IGF 2019 WS #401 Inclusion online, diverse knowledge: new rules?

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 3: Civil Society, African Group
Organizer 4: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 5: Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Organizer 6: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Sandra Cortesi, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Santiago Amador, Government, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Amos Toh, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 4: Cathleen Berger, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Valerie D'Costa, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Policy Question(s): 

As we strive to make the internet a diverse and inclusive place for everyone, including for those who are not yet online, we have to ask ourselves the following policy questions:

- Flexibility of norms: As we adjust laws and norms for the digital space, how can we make them flexible enough for the newcomers to contribute and shape them in ways that are accommodating of their diverse needs?

- Freedom of expression and inclusion: How can we assure that freedom of expression online is respected, while also assuring the creation of friendly spaces for groups who are only coming online now?

- Self-governance and participation: As more diverse groups start using the internet, incl. vulnerable and historically underserved populations, how do we make sure they can participate in meaningful ways in the places of conversation that exist online today?

- Diversity and youth: What are the policy choices we have to make to ensure younger populations can safely benefit from knowledge online?

Relevance to Theme: This session is relevant to the theme of digital inclusion as it discusses difficult policy choices that directly affect how welcoming the internet will be for people who are coming online now. Governance decisions, norms, and laws are crucial tools for the creation of an online environment that allows for inclusion and diversity. These choices will determine whether the internet will allow everyone to meaningfully participate in knowledge globally.

Relevance to Internet Governance: This workshop is relevant for internet governance as it directly touches upon policies and rules that we apply to various spaces on the internet. One major challenge of internet governance is the design of rules that are both 1) flexible enough to allow newcomers and a diversity of people with different needs and expectations to engage online and 2) and strong enough to promote respect for human rights. This session is further relevant as it discusses how future newcomers can participate in shaping the governance systems that we put in place today and what the different sectors and stakeholder groups should contribute to those systems.


Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Description: The workshop explores the need to ensure the internet can be an inclusive space that fosters diversity and access to knowledge for everyone. As new groups come online, existing norms and policies will be tested due to legitimate needs and interests of different stakeholders, incl. youth, minorities, and vulnerable groups from various regions. This means that existing governance systems and legislation need to be open to meaningful contributions for populations that are yet to join the internet. The complex relationship between the right to freedom of expression and safe participation in knowledge for everyone, including newcomers, presents a challenge that all sectors need to tackle together.


- Introduction and framing of the topic by the team of organizers (5 minutes)

- Expert discussion (50 minutes)
This session will explore potential governance responses to the interests of new groups as well as roles and responsibilities of different sectors along the following topical questions:
-- Who is coming online? What are their needs and interests?
-- What are the problems and challenges that prevent new groups from participating in knowledge online?
-- How do new groups perceive the relationship between freedom of expression and participation?
-- How can regulation and community norms work together to balance flexibility of governance with protection for vulnerable groups online?

- Q&A with audience (25 minutes)

- Conclusion and wrap-up by team of organizers (10 minutes)

To facilitate a lively round-table discussion that explores the difficult questions the internet faces with regard to inclusion of new groups, the team of organizers will prepare four short interventions that will encourage the speakers and the audience to think outside of existing frameworks. During the conclusion, the organizers will present a summary of the discussion and an outline of potential policy responses that have emerged from it.

Expected Outcomes: As an outcome of the session, the organizers expect to deliver a rough outline of the most important challenges, potential policy responses, and proposed responsibilities that will be distilled from the discussion. Organizers will work with the speakers in the months leading to the Forum to prepare a shared understanding of the topic and possible questions that will build the foundation of a fruitful conversation.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The roundtable will be moderated along a set of questions that the moderator and the co-organizers will jointly develop and discuss with the speakers in the months leading up to the event. Interventions from the organizers will encourage participation from the audience, for which we will also recruit participants from the organizers' networks.

Online Participation: 

We will reserve 5 to 10 minutes for online questions during the Q&A.


GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions