Dynamic Coalition on Publicness (DC-PUB)


The public realm has been the default setting of society across many cultures until in the 17th century the concept of privacy started to spread in diverse regions of the world. From that moment on, social conventions also dealt with the categorization of human behaviour. There were affairs that had to be dealt publicly for the sake of society and human behavior and interactions to happen in a more private dimension disconnected from the eyes of many - and most important- also disconnected from political control. The behaviors that belonged in the public eye changed in the course of history: in some cultures the public bathrooms with no walls were substituted by individual private bathrooms with walls and a door. The taxes individuals have to pay became in other cultures a private affair, while in other it remains a public business.

In all cases the rules and criteria to regulate those two realms both ethically and legally were fixed predominantly upon geographical criteria: e.g. the house being a geographical private territory and the marketplace a public one. In the digital age those criteria became challenged: with a smartphone it is perfectly possible to write publicly on Twitter while lying in the bedroom. Digitization is bringing new questions and challenges towards the understanding of what is private and public and what criteria should be used to decide on this.

While the discussion on privacy in the digital age is hitting its peak, the discussion on the public realm, the frame sustaining public content and social interactions and the processes that shape the public arena, have only been approached from the perspective of access or freedom of expression and opinion. Both elements are important elements therein, but they are certainly not equal to what we want to call publicness, i.e. the frame, the content, the interactions and processes shaping the public arena, public interest and the common good. We even see that some discussions like the right to be forgotten are being wrongly placed in a privacy context discussion, when actually it is a discussion about the visibility of public information.The public arena is not a universal, unified one: languages, cultures, but also time frame in which we (want to) see, access and discuss publicly. Moreover even within cultures and communities we see a range of diverse public fora depending on the interests of human beings (expert fora on natural sciences, or on humanities are not accessed and seen by everybody) or on their contexts (the public context at an expert forum or webinar at work is a different one to the public context while taking selfies and partying on a Friday night).

Digitization, new technologies of automatization (algorithms, artificial intelligence) processing massive amounts of data are changing the way and the space we interact with other human

beings. Fears and risk scenarios are arising - with still few studies providing facts and numbers to address those fears. Many questions that used to be resolved and fixed in law are being revisited and the right to be forgotten is one of the first controversies in the juridification of digitization.

We thus see a need to discuss and understand the different conventions and expectations on publicness through digitization across the world to have a more nuanced discussion.



The specific plans of the new Dynamic Coalition depend of course on the input of the various participants. The basic approach would be to establish research points of contact globally to start the intersessional work conducted. The information would be consolidated into a webpage containing key research, statistics, case studies and data bank. The research would also be supported by events to help disseminate the information.

1- Joint statement

a. Defining the concept of publicness

b. Explaining with country based cases why it is needed (right to be forgotten, right to cancellation)

c. Explaining its added value and why it needs to be protected

2- Creation of surveys to gather worldwide

a. Views and understandings of all things public online

b. Views and understandings of all things public offline

c. Assessment and evaluation of the survey (common grounds, differences and new aspects)

3- Creation of a data bank with juridical cases affecting the public realm (on the right to be forgotten, right to cancellation, intermediary regulatory processes, etc.)



Alejandro Pisanty, technical community (ISOCmex), Mexico

Gabriella Razzano, civil society (ODAC), South Africa

Juan Carlos Lara, civil society (Derechos Digitales), Chile

Kelly Kim, civil society (Open Net Korea), South Korea

Kyung Sin Park, civil society (Univ. Korea), South Korea

Lorena Jaume-Palasí, civil society (Algorithm Watch), Germany

Matthias Spielkamp, private sector (iRights international), Germany

Nalaka Gunawardene, civil society, Sri Lanka

Tobias Schwarz, private sector (Netzpiloten), Germany