IGF 2021 - Day 1 - OF #66 Moving Forward - Guiding Principles on Diversity of Content

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.


   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Ready to go?  Do I get a nod?  Okay.  Hello, everyone.  Well, good morning or good afternoon wherever you are may be joining us from today and especially hello to everyone in Poland.  We would love to be able to join you.

So, this is a great moment for us, as Members of Working Group we're delighted to actually have been invited to moderate and facilitate and speak at one of your sessions on Internet governance at this Forum.  Thanks, especially to the United Nations and the Government of Poland for organizing and hosting this exciting conference.  We're right on the theme of what we're going to be presenting.

My name is Charles Vallerand the moderator speaking directly from Egypt, and so my apologies if the Internet connection is not robust or solid.  It might have to turn my video camera off should that happen.

So, today's session we're going to look at multistakeholderism, such an important and long word, and so how is multistakeholderism at work to address the important issues surrounding the diversity of content online?  And we have a diverse too tee of con tint initiative some of our members will present today.

We're joined by some of the members of the working group formed to develop these guiding principles, they will share their thoughts and experiences in that process, and what are the next steps, and how you can join.  So, for some of you that might be interesting.

I just want to also emphasize that this is the second such workshop that these people have delivered, and some of you might have attended last week's Freedom Online Conference where a similar session was presented, so they're very motivated.  In two weeks, there are two sessions to a very, I'm sure, motivated group of individuals and very interesting crowd.

Before we start there are a few instructions.  We are recording.  We'll also take your questions.  We'll try to be brief so we keep the last 10 minutes to answer some of those questions that may be coming in.  There are two ways to submit either in the chat, that you're familiar, I'm sure with, and I'll keep track as they come and I might read some of them before.  And during the panel, just to inform our discussion, but we'll keep answers at the end.

Second is to simply raise your hand as we normally would do, but let's do that at the end for sure if it's for hand-raising.

Now let's turn to the panelists, and I will ask for everyone to introduce him or herself.  And when you do introduce yourself, please explain how this important work, the working group, the guiding principle, and this initiative connects with what you're doing, where you are either in government, research, or in Civil Society 6789 I'll start with Susanne.  She's with the -- we can see it in the background, the European Divisional Observatory, and I can say (?), I can't read.  Maybe you can say it.  Susanne, please introduce yourself.

   >> SUSANNE NIKOLTCHEV:  Thank you very much for this nice introduction and to help you with the last version of our name.  It's (?), and that's the German part.  We have three working languages, and you made them quite aware.  Thank you for that to the audience.

Now, I am Susanne Nikoltchec the Executive Director of the European observatory, part of the Council of Europe, 42 states plus Morocco, plus European Union, and what's your task and what do we do?  We collect, analyze, and distribute information and data on the auto visual sector in Europe, and all of this with a view to better understand the key market conditions and key framework.  So, diversity of content has always been an important topic for us.  Before it went online, also but certainly after it went online, and our various databases and reports provide the factual basis actually to evaluate some of the important elements of diversity.  For example, the information we have of media ownership or also of funding of the creation of audio-visual content.

I joined the group to share insight with some of the topics dealt with in the guiding principles which are also our topics, but I also shared it in order to raise a little bit of awareness much our mother house, the Council of Europe because they work on these issues in parallel and there is a lot that this initiative and actually the daily work of the Council shares, media pluralism, independence, financing of public service media, safety of journalists, cybercrime, artificial intelligence to mention just the most prominent.  So, there was enough reason for me to join in a purely informative not standard function setting because that's not what the Observatory is set up to do.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  So, for those that don't know the observatory, you're based in Strasbourg, and I should mention that you conduct research and have databases and have a very good service of tracking legal development in the media sphere, and I think you're one of the authoritative sources on these legal issues.

   >> SUSANNE NIKOLTCHEV:  How could I contradict you.  Thank you very much.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Thank you.  Okay.  Maria Luisa Stasi Article 19, based in London, please introduce your work.

   >> MARIA LUISA STASI:  Thank you.  Thank you again for inviting me to have this conversation.  As you're rightly said I work for Article (?) an international free speech organization, and so the topic media diversity online is very much in line with what we try to do and to advocate for in a number of fora, and with a number of regulators, legislators, but also other stakeholders all around the globe.  So, sometimes in some areas at the moment the discussions are a little bit more hot, let's say, and there are more developments.  But I think this is truly a global issue, and that's why perhaps this multistakeholder setting is one of the best we could think of.  As free speech organization we've always been interested in issues like media plurality and media diversity, and I think the online dimension, it's a very -- very clear paradigm of the fact that the two things, so the public media diversity as a public interest for the democracy and free expression, individual free expression, they're very much overlapping online.  When we talk about the way we as individuals, we access and share content, and controls or how we shape our information, there are always these two layers, the individual free expression and the collective dimension, which is diversity of exposure of individuals and citizens, so that's -- that's why I've been working with the group and willing to continue to do so.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  So, bringing Civil Society and I should say advocacy, and you also are a militant organization and really defend these rights, and your personal background is legal, so you look at this with a lens of legal expertise to make sure that these notions and concepts are going to be eventually enforced.

