The Internet serves as the primary tool both for mass and point-to-point communication, and as such it provides the global infrastructure for the information society. Innovations based on information and communication technologies (ICTs) empower individuals to exercise their rights and provide an opportunity for institutions to mobilise collective actions, by putting megabytes of information and knowledge right at their fingertips, wherever they live, work or operate. However, connectivity is not sufficient on its own. A human-centric approach that ensures universal access, meaningful connectivity and digital transformation for sustainable development is required for fostering diverse views and the equitable consumption and distribution of information.
There is a wide-ranging consensus regarding the need to acknowledge the impact of digital technologies in the exercise of human rights, particularly in promoting the availability of open information resources for education and health purposes, respect for privacy and personal data protection and ensuring their role in promoting freedom of expression in an increasingly digital world.
For that to happen, all stakeholders from civil society, the technical community, governments, the private sector and international organizations need to cooperate to design new governance models. It is particularly critical that the private sector, operators of social networking sites, search engines, sharing economy providers, e-commerce outlets, fintechs and other platforms are accountable and transparent for user-oriented practices, to ensure effective mechanisms for users to exercise personal rights and privacy.
The panel will discuss the ways of collaborating in new platform governance models that are human-centric and inclusive; examine how anti-competitive practices may harm the digital ecosystem’s ability to protect and promote user rights; discuss good practices related to enforcing privacy and freedom of expression, combating online harassment, censorship and harmful content, and ensuring a level playing field for smaller players; and discuss concrete strategies for equally distributing the benefits of the digital economy across societies and countries.