Earlier this month, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) held its 71st meeting, from March 29th to April 1st in Paris. Delegates from member countries and stakeholder representatives agreed to set up several milestones that will have mid- and long-term impacts upon the digital economy policies of the OECD member countries and partners.
The most pressing issue was the declassification of background materials for the Cancun Ministerial, a high-level meeting where the ministers of member countries and global experts will discuss the future direction of the digital economy policy, such as its opportunities and challenges in relation to jobs. As Public Knowledge has previously reported, the OECD has prepared several types of background materials over the past two years, in consultation with government delegates and stakeholder advisory bodies, including Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (CSISAC).
During the 71st CDEP meeting, governments and stakeholders finally agreed upon the directions and narrative of background materials that will provide policy and strategic advice to the participants of the Cancun Ministerial. Several of them are still being fine-tuned, but around mid-April, all will be declassified. The OECD Secretary-General will in turn release them to the public in the next few months. Before being declassified, OECD policy papers are confidential and only the accredited stakeholder groups can have access to them. Since 2015, Public Knowledge has been providing comments throughout the drafting process of these papers via CSISAC. The background materials, together with previous OECD papers, will be available here.
The background materials will include the Cancun Declaration and the eight sets of Background Analytical Papers and Discussion Papers — one for each panel discussion of the Ministerial meeting, spanning from the Internet of Things to convergence to privacy and security to job training. These Background Analytical Papers introduce relevant market practices and policies from around the world and analyze the theoretical backgrounds of those practices and policies, serving as the core context for OECD policy recommendations. Based on Background Papers, the OECD has prepared Discussion Papers that include questions to facilitate the panel discussions during the Ministerial. With inputs from stakeholders that have called for strong protections for human rights, including privacy, freedom of expression, and net neutrality, the OECD has also drafted the Cancun Declaration, which is expected to be adopted by the participating countries of the Cancun Ministerial as the policy blueprint of the digital economy.
The 71st CDEP meeting also discussed other projects that will support the commitments set upon within the 2016 OECD Cancun Declaration. One example is the CDEP’s 2017-18 Programme of Work and Budget (PWB). Notably, it appears that the 2017-18 PWB will be aligned with the outcomes from the Cancun Ministerial, to continue its dedication to inclusive growth with improving trust and embracing marginalized people. For this purpose, the OECD’s agenda on the digital economy in 2017 and 2018 will include certain items, such as broadband in rural and remote regions, globally interoperable data protection frameworks, trust in the Internet of Things, and quality jobs in the digital economy.
Additionally, the 71st CDEP meeting included preparation for the 2017 Digital Economy Outlook. The Digital Economy Outlook is a biennial publication that introduces recent digital market practices and policies of the OECD member countries and discusses how such policies can lead to innovation and inclusive growth, such as the openness and competitiveness of their regulatory environments. The Digital Economy Outlook, and its predecessors the Communications Outlook and the Internet Economy Outlook, have often drawn criticisms from its member countries, since these publications contain data directly submitted from them and have been considered a primary point of reference for the digital economy and Internet policy within the most economically advanced countries.
Interested parties from civil society can engage with the OECD-CDEP via CSISAC, civil society’s advisory body to the CDEP. CSISAC is the point of contact for civil society within the OECD system and is currently organizing the Civil Society Forum, to be held on 21 June, 2016, the day before the Cancun Ministerial. Public Knowledge is part of the Program Committee of the Civil Society Forum and has been supporting the engagement of other civil society organizations with CSISAC, specifically new members from Latin America.