   >> MARIA LUISA STASI:  Yes, indeed.  I'm part of the policy team and I'm based at the international office and we do various regional organizations with people the same or similar expertise so we can do that, that kind of advocacy in different areas of the world as well.  Yeah.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Okay.  Well, Wolfgang, I'm pleased to meet you, we've met before, I'm very impressed, you have a very good voice, please, sir, tell us about the work and what you do.

   >> WOLFGANG WOHNHAS:  Thank you very much.  Thanks to Poland and to the United Nations for having us on this panel.  I'm Head of the Unit responsible for international media affairs, broadcast, and our foreign broadcast Deutsch at the Federal Government Provision for Culture and Media in the Federal Chancellery, a long title but it was not my idea, so I'm sorry.

When the Canadian -- when the Canadian Government reached out to us asking us for presentation in this group, we were just busy preparing the German Presidency, the German EU Presidency, we had in the second half of 2020, so we were busy with drafting council conclusions on safeguarding a free and pluralistic media system which addresses many of the issues, and our Canadian colleagues raised in this group, and so I was chairing the working party during our Presidency, so it fits very well the issues that we dealt with during the EU Presidency together with the issues of the Canadian initiative that dealt with.  So, since the Internet does not stop at the German or European border, it seemed logical to us to collaborate with countries, with like-minded countries on these issues.  And so thank you very much to the Canadian colleagues for the invitation in this group, for the invitation to Germany and to have me here on this panel for this group on the governmental side.  Thank you very much.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Thank you, Wolfgang.  I have a question, when I was listening to you presenting yourself, you obviously have a very broad view, almost a bird's eye view on these issues due to your type of responsibilities.  Can you tell us, and if you cannot, that's okay, is there a Franco-German alliance on these issues because we know that's very important in the EU and I'm sure it is to Canadian and other partners in this working group.  Would you say there is some kind of alliance with the French on this?

   >> WOLFGANG WOHNHAS:  We are working together in this group very closely with every country in this group, Australia, Finland, France, Canada, but historically we have a strong alliance between Germany and France regarding European policy.  It's historical and it's very, very good that it works also on my level, on our level.  So, we have friends and we became friends over the years with the colleagues in the French Government and French Ministry so we're working very close together, not only on this issue, but it regards the whole government, I guess.  So, it's a historical thing and I think it's a good thing for Europe.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Excellent.  Thank you for your answer.  I was expecting not but I'm happy you explained to us.  Tessa.  Hello, Tessa.  Please explain what you do here and how do you your work connecting to diversity online, please.

   >> TESSA SPROULE:  Certainly.  Thank you.  Thank you so much for having me and to Poland as well for hosting the event.  So, Vobble, it's a video bubble.  We focus on transcription, to labeling to distribution, and we're in the backend piping working with media companies and technology education providers to help put structured data around video content, which is opaque to all algorithmic machines.  You have to actually tell the machine what a video is about for it to understand what to do with it, so, so and I've been doing this for seven years, Vobble has been operating before that previously and part of the reason why I'm so passionate about this in particular is that I spent 20 years at the CDC and that is the comedian broadcasting association, I'm based in Canada, Toronto today, and I left the CBC in 2014 because I was getting anxious, essentially not just the CBC but all conventional media publishers had advocated responsibility of distribution in the digital space to platforms they had no insight into how they were operating, so I thought is there a better way to develop technologies that can be used by media organizations and education technology providers to not just show people ads, essentially, but also to expose them to content that they otherwise wouldn't necessarily even know they ought to see.  That's the largest function of what we do is to try to do that, to interrogate our own algorithmic systems to understand, you know, can we use these tools to not just amplify popular or potentially, you know, dangerous content but also to amplify content that people really need to see for a healthy ecosystem to thrive.  So that's why I'm here, and I also I'm a huge -- I guess, policy nerd.  I love cultural policy.  I did study that as well in my post-graduate work.  So, I love being part of this group, and I really look forward to the conversation today.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  I think you're a great edition, Tessa.  I want to emphasize for the people listening to us, that you've probably understood now that we have research, Civil Society, we have private sector, and we have people connecting these concepts -- these legal notions or universal notions, I should say, back to reality and connecting them to algorithms and discoverability and how that's going to operate eventually once we land on earth.

   >> TESSA SPROULE:  Yeah, and I'll just add too.  I forgot to mention too.  Vobble is obviously a very small company, a new enter rant into the space but I'm joined by Google and Netflix as well, so a few of us in there on the private side, I think 6789.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Excellent.  Thank you.  Michael, please introduce yourself and who you represent today, a very important partner in this working group.

   >> MICHAEL SABBAGH:  Thank you for having me.  I'm the Director-General of Broadcasting Copyright and Creative Marketplace at the Department of Creative Heritage, the Former Chair of the Multistakeholder Working Group of Diversity of Content Online.  And I'd like to start by acknowledging that I'm joining you from Canada on the traditional unseated Territory of the Anishinaabe people.  And for me this work, of course, has been really important part of my, you know, of the over the last year and a half and working with the colleagues on this call, but also in my current job where I think we're applying a lot of the guiding principles that people mentioned today in the development of, in a number of important legislation pieces, whether it's updating the broadcasting act or other pieces of legislation where we can rely on those guiding principles to guide us in the development, so I'm happy again to be here today.  Thank you.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Okay.  And Michel:  It's actually the Ministry of Culture and not always clear in the title, we can add sports because there is a strong component of sports in the mandate of the Ministry and we can also add that should you be interested, there is a launch event of this initiative in 2019 organized and spearheaded by the department of heritage that brought together some of the same players, Civil Society, academia, international representation, and the platforms themselves and their representatives.  Right, Michel?

