The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> We all live in a digital world. We all need it to be open and safe.
We all want to trust.
>> And to be trusted.
>> We all despise control.
>> And desire freedom.
>> We are all united.
>> Can you hear me? I was told you could not hear.
So it seems that the IGF website itself is down right now. So it is already time, but let's give five, 10 minutes. Because it is difficult for people.
[Captioner standing by]
[Technical issues with audio feedback and echo]
>> MODERATOR: I think we're announcing a few quick house rules. The first is keep yourself on mute when you don't have the floor. This is just to ensure smooth audio during the session.
And yeah, the mute and unmute button is at the bottom left for you to use. The start and stop video button. Please feel free to put any questions that you have in the YouTube Live stream communities or Zoom chat box that you are seeing here. You can also raise your hand and ask the question if you want to. We will give you the floor to speak. Yeah, that's about it. I hand over to Deepti Bharthur now.
>> Deepti Bharthur: Thank you, welcome to all of you joining from different parts of the world. I think we are missing Lara, but I will send her a quick email. But while we wait for a few ‑‑ and evidently there are issues with the technical infrastructure of IGF's online. Nonetheless, I want to welcome all of you that are here and made the time to be with us. This is the third in the series of pre‑events that the Just Net Coalition has been doing. The first one was in 2019 in Berlin, on‑site. Last year, along with everything being virtual, we did have the very interesting initial justice conversations we had and saw the release of our new deal. I would like, of course, our coordinators to speak more about the Just Net Coalition. I want to introduce those of you that may not be familiar, both Sean and Parminder Jeet Singh. And Sean has written several books, articles, papers, and advocate for communication rights. He kindly serves as the research Director at nexus research cooperative and founding member of the Just Net Coalition.
Parminder Jeet Singh is Executive Director of ideas for change. His areas for work are ICT for development, governance, and economy. He's been a special advisor to the IGF and U.N. global alliance. And a founding member of the Just Net Coalition and Internet rights and principles Coalition. He's associated with the India rights policy. I turn it over to them to get us started. And you know, we'll just sort of ‑‑ I think we'll make ‑‑ hope people are able to navigate the challenges and join us over the course of today's program. Thank you all for being here again. Over to you.
>> PARMINDER JEET: Did you give it over to me or Sean?
we regret that there are so few of us here, because of all the difficulties of organizing a hybrid event and the latest problems about exploring [very low audio]
we're a small group. Let's go over what we plan to discuss today.
This event, which is named Digital Policy Making From Below ‑‑ Ask the Impacted Sectors First. It represents the confluence of two things. One is this Coalition which Deepti Bharthur was talking about. The Just Net Coalition which I, Sean, and some others here present come from.
And second is the place we have assembled. Whether it is virtually or physically, which is the intergovernance Forum. Interestingly, the meeting today is an intersection between these two. And I will explain how.
Just Net Coalition was formed in 2014 as a group of organizations, which were interested in the issues of Internet justice and equality.
I don't want to go into the background of that, we know how Internet was a great force of freedom and liberty and how it began to become a force of economic and social control. So forth, so on.
It was feared by many organizations, while there is some good amount of work being done in the area of what is called negative rights, freedom of expression, freedom of association, et cetera, in relation to Internet Governance, not enough is being done on the side of economic rights, about social justice and equity. This group therefore got together and tried to explore those areas and do advocacy on those lines. And interestingly, it consisted not only of groups which were ‑‑ whose main stay was digital issues, but also groups who were doing ‑‑ work at many other areas, which were already going to be touched by the digital and they were interested in coming together as a Coalition. That is the journey that started in 2014.
Over the years then, a lot of it has been reacted, how digital should not be. What is wrong with the digital, so on. What is the way the policymaking takes place, how corporate influence is increasing, so on, so forth? It is a lot about what not and what is wrong with the digital.
However, it was obvious that digital is a strong force and here to say and going to fundamentally transform us as industrialization did. At some point, we have to also move on to talking about if not this way, how it should then be.
That is the shift which has been happening. And also related to it is another shift. The actors at the heart of Just Net Coalition including idea ideas for change and other activists spent a lot of years to try to convince large spoken of, traditional organizations about the need for them to come into the digital arena and kind of, you know, influence this space.
But they were largely not very willing. Everybody is doing work on climate justice or trade justice, enough of support issues they were dealing with. And not enough time to start looking at new things.
Always the problem that digital was coming in as a Trojan Horse of rapid digitalization and corporations capturing the digital space and policy space and so on. A lot of the organizations had a reactive space to digitization and say can it not happen? But last five, seven years, or less, these organizations have started to also see that they need to also recognize what should be done with digitization. They were trying to move it out and interpret digitalization in different manners and different possibilities. That is not an easy way to do. The dominant forces were so invested in this digital opportunity that they were hugely funded, forceful efforts to present digital as a neutral inevitable thing. It was either you take it or leave it. But how to crack that and make it look like digital is something we can also use in progressive ways, so on.
That is where we come close to the present. In the last year or so, we have started developing a project, which internally we also sometimes call JNC2.0, whereby we have worked in a bilateral manner with large progressive organizations in different sectors, trade justice, media, climate justice, gender justice, agricultural, education, health, so on. These organizations, work with JNC to try to understand and if possible redefine and they would all come together and see how to influence the overall cross‑cutting digital policymaking. That is where we say that questions like who owns data or how platforms should be run, or what is artificial intelligence is not something for technocrats who claim they understand data and AI to tell us, but for actors impacted by these things, and almost every sector is, need to say what is fair justice in relation to health, what is equitable in AI with regard to education, so on.
This is the idea of this project which we have started. And some of the organizations here today are involved in this project. We're in the very early phase. A lot of time was taken and probably I will come in sometime and talk about it in forming the relationships.
And about the IGF ‑‑ I will let Sean talk about it. IGF was born as the sphere of participatory policy making. And the experiment that had a great potential is turning a bit sad and we also understand how to re-liven it, reinvigorate it, and what type of policymaking models should therefore probably redefine the Internet Governance Forum help here I would hand it over to Sean who was already introduced before we go to the panel which will discuss the work they're doing in the Just Net Coalition.
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: [Echo]
I'll be brief, I'm in the ballroom in Katowice. We have a small group of us here, who have managed to get through the registration and so on. I mean, they're doing their best here. Still a lot of people arriving, so on. There is some technical problems.
I would also like to welcome everybody on YouTube, where I think we will have the larger audience for this. I think it is a significant event. That is what I want to mention briefly.
In a kind of pre‑event, pre-IGF event I gave a presentation which is a stakeholder analysis of the IGF, I went through the digital corporations, north, southern Governments in [echo]
and society in this context [echo]
Digital society is involved, of course, in the whole digital sphere. A highly specialized area. The thrust of the I can't is to bring together the two parts of Civil Society.
In the stakeholder analysis that I did, I looked at the power, the motivation, and the capacity or skills of each of the stakeholder groups. And I'm not going to a presentation here, so I will quickly jump to a couple of the conclusions.
First of all, that the power of Civil Society and of southern Governments, especially the smaller southern Governments but really all the southern Governments depends, to a large extent, on the level of cooperation between them. And the level of collective action that they can muster, if you like to address the larger players. They are the weaker players, we know that, in the driving seat, as mentioned recently is ‑‑ as somebody described it recently is the digital corporate world in the driving seat, in the passenger seat, you have some of the large countries, Member States. Then you have in the backseats, you have the Civil Society and U.N. organizations. And somewhere as a spare wheel you have ethics and all of this kind of thing. If things breakdown, they fall back on that.
We all know the real drivers behind this is the corporate sector at the moment and the real power of any other sector will come through the level of cooperation and collective action.
That in turn depends on the capacity and skills of Civil Society and of smaller Governments of the south, and indeed the larger Governments. But definitely the smaller Governments that rely on others for the capacity building that's there. The paper I presented was suggesting ideas with the regional Commissions of the U.N., economic and social Commissions to support and provide more effort in supporting smaller countries.
But also there, link ‑‑ then, linking the two aspects of Civil Society, those in the digital world and those in the real world, if you like, of the thematic and substantive areas.
That is what this project is about coming from Just Net Coalition. That is why I am excited to listen to the papers coming up. That is why I think it is a really important event.
It is really when the two sides of Civil Society can really exchange and each learn from the other, that you will get the level of cooperation and coordination and collective action from Civil Society and which in turn is then going to, I think, bring much more enlightenment to the smaller Member States who are large in number but small in power.
So with that, I am going to hand back to Parminder Jeet Singh to introduce the speakers. Thanks.
>> PARMINDER JEET: Thanks Sean, we have five speakers in the first panel, which consist of people that are working with Just Net Coalition on different tracks of what Sean called thematic area. [Very low volume]
I will introduce them one by one as they take the mic. First would be Lara Merling working with the International Trade Union Confederation. Lara is working on highlighting the effects of austerity policies have on people's lives and economic stability [very low audio from presenter]
she's deeply committed to social justice and [very low audio from presenter]
Lara has written in consideration as economic and social policy advisor. Lara Merling, we're eager to hear you.
