IGF 2020 WS #293 Beyond Fake News: a positive policy agenda for elections

Thematic Track

Organizer 1: Bruna Santos , Coding Rights
Organizer 2: Francisco Brito Cruz, InternetLab
Organizer 3: Heloisa Maria Machado Massaro, InternetLab

Speaker 1: Francisco Brito Cruz, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Jamila Venturini, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Ailidh Callander, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Eliana Quiroz, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 5: Monica Rosina, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Moderator

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

Online Moderator

Heloisa Maria Machado Massaro, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Rapporteur

Heloisa Maria Machado Massaro, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Format

Round Table - U-shape - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What contribution could each of the stakeholders bring to advance a positive policy agenda around elections and online political campaigning with a human rights centric approach while considers the importance of fostering vivid democratic participation and speech? 2. What are the main challenges today, both at the international and the local level, (a) to the protection of personal data, (b) to the regulation of new digital resources, (c) and to counter inauthentic online behaviour, on the context of online political campaigns? 3. How can we deal with legal vacuums and advance policy and regulatory approaches to online political campaigns regarding: (a) regulating personal data usage; (b) new rules for new digital resources; and (c) countering inauthentic online behavior? 4. How we can best balance the protection of citizens rights (privacy and personal data protection) and the promotion of a vivid democratic debate in which candidates, parties and voters can freely communicate? 5. To what extent the use of digital tools and data as an asset for political campaigns and advertising will be worsened by the enhanced digital exposition?

The main challenge of the present session is to advance on a positive policy agenda around online political campaigns beyond disinformation and polarization. By that we mean that we aim to advance both on the trust discussions surrounding elections and misinformation, as well as on debates on how can we develop approaches to counter inauthentic behaviour and to foster political campaigns online that respects personal data protection frameworks. The session will therefore discuss a range of issues including data protection, intermediary influence on electoral processes, misinformation, inauthentic behaviour, and political targeting that citizens worldwide are facing today. Additionally, we want to identify what principles should be relevant to the discussions above mentioned. Also, 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. In parallel, long term social distance policies could impact on how political campaigns structure themselves to upcoming elections (such as 2020 municipal elections in Brazil), fostering massive digital campaigns as their predominant strategy. Considering that this enhanced migration to virtual services will directly increase the amount of data produced on individuals, and also considering the possibility of political campaigns even more focused on digital strategies, we also want to discuss how this affects users in general and what would be the barriers of personal data usage in political campaigns.

SDGs

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Description:

The use of digital tools and data as an asset for political campaigns and advertising is now a widespread reality. Episodes like the Cambridge Analytica revelations have provoked political parties, public entities, and companies to redesign their approaches to online political communication. Among denounces involving voters manipulation and the spread of disinformation and misinformation, the debates within the digital rights community have mainly focused on responding to these issues. But what is the digital rights community positive agenda? The main goal of this strategic roundtable is to convene the main actors in this debate to discuss significant threats to rights in the digital age posed by current political campaigns and, from that, to advance a blueprint of new regulatory/accountability approaches to the use of voters data and the new types of political advertising. The session builds upon the idea that the digital rights community should develop its own policy positive agenda around elections and online political campaigns with a human rights centric approach while considers the importance of fostering vivid democratic participation and speech. Among threats to free speech, data protection violations, and the need for transparency from social media companies, digital rights organizations should be working beyond partisan polarization and the associated fear (or claims) of “fake news.” The input collected from the high-level participants, which can represent academics and activists in the field, will be structured in the following topics: (a) regulating personal data usage; (b) new rules for new digital resources; and (c) countering inauthentic online behavior. These topics will be subjects of the framework to be developed postsession. This framework will organize both attention points and innovative policy solutions to inspire digital rights organizations in their fieldwork.

Expected Outcomes

Advancing on the development of a positive policy agenda around online political campaigning beyond disinformation and polarization is this session main goal. Therefore, the expected outcome is a draft of a shared framework, composed by attention points, and by constructive and fresh policy/regulatory ideas. We expect this shared framework to reshape problematic rights-threatening trends and to help organizations respond to regulators, companies, political parties, and candidates.. One example to make this more concrete is what happened in 2019 in Brazil: departing from diagnoses of the 2018 elections, and based on a proposed positive regulatory agenda, civil society provided new ideas to electoral authorities and was successful in updating rules for personal data usage in political campaigning. By convening actors to listen and learn from their experiences in the field, the idea is for the framework to advance on the three proposed items - (a) regulating personal data usage; (b) new rules for new digital resources; and (c) countering inauthentic behavior - and to enable organizations to reach out to political parties and candidates and build capacity over practices

In order to enable a fair and open discussion around the development of a positive positive policy agenda for elections and tech beyond fake news, the session moderator will frame the discussion with brief introductory remarks, after that, the proposed session will be divided into two 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: This panel aims to acknowledge the importance of the Internet as a tool for development and for achieving rights, such as access to online services and the right to information, as well as its key role in facilitating democratic debates inside and outside the context of elections. In the thirty years since the development of the web and with the advent of social media platforms we have seen our analogic public squares go virtual - to platforms such as Facebook and Google - as well as the deployment of technologies for the improvement of online political campaigns. By the time public squares go virtual and political campaigns go online, the regulation of public debate and electoral processes also becomes intermeshed with rules, practices and procedures governing the digital space. Therefore, the development of policy and regulatory approaches to political communication and electoral campaign involves directly debates on how internet should be governed. Wis the role of each stakeholder in facilitating a space of online political debates and campaigns that are compliant to data protection frameworks ? Additionally, what contribution could each of the stakeholders bring to the proposed debate of a policy positive agenda around elections and political campaigning online with a human rights centric approach while considers the importance of fostering vivid democratic participation and speech? These are some of the questions we aim to discuss.

Relevance to Theme: The growing capabilities of generating, collecting, storing, transferring and processing data have both enabled opportunities to the development of democratic debates as well posed risks to the integrity of the democratic debate and citizens rights. Beyond disinformation and polarization, political campaigns have been using personal data and employing these capabilities to elaborate personalized messages, target political messages to specific groups of voters, and send political propaganda. If poorly regulated the employment of these capabilities by political campaigns could lead to the manipulation of public debate and the violation of citizens privacy. This session aims to foster this debate by stressing the importance of thinking about electoral regulations also in terms of data protection rules. It will contribute to the thematic track "data" by identifying what practices and principles should be taken into consideration when developing a positive policy agenda on Elections and Political Online Campaigning. By using a case-based approach to reflect on the proposed discussions, the session will then offer in concrete terms, a set of proposals surrounding debates in topics such as (a) regulating personal data usage; (b) new rules for new digital resources; and (c) countering inauthentic behavior.

Online Participation

 

Usage of IGF Official Tool.