   >> MICHAEL SABBAGH:  That is correct.  So, we have the mandate for culture, heritage, and sports, and we are, you know, we initiated this initiative on diversity of content online back in 2019 with some of the colleagues that you see here.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  So maybe for Matthew or Erin who will be speaking next on presenting the initiative, it might be interesting to share the link of the outcome document of the 2019 international launch event of this for those that eventually want to read and see what's been accomplished, and we're going next.  So, Erin and Matthew, you are actually the heart of this working group, and you're going to be introducing what it does and where it's going.  Please.

   >> ERIN MURRY:  Great.  Thank you for joining us on how we're moving forward with diversity of principles on content online.  I'm Erin and my colleague Matthew and I are policy advisors at Canadian heritage and we're delighted to start off with an overview of our initiative.  So, to give you some background, I'll turn it over to Matt and he'll tell you a little bit about how we got started.

   >> MATTHEW HIGGERTY:  Perfect.  Thanks, Erin, for that.  The heart of this initiative is about our information ecosystems online, and this ecosystem is at a cross roads of sorts at this moment.  For starters, we know that when citizens are exposed to and have access to trustworthy and reliable information as well as content containing a variety of points of views and perspectives, they're more likely to promote and engage in healthy public discourses, foster greater social inclusion and cohesion, better understand and empathize with different cultures and communities, and very importantly, it builds their resilience and distance to misinformation.  We also understand and appreciate that we today have more access to information and content that at any point in time, but are we actually being shown -- are we being exposed to diversity of content when using the platforms and online intermediaries increasingly entrenched in our daily lives.  I want to be clear by what we mean by diversity.  So, first, we speak of a diversity of sources.  This includes media pluralism and nonconcentrated ownership of media.  Second is diversity of content and this includes genres and content types, diversity of ideas and viewpoints as well as linguistic diversity.

Last is exposure diversity, and now this concerns itself around the level of exposure and consumption of diverse content by an individual and this point is a growing concern among academics and Civil Society organizations over the last years, and however this has been extremely difficult to research and analyze and quantify for a number of reasons.  However, this is not the only item that interests us, but one of several that needs addressing in this space.

And because the Internet crosses all borders, it is necessary to work with a range of stakeholders to develop solutions, so that's why the Government of Canada established a multistakeholder working group with like-minded countries, Civil Society, and private sector actors, and the working group mandate is to develop guiding principles on diversity of content online and to help ensure users and citizens have access and exposed to a diversity of content online.  I'll pass the mic to Erin to show more he principles on the guiding principles theming selves.  Over to you.

   >> ERIN MURRY:  Thanks, Matt.  Beginning in September 2020, the working group met 9 times and developed the internationally guiding principles of diversity of content.  They were published in June 2021 and we will be adding a link to the landing page for this session so that you can have a look at them there.  But essentially, the guiding principles apply to all stakeholder groups and focus on four key themes deemed essential to the promotion of diversity of content online.  So, theme one is about promoting online content that reflects different cultures and perspectives, including in languages.  Theme two focuses on ensuring safeguards for fair revenue sharing between digital platforms and creators of online news and cultural content.  Theme three is focuses on access to diverse news and information to promote strong healthy public debates and also about encouraging media and digital literacy for all citizens to further ability to critically access content they encounter.

As well as measures to discourage disinformation and misinformation while ensuring respect to the right of freedom of expression, and theme four has links to the other three themes and is about transparency of algorithms so that online users can better understand how algorithms influence the content they are shown.

Each stakeholder group could influence these themes in their own way, and then in the coming months, members will discuss actions that the different groups can take to implement the guiding principles.  We expect the guiding principles will continue to evolve over time to keep pace with the continuously evolving online environment.  And the multistakeholder working group is also working toward building a larger international consensus between countries, private sector, and Civil Society organizations.  If anyone is interested, you're welcome to get in touch with us and we can let you know how you might join us with the guiding principles.

And we're delighted to have you here today to hear more about our initiative.  So, I'll pass it back to Charles to get things started with the panel.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  A quick question to Erin and Matthew, and is this, and again if you can't answer it, but I'm curious to hear you on is this the first time you're starting to expand the working group and trying to share with other stakeholders the fact this work is going on for quite some time now?  Is this coming out of the box kind of?

   >> ERIN MURRY:  Yeah, well I think the idea behind bringing the working group together was to draft the guiding principles, and set out what the core mandate would be.  And now that these have been published, we're interested in spreading the word and getting more interest in our initiative.  So, yeah, that would be great to get feedback.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Time for feedback from the community of users and from the international community, I guess, that's the moment.  Uh-huh.

   >> ERIN MURRY:  That's right.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Participants, don't hesitate questions or comments in the chat.  I haven't seen any so far.  Here we go with questions, and I thank you to everyone for these introductions.

   >> AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Is it possible from the room to ask questions?