>> Deepti Bharthur: I think she's been logged out. I just saw there is an issue on her end. Move to the next speaker, we'll come back to her later. Sorry about that.
>> PARMINDER JEET: The next speaker is Jun Ho Jung from People’s Health Movement. Again People’s Health Movement needs no introduction. [Very low audio from presenter]
if you want to talk about People’s Health Movement, it is a global network which brings together grassroot health activist Civil Society organizations and academic institutions from around the world, particularly from low and middle‑income countries. They have a presence in 17 countries and guided by people's Charter for health.
So Jun Ho Jung, please, we want to hear you now.
>> Jun Ho Jung: Thanks, Parminder Jeet Singh, hello, everyone, thanks for having me here. It is a wonderful opportunity to discuss the work and also hear from other sectors and fascinating how digitalization is impacting other areas around the globe, party from health.
As Parminder Jeet Singh introduced, working with Just Net Coalition and from people health movement, on impact of digitalization and health.
This is the work done by our Working Group. And I would like to take the opportunity to thank our members for their dedication to this work. So I'll briefly introduce what we have done as our project. And issues of mapping the digitalization of healthcare.
So as you can imagine, impact of digitalization is broad and fundamental in healthcare sectors. And it has many names, such as medical artificial intelligence, mobile health, telehealth, e‑health, u‑health, and probably heard as digital medicine. Digital health promises to provide opportunities in improving the medical decision‑making process and empowering autonomy of the patient, providing more data and fundamentally more data for prognostics, diagnostics and better drug discovery and better hospital management, so forth, so on. The technology fixed old problems, like lack of universal healthcare, and the power dynamics between patients and healthcare providers, on the unjust distribution of resources.
However, we think that we need to critically question the promises, digital health is becoming a dominant force in healthcare economy ecosystem. And what is most problematic is it often bypass says the existing regulatory framework. From health and equality point of view it is important to address key issues like digital health results or further entrenching the existing dynamics to new actors. Digital health appropriately address the existing problems in healthcare systems.
Most discussion around such issues have been undertaken through top‑down approach and involve mostly States and commercial actors. There is need for more bottom up Civil Society led and a framed agenda. That was our initial call. So initially, our work started as mapping of the current issues around the globe to share the knowledge and identify what the problems we commonly share and what differences there are.
So our group consists of Civil Society activity, scholars, healthcare professionals. From a variety of geographical audience like India, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, France, and South Korea. We have collected cases that signify promises and perils of digital health around the globe, these are a few findings we put together.
First is on regulation as an emerging field. Registration of digital health is developing rapidly and discourses run in the regulatory framework is by international organizations and developed countries. And promoting commercially controlled digitalization and data‑ification of the health.
These guidelines and agreements may help with the flow of the data and goods but have little show on the side of sharing benefits for all.
Equity and in general a large and overall social value. And rapid technological advances make conventional frameworks obsolete for digital area. This makes benefits for larger health and tech corporation at the expense of the public interest. Second is privatization.
Traditionally, stakeholders in healthcare include health insurance companies, pharmaceutical, medical device companies, hospitals, patient support associations, Government agencies. What is notable recently is the rise of new stakeholders and digital software developers. These actors were not considered healthcare providers traditionally, but rapidly expanding roles and emerging with healthcare and or insurance companies. So today, private companies and especially data companies race to relocate their big database they can either sell or profit or use to train the improved algorithms. Or develop profitable tools.
However, the supply of big data is not enough to meet the requirements. Privacy regulation in Europe north, for example, the GDPR are growing stricter. Especially with such sensitive data as personal health records. Health system and resource setting offers potentially vast and untapped reserve of e‑data and regulatory controls.
Third is transparency. Multiple layers which transparency needs addressing that can be digital health storing processing of the data or development of regulatory processes.
Currently, development of the digital health is largely driven by private companies where many of the layers are hidden behind the curtain of trade secrets. There are trials around the globe which efficacy and safety of the products are not violated. Many of the products are not classified as medical devices and it is difficult to regulate with existing systems or frameworks. And the inevitable shift toward digital or unpresent situation of the digital age gave them an exemption over careful examination or appropriate oversight, in turn making it obscure or less transparency.
Lastly is issues with applications. This is often portrayed as disruptive innovation, like helping health policy decentralize management, improve quality care, better access to information and so on.
However, it should be noted that the technology does not happen in empty space but in the existing political economy. Such technology reflects or exacerbates existing equalities, both at local and global level. At the same time, the process of Digital Transformation is not purely digital but requires substantial workforce and healthcare workers.
Thus the delivery of the occupation and ground level should be observed and build evidence from its promises. The case was exacerbated by current COVID‑19 pandemic, I'm sure you are familiar with the variety of contact tracing apps, the proof of vaccination apps. This is one example. And expansion of medicalization is well within our everyday life.
Normally people would not allow such invasive policies, but it seems this practice is well within our norm now.
Some say desperate times call for desperate measures. The feeling of desperation is injunction with unprecedentedness, opening a lot of doors to newly emerging actors and digital healthcare sectors.
So lastly, the challenge of digital health for both patients and citizens is the development of digital health outpace the creation of ethical and legal frameworks for mitigating social equity for protecting people's privacy and also their benefits.
Without such frameworks, digital health innovation may inevitably lead to numerous individualizing the responsibility outsourcing the risk and privatization of the benefit.
With the basis of current medical issues around the digitalization of health, critical analysis on principle and norms and policies should be conducted. Challenges in good governance that can enhance and effectively introduce the values by the digitalization of health should be identified. Thanks.
>> PARMINDER JEET: Thank you Jun Ho Jung. That is a great description of the kinds of challenges, very important sector has made with digitalization and it is very important but important from the sense that it has a very strong initial [very low audio from speaker]
it is very important. The dynamics shaped in the health sector are very important to study and know for us to take general lessons about digitalization and how it should be regulated. For example, issues of AI in health. Such sensitive areas. These are the kind of things we have been exploring with Jun Ho Jung and People’s Health Movement. We look forward to doing more work in this particular track. But also ‑‑ one of the main purposes of this project is also for everybody to learn from different areas is Lara available? Hi, how are you? I welcome you. I did introduce you. So the people are rearing to hear you. And [very low audio from speaker]
with International Trade Union Confederation and with worker's rights.
>> Lara Merling: You say strong and I will say extremely diverse. Looking at our membership with over 200 million workers in over 160 countries, it is not that easy to call us all like one sector, because we do have the same vision of workers' rights and what we want to achieve, but even talking to various groups and fragments within the movement, you see that when it comes to digitalization, they will bring up different issues and different concerns that all need to be addressed. But at the end of the day, a lot of it comes down to what we have seen in the way that technology has been adopted, a breakdown and shift in what the employment relationship was like or what countries in formality was the main issue, what people would have liked it to be and how that is, you know, that's still kind of the goal that you can have in an era with digitalization changes these employment relationships and type of jobs available.
And looking and asking various parts of it, we have seen that, you know, the employment relationship is the main kind of overarching issue. And then the way in which technology is adopted in places without any input from workers. It is kind of implemented by employers as they wish.
And surveillance, data collection, these are all problems that workers face and have little say in it. There has been very little regulation in a lot of places. And even where it exists, it kind of always is one step behind. And responding to what is already happening.
So the question is, within the labor movement in 2017, actually, at the International Labour Organization, there was a big Declaration on the future of work.
And it seems that for most people, that's the main document that shapes the vision on how workers and, you know, in that case, like Government and employers agree to what should be this vision of how technology and workers' rights should be part of, you know, a way in which things like data privacy and so on is included in workers' rights. The main problem we see is okay, people agree to the Declaration and what is the next step? And that is what we sort of lack, a governance framework, where you can actually make these things, you know, a reality and implement them in some way.
And there's been a lot of national level initiatives, in different places that have introduced like bits and pieces of legislation and workers' protections, but nothing that is consistent in something that is global. When we look at organizing efforts too, in asking people and Unions, we see a lot of organizing efforts even in the issue of platform work where it is the main reshaping of relationships, we have the platforms that are visible that provides services, you know, on the ground that is like a delivery app or car service app, that if you see and those are getting a lot more attention than the invisible type of little task crowd work platforms that people don't have to see and interact and where it is also a lot harder to find those workers and help them connect to each other. But for a lot of the problems and also introductions in the end umbrella question is, data ownership. Who gets to own and control the data and use it for, you know, either to have an algorithm on the platform or crowdsourcing thing or to manage people or to, you know, use algorithms for making any other decisions like who gets to like decide that and see that?
