes either.
I paid for this microphone. I like very much the point that the focus on OTTs has been so narrow to a set of services or businesses that used to be done a different way, but the Internet is capable of doing an incredible range of applications, most of which have not been invented yet. And so the first person ‑‑ maybe it's you ‑‑ invent a new application that no one else offers. Oh, my God! It's a monopoly. You are the only person that offers this brand new service. We have to regulate you, because to one else is competing yet. Is this ridiculous!
What's important is promoting people's new ideas and inventions and products and services. And so the whole idea behind this uniform, neutral platform upon which new competitive services can be built is really important.
I do want to come, though, to the other point about what else do we care about? We certainly care about user choice. We want users to have the ability to choose from multiple suppliers. That's competition. And sometimes you may need some kind of regulatory framework to assure that there is competition, so that the users have choice. So I stop there and thank you very much for allowing me the extra intervention.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you very much. Is there any other comment?
Okay. So we have, one, two, and three questions here. We will start with three and see if we can ‑‑ but I would like to remind you that if we can't, we are going to have some time at the end of the session for some questions. So when you are ‑‑ please introduce yourself and ‑‑
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Bolte. Usually I would have listened to this panel and got out according, but there's so much agreement, that I'm duty bound to introduce a difficult question, just for the discussion.
I also chair the largest industry association of ICT in India, which has all the representation, has the great privilege of hosting Cert and my boss is on the panel here. Full disclosure, I'm a telco. We get this kind of discussion in our meetings in India, where all people come together and have this very cozy agreement saying, this is where we need to go. It's a difficult problem but we need to sort of look at this.
And then we reach the offices of the government, more specifically, intelligence agencies, not security agencies, and they ask us the following question: Why is it that you want us to regulation, SMSs and phone calls but not regulate a WhatsApp message.
In a company, where there are hundreds of peoples and human lives are pitched against human rights, they come up to us and ask us this question. Well, how do you want us to save lives? How do you want us to make sure that we have the information that we require to save lives? Because the OTT platforms currently at least stand outside the traditional surveillance mechanisms that the intelligence agencies need to get the information on terror.
So can you inform us on what is the response to take back not to security agencies but intelligence agencies who don't come to meetings like this, but write the rules which then regulate this entire ICT sector. How do we pitch human right vs. human lives and equality between two types of services which one of them could be used outside the traditional surveillance system and the other is regulated costing millions of dollars in investment, making sure the surveillance is accurate.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you. Thank you very much. If you see the screen we have indicated second suggested questions for the panelists and you think some of the issues are raising are going to be discussed in that, but if one of the panelists wants to address briefly? Brett?
>> BRETT SOLOMON: Just quickly, so firstly, the right to life is a human right. So it's not as if we are pitching the right to life against ‑‑ I mean ‑‑ yeah, human rights vs. human life. There's no pitting. It's about how do we ensure that people enjoy their rights across the spectrum.
You are talking about national security and intelligence agencies this brings up the right to privacy and the right of freedom of expression and I think it's incumbent upon all states who are signatories to international of human rights, that they enjoy those rights even in the terrorist age. And the rule of that is the rule of law.
They should be able to access user data when there's necessity and proportionality, and there are principles that have been developed, including the necessary proportion of principles which 400 civil society organizations have assigned the layout, a rule of law approach and a regulatory approach to ensure that we can all live safely in the digital age and in the context of terrorist attacks.
>> RAUL ECHEBERRIA: Just a quick answer. It brings me to the second approach that I wanted to talk about. From competitive perspective, the more competition you have in a given market, the less regulation you need. There is no type of regulation that you mentioned that has to do with security of the citizens in ‑‑ in a country. Every state has the obligation to protect their citizens. That's something, I think we don't have to discuss.
And for doing that, well, all citizens and companies providing services or selling products in a country have to collaborate with authorities, from my perspective. It doesn't matter where you have headquarters in that country or not, you should cooperate with the authorities in a given state, because well, there's life we are talking about.
So from that perspective, I think regulation should be analyzed in a different matter, and I repeat, I think we all are obliged to comply with ‑‑ to collaborate with authorities in any country.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you, Alex.
I think we are going to hold off. So let's move to the next question.
We are going to take three at this point. I point that ‑‑ (Off microphone comment).
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: I'm sorry, I can't hear you. (Off microphone comment).
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: We have time at the end of the panel for more questions.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you very much, I'm with African lands. We have some concerned companies in Africa.
Recently a Nigerian regulator asked a telco actually increase the cost of data, and people protested and the costs went down.
