IGF 2021 Town Hall #22 Framing the Post-Pandemic Digital Rights Initiative (PDRI)

Wednesday, 8th December, 2021 (14:00 UTC) - Wednesday, 8th December, 2021 (15:00 UTC)
Conference Room 8

Regulation, competition and innovation: How could regulatory and self-regulatory frameworks help foster more competitive Internet-related markets, a larger diversity of business models, and more innovation? How to enable equitable access to data, marketplaces or infrastructures for fostering competition and innovation on the Internet?
Content moderation and human rights compliance: How to ensure that government regulation, self-regulation and co-regulation approaches to content moderation are compliant with human rights frameworks, are transparent and accountable, and enable a safe, united and inclusive Internet?

Debate - Auditorium - 60 Min


The "Post-Pandemic Digital Rights Initiative" (PDRI) is a project headed by the Institute for Technology and Society of Rio de Janeiro (ITS Rio) in partnership with Minderoo Foundation. Our objective is to draft a charter of rights and principles that will serve as a leading guideline for Internet governance after the Covid-19 pandemic, upholding the world's digital infrastructure and safeguarding a healthy digital environment while tackling the challenges presented by the pandemic across cyberspace.

The initiative uses the Marco Civil da Internet (or Brazil's Internet Bill of Rights) as a blueprint both in terms of substance and procedure. The charter will be developed upon a multi-stakeholder and collaborative process through which different actors will be welcomed to submit their views and actively shape the principles that shall guide our post-pandemic digital lives. To put it differently, we aim to cautiously examine the digital footprints of the Covid-19 pandemic - from private and public surveillance to issues of content moderation by digital platforms - in order to propose a framework that will ensure that our digital guardrails are sturdy enough to guide the healthy development of cyberspace in a post-pandemic setting.

This Town Hall session at IGF will be an opportunity not only to present an initial set of principles and rights that stem from our work to a broader international audience, but also to gather comments and feedback from IGF participants that will actively shape the wording and the overall structure of the charter. Just like the Internet we are aiming for, the initiative reflects the values of collaboration, dialogue and openness. Therefore, we invite participants to read our draft principles and to share their initial thoughts and impressions. We are particularly interested in identifying areas that were not sufficiently covered by the draft principles so far and that are somehow connected to the challenges prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic throughout cyberspace. All in all, IGF attendees will have the opportunity to participate in discussions that will actively shape our charter of digital rights and principles in a truly collaborative way.

Our Town Hall session will be divided into two phases. In the first phase, speakers will share their thoughts on the initiative. Attendees will learn from past and current developments in Brazil, Italy, and the UK. This will set the stage for our second phase, when attendees will be asked to voice their thoughts and impressions on the draft principles, which would have been previously shared as "background information" via IGF's submission form. 


Institute for Technology and Society of Rio (ITS Rio)

João Victor Archegas, Institute for Technology and Society of Rio, LATAM Civil Society (Rapporteur)

Christian Perrone, Institute for Technology and Society of Rio, LATAM Civil Society (Moderator)


Ronaldo Lemos, ITS Rio / Oversight Board

Sarah Wynn-Williams, Minderoo Foundation

Juan Carlos de Martin, Nexa Center of Internet and Society / Polytechnic University of Turin

Onsite Moderator

Session will be online only

Online Moderator

Christian Perrone, Institute for Technology and Society of Rio


João Victor Archegas, Institute for Technology and Society of Rio


9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Targets: The Post-Pandemic Digital Rights Initiative (PDRI) aims to uphold the following principles across cyberspace: freedom of expression, privacy, data protection, net neutrality, network stability and security, equality and non-discrimination online, accountability and liability and freedom of business and innovation. Moreover, the initiative also acknowledges that private and public actors should work together to ensure that Internet access ias affordable to all individuals without discriminations of any kind. Therefore, the PDRI translates some of the SDGs targets to the digital realm.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

Report – Framing the Post-Pandemic Digital Initiatives


  1. Ronaldo Lemos


  • Brazil was responsible for one of the first successful Bill of Rights regarding Internet and digital technology;
  • More than ever, we need initiatives to draft and implement Bills of Rights like Marco Civil da Internet in Brazil;
  • The key for understanding the Brazilian process is “multistakeholderism” – it was an open and collaborative process, a truly bottom-up initiative;
  • Brazilians debated the text of the Marco Civil da Internet through an online platform – this helped build consensus around the principles of the bill;
  • The Brazilian process was influential in other countries, especially in Italy, where it served as a starting point to debating the need for an Internet Bill of Rights;
  • To cope with the challenges we are facing now, we will need new institutions – Ronaldo gave the example of the Meta Oversight Board;
  • We need to think big – we need a post-pandemic digital rights initiative, with a new institutional framework.