And we, I think, see it as there is a big gap in, you know, regulation and decisions and it is a question where there is no clear answer on, you know, where should these decisions be taken in a fairway ‑‑ fair way. There is a decision in the ILO Declaration where generally workers' rights issues are decided but no way to like concretely implement that since a lot of the IPFs there go beyond labor and outside of the jurisdiction and power of the ILO convention or what that would mean.
And it is kind of a difficult, like uphill battle for us as well within membership to convince members and people that this is something that is urgent right now. And important to like engage with still.
Even though, like, you know, the more people face these technologies or issues at work, that is kind of where their interest starts to peak on, you know, it is time to do something about it and engage with it. [Timer ringing]
It is great to be part of this and have these decisions within our own movement and see, hear, you know, how it is very ‑‑ a lot of very different perspectives and still like no clear, like agreement on what would be the best way to deal with this governance issue and question. Okay.
>> PARMINDER JEET: Thank you, thank you, Lara. [Audio very low from speaker]
as was brought up, the question of work and workers is central to all the changes which are taking place.
What is interesting apart from the substantive aspects Lara was giving, the aspects are important. The dynamics between, for example, the dynamic groups, the digital groups and so‑called traditional groups, we talk with the labor groups, the dynamics of the first building, what are you trying to do? Are you going to sell digital here? Has it taken a long time? It has been a great exercise for us. When the keynoted organization for the project comes around, then as she was understanding, there is an issue of talking to other actors in their area. And the developing trust and workability. This project has at least as much been about this process as it has been to figure out precisely what is happening and what can be done about it, which is also important. But I think as we all know working in the Civil Society area, the processes of networking, trust building and working together are very important. This project tries to explore them, across where digital changes are taking place. Thank you, Lara.
Our next speaker is Chee Yoke Ling an international lawyer. Areas of expertise in environmental, social, and economic impacts of mobilization, especially in the countries of the south since 1993 she's worked closely with negotiates from Global South, scientists, NGOs to campaign for biosafety and climate justice and a member of the Malaysia task force that related on two national laws related to biosafety and existing resources, and Chee Yoke Ling serves as a member of Third World Network.
>> Chee Yoke Ling: Thank you, Parminder Jeet Singh, thanks for bringing us together. I think we're parts of the network that Just Net Coalition has brought together. We have intersections of our work.
As requested, maybe share a little bit of what we're thinking of Third World Network is and we can do more together.
I will focus on the negotiations for the so‑called digital rules. I have a lot of confidence and I would like for us to think about how we want to frame. It is a digital economy, the right framing of how we see the future of our societies. Because the digital economy framing, which is now used in all of our blueprints at the national level, seems to have this impression of ‑‑ there is a sort of image that we're creating, a whole different world where workers, farmers and ordinary people and their contribution to the real economy somehow is not as important as this thing called the digital world. That is something I wanted for us to think about. In terms of the WTO, which I will focus on, there is from the beginning, a big push to really ‑‑ I think this comes from the big tech companies the big four, Google, et cetera, and some of the Governments from the north who actually see a lot of the things coming because of the technological control.
And so a lot of the ideas are planted in the different multilateral spaces. Our countries in the south in terms of Government policymakers and negotiators they are caught off guard. We see it again and again.
For example, a push from the time it was set up to create a lot more building blocks for what we see today as digital rules. And they wanted already a legally binding treaty, you know, back in the early 90s, when the WTO was first formed. This is really to sort of lock in all of the other pieces of the agreements that had put on the so‑called agenda, intellectual property, market services including financial services, liberalization, pushing for Government procurement to be privatized but in a limited way because of resistance. Many of you are familiar that there were enough in India, South Africa, that see some of the red flags. The compromise was a work program on e‑commerce in 1998 which was supposed to be a discussion. We all know now and back then, anything that starts as a discussion in the WTO, becomes the seed to basically plant ultimately legally binding rules and we are caught in what we call disciplines in the WTO jargon.
There is a lot of discussion and very little movement on norm‑making, on rule‑making. Because enough countries were aware of the problems. That is quite remarkable.
The one thing we all know did come as part of the package agreement in 1998 is that there would be a moratorium, supposed to be on customs duties on e‑transmissions. This has been politically linked with a temporary moratorium on taking action against intellectual property violations, you know, in the different context. These two have been a balancing act, year after year after year.
As the whole world changes of what was understood in 1998 as e‑commerce subject matter, today, you know, e‑commerce covers so many different things. So what Governments thought they were having a customs duty moratorium to the customs duties, today, talking about billions if not trillions of lost revenue. So in terms of what impact it means for the south and in our society, we all know that the revenue that we need to generate for climate change, for social services, you know, for all the rights that we want to implement at the international and local level, how to finance that. Tax revenue is crucial. Cutting out the tax revenue is a big problem. The pressure to have a moratorium is a big fight in the WTO right now. India, South Africa in early November put forward a paper to say we have to review the scope of what you mean by e‑transmissions, what duties, what impact on our societies. I want to flag that as an important area for us to think about as the kind of work we need to do moving forward.
Of course, meanwhile, because it is resistant, the sneaky way the developed countries and big tech company lobby did was use ‑‑ we all know in 2019 there was, there were Ministerial Declarations, one was on e‑commerce. We had 70 odd Ministers sign on, it is ‑‑ we want to think it is good to have something good from Divals. We got this Declaration and before the ink was dry, there was a push with the collaboration of the WTO to push for negotiations in the WTO. Today, we have this joint statement initiative, the JSI on e‑commerce and a couple of other areas, this from the legal point of view is illegal because anything you want to do in the WTO needs a mandate, including plurilateral. You can't have all the members agree on launching new negotiations. We agree that those who want to join can join, but you need a membership of the WTO to get a mandate to say yes, you can start plurilateral negotiations. Never got that. This e‑commerce negotiation facilitation all of this is technically illegal.
We have been highlighting to on the economic justice. If they're illegal, then this should not be allowed.
I think right now we have more than 80 countries that have joined the plurilateral, about 86 in total out of the 164 of the WTO membership. About half of the 86 countries in the e‑commerce negotiations are in developing and least developed countries. We talk about the deep inequities of the digital world, you know, technology deep divide and kind of economic injustice, that comes from the deep divide, how on earth are Burkina Faso, and Lao in this? They will give up everything about localizing data, controlling the free flow of data out of the borders. The five areas that are very contentious, the way that many groups are engaging in this sphere, it is more of a positive agenda to protect existing policy sovereignty space, but it is actually a negative agenda in the sense that we're trying to push off and hold back and push back some of the negative things from equity and development perspective that is being pushed around.
So one of course is cross border data flows. The other is localizing of facilitates. And market access to services and goods.
These areas are really where we would have impact on small, medium and microbusinesses on workers, all the things that we care about in this community, you know, it really is about handing over our entire economy, more of that to a set of rules and to more concentration of the big platforms.
You know, actually, a few months ago, we had together with some other partners, a meeting, and we were looking at some of these issues. I like the description of the Africa Minister Rob Davis said that Google, [shuffling]
have a vampire‑like grip on digital trade and rule‑making. And it is a vampire‑like grip, the challenge for us is how do we engage more across the entire community and others. How do we engage more with the Governments? Because the lack of understanding, the mantra of the digital economy and COVID ‑‑ we will all get out of the COVID depression and crisis through digitalization. It is phenomenal the lack of understanding, the lack of analysis and lack of pure information at the country level. I think that is a lot for us to do.
I want to end by touching quickly, the other area is look at is genetic resources. That is not happening so much at the moment in WTO's sphere but happening in the conventional and biological diversity and the protocol on benefit sharing, where the deep inequities caused in the colonial period is where we have those treaties. Equity, local communities, Indigenous People's rights, all of that is there. The battle is how do you treat the issues that the new technologies introduce. That fight requires us to engage in the space because of rule‑making and norms going on there as well. Intellectual property is being expanded, copyright, for example, is being expanded to also have privatization and private ownership of dataset and databases. It is started already in Europe. What are the implications? This creeping and ratcheting is where we need to organize ourselves. We need to bring together the trade rules, economic rules, and not even trade, but beyond that. Those that know the technicality, beyond this community. We have started ‑‑ I think today, two three years going back to what we started the Just Net Coalition, we have moved a long way. I think we have been setback through COVID because we were so distracted through so many different spheres. I look forward for the project to bring us together so we can, in the next few months, the suspension or postponement of the Ministerial meeting in the WTO is a blessing in disguise. There is a lot of pressure. There was a lot of fighting. No consensus around the e‑commerce rules. The creep is there.
In the trade agreements like the comprehensive, and progressive trans‑Pacific agreement, in the partnership agreement and all of the agreements existing and enforced they have provisions in the e‑commerce chapter that have serious restrictions on localization of data facilities, et cetera. We have the rules in the making and we need to put it together to intervene and bring up the positive agenda in this arena. Thank you very much.