Well, they want small players to stay in the market and still be available in the system. So the point is ‑‑ the question is: What is the thinking of the panelists concerning that? Do the issues still own? Do they step down and increase the cost of data? I think competition needs to be allowed but what is the thinking in this regard?
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you very much. That's an excellent point that we are supposed to address during the second round of interventions.
I don't know if you want to ‑‑
>> VINTON CERF: One point. When you mention cost, I assume you mean cost to the small business provider. The cost to the provider of data services is also an important number, and if it turns out that they are charging much more than the real cost, that's an opportunity for competition. We have seen this happen in the past, where new technology comes along that makes it less expensive to offer a particular data service, for instance, and competition happens, as long as it's permitted to happen.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you very much.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, I wanted to ask a question, Chris with Telefonica. I want to go back to a concept which I think is clear and Brett put it out clearly. The guide to all of this analysis and modernization is to go back to consumers and users, and see what are the values that we want to protect? Up until now we had a regime where you had in the telco, end of secrecy and this is in most parts of the world not applicable to the digital world. So basically the authorities are not looking to there. The laws are not up to speed on that.
So, I mean, my question is going back to that. I mean, how can we do that? I mean, I don't care if my location data comes out of the connector card, out of my SmartPhone, out of an application on a SmartPhone. I mean there's so many different ways now where data is collected and it's basically used by companies or by others. So how can we do that? I mean do we have the right institutional frameworks to do that because most countries do not even have data protection authorities who have the capacity.
When you come to competition, who would do that? We have the telco world, there's nothing for, that for the whole digital economy. So, I mean, this is a massive change of what we have done in the past and it's happening very quickly. So how can we do this kind of change to this new world?
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you. An interesting question.
>> Thanks for raising that. I do think that the regulatory spectrum is, you know, clearly important at times to ensure rights, as I mentioned in the ‑‑ in the ‑‑ in my introductory remarks.
Like, for instance, India, the gentlemen who just left, referred to ‑‑ the situation there is that there isn't a privacy law in place, and yet at the same time, there are numerous initiatives for so‑called OTT regulations. So how do you actually ensure privacy protections in the context of a country of a billion people that doesn't actually have a law that protects those rights? So this is some of the challenges and the speed with which we move on and also just, I think there is a level of trust that we have to have in the environment, in a relatively unregulated environment, that, you know, it has worked relatively well to this point.
I think this sort of push towards over regulation, unless it's regulation that protects the openness or the digital rights of the Internet users then we are at risk of preventing the sort of things that I mentioned before, like innovation and openness.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you, I think Natasha wants to and Bertrand, you will have an extra minute.
>> NATSAHA JACKSON: Yes, I absolutely agree. We need to look at the consumer perspective on this and I think we'll talk about this in the next part of the panel, but I think incredibly important in this area is really capacity building for governments and regulators in this area. So not just in the case where we are talking previously around terrorists or security, that they understand the difference, how the different players in the ecosystem work and to what extent they are able to affect different actions and have impacts on orders that are not important and also for regulators to understand these new frameworks and understand and open up the thinking in terms of looking at things from a different way in the future. So capacity building around the world and particularly in those parts of the world where they don't have any of the sort of necessary consumer protections in place is something important, and it's something that the GSMA is doing and we do around the world already in workshops with regulators and government.
>> VINTON CERF: I have the microphone, just one point. You know, Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. It's very important for the regulators to understand that they can't keep doing the same thing over and over and they even have to think about maybe not regulating something is a good idea.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Okay. Let's go.
We are going to ‑‑ the questions for this section now, since we are running a bit late, and this is what we are going to do. We have a second round of suggested questions for our panelists. Now we are going to ask you to ‑‑ to take your intervention up to three minutes. I know some of you have to leave early and after that, we are going to open the mic and the floor for questions again.
I'm going to start with Raul and then we'll move into the exact opposite order that we had in the first round because Raul, I think you have to leave soon. You are first. Okay. Cool.
>> RAUL ECHEBERRIA: Thank you. I have very good students respecting all the rules but I have ‑‑ I will follow the example of my mentor Vint Cerf. So now that I have the mic, I have the power and I will speak all the time.
Okay. Is the regulation, I think Brett said something in his first speech that we have to look at this issue from the point of view of the public interest, from the user perspective, and also I would add the regional and local characteristics of perspective, because it's not the same if the situations or the measures are not the same in different parts of the world.
And so it is not ‑‑ we have to stop discussing this issue, just as something between the ‑‑ the telcos and the content providers. At least this is not the discussion that I'm interested in participating in. I look to this point from the perspective of the public interest.
