IGF 2020 WS #246 Will the real public Interest internet please stand up?

Time
Friday, 13th November, 2020 (14:00 UTC) - Friday, 13th November, 2020 (15:00 UTC)
Room
Room 2
About this Session
What are the characteristics of a 'public interest Internet' ? And what are the current threats and challenges posed to it?

This workshop wants to address the characteristics of a public interest internet and current challenges to ensuring it, and examples of measures/proposals for measures which can protect the public interest internet.
Thematic Track

Organizer 1: Bruna Santos , Coding Rights
Organizer 2: Sheetal Kumar, Global Partners Digital

Speaker 1: Farzaneh Badii, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Albert Antwi-Boasiako, Government, African Group
Speaker 3: Mehwish Ansari, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Ramon Roca, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Dragana Kaurin, Civil Society, Eastern European Group

Additional Speakers

Final Panelists List: 

Ramon Roca, The Foundation for the Open, Free and Neutral Network - guifi.net

Mehwish Ansari, Head of Digital at Article 19 

Farzaneh Badii, Director of Social Media Governance Initiative at Yale Law School

Graeme Bunton, Policy Director, Tucows

Moderator

Bruna Santos , Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator

Sheetal Kumar, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Rapporteur

Judith Hellerstein, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Format

Round Table - Circle - 60 Min

Online duration reset to 60 minutes.
Policy Question(s)

- What does a Public Interest Internet mean to you ? Is the internet working on behalf of any 'public interest' concept? - What factors should be considered when seeking to promote a public interest internet, and in tackling challenges to it"? - How can the internet be governed today in the public interest"?

As a result of the global lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, essential services have migrated to virtual platforms and remote participation methods for education, businesses, emergency or health services. The delivery of these services help define what we think of as "the public interest Internet". Yet, in order for the interest to work in the public interest, it must also serve everyone, including for example people with disabilities or specific needs and vulnerable communities. The session will therefore discuss a range of issues including openness, privacy, accessibility, affordability and security that citizens worldwide are facing today. Additionally, we want to identify how what principles should be relevant to discussions relating to access, the governance of the technical infrastructure of the internet and data governance.

SDGs

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities

Description:

The rise of commercial Internet has helped shape society as we know it, but, 30 years after the invention of the World Wide Web and 15 years after the Tunis agenda, it is clear that there are still significant areas of improvement for this indispensable communication tool, if it is to work in the public interest. During this session, we aim to discuss the characteristics of a 'public interest Internet', and the threats and challenges to it. Therefore, the discussions will build on previous discussions at the IGF on relevant topics. The workshop will be divided into two main parts 1) identifying the characteristics of a public interest internet and current challenges to ensuring it, and 2) examples of measures/proposals for measures which can protect the public interest internet. This session will start with the thought provoking question "What does a Public Interest Internet mean to you ? Is the internet working on behalf of your 'public interest' concept?" to be replied by each of the panelists. This first session of the workshop will attempt at identifying the characteristics of a public interest internet and current challenges to ensuring it. In the second half, we will adopt a case-based approach that will allow us to assess how these principles are being adhered to at the different 'layers' of the internet, as they're commonly understood: such as access, governance of Internet Critical resources/technical/infrastructure layer and how data governance policies are being shaped in times of the COVID pandemics. With the proposed discussion of the topics, we want to understand and identify how the public interest principles discussed apply to each of these areas, whether they have been adhered to and what proposals or measures could be taken in order to ensure that public interest principles are adhered to in the future. By highlighting the key principles linked to the Public interest discussion in each of the proposed cases, this session wants to identify a framework of principles that can be applicable to other current challenges to the increasing digitisation of our lives happening during the pandemics and which are related to issues such as accessibility, privacy and affordability.

Expected Outcomes

We expect that this session will provide the audience with a better understanding of the different components that make up the public interest internet and also suggest some proposals, roadmaps going forward on how to best promote a public interest internet. Many of the issues we will be discussing can be found in several of the current work tracks such as Digital Inclusion and Trust. We will also aim to identify any relevant IGF intersessional worksteams where these proposals can be further discussed and elaborated.

In order to enable a fair and open discussion around what we are calling "Public Interest Internet" debate, the session moderator will frame the discussion with brief introductory remarks, after that, the proposed session will be divided into three parts of speakers interventions followed by a Q&A in order to allow audience to bring their views and inputs to the session. Another important factor to encourage interaction was the selected session format - Round Table - U-shape. By seating both audience and panelists at the same table, we believe this will allow us to have a more frank and open conversation on the proposed subject.

Relevance to Internet Governance: By acknowledging the importance of the Internet for development and as a tool for the achievement of rights, the Tunis Agenda (2005) set forth a compromise that was mostly based connectivity, accessibility, a secure and stable infrastructure and the key role of each of the stakeholders in providing policy related responses to these challenges. In the fifteen years since the adoption of that document, the internet has evolved in unprecedented ways - but it has not bridged the digital divide which has now become more complex and multilayered. In the next fifteen years, we risk further exacerbating inequalities if we don't govern the internet according for and in public interest. Therefore, the present submission aims to facilitate a multi stakeholder debate on a Public Interest oriented Internet and what underlying principles should be taken into consideration when we develop and assess the new tech solutions developed in light of the covid-19 pandemic and other global challenges.

Relevance to Theme: The session will contribute to the thematic track "digital inclusion" by identifying, the key principles that are needed to ensure inclusion during a time when dependence on the internet is greater than ever. By using case studies to reflect on those principles, the session will offer in concrete terms, a set of proposals and measures that can be taken forward to support a truly inclusive internet.

Online Participation

 

Usage of IGF Official Tool.

 

Agenda

1. Session Overview (3 min) 

2. Intros and initial interventions (16 minutes)
*
 Short intro + Each panelist will answer the following questions: (a) Which challenges of a public interest internet does currently faces/works on? And (b) Examples of measures, proposals that can protect the public interest (actions)

  • Ramon Roca  - 4 minutes
  • Farzaneh Badii  - 4 minutes
  • Mehwish  Ansari - 4 minutes
  • Graeme Bunton - 4 minutes

3. Open Q&A (10 minutes)
4. Policy Questions (16 minutes) 
: (a) What does a Public Interest Internet mean to you ? Is the internet working on behalf of any 'public interest' concept? (b) What factors should be considered when seeking to promote a public interest internet, and in tackling challenges to it"? (c) How can the internet be governed today in the public interest"?

  • Ramon Roca  - 4 minutes
  • Farzaneh Badii  - 4 minutes
  • Mehwish  Ansari - 4 minutes
  • Graeme Bunton - 4 minutes

5. Voluntary Commitments (1 min each panelist) 

6. Wrap up (Short summary of the discussions and closing