>> PARMINDER JEET: Thank you so much Chee Yoke Ling. She really talked about especially towards the end, about challenges, because we have to do education work. We no longer have the ability to be in only our areas of work of gender or trade, we need to know so much from the different areas. That alone allows us access. That is where the network form of Civil Society working is very important. Chee Yoke Ling we here at Just Net Coalition fear it every day, the idea of ‑‑ as it was put taking us more towards the system or the life bowl. For this, it balanced, in the digitalization.
So the idea of the needs and had rights, that a problem exists. We also tell them if you do not engage, what kind of problems you would face. It is a difficult thing.
We do also learn that we say this, other people teach us, these are real problems. There is a lot of learning. We have to cross them. I can't stop myself from saying, that this area that Chee Yoke Ling talked about was the biggest success area for Just Net Coalition to work in an Intersectoral manner. We were put together when U.S. brought that agenda to the WTO. A lot of people didn't know what digital was. And it was for in some Internet Governance areas, that put us in this meeting, and not knowing about WTO or digital governance until then. And we were told you have to tell us what to do. We didn't know. But how quickly we work together and in 2019, last Ministerial, while some developing countries already had doubts about the agenda, but never had points and ability to speak up.
If the country so solidly spoke up at 2019 and said we will not associate with that agenda, allow me to boast a little. It was a strict work with the activists done within a year that created the positions to get India to stand up and say we want to say no to what you are doing and had a certain narrative to back it up. And it carried on since then.
So we have that understanding. Thank you so much. That is our early success area, which we are very proud of and going to work more on it.
The next speaker is Cedric Leterme from The Tricontinental Centre. He's a researcher at The Tricontinental Centre also another organization which is an international movement driven institution focusing on international debates with the self‑aspirations and it is a solidarity organization, from which The Tricontinental Centre would emerge. That is the formulation. Cedric Leterme has been working with Just Net Coalition effectively and well on issues of environment and climate justice. Over to you.
>> Cedric Leterme: Thank you, Parminder Jeet Singh. Thank you for allowing me to lend me his profile, because mine was down. I am here to be brief. I'm here to talk about a process we initiated with other GNC members to think about the links of environmental justice and find ways to better articulate the two. The starting point was the observation that although we all know and it is becoming more obvious every day that digital technologies have a huge, growing impact on the environment in terms of resource extraction, energy use, e‑waist generation, we felt it was not sufficiently discussed and integrated in the digital justice movement and in the environmental justice movement. On one side, too often, maybe a digital justice solution or scenario, the plan, we will figure out ways to make the digital economy more fair, equitable and decentralized. And maybe not considering this inside of the physical limits that the planet imposes on the process of digitalization. We hear a lot about for example, one of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations is universal connectivity. What does that mean in terms of actual impact when we know in the Global North people have eight, 10, 15 connected device and people in the Global South don't have one connected device. What does that mean to put everyone on the Internet and what is it in terms of the environmental impact.
On the other Saturday, we felt the environmental movement wasn't fully integrating the challenges of the digital process is imposing. We don't see the same mobilization in the environmental justice movement that we see in other industry. In extractivism and fossil fuel and we don't see it happening regarding the digitalization process. Maybe it is because there is still this widespread feeling that somehow digital technologies they're immaterial.
You have the fact it is considered rightfully something technical. So a lot of environmental activists don't have good tools to engage with the digital technology that seems technical. That is why we felt we need to try and build bridges between the movements. Based on the observations, we wanted to build on one of the really great strengths of the Just Net Coalition, which is to allow and facilitate those cross‑sectoral dialogues in relation to the digitalization. Especially in the north‑source perspective which is precious and rare at the international level. We want to see how both movements could learn and work with each other in this area and sustain a just and sustainability digitalization process at the global level.
The first step was to convene an event. Convene the first meeting held last October. It was a two‑day event. Where we got together experts and activists from the environmental justice movement and digital justice movement and from different countries and regs around ‑‑ Regions around the world, to start this process and different thematic discussions. We had a discussion on the actual record of the digital technologies to find numbers and figures and find how it is felt and distributed across different Regions.
Secondly, we had a discussion around possible scenarios for both a just and sustainable digitalization process, to see what would it look like, what could be the technical and political solutions. Also trying to avoid the pitfalls of brain washing or false green solutions emerging now. We had the whole discussion around the policies implications of this and how to build this forward and go over next steps.
Maybe I will finish by highlighting some of the few takeaways that came out of this event. Knowing that this event, we are currently trying to write a fully sensitized report. Probably you will have all the details. I want to share some important conclusions out of it.
The first one was really the confirmation of the usefulness of organizing such events and creating such spaces for exchanges that are still too rare, when it comes to bringing together activists and experts in the movements. In the Global North and source perspective. Many raised the point and Tuesday is use ‑‑ said it is useful and not used enough. So we had to try to create the spaces.
Also what was important is the opportunity and urgency in the current moment to see the discussions around the environmental impact of digital technologies, they're coming to the forefront and addressed more and more in different areas. So there is an opportunity and also an urgency because there is a risk that the discussion will be corporate capture and directed in directions we don't want it to go. We have to be able to see the opportunity that this is a growing debate, but we have to act quickly so the discussion doesn't get included or disoriented in that direction.
Another conclusion was trying to learn from the experiences and movements.
For examples of trying to do the parallels between demands for digital sovereignty and demands for food sovereignty. There was a whole discussion around how can we learn from both movements, what do they share in common? What are the differences also between the two demands and the way they have been put forward by different movements? It was a really important ‑‑ what we have to learn from one another. Another aspect that was important is trying to articulate as much as possible, micro, and macro solutions. We had thoughts about trying to build concrete alternatives from the bottom up, like community networks and how to imagine and create more sustainable digitalization. But always keeping in mind that those kind of concrete and bottom‑up alternatives they also need to be able to rely on the favorable macropolicy environment to flourish, so we need to work on both fronts and especially need to articulate the two dynamics.
So I'll just end here by saying that one of the ideas that was put forward to continue this work was to try and initiate a work of matching intersections between the two movements and see where they intersect and to build on those intersections to see how and where we can act together and learn from one another. And so probably the next step will be to do this mapping of the intersection work. And to convene other, you know, events like this. And pursue the discussion. So I'll leave it there. Thank you very much.
>> PARMINDER JEET: Thanks, Cedric Leterme. It was [audio very low from speaker]
it was the initiative that has taken all this length. Not consecutive. The partner that has so much. [Audio very low from presenter]
work in this area. What is also interesting in this bringing together the environment and apart from what Cedric Leterme talk about. It is not considered an environmental area, but to start dealing with that very early has been something which we have started. But also how very strangely, both of the movements ‑‑ the areas can be taken by some people as not to be very political and not being as political as so much a north‑south to it. A lot of people want to talk environment and there is nothing north‑south and as if digital there is nothing north‑south. In the digital movement there is a north‑south and same manner there is north‑south to the digital movement. Both are in particular spaces. Not the middle class advocacy everything is nice. That is what is interesting.
Also things that the digital domain would otherwise not like. For example, there should be distributed data activity. And as much as possible, keep data distributed rather than centralized, which is behind also in a way the big free flow of data arguments, issues which Chee Yoke Ling would be interested in at WTO. And how it is environmentally better not only for the domestic economies, the data does not flow around that much, if possible, right? Because aggregated data flow has a huge growing impact.
We move to the last speaker for this panel, who would take forward some of the things Cedric Leterme has been speaking in some ways.
The next speaker is Elenita Dano from the ETC Group. Elenita Dano is a researcher with the extensive experience in issues of agriculture [audio very low for speaker]
she has a bachelor’s degree and has double degree with law. And took a master’s degree in community development and currently the coordinator and Asia Director at ETC Group. Elenita Dano, please.
>> Elenita Dano: Thank you, Parminder Jeet Singh for the kind introduction. To say the ETC Group is very excited to be part of this initiative. To work with new and old friends alike and also to learn from the experiences and also expertise of friends and allies in different sectors. And to us, what is very exciting in this initiative is really the idea of cross‑fertilizing our analysis and lenses in looking at the issues around digitalization in the sectors we're primarily working in. Listening to Jun Ho Jung struck me about the similarities in terms of trends in health and also the way we do food and agriculture. This is a peculiarity that is really worth looking into and deeply.
I would like to start by latching on what Chee Yoke Ling said, the interesting analogy of the vampire grip on the digital economy. That vampire grip is very clear. Very obvious and very much increasingly felt in the food and agricultural sector. That is a group working in this area for the last 40‑plus years together with Civil Society movements, social movements across the south, Latin America, Africa, Asia.
Never before we have seen the rapid, rapid changes in corporate consolidation, power, and concentration in the hands of very few. New players as well, that are brought into the food and agricultural sector systems by the technology that they control.
And we have actually come up with report soon to show the landscape of changes across sectors in the food industry and how digitalization and big data have actually enabled or continue to enable further consolidation and corporate concentration in this area. Of course, we know that the food and agriculture sector in particular seeds and chemicals are just in the hands of four huge corporations, big‑ag. What fascinates us is the enabler is larger digitalization in the past few years.
