Organizer 1: Hartmut Richard Glaser, Brazilian Internet Steering Committee - CGI.br
Organizer 2: Juliano Cappi, NIC.br
Organizer 3: Luiza Mesquita, Network Inormation center
Organizer 4: Rafael Evangelista, University of Campinas - Unicamp
Speaker 1: Angeliki Moraiti, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 2: Rafael Grohman, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Yaseen Aslam, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Uma Rani, ILO, Intergovernmental Organization, Asia-Pacific Group
Thomas Anning Dorson, Fairwork Foundation, Civil Society, African Group
Rafael Evangelista, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Luiza Mesquita, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Juliano Cappi, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min
Economic and social inclusion and sustainable development: What is the relationship between digital policy and development and the established international frameworks for social and economic inclusion set out in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in treaties such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Conventions on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, on the Rights of the Child, and on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? How do policy makers and other stakeholders effectively connect these global instruments and interpretations to national contexts?
Promoting equitable development and preventing harm: How can we make use of digital technologies to promote more equitable and peaceful societies that are inclusive, resilient and sustainable? How can we make sure that digital technologies are not developed and used for harmful purposes? What values and norms should guide the development and use of technologies to enable this?
Is the use of digital technologies promoting more equitable and inclusive societies? Nowadays we can find many different examples of policy initiatives that unleashed the full potential of the Internet in generating opportunities and empowerment, hence enhancing quality of life. However, as have been seen in previous years, specific labor regulations of online and location-based platforms have failed to protect and promote workers’ rights, which have been the subject of centennial workers’ struggles. The central point is that, despite minimum standards based on international declarations and treaties built to preserve and promote human rights and socioeconomic inclusion, work conditions and relations have been profoundly impacted by the Internet economy and not necessarily in a positive way. The emergence of platform-based business models has contributed to the increase and even to the normalization of informality and deterioration of employment conditions. Increasing fragmentation of production processes, a direct consequence of technological advancement, has led to more unstable employment and income. Digital platforms created marketplaces allowing real-time hiring of labor to meet a large spectrum of social demands that go far beyond transportation services, but from IT programming to graphic design, copy-writing or routine clerical tasks, real estate services, to babysitting, among others. On these platforms, workers living across multiple time zones offer businesses the possibility of completing projects at any time, day or night. In practice, what we are facing is a global supply of labor mediated by proprietary algorithms of digital platforms. Additionally, digital labor platforms typically classify their workers as self-employed, thereby denying them labor protections and employer-provided social security. In most cases, the terms and conditions of working through the platforms are laid out unilaterally by the platforms, which state how and when crowdworkers will be paid, how their work will be evaluated, and what rights workers have when they need them. Moreover, as workers are classified as independent contractors, they are usually deprived of the right to collectively organize themselves. It is worth mentioning that, while the United Kingdom has recognized the contractual relationship between the location-based platforms and the workers, in most other scenarios this did not happen, at least so far, such as Brazil’s major regional labor court. The effects of digital labor platforms are more profound in Global South countries. Extreme poverty, high level of income inequality, the low qualification and high unemployment rates make the work conditions offered by digital platforms more attractive, thus becoming the “real future of work” for many people. Additionally, low qualification requirements and the remuneration presumably higher than in many other occupations at the same level are elements that contribute to a kind of consolidation and spread of outsourced companies - especially those organized in the form of apps and algorithms - that reach high levels of pervasiveness only possible in those countries. This also reduces the ability of these employees to negotiate better work conditions. Finally, it is key to place meaningful connectivity at the core of the digital labour debate, since workers have spent a considerable amount of their earnings on mobile data plans. The intensification and the global reach of the Internet Economy in labor market call for urgent actions. The contribution of the Global South perspective to understand informality in the digital age can and should be used to review the global debate on public policy frameworks that deal with the challenges related to the broad transformation of the very idea of work. While consolidated institutions and labor rights from the Global North shall subsidize the notion of decent work elsewhere. It is actually fundamental to shape the Internet economy based on those local realities to avoid increasing social and economic inequalities to avoid perpetuate historical dependencies in the name of development. There is an opportunity to do so.
