IGF 2021 WS #160
Spotlight on AI & Free Speech: Addressing Content Control

Organizer 1: Julia Haas, OSCE

Speaker 1: Julia Haas, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 2: Eliska Pirkova, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Amy Brouillette, Civil Society, Eastern European Group


Julia Haas, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization

Online Moderator

Julia Haas, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


Julia Haas, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


Break-out Group Discussions - Round Tables - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

Digital policy and human rights frameworks: What is the relationship between digital policy and development and the established international frameworks for civil and political rights as set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and further interpretation of these in the online context provided by various resolutions of the Human Rights Council? How do policy makers and other stakeholders effectively connect these global instruments and interpretations to national contexts? What is the role of different local, national, regional and international stakeholders in achieving digital inclusion that meets the requirements of users in all communities?
Inclusion, rights and stakeholder roles and responsibilities: What are/should be the responsibilities of governments, businesses, the technical community, civil society, the academic and research sector and community-based actors with regard to digital inclusion and respect for human rights, and what is needed for them to fulfil these in an efficient and effective manner?

Building on the brand-new OSCE recommendations on safeguarding freedom of expression when AI is deployed, this session will identify what concrete steps are needed to realize both the positive obligations of States as well as the responsibilities of private actors. It will explore the roles and responsibilities of different actors, and how each of them can contribute to realizing freedom of expression and media freedom for all in the age of algorithms and AI.


5. Gender Equality

Targets: The session will contribute to SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), in particular SDG 16.10 (Access to information and Protection of Fundamental Freedoms), which aims to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. By seeking to enhance effective response to challenges to free speech and media pluralism in the age of AI, this session is particularly linked to target 16.10, namely to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements”. Moreover, a particular focus will be put on inclusiveness and gender equality (SDG 5).


AI-based technologies used for both content moderation and curation increasingly shape the online information flow, determining which content is censored and how information is disseminated. This directly affects people’s freedom to seek, impart and receive information, opinion and ideas. Yet, AI tools are regularly deployed with little or no transparency or accountability.

Over the course of 2021 and in close collaboration with international independent experts, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media developed a comprehensive toolkit on the most effective ways to safeguard freedom of expression and media pluralism when deploying advanced AI and machine-learning technologies. If policy recommendations are to lead to enhanced internet freedom and more inclusive, flourishing online spaces, they require effective implementation – both by state and non-state actors.

This session aims to explore which regulatory framework is needed to ensure that freedom of expression is not infringed by the use of machine-learning technologies, including through emerging regulation itself, and what concrete steps are needed for policies’ effective implementation to ensure an inclusive internet governance ecosystem based on human rights.

Expected Outcomes

The session will explore how States can most effectively address the challenges posed by AI in order to realize their positive obligations to protect freedom of expression online. Thereby, the session will discuss ways forward to overcome AI’s opacity and the lack of human rights impact assessments and independent oversight, and provide guidance for both state and non-state actors.

The workshopwill start by providing insights into the topic, including the launch of the brand-new #SAIFE toolkit on safeguarding freedom of expression when deploying advanced AI and machine-learning technologies. The session will then generate discussions (including in break-out rooms) on the concrete steps required for the effective implementation of existing policy guidance in order to ensure free speech online - for all.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: Polls