All of the big‑ag‑Bayer, and those in China and BSF offering digital services to allow farmers to continue their dependence, no, on corporate services to provide advices on what to plant, when to plant, what to plant and how. And with all this visioning of agriculture and food in the future without farmers.
This is very ‑‑ like before, this is a message that is often couched with like sugarcoated, but not any more in the recent years. It is like agriculture without farming is seeming to be the vision. Some Governments are also envisioning the policymaking and how it is enabled by Government policies and priorities in the north and south is something worth looking into. Like now, like most of us are following the cup in Glasgow have noticed the U.S., China agreement and under all the circumstances these big platforms that are advanced by U.S. and UAE are around digitalization and agriculture. The images projected, and the statements, never talk about farmers. It is just precision farming, agriculture, machines, robots.
This we see a lot now. A lot of entry points for new players to come in and new players, in entirely new sectors, for example, the entrance of agricultural drones in the whole big, huge sectors of farm machinery. It is something that the world is seeing now, like you have only a few countries, China leading the way, for example, declaring agricultural drones as part of farm machinery. For the rest of the world, it is not, but it is already being deployed in big scale, particularly in plantation farming or like banana plantation, all that. You have new players, SAG, AGI and drone makers and European military drone producers entering the agricultural drone markets and have become players, important players in farm machineries. And you have all of the collaboration and partnerships with big‑ag, with the big players.
Also new players around how to dispense with their digital advisory services in a more profit geared way. That would enable profit for all the different actors, old and new alike.
We have also seen how these developments in the application of digital technologies in food and agriculture are trumping the policies. The capacities and terminologies and the existing rules just don't apply any more.
Like competition policies are geared towards ensuring that there is free competition and the prices are ‑‑ don't hike up. In the process of mergers and acquisitions but they're not sufficient anymore because there is much more underlying these collaborations that are actually escaping the current definitions of what collusion means, of what competition should be. And like how collusion works. In agricultural commodity sector that are heavily reliant on AI for machine learning and determining future stocks and movement of supplies.
Also, we have seen in this area, food and agriculture sector, how digital convergences work out. And mentioned the sequencing, application of digital application in sequencing genetic resources that is now enabling a lot of the laboratory researches and development, research, and development processes, involving synthetic biology, and all of the new molecular techniques in genetics, which are Trumping long hold norms in biodiversity and agriculture. Like informed consent. Who gave them the consent to digitalize the genetic resources from traditional seeds for example.
And also the whole decision of access and benefit sharing and biopiracy no longer applies because of the application of digital technologies on genetic resources. And how farmers' rights and the right to repair which is almost sacred. No? When it comes to farm machinery, alike in the north and south are being impacted by this corporate ‑‑ the vampire grip of corporate interest on food and agriculture.
We're talking of vampire grip, it is not just big ag, but big tech into the sector. We know about Amazon investing in retail, brick, and mortar store by buying Whole Foods. Very little is known and understood about the increasing investments of companies like Google, Facebook, on companies in the south that are focusing on digital economy and also food delivery, for example.
The investment of Facebook and Google in Indonesia and reliance in India I think need to be interrogated.
There is actually a lot, lot more that really are excited to look into, like we're organizing a series of dialogues. In the past months, largely at the regional level and also of the streams are going into an initiative two big meetings ‑‑ one that was organized in the next two weeks of the advisory group and the content of the discussion in February.
We are putting together ‑‑ I'm struck that the issues highlight in the issues paper in the health sector that was shared by Jun Ho Jung that there is also ‑‑ as I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of similarities that are worth sharing and really worth cross‑fertilizing each other in terms of analysis.
So that is largely what I wanted to share. And I think before I end, I have to really emphasize when we talk of food and agriculture movement, these are groups not just working at the global level in terms of policy, but also those that are working at the ground level that are pushing for food sovereignty and food security in various forms and really protecting the rights of communities to make decision on the future of food and agriculture and not leaving it in the hands of corporate players. Thank you.
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: Thank you, I will take over here for a moment. We have a few minutes of questions. We have a couple of other people here in the ballroom if they would like to come up they can ask questions in the microphones here. Otherwise, please put your questions into the chat section on the Zoom link.
While people are thinking about that, I think that any campaign initiative or any movement goes through different phases. It begins with the questions that are being put. I think that Just Net Coalition and the people certainly that you heard here, but the Just Net Coalition meetings that convened the people over the last number of years, posed all the right questions in terms of how do we link the different issues and link the different parts of Civil Society in order to build capacity and knowledge? But then the next stage, you get to complexity. What I have seen ‑‑ this is not at all a disappointment to me. It comes as no surprise, in the five speakers, is how different all of them are responding to what appears to be the same issue.
Because of course, the whole point about the digital platforms and so on is that it means such different things in different areas thematic areas. This is the real challenge for Civil Society. And if I have questions, then to the panel, what I would ask is ...
What are the common issues that are emerging here? For instance, data ownership has been mentioned a number of times. The digital community or digital commons is an issue that hasn't been mentioned but comes up a lot as well. Or digital transparency. It certainly strikes me if a wider solidarity is to be built a number of key issues have to emerge. That is one, whether you can see some issues beginning ‑‑ I know towards the ends of this Just Net Coalition program and initiative, precisely this kind of thing will begin to happen. I'm anticipated. And what Chee Yoke Ling mentioned, whether digital economy is the right framing anyway. I really agree with that. It does make it, you think, it is like calling the early part of the 20th century the oil economy or something like that. It soon becomes jaded but it suits the industries at the time to allow them to determine the agenda. And linked to what Nat said about the invisibility of actual farmers of what is happening in the food and farming sector, it is like they don't exist at all. To many, that is precisely what appears to be happening. They're not going to exist. In the meantime, the people have disappeared out of the sectors. The second question there is around the framing, whether or not it is possible to frame the ‑‑ what is happening in the whole digital era in a way that doesn't put digital in there but puts people into the framing of the issues.
So have we any questions coming in here. Go ahead, right next to me we have somebody willing to ask a question.
>> ATTENDEE: Hi, from the same collaborate with lock net from IPC. My question adding on what Sean was asking. I find impressive the work of the Coalition in the intersection, different points of view. Since language was brought up as a topic. How do you work on this? You are a Coalition from so many different places. Not all of the actors, I imagine are on the ground, speak English. What are your strategies on the careers that are exclusive in many moments and already brought up at the regional or national IGF, that language remains a big barrier and those global fights and movements around food sovereignty and decentralized Internet, I would like to know if you have any suggestions or findings how to be more inclusive?
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: Thanks. I don't see any questions coming in the chat. Maybe the panelists would like to respond to the issues?
>> Chee Yoke Ling: I would respond. The language is not just this issue, it is everything we do. There are two levels. More and more of the decision‑making and framing of what are priorities, you know, it is done global. Global not in a multilateral sense of the U.N., but in the sense of every sector, whether tech companies, agribusiness or pharmaceutical or oil companies, it is such a concentration at the corporate level. This is what ETC Group does in exposing those sectors. When it goes to that level, it is almost a deliberate strategy to mystify all of the things. Not just the local population that are so impacted directly. Who had to catch up on what's happening, but even Government decision‑makers and negotiators when they go to the spaces are quite lost? I would say we need to demystify at two levels. One, the technicality of it, whether it is law or whatever. And how you get the message, the content, the substance into the country level. Most countries have diverse languages and communities that impact it differently. That is the challenge for Civil Society, how do we take every one of the issues and look at how it impacts of different parts of our society. Not in a silo, but not just the experience, but there are lots of problems, it shows the scale. We need to step up. The interaction of ourselves, learning from each other and take it back to the different constituencies, that is always necessary. Thanks.
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: Are there other comments from the other panelists, of the question that was posed?
>> Elenita Dano: Can I add? As she said, language is an issue, not just this initiative, but many. The pandemic has exacerbated the connectivity ‑‑ because of the connectivity, the action issue, the infrastructure challenge, that has added to the language challenge.
We did raise this initially in our initial conversations with IDP for change. When it got in the project. This is in particular challenges for Regions like Asia where you don't have a common language that you can use to communicate. And a lot of us actually the movements working in the regional and global level are relying on allies who have organizing infrastructure at the national and local level that is challenged during the pandemic. Meeting in flesh in person to connect to grassroots and communities that are actually impacted by digitalization, food and agriculture is almost next to impossible, still, yeah, in some countries, like where I am, the Philippines, for example.
I think we have to also take this into account, but also make advantage of the vast networks involved in the movements that we are operating.
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: I'm aware of the time. I'm going to ask if any others would like to respond, the other panelists would like to respond before I move to the second session?