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Sure, you can ask questions from the room, but I'll take them at the end.  I have a number of questions we've prepared for the session to share with you our experience, but keep your questions for the last 10 minutes, especially if they haven't been answered through our questions and discussions.  Yes?  Okay.

So, with that in mind, my first question and I will turn to Maria Luisa to start with the answer.  So, Maria Luisa, in your opinion, do you think the multistakeholder approach was optimal in the guiding principles?

   >> MARIA LUISA STASI:  I think it's one of the best ways to approach this issue because ideas of relevance is one of the key issues for a variety of stakeholders and it's not only about economic dynamics on media markets but it's also about fundamental rights, it's about the free flow of information in societies, communication infrastructure, communication, so it's essential for democracy.  And if you think about this, if you think about the topics from this perspective, of course you don't wish this conversation to happen behind closed doors or to be relegated to closed dialogue between regulators and big companies, and you would like this to be as inclusive as possible.  So, this is definitely one of the reasons why multistakeholder solution is way more attractive and I would say way more legitimate as well.

On the other side is also concretely, a matter of trying to find consensus on new topics, new concepts, something that has been explored or done a test, as simple as that a few years ago, and sometimes it's about the technology that is used and the impact it has on dynamics or with regard to the diversity that the material is introduced, the different kinds of diversities, and again, multistakeholder Forum is better than having this conversation in isolation because there is a lot of asymmetry of information in the field, so sometimes some stakeholder simply don't have access to enough information, and I think one of the good elements of this working group has been the Canadian Heritage has also been complementing our discussions with some research that has been sponsored and then presented during the working groups, and this has been pretty helpful.

I think the last point I wanted to raise, and I'm sure others will have their own perception and priorities as that not only it's about exploring together some new concepts, but it's also about trying to align incentives.  It's pretty clear the different stakeholders, when it comes to these issues, they do have different incentives and at some point, some compromises are easy to find and others are not.  An open dialogue as inclusive as possible and transparent as possible, it's definitely a good way to go, I would say.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  This is the right approach.  Wolfgang, do you want to add from your perspective.?  You have a lot of experience in multinational and international Forums.

   >> WOLFGANG WOHNHAS:  I'm in line with what Maria said, but I can line that multistakeholderism has got two great advantages.  This is a great legitimacy and greater acceptance of the results, we think.  So, in some topics they are particularly more suitable for stakeholders, for multistakeholderism, that's a complicated word.  (Laughing).

And so the IGF is the best example of how multistakeholderism should work relating to the Internet again that the IGF has, so the promotion of diversity online is an international topic and does not stop at borders, and many actors are affected, and this is the best thing for multistakeholder approach in our opinion 6789.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Excellent.  I guess we could add that certainly at the European level but also the international community is starting to have quite a bit of experience and challenging issues now addressing some of these challenging issues.  I can think of the 205 Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expression, which did raise similar kinds of challenges in coming to a common understanding of some of the contemporary expressions and diversity notions across the world, universal, so I guess we're prepared to tackle such challenging issues now days.

Let's turn to Tessa, and Tessa, we've heard great things about multistakeholderism, and there might have been some challenges, so I want to hear you on challenges.  Especially, I think it will be interesting for some of the people listening to us to hear that the platforms are in the room.

   >> TESSA SPROULE:  Yes.  And that has been some of the challenges in that as well because you know the spectrum of platforms that actually have a substantial amount of influence and impact on what we encounter in the digital space every moment of every day, they're also under intense scrutiny we know in certain regions in regulatory discussions that are happening right now and have been happening throughout the time that we've been working as a working group as well.  So, it's been -- that has been a slight challenge, I would say, more than slight, actually.  Sometimes the representation from the larger platforms, they you know, it's very sensitive and there is a lot of things that are in balance and being considered from their perspective.  I have the great advantage of being a very small company that can say things and be a little bit more brash and potentially put things on the table to what Maria Luisa was speaking of to try to nudge some of the challenges forward and to try to help to seek compromise there, so that has been a challenge though and I want to call that out for sure.

I suppose the other thing that came up last week at the freedom Conference is the diversity of the actual working group is also a challenge as well, and I mean obviously, we had to start somewhere and we talked last week about the Global South and other participants and other countries and participants in the private sector as well that are obviously missing and potentially could be incorporated and involved going forward, and I really look forward to that happening.

The third challenge, I would say, is that guidelines are guidelines and so there is some criticism to that saying well there is nothing -- there is no meat in that, and you know a guide line is only worth its wordsmithing, essentially, but to push back on that I say we have to start somewhere, and also so much of particularly in the technology side, so much of it is outpaced our regulatory and policy development and policy as most folks that do this as a profession, it takes a long time and it takes an awful lot of thinking and sensitivity.  So, so the idea of having guidelines that companies like mine can start to form concrete actions around, I don't know how you do it otherwise.  I think that this is the only way to do it, particularly in a space where change is happening at such a rapid pace.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Thank you for the last comment.  That's sort of a segue to the next question I was going to ask Susanne because you're telling us basically that we have to keep abreast of a mountain of changes happening so rapidly and I was going to turn to say is multistakeholderism, given the limitations, still a best approach to go deep and to go far?  Obviously, this is a moving target, we see especially coming out of Europe, Australia, and some of the countries named, Southern Africa now and Brazil as well, having their own initiative, you know, they're outpacing our efforts to come up with these guidelines, so how is multistakeholderism still the best approach in your view?  We can't hear you, Susanne.