  1. Sarah Wynn-Williams


  • There are thousands of open processes of regulating different aspects of tech – if you are looking to release a tech product today, you will face a different background if you compare it to a decade ago;
  • Marco Civil stands out for a number of reasons – its process, design and substance are trademarks – throughout the years that Marco Civil was being developed, interest groups changed their mind dramatically;
  • Marco Civil went through a very open process, no one voice dominated, opening up space so expertise could rise to the surface – all in all, it was a messy but effective process, which is a plus – the decision-making was refined constantly;
  • Issues of rights involve trade-offs, especially when technology is involved – for example, one can look at the debate on encryption and online safety – a big chunk of this debate is currently taking place at the national level;
  • When we are discussing the creating of new frameworks, we need to think carefully about the design choices, and Marco Civil can serve as a great starting point for that;
  • An open and participative process usually leads to a more enduring document, so this is the importance of looking to these processes and use them as starting points for new initiatives.


  1. Juan Carlos de Martin


  • The pandemic confirmed the importance of looking to digital rights and reflecting on the world we can to create going forward – many thinks we have been discussing before the pandemic is even more urgent now (inequality is one example);
  • It is important to launch an initiative on digital rights based on successful examples that came before, like the Brazilian and Italian legislations;
  • The Italian parliament was looking for a full-fledged declaration of rights – a commission came up with a draft of this declaration in eight months – there was also an important component of participation – the commission received many external comments, contributions and feedback through a consultation process;
  • The Declaration of Digital Rights of Italy has been greatly influential around the world and stood the test of time;
  • The current challenge in Italy is that everyone is talking about technological transformation ad being a purely technological problem – we should, nevertheless, be reminded more often of the social and legal part of the problem;
  • Digital rights are just one component of the problem we are facing right now – another part of the problem is, for example, the concentration of power.




  1. Ronaldo Lemos


  • Because of the pandemic, we can all agree that our digital infrastructure has become a key component of our lives;
  • Yuval Harari – we need to protect the stability, resilience and availability of the cyber infrastructure we have today – this is a first consensus we need to have;
  • We need to acknowledge that other initiatives are already taking place – we need to look at them to map what are the consensus that are emerging today;
  • Part of the problem we are facing right now is due to the fact that we have delegated a big chunk of decision-making to algorithms – we need to bring back participatory technologies that ounce flourished and are now forgotten (an example is Wikipedia – people that never met in person can come together to create a truly collaborative project);
  • Three elements: (1) drafting principles, (2) understanding that we are not alone (look to other initiatives), and (3) bringing back participatory technologies;
  • We need to be careful when we address freedom of expression – this is an issue that is being heatedly debate on the national stage;
  • We should be excited with the possibility of advancing a Bill of Rights at this moment – we have a great initial list and our challenge will be to get feedback and incorporate different comments and suggestions.


  1. Sarah Wynn-Williams


  • We took a cue from the principles in Marco Civil to build our initial framework;
  • Interoperability needs to be a cornerstone of the discussions going forward – it is surprising that we are not having this discussion right now;
  • We need to be careful about principles that may sink the whole initiative – probably Marco Civil would not be passed by the Brazilian Congress today, for example;
  • There is a limited window of opportunity – the challenge is that we tend to be rather reactive, and now we need to project our work into the future – it sounds ambitious, but it is as much as a daily necessity as it can be – we need to address this issue as early as possible.


  1. Juan Carlos de Martin


  • We need to think about the relation between the principles we are proposing in terms of Internet governance and our constitutional principles – some of these constitutional principles came under stress during pandemic;
  • The effort to establish digital rights is usually a niche initiative – it is hard to reach the masses – now the pandemic made people more conscious about the significance of having digital rights.