So about the question itself, about the remuneration. Well, first of all, regulation is not the only public policy tool. It's just one of them, there are many other things, many other tools for policymakers. And there is, yes, a risk on regulating those things and I will come back to the question, that I'm sorry that we don't have answers for that question.
Probably the question is the not right one. And because we have to look at that as different business, with different regulations and also we don't think to ‑‑ I don't think that we have to discuss such regulation yes or not.
I there are there's room for some regulations maybe. I don't know. But it doesn't mean that we have to apply exactly the same regulation frameworks to different activities. Look at what is happening with Uber. And there is a risk, first of all, in terms of timing. We have been discussing around the world, what to do with Uber and there's not a consensus yet. And we are starting to see some progresses on the regulation. It's a light regulation. It's not the same regulation that has regulated the taxis and other things.
But while we are discussing this we have now more connected cards. We have driverless cars. In fact, I saw a few months ago that one European city has already a public transportation bus driverless that is just a pilot experience. So we don't know how to regulate Uber and we have more challenging situations in the same field.
But what will we do? So we should regulate that for protecting the ‑‑ the ‑‑ some economic interests from disruption. I don't think that we will be doing that with favor to them. Because if we do, that we kill innovation. In fact, if we choose to protect everybody, if we protect the hotels from BNB. If we protect the taxis from the Uber and the telcos from the users of WhatsApp so, we will be using SMS for the next 20 years. We will continue taking the same driver taxis that are not providing a good service.
So I think that is not ‑‑ it's not the right question. It's ‑‑ if we have to apply the same regulation, it's different. It's a different situation.
And the solutions for that ‑‑ for the current ‑‑ the present challenges are not in the past. They are in the future. And to be honest, I think that we talk all the time about the ‑‑ the Information Society or the knowledge society. I really feel that we are in the innovation society at this moment, and I think that all the society and the countries, if we want to look at the world in terms of countries, they have really the challenge of reaching a certain threshold of innovation. And the countries don't do that, they will be the loser.
The ones that are really able to have, to innovate over that threshold will be the winners and when we speak about innovation, we also speak about innovation in public policies and this is a very important aspect. We have to be more clear in the way we deal with the current problems and I think that Vint says is very appropriate. We cannot continue doing always the same and we will look for different solutions.
My last point, I would like to see some improvements in some of the OTTs that we are talking about. I would like to look at interoperability. I would love to send a message from Skype to our colleague that have WhatsApp. That would be something. I would like to see improvements also in privacy or personal data protection. I don't know if regulation is enforceable, useful, or the right way to deal with that. Maybe ‑‑ maybe not maybe. I'm convinced that the approach is the approach for dealing with these challenges and this is why we are here, because we believe in that.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you very much.
Well, we have very limited time. I will have to spend hours and hours and hours talking about this issue, especially with this panel, which is really, really interesting. But we need to stick on our agenda. So I think that Eric?
I'm getting old, yeah, yeah.
>> ERIC LOEB: One was OTT and so we aptly deconstructed the OTT and we said it's not an apt distinction. We have already seen that there are many different types of regulations and we are coming that Varat was discussing. This was not necessarily implied, which is fundamentally, the cross border to user data when there's a criminal investigation in one country which begets the whole distinction between the regime, between the operators that have to get a license in the country and the operators that are cross borders.
One of the major benefits of the Internet was the fact that services could be accessible from anywhere from the world, without having to ask for a license of any sort. This is a fundamental value of the Internet, and I must confess that a lot of the trends that are happening at the moment, are going in the opposite direction because a certain number of issues are not being sold. And because the issues like the one that Varat are addressing are not be solved to get the blocking of WhatsApp in some countries in Latin America.
You get the trends, which is nonsense. You have a whole range of actors who are struggling with solving this fundamental question. To get very concrete, you get a crime committed in India the criminal is located in India. The victim is located in India. And there's a perfect way for the India government to go after this. This is provided about an Internet service provider would has a license in India and an obligation to transmit this data or whether it's the data that's stored by Google because of gmail or because of a WhatsApp application, it's stored outside by a company that's located outside, the rules are different, and everybody is struggling at the moment to find the right balance of interests regarding under which condition this data should or shouldn't be transmitted.
To add to the complexity of the problem, which is one of the ones that is addressed in the Internet and jurisdiction policy network that I manage, you have regulation in the US that forbids the companies that are based in the US, to transmit information regarding users, incremental investigation, when it's the content of an exchange, like the content of an email, or ‑‑ but allows voluntary transmission without any agreed framework at the moment of the basic subscriber information and the traffic data.