   >> SUSANNE NIKOLTCHEV:  Yeah, okay.  I hope I managed.  I'm sorry for that.  For us at the Observatory and Counsel of Europe maybe the only approach is multistakeholderism.  Really, if you want to achieve a common goal on a global matter, of course, there is nothing wrong with going locally, nationally, and even personally.  I think if you take the other big issue much today's times, protection of the environment, we see that it's on the one hand very important to come to a common approach, but at the same time that everything that you can already do on a national level or even really on a personal level, local level, or whatever it is, it's very useful and I don't think one excludes the other.

But of course, in an environment like the content environment and many ways of distribution, if we really want to achieve certain standards of diversity, we do need to find compromise and we do need to agree on these standards.  And in our work, for example, at the observatory, we are always working in the multistakeholder environment.  We are always trying to gather all the information from everywhere to simply understand the problems that are presented, and if we would only focus on one area, on one country, we would certainly miss a big part of what the real challenges are.  So, it's not outdated.  It might be slow, but it's worth it.  I'm not sure if it's slow if you don't make it too formal, and this is maybe something what's very nice about the guiding principles approach, it was very much of a free discussion and where it got difficult, namely to come to concrete commitments, then I think it was a wise choice made to separate that part and keep it for later and first see whether we could agree.  And maybe that's what's really a very wise decision which I still applaud, doesn't mean that a second part has become any easier though.  Maybe that's another point that you want to raise anyhow.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Yeah.  What I hear from you, and I guess I heard it from Tessa as well, there is a lot of talking but there is certainly a lot of listening as well.  He you're certainly very much in the mode of trying to understand others' perspective and others' sense of the notions and even the words sometimes of what they mean and do they mean the same to all.  So, I guess that multistakeholderism allows the group to come together, countries to come together, and stakeholders to come together.

   >> SUSANNE NIKOLTCHEV:  If I may add something, a fundamental experience of the Observatory, often our task is indeed listening and moderator a general discussion in terms of agreeing on a common methodology because it doesn't help if we think we talk but we're not really talking about the same things because we haven't taken the time to define and to understand how others define and to really come to a very basic consensus on the language that we use.  And if you do this at the beginning, it definitely pays off at the end.  And lots of our data are only possible because we made things comparable through a lengthy process of exchanges.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Yeah.  And you're very rigorous in making those comparisons and these notions come together.  That's part of your expertise.  Wolfgang, you seem to be interested in the question.  Do you want to add anything to Susanne's answer to the last question in the talking and listening?

   >> WOLFGANG WOHNHAS:  A little bit.  I want to say that multistakeholderism has got its natural limits.  I'm not sure if it's the point to mention it here in this audience, but in some cases, it's difficult with multistakeholderism.  But when you see multistakeholderism as a toolbox and you can see other tools beneath, it's the right way.  So, in Europe and on the national level, we have to also do regulation like the German lender did, for example, on enhanced findability and German media state treaty, or like we are doing on the European level with the Digital Service Act Package, with the Digital Market Act, with the Media Freedom Act to take a closer look on how big platforms can be regulated to ensure a trustworthy online environment and freedom of speech.  We see it as a toolbox.  And in the beginning of regulation, there is a big discussion and hearing of the stakeholders, and then we put all things together and have to do regulation.  We see it as toolbox 6789.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Thank you, Wolfgang.  I could see your body was trying to say please ask me a question.  Michel, where are we going next?  What's the program in the next year?  How do you see this evolving?  And maybe two subsidiary questions.  One is how can people who are listening to us or on this call can join, participate, contribute?  And I see in the people that are in front of me listening to us, names like Akintunde, so where is the Global South going to come into this process?  At what point and how?

   >> MICHAEL SABBAGH:  First of all, I think Susanne alluded to that we're really pleased the group was able to endorse the guiding principles as a first step back in June 2021 and I believe we can perhaps post the link if that's not already in the chat box so you can take a look at that.

We are in this phase of, you know, talking about the guiding principles and trying to, you know, gauge interest from the wider international community for other countries and Civil Society and other members of the private sector as well.  So that's really the phase that the project is engaged in right now.  We would like to extend the membership of the working group to include more diverse voices from the Global South because we think diversity is important as well at this table, and I know there have been conversations that affect, and we hope to be able to announce, you know, those additions soon.

Another thing I say is if members of the audience have projects underway that could align with the principles, you can feel free to reach out to the diversity of content online team and we can post an email address so that you can contact the team.  Again, I think it's a very important and timely issue, the issue of the diversity of content online, and we really welcome your participation in the process, whether it's to show that you support the guiding principles or whether you want to be part of this initiative in one way or another, you know, we welcome your participation.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Yeah.  And Michel, we can add that you were saying at some point or Matthew was saying that we're trying to assess from the user end how diversity, or I believe a survey or research was conducted, and evidence is also feeding into the process of the working group drafting those guidelines, and should there be research, should be there be references to material that informs the working group and the guidelines, I think you would welcome that.  So that's another way for people to join and participate.

