IGF 2019 WS #208 Co-regulation against online hate? The EU Code of Conduct

Organizer 1: Barthélémy Michalon, Sciences Po
Organizer 2: Marguerite Borelli, Sciences Po

Speaker 1: Louisa Klingvall, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 2: Michela Palladino, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Clara Sommier, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Philippe Schmidt, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Steffen Eisentraut, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

For being a multistakeholder panel, some policy questions will logically be more relevant for actors from a given sector than from another one.

Agenda-setting: To what extent does a voluntary commitment such as the Code of Conduct allow to raise the weight and relevance of a particular item (in this case, hate speech) within a given company’s list of priorities, not only at the level of their European headquarters but also more globally? Does the Code of Conduct have a significant positive impact on a CSO’s ability to perform their advocacy role on the issue of hate speech?

Norms implementation: What is the added value of the monitoring exercise in terms of effectiveness for the implementation of what can be considered as a soft law?

Norms articulation: From a practical perspective, what is the impact of the recent trend, observed in several EU member states, of introducing hard laws on hate speech?

Safety from hate speech: Considering hate speech as an online harm, how can it be addressed to improve user safety on social media platforms? How can the notion of ‘hate speech’ be operationalized so as to: a) be satisfactory to all involved stakeholders; and b) allow for implementation across different national jurisdictions at a regional level? Could the way it was operationalized within the EU through the Code of Conduct be extended at a wider scale?

Outputs: Does the main benefit from the Code of Conduct stem from the transparency it brings through the implementation reports, or from the cooperation it fosters among stakeholders throughout the monitoring process?

Relevance to Theme: Hate speech is increasingly considered a priority by key stakeholders in Internet Governance, not least because of its suspected links to extremism and real-life violence. On social media platforms, it inhibits the development of conversations by creating a hostile online environment, thereby obstructing the very aim of those platforms as they were thought out. As such, this session contributes to the “safety” component of the IGF2019 theme “Security, Safety, Stability & Resilience” through a discussion of the case of a voluntary, multistakeholder framework against online hate speech. Indeed, the EU Code of Conduct against illegal hate speech online represents a cutting-edge example of cross-sector cooperation for the provision of a safe user experience online. Through this panel which brings together many of the actors involved in the CoC and their different perspectives, the aims, results and future prospects of this co-regulatory framework will be explored.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Our proposed workshop is built around the very concept of Internet Governance. As a matter of fact, our topic is nothing but an actual dimension of Internet Governance, since it purports to expose how several stakeholders - public authorities, the industry and civil society organizations - are contributing to the design and the implementation of a specific policy against hate speech by assuming roles that are very different but also complementary to one another. Beyond its content, the format of the workshop is characterized by the very same logic: all the participants in our panel have been chosen in such a way that the voices from all the main categories of actors are heard.

Format: 

Panel - Auditorium - 90 Min

Description: MODERATOR (5 min):
- exposes the dynamic of the workshop (including a justification for the intervention order: to reflect the chronological development of the CoC) and the modalities for the participation of the public (Twitter # projected on screen at all times)
- introduces the Code of Conduct and its workings, including the Monitoring Exercise attached to it.
- introduces the first speaker

EU COMMISSION (10-15 min) exposes their perspective on:
- Rationale for the CoC
- Role of the Commission in relation to it
- Role - if any - of EU member states in the process
- Main positive impact and room for improvement

ONLINE MODERATOR (1 min) presents the three selected questions, projected on the screen

EU COMMISSION (5 MINUTES) answers the three questions, under time constraints (timer)

MODERATOR (1 min) introduces next speaker

INDUSTRY 1 (10 min) exposes their perspective on:
- Reasons why their company has voluntarily gotten involved in the CoC
- Characterization of the main challenges faced when moderating hate speech
- Concrete changes introduced to the platform as a consequence of the implementation of the CoC
- Main positive impact(s) of the CoC and room for improvement

MODERATOR (1 min) introduces next speaker

INDUSTRY 2 (10 min) exposes their perspective on:
-Company’s stance towards the monitoring exercise
-Specific initiatives to bring stakeholders together (e.g. Dublin meetings)
-Impact of the CoC on the company’s awareness of the relevance of hate speech issue and/or the most adequate means to tackle this challenge
-Main positive impact(s) of the CoC and room for improvement

ONLINE MODERATOR (1 min) presents the three selected questions (one for industry 1, another one for industry 2 and a third one for both), to be projected on the screen

INDUSTRY 1 & 2 (2x3 min): each industry representative answers their two questions, under time constraints (timer projected on the screen)

MODERATOR (1 min): Introduces next speaker

CIVIL SOCIETY 1 (10 min) exposes their perspective on:
-The typical role played by the CSO during the monitoring exercise
-Relation to national legislation(s), either existing or under development (e.g.: NetzDG in Germany; legislative proposal against online cyber hatred in France)
-Some initiatives that bring stakeholders together (e.g. Dublin meetings)
-Main positive impact(s) of the CoC and room for improvement

MODERATOR (1 min): Introduces next speaker

CIVIL SOCIETY 2 (10 min) exposes their perspective on:
- The impact the CoC has had on the CSO’s relations with other stakeholders
- Their input in the way the monitoring exercise is taking place
- Relation to national legislation(s), either existing or under development (e.g.: NetzDG in Germany; legislative proposal against online cyber hatred in France)
- Main positive impact(s) of the CoC and room for improvement

CIVIL SOCIETY 1 & 2 (2x3 min): each civil society representative answers their 2 questions, under time constraints (timer projected on the screen)

Total time: 83 minutes. No doubt the “extra” 7 minutes would be spent in the process.

Expected Outcomes: From the organizers’ standpoint, there is a gap between the seriousness of the hate speech issue and the innovative means put in place by the Code of Conduct to tackle it on the one hand and, on the other hand, the fact this mechanism is still very little known beyond the circle of experts in the area. The presentation of the results of the implementation reports by the European Commissioner Vera Jourova in a formal event allows to raise awareness about it, but it still gets attention mainly from people already interested in the topic. We believe that a workshop on this subject could stand for a (still modest) contribution to communicate about the Code of Conduct.

Therefore, we expect this workshop to gather stakeholders that are used to working together, but this time in a different, outward-looking context, so a new range of actors (such as government officials from departments unrelated to hate speech issues, or civil society organizations with other concerns) become aware of this initiative and get the opportunity to take it as a reference in designing and putting in place their own multistakeholder policy-making process in their own areas related to Internet Governance. Likewise, exposing this innovative (and still recent) mechanism to actors that are not usually involved in it will allow to receive fresh inputs from them.

Onsite Moderator: 

Barthélémy Michalon, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator: 

Marguerite Borelli, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Rapporteur: 

Marguerite Borelli, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

The onsite moderator’s introduction will contextualize the EU Code of Conduct against illegal hate speech online, so as to ensure that participants with no prior knowledge of this (co) regulatory instrument are still able to participate.

This panel is designed to be interactive, with the public having the opportunity to engage with each type of actor after they have intervened. Participation will be facilitated by the use of a Twitter hashtag which will allow for the public -both onsite and online- to ask questions about speakers’ interventions; and/or to engage with questions from other users posted to the social network (through ‘likes’). The online moderator will monitor the hashtag during the session and select questions based on their popularity. Such a device will also allow for the conversation to continue beyond the session should the participants desire so.

Online Participation: 

Usage of IGF Tool

Proposed Additional Tools: As exposed above, our intention was to use Twitter but we are ready to rather use the built-in Official Online Participation Platform.

SDGs: 

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals