IGF 2020 WS #229 A-changin’ times for data governance?


Organizer 1: Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Organizer 2: Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Speaker 1: Farzaneh Badii, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Guilherme Canela Godoi , Intergovernmental Organization, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Gabriella Schittek, Technical Community, Eastern European Group
Speaker 4: Enrico Calandro, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 5: Vargas Paula, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

First block of questions - Digital acceleration challenges - How is accelerated digitalization changing the rules about data governance? - What are the main challenges facing data governance in the developing world in the scenario where accelerated digitalization becomes imperative? Second block of questions – Lessons learned for future policy-making - How can (multistakeholder) cooperation be framed to reduce asymmetries in data governance capacity? - From a North/South, digitally advanced/digitally unprepared perspectives: What are the lessons learned from data governance initiatives over the past months of dealing with the pandemic? - What are the main barriers for global cooperation for a data governance framework that addresses not only data management within the organizational boundaries but key issues around data ownership, portability, privacy within a country? And between firms and states? Can some instrument akin to legal interoperability concerning data governance possible to imagine? Third block – Paving the way for a Digital Bretton Woods? For some years now different cyber experts have claimed that the time has come to reconstruct a new system for the digital environment based on data. - After the urgency of the pandemic subsides, are we ready for a Digital Bretton Woods approach with changes on the institutions and rules that govern the digital realm at a systemic level? - How can new institutional mechanisms at a global level emerge to address the different data governance frameworks? What should their characteristics look like if at all desirable? - Where are the critical bottlenecks to develop a system that would encourage greater cooperation?

The session aims to bring to the forefront a discussion about the future of data governance frameworks. These should be understood more broadly to achieve some degree of cooperation at the global level where the solutions and policies for cooperation are put forward to maintain a global Internet which at the same adequately addresses the different concerns raised by data governance approaches for human rights, autonomy and opportunities for the least developed sectors. The Internet governance regime is being increasingly subject to scrutiny due to the business models based on data. International cooperation and consensus is being achieved for some of the Internet issues – such as coordination and management of critical Internet resources – or infrastructure issues at international organizations. But there is not an institutional process that may adequately address a) the increasing concerns exposed by fragmented regulatory approaches to data protection, b) an organizational rather than an ecosystem view of data governance and c) the asymmetrical power and market relations exposed by these models. The session aims to address these challenges as well as discuss the opportunities that are ahead in times of urgency when there is a marked acceleration of the digitization.


GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


The Times They are a-changin’ Come gather 'round, people / Wherever you roam / And admit that the waters / Around you have grown / And accept it that soon / You'll be drenched to the bone / If your time to you is worth savin' / And you better start swimmin' / Or you'll sink like a stone / For the times they are a-changin' (Bob Dylan, 1963) These lyrics express one of the most emblematic songs of protest of a decade which marked significant changes in the international world order. It still serves as an analogy to contemporary times. The scenario of hyper-globalization, the tendency towards digital monopolies and the regional / national fractures in terms of data governance approaches which were already setting up a context for a revision of the rules that have shaped the Internet ecosystem over the past decades. Those rules have been put to an additional and severe test with the current pandemic: the need to accelerate the digitization in government, society and businesses in all sectors across the globe has gained new perspectives. While the ubiquity of digitization has been challenging both existing Internet governance arrangements, norms and principles, as well as those of the traditional / analogue economy on an unprecedented scale, the pressing urgency to accelerate digitalization raises several concerns from a data governance perspective. “Today, we need to figure out how to strike a balance between the individual, the firm, and the state when it comes to managing data. That process will not be smooth, and the result probably will not look particularly elegant” (Medhora, Owen, 2020). In addition, this gap is more acutely present in the context of the platform / AI based model in a global context where regulatory, computing, legal and market skills to address the digital economy are unequally distributed. In such a context of market, social and political asymmetries as well as of urgency, the session addresses questions concerning the broader mechanisms that are shaping data governance frameworks. Based on those questions, the session aims to provoke a discussion that goes beyond a purely organizational and normative approach of data governance and which addresses the political economy and international ecosystem perspective of this issue. The questions for debate amongst invited specialists and participants seek not only to elicit conceptual approaches but also to gather and share significant experience, benchmarks and lessons learned in the past couple of months. The bulk of that material will be reflected on the final report for the session and is intended to serve as an input for future policy debates and practices at the national, regional and international levels. First block of questions - Digital acceleration challenges Second block of questions – Lessons learned for future policy-making Third block – Paving the way for a Digital Bretton Woods? The moderators will propose the questions comprised in each of the blocks for the designated subject matter experts to trigger ONE or TWO (max) initial comments for each of the thematic blocks of questions (developed in point 7). Then the moderators will open the mic to participants (onsite and online) in the session for dialogue. The session is being co-moderated by two experienced participants at the IGF. The specialists that are invited have a proven trajectory in Internet governance issues from a human rights, business models, technical dimension and the ICT4D approach.

Expected Outcomes

The session form parts of an ongoing research from the organizer on Internet governance and data issues: future paths of cooperation mechanisms? This is part of a project the organizer is preparing for a research in residence at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research with the University of Duisburg - Essen. The session's debate will be constitute valuable input for a publication on the theme and a workshop on the subject for March 2021 as well as for other policy and scholarly outlets where the organizer is currently involved in Latin America (DiGI - Diploma on Internet Governance) and as part of the activities and sessions of the DataGovHub at the Elliott School of International Affairs at GWU.

As mentioned previously, the moderators will propose the questions comprised in each of the blocks for the designated subject matter experts to trigger one or two initial comments for each of the thematic blocks of questions. Specialists will initially have 10 minutes of interventions in all for each block of questions while participation from session attendants (online and offline) will be initiated by trigger questions that re- frame these after the interventions from specialists as well as encourage new comments emerging from the attendants as well as the specialists.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The discussion around the governance of the Internet has shifted moved from network control and coordination, including the so called critical Internet resources, to data control. Data governance has become one of the central themes in the Internet policy debates, to the point that it is a cross-cutting dimension for classification of workshop proposals at the IGF in the last years. Many of the problems facing contemporary debates around the state of Internet governance are issues connected with the multi-layered problem of data governance and how it is shaping the business models of the Internet and the digital environment.

Relevance to Theme: The session will address governance dimensions for data-driven technologies in the context of data-driven business models, the two issues are inextricably linked in this session. In addition, the session addresses the challenges for innovation particularly from countries and sectors that have been lagging in the digital economy.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: Social media (Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn) with specific hashtags will be used in order to encourage remote participation and collect comments from remote participants. The session will be distributed in relevant mailing lists and we will ask for support from the specialists to distribute among their contacts. The information will be disseminated a few weeks before the event so that participants can schedule it accordingly and it will be reinforced the week and 24hs prior to the session . The online moderator will be summarizing key aspects of the discussion in order to engage remote participants into the roundtable debate.