>> MICHEL SABBAGH:  Absolutely.  I think Tessa and Maria Luisa were talking about research as part of this initiative.  That's available online.  There is also a public opinion survey conducted in the five countries that are part of the working group.  The results of which are also available on the website that we can share.  But, of course, if there are participants on this call who have results such as this or research results that could help us, you know, bring this issue forward, please share them with us as well.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Excellent.  Excellent.  We have in the chat, Akintunde saying, yeah, I would really like that.  We have volunteers, so you can count on him.

Let's now turn to Maria Luisa, you've been very quiet.  I'm sorry, I didn't give you a chance.  Anything you want to add before we go to questions?

   >> MARIA LUISA STASI:  I think maybe -- well I would have a few more comments, but I think it's better to leave it to the questions toward the conversation.  Maybe just something on what Wolfgang has said.  You know, I do understand and I do share his approach about the fact of some point the states need to regulate.  We've seen in these areas that self-regulation has been sort of a failure, so and indeed to multistakeholderism or to a certain point, but most probably we need state regulation.  I want to share with you something that I've heard in a previous session of the IGF today, they were discussing about digital autonomy, and someone said what we need to do is that we need to try to have a proper sec to minimize the need for state regulation.  I think this concept could be very much applied in here and the moment that we can create consensus on multistakeholder level on specific concepts and the moment we can share a vision of how those markets should work for the benefits of business, of users, but also for our democracy, and on the role that they have for our democracy, then it's going to be easier for states to regulate and we're going to need less regulation, I suppose.  So that might be one of our -- one of the hopes to have and one of the tasks that we could attribute to multistakeholder exercises.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  I guess you're saying we normally try to serve public interest, but I guess we're trying to serve world public interest or global public interest and to define those standards.

   >> MARIA LUISA STASI:  We also try to say, as a global organization we're always exposed to different kinds of states, and different kinds of state regulations, so once again, it's very content specific, so the idea that there is a one-stop-shop solution and then as long as the state regulates, we're going to be safe or it doesn't necessarily all work everywhere and every time.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Okay.  Tessa or Susanna, before I go to the room, I know there are questions there.  So, before I go to the room, Tessa?

   >> TESSA SPROULE:  The only other thing I would add, too, is on the guideline thing being converted, the guidelines being converted into actual action.  If people have ideas around that as well, I know that the working group would welcome suggestions, in particular, so my company for example where we're really interested in AI auditing and we do that with some of our clients and customers and partners, so but then that also can lead to further ideas around things like, you know, in the process of doing that we've also created really interesting datasets, and we know that datasets are very -- datasets that are being used as engines of a lot of machine learning technology in the information space right now are like five sources right now, so also diversity coming out, like everything that I've learned around this working group and things that have come up have led to ideas of how far we can actually take principles, the guiding principles and then actually create action that is within our own company that will help our company and also help other folks that we work with.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Excellent.  I like that.  I have to say that's very -- a very good and excellent contribution.  Thank you, Tessa.  IGF 5, that's the name I have on the screen.  Voice is yours.  Please field us your questions.  Hello Moderator in Katowice, we're listening?

   >> MODERATOR:  I have a question.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Please introduce yourself.

   >> AUDIENCE MEMBER:  My name is Andrea Sherbov, interesting I'm from University in Montreal Canada, and since that I'm a researcher in this field and in particular mark the stakeholder approach in particular, and maybe I will be useful for the group so that my question is really practical on how to join it and how to organize this work, maybe to better to have competence.  I would like to invite cooperation, actually.  That's not a question, that's a proposal.  Thank you.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  And for the benefit of us all, do you represent Civil Society, do you represent research, do you represent either a local, regional, national, department, agency organization or are you yourself interested in these matters?

   >> AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I represent academia, first of all, and academic community, and I think the IGF recognizes it as part of Civil Society.  Also, I'm collaborating with some research groups in Canada as well, for example, like to -- we created a proposal to bring IGF to Montreal 2024, but we would like to encourage to support this initiative.  But as well, I'm representing but my affiliation is McGill University.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Okay.  I guess the question goes to Michel, would you be comfortable to give an answer, please?

   >> MICHAEL SABBAGH:  Sure.  Thank you for the interest.  I think at this stage the best way for you to get involved would be to get in touch with the team at the Department of Canadian Heritage to see how you can participate either by adhering to the guiding principles or through other means, and I'm sure Erin and Matt will welcome the participation.  Erin or Matt, do you have anything to add.

   >> ERIN MURRY:  I was going to say the same thing.  We've put our email address twice actually in the chat, so if you just want to send a note, we can follow up after the session.

   >> MATTHEW HIGGERTY:  And if you're not able to see the chat for whatever reason, we hope you can, but on the landing page for the session, you will see the home web page for our initiative on the Canada.ca website and our email is at the very bottom of that page.  So, feel free to reach out to us that way as well.  Thank you 6789.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Okay.  So, we're ready to have another question either in the chat or by raising your hand.  We're standing by.  Anyone in the room or online?  Anyone, please?

   >> AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Hello?  Do you hear me?


