On 11 April, 2017, The Hague Institute hosted a seminar entitled “An Accountable Internet”, organized by the City of The Hague. The event was moderated by Frits Bussemaker, with introductory remarks by Maarten Hillenaar, Smart City Lead of the City of The Hague, and Prof. Hans Franken, board member of the Association for Accountability and Internet Democracy (AAID) and one of the founders of the Center for Law and Digital Technologies (eLaw) at Leiden Law School.
The event’s keynote was delivered by Dan Shefet, special advisor to UNESCO and founder of the AAID. In his remarks, Mr. Shefet highlighted the changed way we communicate, share knowledge, socialize or do business on a global level since the Internet. He pointed out that while the vast majority of the users treat the Internet with respect, we witness growing misuses as well, such as fake news, piracy, cyber bullying, flaming or identity theft.
Against this backdrop, he stressed the need for greater Internet accountability and put forward a set of solutions how this can be achieved, including the idea of dedicated national, regional, and global “Internet ombudspersons”. He recommended that the latter be based in The Hague due to its reputation as the international city of peace and justice.
Following the keynote address, Dr. Joris Larik, senior researcher at The Hague Institute, served as respondent. Dr. Larik pointed out the Institute’s prior involvement and contribution to Internet governance, including official side-events for the 2015 Global Conference on CyperSpace in The Hague, and publications. He commended Dan Shefet for his work on Internet accountability and reflected on the need for capacity building in both developing and developed countries in this context.
The Hague Institute’s work on cyber governance formed part of the Global Governance Reform Initiative, a multi-year, multi-phase research project conducting in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the Observer Research Foundation (New Delhi).