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Regulating the International Digital Economy, with Trade and Innovation in Mind

June 6, 2022

The international digital economy is growing rapidly, and the fragmented governance framework is struggling to keep pace. Global entities such as the World Trade Organization and regional trade agreements offer a patchwork approach to governance. This paper illustrates the importance of governance in relation to private-sector innovation and recommends next steps to enhance governance, close gaps and promote further innovation. Better definition and international alignment of the framework for governance of digital trade and data could lead to greater privacy, trust and security.

The First Space-Cyber War and the Need for New Regimes and Policies

May 16, 2022

Many dubbed the Gulf War of 1991 the "first space war" due to the US Armed Forces' extensive use of satellites. The cyberwar in Ukraine, although it is mostly playing out in the shadows, may be remembered as the first space-cyber war.This policy brief makes the case that states should adopt national policies to defend against threats to space-based assets and applications, such as communications satellites, that are both vital to national security and economic security and increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks.It is time to explore and identify principles for responsible space-cyber behaviour that would represent a broad multilateral consensus. Identifying these principles may not prevent space-cyber hostilities but could provide "rules of the game."States would also benefit from encouraging a space-cyber security industry that, beyond protecting against space-cyber threats, has the potential to be a significant growth engine.

Third Party Record Exemptions in Canada’s Access to Information Act

May 2, 2022

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision making (ADM) used by and on behalf of the Government of Canada pose significant challenges to Canada's Access to Information Act (ATIA). While the ATIA's goal is to enhance accountability and transparency through the disclosure of records under the control of government, exemptions in the ATIA for third party records such as trade secrets make meaningful access difficult when it comes to AI and ADM. Several departments working at the epicentre of AI and ADM policy handle requests made to them through the ATIA by routinely invoking such exemptions. Citizens' entitlements to transparency and accountability in such contexts are increasingly clashing with commercial actors' desire to avoid or block disclosure of records.

Situating Canada in a Changing World: Constructing a Modern and Prosperous Future

April 25, 2022

The late Canadian diplomat and commentator John Wendell Holmes believed that the best public policy emerged out of an appreciation of history and context. This essay series, sponsored by the Holmes Trust, reflects on six contemporary themes in Canadian foreign and security policy, with historians considering the background of each issue and practitioners responding with a view to the future. Together, the essays demonstrate the value of history to a decision maker's analytical calculus and offer practical suggestions to inform Canada's response to the challenges ahead. An English and French print version will be available in late spring.

Blockchain Technology and Crypto-assets as a New Form of Payment Tool

April 11, 2022

This conference report summarizes the key points and discussions from a session held on October 6, 2021, in place of CIGI and Oliver Wyman's eighth annual Financial Regulatory Outlook Conference, given continuing travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The session focused on the specific challenges for regulation and supervision in the financial ecosystem where new technologies such as blockchain are favouring the introduction of crypto-assets, which, de facto, represent a possible challenge to central banks' monopoly on monetary supply. This report first discusses the technical background on blockchain technologies, then examines crypto-asset markets and closes with the interconnections with monetary policy.

The Digital Silk Road and China’s Influence on Standard Setting

April 4, 2022

China is striving to become a leader in international standard setting, and the Digital Silk Road, part of China's Belt and Road Initiative to expand its global infrastructure and markets, is key to realizing this goal. Both roads depend on standard connectivity, fuelled by Chinese private companies that are the driving force behind China's growing role as a leader in technology development and shaping standards in both domestic and global markets. However, China faces strong competition to gain more influence in international standard-setting bodies, which are dominated by the European Union and the United States.

Next-Generation Technology and Electoral Democracy: Understanding the Changing Environment

March 23, 2022

Democracies around the world are facing growing threats to their electoral systems in the digital age. Foreign interference in the form of dis- and misinformation has already influenced the results of democratic elections and altered the course of history. This special report, the result of a research project conducted in partnership with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Canada, examines these cyberthreats from a Canadian and German perspective. Both Canada and Germany share common goals centred around protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and international peace and security. Using case studies from experts in fields such as computer science, law and public policy, the special report offers recommendations to guide policy makers and stakeholders on how to protect elections from next-generation technologies and the threats they pose to democracy.

Transparency Recommendations for Regulatory Regimes of Digital Platforms

March 8, 2022

In 2021, the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) organized a working group of its Global Platform Governance Network to focus on the issues of transparency and accountability of digital platforms, especially social media networks. Policy makers in many jurisdictions have concluded that social media companies have too much unchecked power and are failing to protect the public and their users from online harms. They are prepared to move forward with an ambitious reform agenda that includes focusing competition policy specifically on tech companies and addressing online safety issues. In many ways, transparency measures are low-hanging fruit in this new digital regulatory scheme, an area where different countries might agree even if they disagree on more controversial topics such as the mandated removal of harmful but legal material. CIGI held three online meetings to discuss the different aspects of these regulatory tools, which are mandated in many of the legislative proposals from different jurisdictions aiming to improve online safety. The objective was to share knowledge of the aims, methods, problems, strengths and weakness of new transparency and accountability regimes, and to work toward a common understanding of effective approaches. This report attempts to synthesize and summarize the discussions at these meetings. It is intended to be a contribution to the ongoing conversation of how to set up a flexible, agile regulatory regime that can learn from experience and respond to the evolving business and technological realities of the fast-changing digital landscape.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Military Defence and Security

March 7, 2022

The twenty-first century is now being shaped by a multipolar system characterized by techno-nationalism and a post-Bretton Woods order. In the face of a rapidly evolving digital era, international cooperation will be critical to ensuring peace and security. Information sharing, expert conferences and multilateral dialogue can help the world's nation-states and their militaries develop a better understanding of one another's capabilities and intentions. As a global middle power, Canada could be a major partner in driving this effort. This paper explores the development of military-specific capabilities in the context of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Building on Canadian defence policy, the paper outlines the military applications of AI and the resources needed to manage next-generation military operations, including multilateral engagement and technology governance.

Accounting for the Digital Economy: Time for a Fresh Approach

February 24, 2022

Accounting standards that are used for tangible assets are not suitable for today's digital economy, which is fuelled by intangible assets. These standards need to reflect the shift in focus from tangible to intangible assets in order for the digital economy to thrive. Intangible assets such as design branding and software are not recognized by current accounting standards unless they are purchased from a third party. Without a shift in mindset that recognizes intangible assets and reflects the new economic reality, challenges will arise in making loans and investments and in taxing value creation. The accounting profession cannot act alone in making the shift and will need support from policy makers and regulators, investors, creditors and directors to make the necessary changes.