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Cyber law predictions for 2014, a busy year ahead

Media current
Cyber law predictions for 2014. Crystal ball, anyone?

Bloomberg BNA has released its cyber law predictions for 2014, crowdsourced from nearly 100 lawyers, Internet policy professionals and academics, including yours truly. The responses fall into broad categories, including ICANN’s new Top Level Domains, and Domain Name Disputes.

Cyber law predictions included copyright law reform or “how to structure an intellectual property framework for the digital age” (Konstantinos Komaitis of the Internet Society). Others note the setbacks in EU privacy reform and predict that the US will adopt EU-style privacy laws.

Heavy Snowden

One name comes up repeatedly: Snowden. Many believe 2014 will be a pivotal year for Internet Governance. The wisdom of the crowd is that governments will seek more of a role. Others believe that multistakeholder models will come under increasing threat.

Tellingly, the article opens with a snippet from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – an organisation that has long harboured ambitions over the Internet space. The ITU’s Secretary General, Hamadoun Touré says;

“Regulation will be increasingly seen as a positive and logical way forward as we grapple with privacy and security in the cloud”

But Markus Kummer, who chairs the Internet Governance Forum’s advisory group warns “Understandable and well meant reactions against widespread surveillance can have unintended consequences and impose new borders on the Internet. Data localisation is not an answer!”

A wittier response (wish I’d written it) to the pressure for a heavier role for governments comes from Graham Smith of Bird and Bird.

“So 2013 was indeed the year in which we remembered that the state is more threatening than a cookie. #Snowden.”

So, what do the cyber law predictions tell us?

Whatever your personal cyber law predictions, 2014 is set to be an eventful year. Snowden has sparked a plethora of initiatives including the Global Commission on Internet Governance, and the upcoming meeting in Brazil. Meanwhile, European legislators are asking themselves how our supposedly strong privacy protections could have failed so badly.

How many of these cyber law predictions come true remains to be seen. But it’s clear that everyone who’s interested in the way the Internet is governed is going to have a busy year.

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