We have about 50 minutes and I don't think we can go beyond that. In fairness to other speakers we'll have more opportunity later on a hope, and the questions I pose have more to do with the subject of the second session, because it is about really, where do we go from here. It is entitled a new paradigm of digital policymaking. It is really about what are we going to make of everything that is being learned? What alternative paradigm can we suggest in the whole area of digital policymaking? Parminder Jeet Singh you may have been doing an intro there. I think we will go straight in, given the amount of time, it is probably fair to give the speakers the time. The first speaker is Nachiket Udupa from MKSS, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan. It is a people's organization, part of the growing nonparty political process, MKSS works with rural poor, workers, and peasants. The organization was born of the struggle of community land held illegally by feudal landlords, which is not unique to India and worked toward processes to fight exploitation. Nachiket Udupa I will ask you to come in right there. Are you there?
>> Nachiket Udupa: Thanks. Am I audible?
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: Yes.
>> Nachiket Udupa: I'm joining from a rural area. I wanted to check first. Thanks for having me here. As Sean was saying I work with Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, it is basically an organization for the empowerment of peasants. I work with farmers. And there is the framework laid out well, in how digitalization is taking place in agriculture. But in terms of what is happening in India, quickly, there has been quite a push of late on digitalization and governance. And that has come with an agreement with the sector. Earlier in June, the Government put out a draft, the concept people in the India ecosystem of agriculture. I will come to that in a bit. Similar things are happening across sectors. Similar papers are being put out in health, education. There is a broad digital push in governance that is taking place in India.
And specifically on agriculture, you know, if we go by the topic for today, it is impacted the sector first. The team that put together the concept paper for agriculture didn't have a single farmer representative. You know, in the whole conceptualization of policy, in the space, there was not one single farmer. And there were some other issues, also, the paper was put out in English, like a short while ago, we were talking about issues related to language. India ‑‑ I mean, most people don't speak English. You know, language also varies greatly within the country. One issue, like others spoke about earlier is that it was put in English, but the content itself is so technical. And English speaking farmer would find it difficult to understand what they're communicating.
So one is of course, you know, different languages. But second is also the way it is being talked about is so technical that, you know, non-tech folks even though they're affected by it may not understand what is being said. This is apart from issues of digital access, which is also still a problem.
And broadly, one big problem with this is the trust, like, you know, earlier speakers were also talking about is digitalization often leads to deregulation. There is regulation in the existing brick and mortar markets, and when these markets then come into the digital space, then there are no mechanisms that are being enforced for regulation. There are no grievance address mechanisms. And farmer consent, consent, one is of course from a privacy point of view, but also consent, you know, before features are developed, what is being developed with the data?
You know, getting feedback from farmers or other affected people about how the data is being used, what is being done with it? Asking input before developing something rather than developing something and saying take it or leave it. Because leaving it often has a lot of negative impact so you have to take it. But you don't have a say in what is being offered for you to take. These were broad issues with it. But just how we then went about and what we did after that, so I'm also ‑‑ the organization I'm with is a part of a larger reliance called the reliance of sustainable and holistic agriculture, so we organize some roundtable discussions with people who are interested in issues related to digitalization and agriculture. Also with IT for change and Parminder Jeet Singh. And we came up with a response to this draft that was put out. I would also share that in the chat in case anyone is interested. And this draft was developed by organizations working on agricultural issues, along with organizations working on digital issues. So that was one. It had ‑‑ this paper ‑‑ this response was endorsed by about 90 organizations. You know, the organizations endorsing had a mix of those working on digital issues and those working on agricultural issues.
Now, going forward, also what we want to do is we realize, even, you know, people were talking about earlier, is there are many issues that are specific to agriculture. Context specific to a particular team or sector. But also issues affecting other sectors. Because it is working across India, there are issues with what is happening in agriculture, health, labor, education, et cetera.
So going forward, what we are thinking of doing is organizing a meeting or conference which is across sectors and also multistakeholder, but multistakeholder and trying to get industry and Government, part of the dialogue, because ultimately that's what we want to speak to, they're the minds we want to change. Having them there on our terms.
So first is to discuss within Civil Society across sectors to come up with a common response with what is happening, common set of demands, you know, multistakeholderism, where we have various stakeholders but not corporatized multistakeholderism, but multistakeholderism in terms that we would like. So I will just stop here and thanks for having me. I will just put another link in the chat, which has some resources on digitalization and agriculture in case anyone is interested. Thank you.
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: That is great. Thanks a lot. I had a look at the quick document you put up. It looks really interesting. Well done. I love ‑‑ well, you are ahead of what I was saying, with the common ideas but I love the idea of multistakeholderism. But multistakeholderism ‑‑ on our terms! Because this has been the issue. It is the issue in the IGF and so many other Forums, you have the multistakeholderism but not on our terms. "Our" being people and humanity if you like.
It is kind of a new post‑multistakeholderism as Parminder Jeet Singh mentioned earlier.
I am going to move on. They usually put up a clock, a countdown here, because they really do shut down at 1:00. Richard, I will ask you also to be brief, seven or eight minutes. Richard is with Association for Proper Internet Governance and the ITU in Geneva and involved in Internet Governance issues since the beginning of the Internet and now an activist in their area, speaking, publishing, contributing to discussions in various fora and very much I founder member of Just Net Coalition as well. Richard, are you there? Please come in.
>> Richard Hill: Yes, thank you, Sean. I don't know what to say, everyone before me thought of what I could say and said it better than I could. I think I will take a slightly different tact. It is requesting but think about the pandemic for a moment.
What we saw is how people didn't rely on private companies to sort things out, the Government stepped over. I agree with those that criticize the Government, they didn't do it right, nevertheless they did something. Every case where something was done, it helped to alleviate the situation. Again, it could have been done better. But if we didn't have Governments, it would run wild. In fact, we wouldn't have the vaccines because they were developed so quickly because of the very, very considerable Government funding, which was Ad Hoc to develop this vaccine. And subsidies for the production of vaccine, et cetera. So to me, the pandemic shows kind of the return of the state.
We have seen a neoliberal trend to the Governments are inefficient. The World Economic Foundation says we need something else. Guess what, when we have a crisis and excuse me for being vulgar, the shit hit the fan, we rely on Governments because we don't have anything else.
The other thing we saw is we don't have enough organization. I think the developing countries rely on continue the developed countries ignore it. If you look at the website, you will see they publish extremely useful and sensible information about what to do. But big countries don't care. We don't have enough international cooperation, that is part of the problem. As we know, the Omicron variant is probably due to the lack of vaccination in developing countries and that is due to the restriction of exports and vaccine created by the pan system. That is one of the falls of the WPO. We won't get into it here, but there is clearly a lack of sufficient international cooperation to get things going.
What do we need in our area? We need greater international cooperation and greater involvement of the people. Probably the only way to do that right now is to rely on democratic processes in those Governments which are democratic. I happen to think there are very few of those. Lots of so‑called democratic organizations that I don't think are democratic. Nevertheless, what can we do? There are attempts to invent non‑Governmental structures. As all the speakers pointed out, Sean you mentioned this repeatedly they're not democratic, they're exclusionary. First of all, people who master English, okay, that is a small number of people. Even of those people who master English, if you go to the meetings, you will find it is the native speakers, people like Sean and myself, and Parminder Jeet Singh I consider you a native speaker, people that have advanced mastery of the language.
People that speak English but don't speak it so well because it is a second language and don't use it every day. They probably understand everything, but when they make interventions they're maybe not as well formulated as native speakers so they don't get as much fraction. There is a huge imbalance there.
Of course, the funding issue. Who goes to the various meetings, et cetera? Now, with Zoom, anybody can go. Guess what, decisions are not being made, they're being made face‑to‑face. Who can go face‑to‑face? Those with money. Who has money? The corporate. And in the Internet Governance, there is Astroturfing, until the couple years ago, there were societies showing up that were funding and pushing the corporate line of the Internet giants. It is an issue that we do. I will conclude saying we know what we should not did. As Chee Yoke Ling eloquently explained we should not allow the World Trade Organization and other trade agreements to be used to come up with binding Treaty level provisions that enshrine the state as well. That is the name of the game. Their e‑commerce joint statement initiative, which I agree is illegal is looking at the whole range of topics, when you drill down, what they're interested in is one thing, the free flow of data to have a hammer lock on the digitalization on the everything we discussed but to have the hammer lock on the artificial intelligence that again will be used to drive all sectors of the economy in the future. Priority one blocked that, that is their present danger. And build on that, the other mechanisms which I think involve the combination of new Civil Society initiatives and also greater engagement in the existing organizations which are not entirely captured by this. For example, food and agricultural organization, perhaps ITU. A lot of people don't like ITU and it is difficult for Civil Society to participant, nevertheless efforts could be made to do that.
It is a long struggle ahead. Step one, prevent the status quo from being enshrined in trade agreements, step two, develop mechanisms that are much more open and participatory and address the language barrier. That is difficult for interpretation and translation are expensive, but I think it is something essential going forward.
