IGF 2020 WS #213 Bridging the data divide – for planet, people and prosperity

Friday, 13th November, 2020 (08:00 UTC) - Friday, 13th November, 2020 (09:30 UTC)
Room 1

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Speaker 1: Nicole Alix, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Obasegun Ayodele, Private Sector, African Group
Speaker 3: Duncan McCann, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Anita Gurumurthy, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Other - 90 Min
Format description: This session will follow an innovative problem-solution format with an opening and concluding round of lightning inputs from speakers interspersed with facilitated small group discussion among audience members. For this, we request circle seating in flexible that can allows for quick group discussions and exercises.

Policy Question(s)

The proposed workshop session will focus on the IGF’s sub-theme of ‘5. Data access, quality, interoperability, competition & innovation’ and in particular, examine the policy questions: 1. How can data governance policies address systemic issues of concentration in data value chains? 2. How can regulatory frameworks advocate and further data decentralization and allow actors located outside of geographic, financial and political power centres to have equitable and meaningful access to data and reap data dividends? 3. How can data be ‘deconstructed’ as a commodity and ‘reconstructed’ as a resource for social value creation at national and local levels and for re-imagining the digital commons?

The data-propelled tendency towards monopoly in the digital age means that small players stand little chance at reaping the data dividend. To realize the objective of inclusion for all actors in the platform economy, we need a new social contract for data that can serve the needs of different actors – developing nations, small and mid-sized platform firms, workers, platform users and so on. This session will therefore aim at enriching the current understanding of evolving policy spaces, data regimes and platform ecosystems is useful to be able to inform this process


GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities


There is a growing recognition that the advent of platform capitalism, as signified by the presence of very large trans-geographic players who have monopolized critical sectors, poses a threat to the continued relevance of the idea of the internet as a digital commons and discourages the emergence of new players and local innovators, thus defeating the idea of a healthy and competitive global digital economy. The demands for better and more comprehensive antitrust regulation, more accountable content governance and regulatory oversight are a direct outcome of this thinking. But this recognition is often decoupled from an acknowledgement of the fact that the building blocks of the digital – data is enclosed, concentrated and monopolized. Without structural reform that can free data from the organizational logic of mainstream platform capitalism, renewing a digital commons remains but a distant dream. The proposed workshop session will bring together participants and audience members to debate and think through how ‘deconcentrating’ data value chains where wealth and resources are not cornered at the top, can help us shape a more democratic and equitable digital economy that is geographically diverse, can function at various scales and allow for context appropriate local innovation. The proposed session will attempt to answer this question – How can data value chains be democratized to better serve the economic and social needs of people and communities? Speakers will draw from their standpoints as experts in policy advocacy, research and industry. a) Duncan McCann, New Economics Foundation will moderate the session and provide an overview of the issue, and highlight learnings from various data sharing platform experiments being undertaken in the UK b) Anita Gurumurthy, IT for Change, will discuss the policy challenges around governing data value chains and outline the vision for a global-to-local data governance framework that promotes economic democracy c) Nicole Alix, La Coop des Communs will share concrete experiences of building platform and data infrastructure to support cooperative platform business models d) Obasegun Ayodele, Vilsquare Capital will share from his work in using data science and civic technologies to support public and private sector organizations in Africa This session will follow an innovative problem-solution format with an opening and concluding round of lightning inputs from speakers interspersed with facilitated small group discussion among audience members. In the first round of lightning inputs, speakers will define the problem statement around data concentration and its discontents, touching upon the role of data in markets, in critical infrastructure and the implications of data concentration for the rights of smaller economic actors. This discussion will serve as the impetus for breakout groups, where audience members will be encouraged to react/respond and brainstorm solutions towards this problem. In the second round, speakers will make an additional round of lightning inputs and share lessons and success stories on alternative data value chains at the local/sub-national/city level. Representatives from breakout groups will also share the discussion points with the larger audiences and an open floor interaction will be facilitated through this process.

Expected Outcomes

The session will aim to consolidate diverse inputs and views on frameworks for data value chains in a bid to furthering existing discourse and develop new and innovative frameworks on the issue. Another concrete outcome will a knowledge output to be used for academic, policy and advocacy engagement that will be created from the discussions generated through the session.

The proposed session has been designed to be interactive through breakout groups discussions that will be a major component of the sesssion. We will also live tweet the session and collect questions and comments from remote participants.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Data concentration is the seminal Internet Governance issue of our times. There is an urgent and imminent need for policy direction and thinking on addressing what is fast becoming one of the biggest structural inequality of the digital sphere. In this context, the proposed workshop seeks to make an important intervention through the IGF platform by not only offering IGF participants a chance to articulate the problem from their standpoint, but also to co-construct solutions.

Relevance to Theme: The proposed workshop directly engages with one of the mandates of the ‘data’ theme at this year’s IGF and tackles relevant policy questions on issues such as data concentration, data trusts/pools, competition and innovation.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: We will use Twitter to live tweet thee session as well as collect questions and comments from remote participants.