   >> AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Okay.  I am Mohammed and represent Iran, Iranian audio-visual regulatory body, and I have a main concern and question regarding content diversity that I would like to ask from the experts.  The thing about the content diversity is so important for us because as I already mentioned, I'm working in audio-visual regulatory body of Iran known as SATRA.  So, the thing is we're living in concentration age, and so basically, I believe that every content or original content or content should be protected by regulators, or regulatory bodies because I believe like for example non-developed or developing countries, regarding the content they're under big pressure of media concentration.  Do you believe that the most have set up requirements or set of thresholds for international, let's say, platforms, mainly audio visual, to have a specific place or fair share of content -- I mean original content or not first?  And then the second, how should we, let's say, battle with so-called corporate rules?  Because we have a very famous case in Iran when General (?) was under the terror, the thing is that all Iranian in all social media that were just addressing the deaths or the terror, like General, the contents were being removed in a very arbitrary approach regarding the content.  I mean the diversity of content is a must, but in practice, for example in Iran, we are facing serious problems regarding the platforms because they are not answering, because we are getting like communicating with them, we don't receive anything regarding anything, like pornography, we had a very famous case that a woman had to like sex chat with a minor, and the content was very like distributed and we were not able to remove the content.  So, what do you think?  Do you think that we need to have a set of requirements for international like platforms or not?  I'm sorry that my question is so long.  I'm sorry 6789.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  No.  It's a good question.  Before I turn to our panelists, I just want to thank you for your question first, and to say that we had a similar question last week which basically can be summarized by the following.  How do we know that we achieved diversity?  How do we measure that?  Is it by the tone of skin?  Is it by the names of people?  Is it by, you know, the style of what the content is?  So, there is the issue of how do we define diversity, measure it, and inscribe it in the principles, and but also how the principles adapted to the future of diversity, and not just today's diversity.  So, we have an open mind and perspective.

So, who wants to answer those two very good questions?  I'm sure Susanne would have something to say on that?  (Laughing).

   >> SUSANNE NIKOLTCHEV:  I can give it a try.  I think to really have a standard that says now you have achieved diversity is super complicated and possibly the impossible.  I mean there is media pluralism measure or instrument developed by European Institute in Florence and this has the national regulators have volunteered to try to apply it to see whether the media that are under their regulation provide all together a pluralistic landscape.

Now, I think the first trial meant that three people were fully occupied for three months trying to find out and it wasn't that conclusive, so they've tried to simplify the tool, and this was only for a certain part of the media.  So, it's extremely difficult to come up with any meaningful measurement, but I think what you can say is that, first of all, you have to have some transparency of how the sector looks like at all, and that is something that where we really try hard to give this information, for example, now in an area which is relatively difficult also to explore of gender equality.  I would say 10 years ago you had almost no data and now you have already more data, and based on this data you can evaluate a little bit the situation, but you don't have yet any common level to give a final judgment.  And maybe that's also not really the final goal.  And what we also see, and this is maybe relating a lot to your particular situation, it's very important that the National Regulatory Authorities are independent, and that they can do their task in basically making sure that some unwanted content isn't there as you seem to have had problems, and we realize the more independence is guaranteed there.  The better is also the impact on the diversity of the content, so these are some first hints maybe, but it's an incredibly difficult issue.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  I guess the second part of the question, and I might turn to Wolfgang, but I leave it to any of the speakers.  The second part of the question which is also very relevant, is are these platforms, and I have to say these are platforms and companies and we know the algorithm is not open, you know, so we've heard of Tessa saying that we need to have some kind of auditing of these algorithms, but to the extent that the companies themselves are trying to self-regulate and anticipate regulation, they're in a way bypassing attempts to have those algorithms made clear and made available to all for us to monitor.  Are they not acting in a way that they are beyond our capacity to regulate as if they're sovereign countries beyond borders?  And is it not possible and it's just too late?  I guess that's the question that I hear, is that they will decide what needs to be removed without any guidance from guiding principles.  Who wants to answer that question?  Yeah?

   >> WOLFGANG WOHNHAS:  So, perhaps a few sentences.  We are exactly dealing with these issues on the European level within the announced Digital Services Act.  It's about regulating the big platforms because the big platforms, to say it in my own words, are for many people, they're second world.  And so they cannot decide everything for their own.  So, first, there has to be a transparency.  So, everything they are doing must be transparent, so they can give themselves guidelines, but somebody has to look upon them.  So, for example, the European Regulator or the discussion within the DSA, so it's a very, very, as you know, a very critical thing to on the one hand to safeguard freedom of speech, which is very, very important for me personally, so I am afraid that we go too far, generally, that we go too far in regulating, and we have problems with the freedom of speech.  On the other hand, we have to make sure that illegal content, murdering or something like that, will not be on the platforms.  So, to keep this balance, it's very, very difficult to do, but as you said in the beginning, it's not too late.  It's never too late.  We have to do this job.  It's complicated but we have to do it on the European level and we have to do it on the international level.  And that's why we are working together in this.  That's one thing, we're working together in this initiative.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  I believe the platforms are also looking for guidance.  They want clarity on some of these notions.  Are we allowed to extend a little bit the session?  I know we're coming to the end, but I see Akuntunde with a hand raised and Maria Luis was eager to say something as well.  Can we expend a few minutes, organizers?  Are we allowed this or not?  I'm turning to either Erin or Matthew?

   >> MATTHEW HIGGERTY:  Yeah, I would say perhaps another 5 minutes or so.  I remember they were saying quite strict with the ending time, but I guess we'll continue until they kick us out.  (Laughing).