I will stop there so we have more time for questions. Thank you.
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: Thanks, Richard. You did manage to add something there, I think. Thanks a lot. If we didn't have Governments, this thing would have run world, you are talking about COVID, but this is what happened with 30 years of neo liberalism and that occurred when the digital world exploded and that did indeed run wild and we're talking about the consequences of that.
One of the things you said there, I totally understand what you mean by it. We need more Government. Meaning that at least you have a modicum of democracy in there. The alternatives, it is the best, worst solution at the moment. I think you went on to add that the issue is how can you get Governments to respond to people's concerns far more through Civil Society organizations?
And also, I agree with you here, through recruiting those U.N. agencies, regional and global on your side. And getting them to be a little bit more daring and to say what an awful lot really believe about what is happening. So I think that there is a huge need there to find our allies and work on them more with clear messages for them. Via them then to enable the Governments who are the ones who should really be pushing these decisions.
So thanks a lot, Richard. I'm going to move on now to Amber Sinha from Center for Internet and Society. Amber is a lawyer interested in technology, the Internet and how the law engages with them. Intrigued by the impact of emerging technologies on existing legal frameworks and how they need to evolve in response. He's currently the Executive Director of the Center for Internet and Society and manages programs on big data, Cybersecurity and AI. Go ahead.
>> Amber Sinha: Thanks a lot for the introduction and for inviting me and helping me to resolve the technical issues and eventually joining the session. But thank you for providing me with the log‑in to be able to join this session.
I will largely, I think, pick up from where most of the earlier speakers left off. Additionally, I will try to maybe talk a little bit about the policymaking process itself that Nachiket Udupa touched upon earlier. Some of the key problems, both in terms of narratives that were set around distribution and lack of participation of the relevant stakeholders [frozen]
mixed into the policies.
So I think what we see both after the COVID‑19 pandemic and to a large extent before that is the positionality of certain kinds of digital solutions. As equivalent to resolving various kinds of socioeconomic problems. In India, the solutions ranging from, you know, whatever position is general purpose general context. Or specific solutions emerged in sectors like healthcare, finance, agriculture.
To a large extent, these digital solutions, which are either endorsed, backed, or legitimized through policymaking, in the form of, you know ‑‑ you know, policymaking efforts such as legislation or executive order or other version of the technology by the state. [Freezing, skipping]
it is without an actual analysis of the digital solutions that are intended to solve.
What we can clearly see is the presence of various kinds of vested interests, which position you know, specific digital solutions increasingly solutions that involve [audio skipping] the extension of the technology such as artificial intelligence and [freezing, skipping]
algorithm decision‑making. Again, the version and form of the technology that are there, are primarily based on the imagination.
So if you take the example of something like digital ID, there is a particular imagination that you see in the versions of the similar imagination taken across the developing world instead of centralized biometric repositories, without technical recourse to the problem statements they might solve. For instance, in India, to begin with, the focus of the solutions was to reduce leakages and frauds in our public food delivery system.
And in an entire digital infrastructure was created with the data as the primary problem statement intended to resolve. We have seen much cheaper examples that could have significantly reduced such leakages, without having to, you know, require an entire overall of the identity infrastructure.
What we have seen more and more, digital solutions essentially positioned as saviors intended to solve problems of corruptions, of leakages, problems of lack of formulization. What we don't see is whether it is at the outset or stage of implementation any real consideration that is involving the stakeholders most impacted by it.
In any kind of policy or technological design making offered solution.
To give you another example solutions in healthcare, in India, what we see is the use of self‑identified AI diagnostic tools to identify the services, particularly in (audio distorted). What they intend to do is treat those demographics in the population as an experimental test, to run test technologies and position them, you know, in the form of initiatives which would reduce fraud, which would reduce lack of access, and lead to greater social good.
So the larger sort of problem and we have tried to critically look at a lot of the digital making processes, these have, as pointed out, the lack of involvement of the appropriate stakeholders.
And I think that is [frozen, skipping]
the key sort of challenge. I think we are seeing more and more, some examples and some models of how most stakeholders can be involved, like with language barrier, how to then, you know, essentially get the seat in the room, a seat at the table. How to speak to the right people. Those are capacity challenges that the state also faces.
But I think one of the big failures of the state is actually not interrogating the vendors or employer more critically, in terms of providing a clearer Roadmap or clearer plan of how the solutions that they're intended ‑‑ that they're positioned to solve are actually going to lead to specific outcomes. I think that is the ‑‑ that is where we see lazy action from the States in terms of not critically looking at tenders, not asking more difficult questions of vendors in the space. For a lot of key technologies, I think globally, also, there are handful of vendors which dominate certain technologies and we see larger networks of ‑‑ you know, in different Regions of different kinds of partners. That are involved in the set up. For instance, we have been looking at the vendors who are involved in the provision of identity programs, globally. What sort of nexus we see across them? And how to a large extent they're able to bypass, Delhi rules of procedure and get access to data that they have no business getting access to.
A key challenge that we face here are driven by profit motives and the global organizations getting something like the Sustainable Development Goals by this sort of profit‑driven agendas.
And then the narrative that is created by it. It is actually very discreet for even local Civil Society actors like ourselves to counter.
Particularly, and most of these questions that we raise around this are in the welfare or development agenda. I think that is a challenge that digital rights organizations face significantly. That is also increasingly a challenge that I think grassroots organizations are facing when they start critically looking at solutions that are being imposed on them. I think the sort of key solution that we have tried to look at is the need for looking at more solutions for the frameworks and identity solutions and working on this week to release a technology and policy design. The same thing. Vertical framework and the economy workers with regard to the impact that the solutions have on it, liberate. So I think those are some of the issues which I think require creation of guidances and resources that on the ground movements and organizations can use more effectively. What we would be keen also is have more of the conversations to explore collaborations and similarly towards that. Thank you so much.
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: Thanks, Amber. That was useful. I love the idea of digital being a solution looking for a problem, but not just that but a highly profitable solution looking for a problem, any problem and can solve them all. There is no need to consult or ask anybody what they need because the digital corporations already know what they need. This is a huge problem and you end up with the expensive inappropriate solutions or you have people and communities used as Guinea pigs to test out new technologies.
I think it was good the way you pointed the way forward to involve more stakeholders but also the practical solution, the resources to evaluate systems that communities and other stakeholders can use. And that certainly adds a very practical element to the possible agenda of the initiative that we're talking about here to come up with those templates for the resources to enable real evaluation of what's going on here.
I'm going to hand over to Parminder Jeet Singh for our final speaker and we should have a few minutes for questions. Parminder Jeet Singh.
>> PARMINDER JEET: Thank you, Sean. I invite the last speaker, Jamilla, who is from Brazil and heads an organization from Chile. Before I ask her to speak. I must apologize and congratulate for this. The apologies that she was not on the initial speaker lineup. She's agreed to join us. Deborah James who was supposed to be the speaker ‑‑ and I must also tell you, Jamilla and others you were to be part of the speakers list and we really scanned and said no one in Latin America can be up and join us. And therefore we didn't even ask U.S. person because we thought it was not practical. And the only reason you are not here and the congratulations is for you having gotten up at 4:30 or whatever it was and being with us. And to put another context. Jamilla is an organization that we have been in talks with for this specific project on the media track. We will continue that discussion later on. However, meanwhile, we had ‑‑ I and Sean have spent a lot of time trying to get mainstream media people on to this project, which all of them were very interested and we're talking about to Jamilla's organization as a Director to come on this track. We're very interested, you know, discussions with the traditional media, which are all very interested but now that didn't go. That keeps going on. Jamila was also part of this discussion. We have her. Thank you for getting up so early to be with us.
You have just come up, so I pose for you a question. You are welcome to respond to or comment on whatever was said here. You would have read the workshop note and we're happy to hear your points on it. The point is to share with us what you think about how when digital is now seeping into all aspects of the society and all sectors have been transformed, how should digital policymaking take into account the fact that much of the knowledge and use should not come from the impacted sectors. Where they should be gotten. And what processes can we continually be engaged with the sectors and get perspectives from them. How do you see that for example, the Internet Governance is working, including IGF is working and so on? You are free to ignore new questions and just comment on the workshop note and earlier speakers.
I thought I would give you a segue if you wish to take that. Jamila, thank you.
>> JAMILA: Thank you, Parminder Jeet Singh for the introduction. In fact, what was presented until now is same as the approach from Latin America. We have been developing some efforts and to go to part of your question, Parminder Jeet Singh we see a lot of space for building bridges among communities and organizations that works in different fields of digital ‑‑ of social justice debates. We see that as an urgent need, but we also see that there is still a lot of challenges in how do we develop that. I guess one of the things I was ‑‑ it was taking my attention had to do with the language as we were saying.