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
10. Reduced Inequalities
Targets: The evolving concept of decent work proposed by the International Labor Organization back in 1999 has become at the core of the Internet Economy. Therefore, SDG 8, which aims to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” (particularly the target 8.5), will be the driver of the session. Since the session is mainly focused on a multi-level governance and on social and economic inclusion regulatory and policy frameworks, the SDG 10, that aims to "reduce inequality within and among countries" will also be covered.
The emergence of platform-based business models has contributed to the increase of informality and the deterioration of employment conditions. The fragmentation of production processes, a direct consequence of technological advancement, has led to more unstable employment and income. Taking that into consideration, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has developed frameworks and partnered with local and international organizations to contribute with policymaking in order to ensure decent digital work. However, there are mismatches between international and local policies, in terms of both digital and labor regulations, that must be identified and addressed. The workshop aims at discussing digital policy alternatives to improve the digital platforms’ role in providing productive employment, rights, safety and non-exploitative work. To do so, the workshop will address the following issues: (a) present the overall impact of the Internet Economy to labor conditions with an emphasis on the Global South; (b) assess the ILO’s framework to cope with the challenges of digital platforms labor and how it has been used by different regions and stakeholders; and (c) discuss possible new policy perspectives to address the challenges of a changing social scenario in the labor field.
Outcomes - We expect to have: 1 – Explored the limits of the ILO's framework on increasing investment in decent and sustainable work for the digital age; 2 – Organized a set of possible new policy perspectives to address potential mismatch between local digital labor policies and international frameworks, also considering connectivity issues. Outputs – We expect to have: 1. Produced a comparative assessment of new policy perspectives vis-a-vis ILO’s current frameworks and local experiences; 2. Provided a list of emerging specific initiatives to ensure decent work in digital platforms such as: a) self-regulatory initiatives (eg.: Fairwork Foundation Index); b) platform cooperatives initiatives; c) the role of digital workers organization facilitated by information and communication technologies.
The Workshop will start with a 15 minutes presentation on the overall impact of the Internet Economy on work in the Global South, calling attention to the potential gaps of how international frameworks are being applied at the national level and how local initiatives may contribute to enhance global policies. We expect to set a common ground to the debate, thus contributing to bring more participants to the discussion. In the sequence, we will have a 30 minutes slot when invited participants from different regions and sectors will share most recent updates in terms of labor regulation, bottom-up initiatives and their collaboration with the International Labor Organization. Each of them will speak for about 5 minutes.
After this initial moment, we will open a 30 minutes round of discussion, inviting participants to answer the following question: how international frameworks (specially ILO’s framework) can be improved taking into consideration local experiences?
We will have a final round of 15 minutes to wrap up the key similarities and differences from those contexts and draft key policy orientations to contribute in the following year to harmonize digital labor development at the international level and therefore strengthen local digital labor policies.
Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: The online moderator will use platforms to elaborate mental maps, such as Miro and XMind. It will be used to compile the key points highlighted by the local experiences. It will be used in the final 15 minutes of the debate to illustrate the digital and labour policies status at the local level and their relations to international frameworks.
Platform and digital work is a growing phenomenon and it is important to be discussed within Internet Governance fora. It raises the dependence on digital platforms and their mechanisms for datafication, algorithmific management, and surveilance. There are some design mechanisms that must be widely discussed and measures taken. For istance, there is no channel to talk with a human being to discuss what could be done.
Internet and Labour agenda shall bond themsleves through the promotion of algorithmic transparency and the transversal consideration of the labour dimension within digital policy and regulation (e.g. data regulation, artificial intelligence regulation and automated decision-making, etc).
Based on the principles of open and free Internet and the fact the Gig Economy concept has an eurocentric approach, there is a need to promote local alternative platforms, such as worker-owned platforms shaped in partnership with platform workers in the Global South. Elaborate and aggregate evidences on the intersection of emerging concerns regarding the Interent-mediated labour to be submitted and discussed within the ILO's instances.
It is important to promote research and policy analysis on several issues, such as: i. the political and ethical consequences of labling workers as invisibles are being conducted in India; ii. the connection between platform labor, disinformation and political communication strugle (e.g. people working for content moderation, click farms and so on); and the mismatch between high-skilled educated IT workers and the actual labor maket.