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Maria Luisa, do you mind if we get the question to see whether you can answer his question as well when you come with an answer?  So, please, sir, I'm happy to have you join us, be a voice.  Put your camera on.

   >> MODERATOR:  We can make the session longer.  That's not a problem.  You can have 15 minutes, I guess.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Okay.  We'll not extend too long.  Akitunde, turn on your microphone and camera so we can see and hear you, please.

>> AKITUNDE:  My microphone is on but I cannot put the camera on.  Thank you for having me.  My name is Akitunde from Nigeria, and I appreciate the contribution so far in this Forum.  My question is in different parts because as Wolfgang just mentioned earlier, there is a challenge with being able to maintain free speech and also not go too far with the freedom of speech and also not go too far in terms of the regulation.

In Nigeria, we already have this challenge that we're facing, for instance that we can't access Twitter without a VPN, basically because the government has found a way to restrict access to Twitter because of some content, according to them, that has been posted that they didn't like.

So, I would like to know exactly how we can address these type of issues in third-world countries where the government can just clamp down on, you know, the access to platforms that are actually helpful to a lot of young people, for instance, to do their business on Twitter and all, and how do we try to guide against the situation where it doesn't go that far, that while we're trying to protect content online, the diversity of content online, we do not start shutting down platforms that can also be helpful to others.  And as well, I can see from some of these what I read, there hasn't been much research done in the Global South, and just quite interested and I would like to know what we can do from here to really add our voices to the conversation on from us as individuals to do to add to this platform.  Thank you.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Okay.  And can you tell us what organization or what group, or are you with academia or speaking on behalf of yourself.

>> AKINUNDE:  I work within area, but I'm speaking on behalf of myself right now.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Thank you for the question.  I'm sure Maria Luisa with Article 19 will be very happy to answer your question.

   >> MARIA LUISA STASI:  At least happy for sure as far as the answer is concerned, I'll try.  This is what I can promise.  I've got a few points that I wanted to raise.  So, I do believe that the way the initial question was framed, it was very interesting because it started with media concentration, and I do believe that the majority of these problems that we're tackling, and I also am very sympathetic to what -- to the challenges that Wolfgang put forward, and so how do we balance this need of protecting free speech and this need for regulating the big platforms.

And Wolfgang you mentioned the DSA, so I think the DSA is an interesting example because it does aim to create some guarantees of how these services should work in a way that it doesn't violate free expression, but on the other side, if we go back to the issue of concentration and how much power, and only very few actors have in our information today, maybe we can think whether the DSA would go so far.  So, for example as Article 19 we pushed a lot when it comes to recommend the systems which are these algorithms that actually create -- that are used to create our content online, and for the moderation so when it comes to content, but also for normal content and -- I mean legal content or not illegal content and the ways it's shaped or molded, et cetera, but what we naught is why it's only a couple of platforms that manage to do that for billions of people.  Why we didn't try to open up the environment and create diversity in there, so diversity of algorithms that possibly means diversity of choices for people, and hopefully if everything goes well, it means diversity of criteria by which states' content is promoted, molded, set for specific users, and also moderated.  Right.

The second point is, so this might be a solution, but in the DSA, unfortunately, the Article 29 doesn't seem to go as far as to open up the market to third-party players which we think is key.  When it comes to what can be done from the Global South when you have a style regulatory framework, let's say, that's even more complex.  I would say that one of the safest ways is to try to have, as an international community, and I go back to multistakeholderism to try to have solid international standards based on international human rights law and to try to push for those at the national level as much as possible.  So, this is the theoretical framework.  In more concrete terms, what I would like to flag is that this example that has been raised, it shows how key are certain things like VPN or if we go further, encryption and so on and so forth, so that's why we need to be extremely careful when we talk about these things and think that today not only instruments that are used by potential terrorists or similar, in similar environments, but also fundamental tools to be used to protect free expression of people that are not in a democratic setting or not working with a regulatory framework that protects their free expression enough.  So, yeah, this is my two cents.  Thank you.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  Yeah.  Thank you.  I guess what you're also, it's a word of caution for the working group and the guidelines not to dilute too much to become universal, and not to lose sight of the fundamentals to try to please everyone.  I guess there should be strong guidelines and hopefully countries will join and hopefully these will be applied.  Because that's also my takeaway.  Wolfgang, please.

   >> WOLFGANG WOHNHAS:  Only short.  Thank you very much of the contribution from the Nigeria colleague, so it's interesting but no good to hear what's going on in Nigeria, so but that's an argument that we have to invite the Global South to discuss with us in the initiative these problems, and that's what I'm saying, is the platforms have to be transparent and nondiscriminatory, and it must be very clear when they delete something or let somebody not on the platform, so it must be transparent and there must be a discussion, and they cannot do it like the way they want.  So, we have to discuss this on an international level.

   >> CHARLES VALLERAND:  This is the moment, thank you to everyone, and I also want to thank Peter, Vivian, Sarah, Valencia, Carlos, Francisco, all the participants and all of you for joining us in the room, and Andrew and others, this has been excellent, again, and I hope we can do this soon.  In the meantime, thanks for listening.  Please contribute and we welcome your participation.  Bye all.