So it is a complex issue, where there is a discrepancy in the rules and one thing that is very clear, is that the solution is not apply a licensing agreement to the cross border services.
But there is a need to find the solution and actually there will be another panel at 12:00 in the workshop 87 in room 3, that will be dealing more precisely with this question.
But the question of how do national laws apply to cross border services and the jurisdictional challenges that go with it, is one of the fundamental underlying problems and regulation is too vague a word to cover this. There are very different types of regulations. We regulate content. You regulate access to user data and the competition market and you can go on and on. So I think it's important to deconstruct the word and look at different types of regulation.
But cross border to data is one of the big differences.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Well, that's very interesting Bertrand. And we will probably want to talk about it at noon. So Eric?
>> ERIC LOEB: Well, I thought I would just add a couple of concepts from a framework perspective, as we think of the premise that we got to fairly quickly that at least for that category of activities, people most think of as OTT, over time it's to be thinking about things as services, service providers, what end users are using and consuming. And for some of things that Christoph had raised, it's helpful to think of a horizontal and a vertical axis. There will be certain issues for which there's an appropriate expectation of horizontal consistency and over time, that could be privacy and it can be security. It could be disability access. There are certain things that will be public policy expectations and user expectations to be provided, and then an expectation for some manner of horizontal consistency regardless of what type of company it is, but focus on what kind of service it is.
At the same time, on the vertical axis, you have to be mindful that there are different activities for which you don't apply the same thing. A connected car is not a voice service, is not a connected refrigerator, right? And so there should be above and below that horizontal plan where differentiation is appropriate.
A second point that I think is important to consider in terms of that public/private engagement in how we address these policy priorities is a different focus on what from how. And what the is very important. What it is that public policy identifies should be addressed, should be protected through some manner.
The how comes down to the different, sometimes very innovative ways or different technological ways that someone can address that, and where possible, in thinking of policy and regulation, it's helpful to whenever you can avoid that prescriptive approach on the how, to allow people to solve things in a pretty dynamic way.
And a third point I will make on all of this and it comes very much to Bertrand's point, we can talk about all of this, but for many of the different changes to take place, it's not just a regulatory decision. It's a legislative one. And so there are going to be a lot of instances where for the framework with which public sector can act, to be applied in a more modernized way will require legislative changes.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you, Natasha.
>> NATSAHA JACKSON: Policymakers need to take a fresh approach and the regulatory approach that they are taking based on the changes that we have seen, I think we can all agree.
The futures needs a more agnostic approach and much more flexible approach. I will do a shameless because we worked with Neo Consulting earlier this year to come up with what that new regulatory framework might be and we published a report this year, and it ‑‑ and it really is based on three fundamental principles and I think Eric has picked up on them, as well. So first of all, the regulation has to be functionality‑based rather than structure based. So it should focus on the functionality of the services rather than the industry structure or the players or the technology, and, for example, if the purpose of regulation is to protect consumers from some sort of harm associated with a service or something around it, they should look at that regardless of the type of player who is providing that or the technology that's underlying that.
And the second principle is that because these markets are so dynamic even complex, the regulation needs to be flexible and accommodate all the changes we heard and we know are coming. So in ‑‑ in principle, performance‑based sort of ex‑post approaches to regulation will be better than prescriptive, we think it's better that they don't do the prescriptive regulation, so it becomes outdated.
And the third principle is really that regulators really need to recognize that today's regulations and many of them that have been inherited from the past are obsolete and they look at the existing regulation and not necessarily ignoring existing rules and starting over, but actually taking the current and the future into account.
And in this report that you have and there were comments at the GSMA stand here, if you want copies and it goes into more detail in certain area of regulations whether it's access or privacy and, spectrum policy. And so we laid it out and we really believe and we have no doubt that countries who really choose to modernize their regulatory frameworks, to reflect the new market and the new digital ecosystem will reap the benefits whether that's investment, consumer choice and economic growth.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you, Natasha.
>> I'm really pleased that there's some consensus around the false construction of OTT. I think if we can move past that concept. There's legislation that's being proposed in pretty much every jurisdiction that, you know, that we all live in. Particularly in the global south, and if you look at Brazil for a second, there's significant, 100 million WhatsApp users, 100 million users kicked off their communication ‑‑ unable to communicate with each other.
And there's a whole range of, you know, push to regulation, around WhatsApp. These are the sorts of results that we see from the courts. And in Morocco, they began the blocking of VoIP. In Argentina, there's the 17 principles that talk very much about ‑‑ about obligations to register applications, and establish dangerous intermediate liability rules. In Colombia, there's a bill in Congress about transportation services, which mandates application registration, with which gives unbelievable powers to the authorities in Uruguay and India, you name it.
