Direct access & the next billion

08 December 2016 - A Workshop on Guadalajara,Mexico


Connecting the next billion raises questions on the importance of creating an enabling environment. On-going connectivity efforts need to ensure that those coming online have access to a safe, secure and open Internet. Internet governance plays an important role in setting the rules of the game. 

But what happens when some players ignore or bypass these rules?

Over the last few years, there has been increasing evidence that specific agencies and authorities have direct, unimpeded access to data for intelligence gathering and law enforcement purposes without an operational role for telecommunications service providers. Moreover, data held by over-the-top providers and other institutions, such as financial bodies and air operators, may already be a reality.

From a legal perspective, this undermines efforts deployed by multi-stakeholder processes working to ensure that the governance of the internet is in accordance with the rule of law, and respects, protects and promotes human rights. By having direct access there is little or no incentive for governments to go through the existing legal framework to request communications data of their citizens, thus significantly undermining legal safeguards.

From a technology perspective, governments having direct access with or without the knowledge of service providers directly threatens the integrity, security and privacy of communications systems. Especially as compromising security for State purposes almost always compromises security more generally.

What are the legal frameworks which currently permit governments direct access? What are the current surveillance capabilities in place? Who sells this equipment? What are the human rights implications?

Speakers confirmed:

Adnan Chaudhri, Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan (Civil Society)
Carolina Botero from Fundación Karisma, Colombia (Civil Society)
Edin Omanovic, Privacy International (Civil Society)
Judith Lichtenberg, Global Network Initiative (Private Sector)
Patrick Hiselius, Telia Company (Private Sector)
Collin Anderson, Independent Expert (Technical Community)