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INTERNET GOVERNANCE FORUM’S COMMUNITY GROUPS, DYNAMIC COALITIONS, RAISE NEW AND UNDER-THE RADAR ISSUES IN INTERNET GOVERNANCE

Right to Network Self-determination, Universal Design, Zero-rate Plans and Net Neutrality, Regulation for Digital Platforms, Ethical Framework for the Internet of Things, Notions of Consent and Jurisdiction, and Free Flow of Data Online among the Topics Discussed
20 December 2017

The Internet Governance Forum’s longest-standing community groups, Dynamic Coalitions, presented today their intersessional work on chosen themes of Internet governance, including core Internet values, blockchain technologies, accessibility, Internet rights and principles, platform responsibility, gender and Internet governance, and net neutrality.

Marcus Kummer, Chair of the Internet Governance Forum Support Association and the session Co-Chair, in his introductory remarks to the session entitled Dynamic Coalitions: contribute to the digital future!, said that for the past three years, the Dynamic Coalitions had been working hard to coordinate with each other. They had established the basic principles of participation, and were actively mainstreaming their work in the Forum.

Tatiana Tropina, Senior Researcher, Max Planck Institute, moderated the session which was based on substantive output papers submitted by the Dynamic Coalitions, available here.

Dynamic Coalitions on Key Policy Questions: Core Internet Values, Transparency and Accountability, Legal and Regulatory Frameworks, Universal Design, Human Rights on the Internet, “Consent by Design”, and Right to Network Self-Determination

Asked about the proposed new value, namely the freedom from harm, Olivier Crépin-Leblond, Dynamic Coalition on Core Internet Values, explained that the work was ongoing with the Dynamic Coalition on the Internet of Things, which was developing an ethical framework. Maarten Botterman, Dynamic Coalition on Internet of Things, addressed the transparency and accountability framework for the Internet of Things, and said that it was about developing the way forward which would serve the world. It was a very general framework which had to use the word “ethic”, which in different parts of the world meant a different thing. Transparency was a precondition for accountability, and the purpose was to ensure that the Internet of Things application served humanity and did not break the law. Benedikt Schuppli, Dynamic Coalition on Blockchain Technologies, added an explanation on the laws governing blockchain, saying that the key question was which of the processes were inside which jurisdiction, and whether the concerned institution was within that jurisdiction.

John Carr, Dynamic Coalition on Child Online Safety, on the synergy with the Rome Declaration by the Holy See on the protection of children online, said that it was about recognizing the leadership of Pope Francis and the Catholic Church, and the hope that the commitment to protecting children online would find a better way into the agendas of Governments. Shadi Abou-Zahra, Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability, speaking about universal design, stressed its crosscutting nature and also the need to better integrate the work of Dynamic Coalitions on this issue.

Nicolo Zingales, Dynamic Coalition on Platform Responsibility, spoke about the delegation of power from Governments to social media platforms and noted that one possibility was to adopt core regulations which contained principles and boundaries for the operation of platforms. There was also a possibility of self-regulation, but in this case, the State should still maintain control over this process and in particular maintain a remedy mechanism, he said. On the need for digital platforms to build ethical norms in their operations, Bishakha Datta, Dynamic Coalition on Gender and Internet Governance, said that there was already talk about “privacy by design” and that the platforms should start thinking about their users in a way in which consent was embedded in the design and architecture of the platform, and not to have the consent as an afterthought.

Minda Moreira, Internet Rights and Principles Coalition, recalled that the Coalition had already developed the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet, and explained that the recently issued Educational Resource Guide was the logical next step which aimed to “unpack” and illustrate the articles and issues contained in the Charter, and support educators and policy makers in its adoption and application. Luca Belli, Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity, explained the proposed right to network self-determination which was the right of every community to associate and decide freely on the management of the network so that anyone could freely join and share innovation. Network self-determination was essential for digital innovation, and it already existed de facto, he concluded. Further on community networks, Esmeralda Moscatelli, Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries, stressed they were fundamental to ensuring public access to libraries, and added that, in order to ensure that an adequate regulatory framework was in place, it was necessary to influence local, regional and national Governments to better understand the importance of the public’s access to libraries.

Christopher Yoo, Dynamic Coalition on Innovative Approaches to Connecting the Unconnected, explained the Coalition’s commitment to lay down the empirical basis for Governments and the private sector interested in connectivity, and said that to date, the Coalition had identified 750 initiatives spanning 150 countries and had developed 120 case studies which would soon all be online. There was no one size-fit-all solution, and the challenge was to mobilize all aspects of Governments and not just communication ministries. The Dynamic Coalition on Network Neutrality had mapped 80 countries and collected data on zero rating plans, which were available on zerorating.info, said the Coalition’s representative Luca Belli, noting that zero rating plans were more common where there was no net neutrality regulation.

Jeremy Malcolm, Dynamic Coalition on Trade, said that next year, the focus would be on the limits of the free flow of data online and whether those limits should be negotiated in trade agreements, and on extending the membership of the Coalition to include more representatives of the trade community.

Discussion

In the ensuing discussion, the panellists noted that it was very important to develop beyond current groups of stakeholders and identify good practices. Certain regions, such as the Middle East and North Africa, were underrepresented in Dynamic Coalitions, it was noted, which could be due to the fact that the Coalitions worked on the global level and did not engage in regional outreach, but they actively gathered input from regional levels and made local case studies. The question of accessibility was crucial for every single Dynamic Coalition, it was stressed. The audience raised the issue of consent by design and the role of anonymity on platforms and its influence in generating online hate speech. A concern was voiced about international trade treaties, namely in the North American Free Trade Agreement, and about amending decency rules, i.e. adopting the principle of non-responsibility of platforms for hosting various types of users’ content (the so-called safe harbour act). It would be problematic should this United States legal provision become a regional standard, namely in Mexico and Canada. Within the European Union, there was discussion on placing more responsibilities on platforms for the content they published. Speakers called for more exchange among Dynamic Coalitions and to ensure that all aspects of society were included. For example, for some speakers it was new information that in some European countries hate speech regulations excluded persons with disabilities.

Final Remarks

Avri Doria, Independent Researcher at DBA Technicalities and session Co-Chair, thanked all those who commented on Dynamic Coalitions’ output papers and said that she was impressed by the common themes and threads that connected Dynamic Coalitions, such as the notion of consent and jurisdiction. There was a start of very valuable inputs that could be useful for other organizations.

At 11.30 a.m. the session on NRIs perspectives: Rights in the digital world will take place in Room XVII, during which participants will discuss the notion of rights in the digital world, their importance and current practices in different countries and regions of the world. The full programme for the 2017 the Internet Governance Forum for today, 20 December can be accessed here.

For use of the information media; not an official record

M17/025F