And much of this is still under the context, under the banner of OTT. So I think it's really important that we actually respond to those regulatory developments and understand the consequences for the future of the open Internet, and all of those rights that we have mentioned on privacy, on freedom of expression, on opinion, on association, as the Internet moves into everything from ‑‑ you know from transportation, as we have mentioned, with the reporter occupation and that comes into the right of housing, and healthcare and food, et cetera. I think we need to think about that in the current context of the regulatory proposals being introduced plus also what is the future of the Internet and the ability of users to be able to enjoy it.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you, Brett. Alex?
>> ALEXANDER RIOBO: I want first to answer one of Raul's questions. What should you do with Uber? Well, use it because it's a wonderful service.
What should we do with WhatsApp voice calls and video calls when they are available? Well, use it because they are great. And perhaps the price and the quality regulation, that are still in place are no longer needed.
When new price appear, as a previous speaker, the authority should stop by Uber and ask a few questions. And authorities should be able to listen to when some suspects are talking through a WhatsApp call. I think there's room for regulation in that aspect. And another ‑‑ yet another type of regulation that I would like to mention is taxes and contributions. As Bertrand mentioned in his first intervention, they have been relevant for stimulating the ecosystem, hmm?
In Latin America, we were yesterday discussing how to connect the down connected. Because there's still 50% of the population, that's not connected to the Internet.
While taxes and contributions play a fundamental role in helping to contribute those unconnected.
Every company in every count Friday in the world that is to pay taxes. Well, because the world has changed and now we have global platforms providing services and all the countries without being present in those countries, well, there is a ‑‑ a big question and a difficult question. How should those companies pay taxes and contribute to universal funds?
I don't know. The answer is very difficult and that's a subject that has to be discussed, but from my perspective, there is room for regulation in that aspect too.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you, Alex. And our last speaker is Vint Cerf.
>> VINTON CERF: So let me just respond on the tax question. Any company like Telefonica, which is global in scope has the problem of dealing with a tax environment, which is quite varied in every country that you operate. So this is a really complicated problem. We all pay taxes. We just have to figure out how to do it in a global context.
I want to offer a completely counterintuitive observation about dealing with some of the problems that have been discussed. I don't know how many of you are aware of the avalanche takedown. This was a major effort that took some five years with considerable cooperation across borders, in order to take down this avalanche botnet, I believe this was a largely informal collaboration.
Sometimes informality is your friend. We have another example of that in a Working Group which was entirely informal and the reason that that worked from the law enforcement point of view is that anyone that had something useful to say about it, was invited to participate, whether it was an individual, a hacker, or a government‑sponsored organization.
So in the end, it may very well be that some of the cross border problems that we face can be addressed in this informal way and in the process discover the best ways we can to work together to deal with some of the harmful situations we find on the Internet. So let's not discount informality as an important tool for trying to figure out how to solve some of these problems.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you, Vint. I have three questions Danielle, you and. And please be brief with your questions, please. And to allow the rest of the participants to make their comments.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Rajin, I'm speaking on Internet service providers of India.
Maybe the questions are wrong, what has been told right now. Our questions remains the same because we are also very much interested in connecting to country and the broadband access should be increased. At the same time, they also have to see that they are self‑regulated and if they are not self‑regulated then automatically the regulation will come too the picture.
Immediate thing, what the intelligence suggests, he asks us in the same question, I'm repeating what Varat has asked. What is the difference between human rights and human lives because this is the question. What terrorists use SMS or telecom, it's regulated, while at the same time, if you use Skype or other messaging, it's not regulated.
In a very recent court, WhatsApp has submitted an affidavit stating that the moment the user is deleting himself from the WhatsApp messaging system, all of his data contents are getting deleted and the WhatsApp will not be helpful to the enforcement agency in India to give any data for further investigation. To what you are saying at the cross border and what you are saying is that the OTT should cooperate with the law enforcement agency. They have very clearly given this affidavit into the court and you did not submit any data in the user is getting deleted.
>> GONZALO NAVARRO: Thank you. We'll take that as a comment more than a question. So thank you very much.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hello, eye come from Southeast Asia. I could. From the global south. So I would like to know one basic assumption. When you say about before we go to the full front of nonregulation or informal, I would like to know one basic assumption, is the Internet equal? Because historically the Internet is not equal, and I think it's a fact that we have to see, also a fact that we have to address, and that's why we have WSI