It is not only about different languages and different idioms that we talk in the global fora, but inside our countries and Regions. And the type of work that we have as digital rights organizations, that have other movements, other histories, other trajectories also shown as sometimes a challenge for us to connect. And we have been dedicating a lot in this past year to precisely spend digital rights discussions to other fields, beyond digital rights communities. At the same time, I will focus more on that. We have been pushing for new languages and new perspectives inside the digital rights communities. It shows the organizations that are a pioneer in discussing digital rights in Latin America was founded in 2005 when the discussions were still initiating in the Region.
Now it is a regional organization working in all Latin America countries. But our main effort is to bring social justice and an anticolonial perspective to this discussion. This is something you have touched a lot. And another thing we feel is relevant in this moment is deneutralize the idea of digital transformation looks at this negative perspective, but how do we push for bottom‑up alternatives to the idea or agenda of the Digital Transformation from the different layers. Infrastructure level, protocol, application. How do we point out to the limits of the rhetoric of the digital being key to efficiency and data is key to inclusion? Amber touch this point previously. How do we have our own definition of such concept?
The idea that development is based on exploitation of the data is something not necessarily defined by our communities, but it was mostly pushed as part of the business model for some corporations to survive in several cases. So this is something we are doing a lot. What we do is to produce information on what is being developed and what are the consequences? What are the impacts of what is being developed right now?
What we have in the Region is in the name of innovations, countries facilitate dataization and there is the big tech without the balances of public interest and fundamental rights. Usually the public‑private agreements are presented as free so you have little space for negotiating conditions on the doing of such technologies.
We have seen that in the education sector, we have seen that in the welfare and health sector. We have been trying to map and understand how it is operating in the pandemic particularly. No transparency, no space for participation for brought her participation, that is contradictory for the history we have in Latin America of social participation and public participation in policymaking to several of our countries. The regulatory approach, mostly in these cases seek to facilitate these initiatives without safeguards as I said. And as several of you have point out, deregulation is the norm. So you see exceptions. We will have some regulatory developments that we could celebrate, in terms of data protection, for instance, but you also see in the good practices and good examples that we could have in that sector that you have a lot of ambiguities and inceptions that respond to some structural and dynamics in how we are as a Region in the disputes.
You have the naturalization of inequality by design, you could say, you could say with digitalization of welfare strategies in several countries. In Brazil, for instance, we had a policy for cash transfer program that was very important during the pandemic last year. It was fully digitalized, it was accessed by mobile apps. You have discrimination in design, in the idea you don't have an alternative for requiring a public benefit, for requiring a right to the Government.
If you don't have access, so you have the idea of everybody has access, and more than that, the same application was developed to be used only by one person and one cell phone. The assumption was that everybody, including those in need for emergency cash transfer had access to Internet, access to an individual, private device that could be used for that. That is not of course reality, as you can imagine, not even in Brazil or the Rochelle globally.
Finally, we believe we still need to insist in the human rights agenda, we are disputing, globally, regionally. The IGF is also a space to dispute these concepts and this agenda. The context is that that countries have to stick to the communities that already adopted in terms of human rights standards.
The need to recognize that some technology, and that goes back to my second point. Some technologies are not aligned with such commitments. We may need implementations, like facial recognition, that is quickly expanding in the Region.
And social movements are censors, surveyed and attacked only offline. That is something that is unacceptable, if we want to advance in building communities, if we want to advance in demanding participation.
So we also believe that the human rights agenda is a way to escape this corporate language of ethics that is usually activated to evade regulation. It is incorporated by Governments, basically to enable, digitalization results without safeguards. So to summarize these are the strategies adopted when thinking about how do we promote better participation? How do we promote and recover alternatives, even alternatives that were part of the history of how we discussed technology previously? That seemed to be pushed aside. Well, that's how we are seeing the discussion. And again, congratulate for the event and also for the initiatives of building the bridges and seeking for community discussions and looking forward to continuing to collaborate with you on this.
>> PARMINDER JEET: Thank you, Jamila, one thing that you all had and you talked about [audio very low from speaker]
we have a right now to be on the Internet and still get public services we're talking about. I think one of the most important points particularly in that technically is you said that when we go out and try to engage with other social justice community we have to change and challenge conception notions which we have built inside the community.
Right now, we have talked and it takes a lot of time. One, that community is different. Second it is uncomfortable for them. It is different because I'm talking and you're talking ‑‑ any case, they feel that it is in a way wrong or problematic, a lot of language.
Some they may have to change to recognize new realities, but a lot of the digital communities have to change as a digital naturalization you were talking about.
I think you will just like very short time, Sean, can you drive next 10 or eight minutes for a cross‑cutting discussion on things and how it should be taken forward.
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: I will not say how things should be taken forward, it is not up to me. I am calling back again for questions. We did have a question coming in there from an attendee Sonakshi Agarwal. Let's have others look at that. It is how labor movements of a new beast to deal with in governing more and more aspects of the work. Increased vagueness from labor rights about what one is fighting against due to nonexpertise and technical jargons how are the farmers and workers dealing with this? How is MKSS or other Coalitions attempting to make it more transparent. It is something others might like to tackle as well. It is important.
>> Nachiket Udupa: Should I go?
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: Yes, and others can come in afterward if they like.
>> Nachiket Udupa: I think broadly, what digitalization is doing is taking away people's choice in what they want to engage with. I guess in terms of messaging, to make it easier to understand, what we're trying to say to the people we work with is you know, this is taking away participation. We're trying to see how we can get participatory participation back. In terms of messaging, that is what we are trying to communicate. In terms of the methods we're adopting, I think, a lot of interactive meetings, also trying to now do meetings between sectors.
Often when you talk to someone who doesn't understand your jargon, you simplify it so much, then the message gets across.
I think the third point I would like to make also is again, regarding language. So when this concept paper came, when you have to communicate it to people who don't know English, when you can't use the technical terms and you are forced to say it in another language. It helps one automatically simplify concepts for one's self. When you try to communicate it in other languages, I think it forces you to mentally simplify things and make them more comprehensible. That's it. I hope it answered the question.
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: Would someone else like to comment on that. We have five minutes left. I sympathize with what you said as well. It is not only language but try to get someone else that is not familiar with an area, to know what to say you learn a lot about yourself about how you communicate your ideas and how valid your ideas are. Being forced to communicate and to simplify can be a very positive process. Are there others that light to come in there?
>> Richard Hill: Yeah, on the labor issue, of course, it is obvious that certain companies, uber comes to mind, but not the only one. Are basically evading labor laws by classifying people as independents so they don't have pay unemployment experience and things like that. Almost every jurisdiction where that is litigated, they have lost. One key point is to watch out for some of the facts that the companies sometimes are profitable by getting around the rules.
Another is booking.com. Which is Airbnb, which can be legitimate. But it is done in a situation where people buy up Parliaments in a building and rent them out they're running a hotel without being subject to the safety regulations of a hotel. That is one thing to keep in mind. We have the tools to keep the people honest by applying the legislation that already exists. The other comment is what Jamila made me think of. Most of the ICT stuff is regarding efficiency. But there are things forgotten, like redundancy and accountability. The global supply chain, the masks were super-efficient when nobody needed that many masks. When everybody needed the masks we found the global supply chain didn't work because of travel restrictions, so on. You needed redundancy and needed to produce theme in more than ‑‑ them in more than one place. There is efficiency that is good. There is economic equity that we discuss and reliability, redundancy, resilience against emergence, et cetera. Those have to be balanced.
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: The organizers have a countdown to two minutes 40. I will ask Parminder Jeet Singh when is IT for change and others going to have another get together. So much has come up. If we are moving forward, there has to be more interaction. Up to you, Parminder Jeet Singh tell us the next steps.
>> PARMINDER JEET: Thank you, Sean. In this so‑called project framework we are ‑‑ [audio very low]
in the communication with the management in each [audio very low from speaker]
it is part to get together to dot conversation they're doing here. I think a more relaxed conversation with a structured one as well. That will happen in the next few months. As you would have seen ‑‑ this is still an idea. Just Net Coalition is going to talk more about it. But we're almost saying this is the direction Just Net Coalition should take as a coalition to work in this manner. To focus its energy into the spaces Jamila is talking about, between the digital activist and bring those perspectives into digital policy and build the capacity. We have a lot to learn from each other.
So there would be meetings of this kind. You can be looking at it within three or four months as a part of the project and also we'll keep you informed about how this project goes, but in the same time, how Just Net Coalition reshapes itself understanding as a bridge builder. We welcome you to continue ideas on this. I give you email in the chat. Most of you probably know this already. So happy to hear your views. And I think we are at the time.
>> SEAN O'SIOCHRU: You are indeed, giving me signals. I want to thank the technical staff, mainly I.T. that did a change of course. And everybody that made it possible. Thank you very much from my side. We'll all see each other again.
>> PARMINDER JEET: Thanks, [audio very low from speaker]
>> CHEE YOKE LING: Thank you, take care.