IGF 2021 WS #24
Protecting end users in an Age of Platforms and DNS Abuse

Organizer 1: Kulesza Joanna, University of Lodz
Organizer 2: Monica Horten, LSE
Organizer 3: Jonathan Zuck, Innovators Network Foundation
Organizer 4: Frane Maroevic, Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network
Organizer 5: Elizabeth Behsudi, Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network
Organizer 6: Sébastien Bachollet, ICANN-ALAC
Organizer 7: Anja Mihr, Humboldt Viadrina Governance Platform

Speaker 1: Monica Horten, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Jonathan Zuck, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Frane Maroevic, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 4: Elizabeth Behsudi, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Sébastien Bachollet, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 6: Anja Mihr, Civil Society, Eastern European Group


Kulesza Joanna, Civil Society, Eastern European Group

Online Moderator

Sébastien Bachollet, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Kulesza Joanna, Civil Society, Eastern European Group


Debate - Classroom - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

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?
Protecting consumer rights: What regulatory approaches are/could be effective in upholding consumer rights, offering adequate remedies for rights violations, and eliminating unfair and deceptive practices from the part of Internet companies?
Additional Policy Questions Information: - How to ensure automated content moderation and traffic control compliant with end user protection safeguards? How to best apply existing human rights and consumer protection guarantees in the world of globalized platform governance?
- Is there a line to be drawn between the technical management of Internet's core resources and intermediary liability? How would it be reflected in relevant policies?
- How to best develop and enforce automated safeguards to effectively protect end user interests? Are the ongoing DNS Abuse discussions relevant and/or sufficient?
- What is DNS Abuse? Do we need a definition for the relevant policies to be effective?

This proposal aims to bridge the widening gap between policy development around activity considered abusive to the Domain Name System (DNS Abuse) and relevant legal and policy measures. With the overall goal of breaking the silos, it brings together technical community, governments and business from around the globe to offer different perspectives on DNS Abuse and platform liability. Looking at automated content moderation within platforms, is asks the questions of recommendable policy solutions to best address end user needs and concerns.


9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Targets: We will directly target both of the SDGs named above with references to infrastructure management through DNS Abuse related policies (SDG 9) as well as a norm based order for platform regulation (SDG 16).


The aim of this workshop is to advance and consolidate ongoing debates on harmful activity online, breaking the silos of technical standards and platform regulation. It will culminate a series of awareness raising and capacity building events targeting the broad IGF community, to signpost new developments in this highly topical area and to provide inputs for further UN processes.
Shepherds of key technical internet resources – registries and registrars – have long operated based on consensual, standards related, policies spanning across jurisdictions. Many of these focused on what is referred to as "DNS Abuse". What might seem like a purely technical term, as currently defined DNS Abuse is composed of five broad categories of harmful activity insofar as they intersect with the DNS: malware, botnets, phishing, pharming, and spam (when it serves as a delivery mechanism for the other forms of DNS Abuse (as per the proposed DNS Abuse Framework). This framework is an operational standard that spans from DNS hijacking and DNS poisoning, though spam and botnets, all the way to intellectual property infringements. While initially designed to address non-content related management of daily Internet operations online, issues such as spam and counterfeit goods can be viewed as reaching beyond the technical “picket fence” technical communities have set for themselves.
We will aim to define the scope and metrics of this technical standard, exploring whether DNS can be targeted with activities beyond the currently defined scope, such as disinformation. This fine line will be discussed with reference to the work of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network (Toolkit on Cross-border Content Moderation; Toolkit on DNS Level Action to Address Abuses).
The proposed panel targets both: advancing the multistakeholder model and a better representation of end user interests. It also falls directly into the global geopolitical discussions around platform regulation and their impact on existing Internet governance model. The panel will seek to identify end user interests as a mean to advancing the multistakeholder model and, supporting the global public interest. It will deepen understanding of how disinformation actors operate, and how enforcement actions are implemented, and in that regard it will contribute to UN strategic objective of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels (SDG 9 and SDG 16).

The debate will be moderated by Dr. Joanna Kulesza of the University of Lodz, Poland and EURALO (ICANN At-Large). Dr. Kulesza is the author of numerous publications on cybersecurity and human rights including issues of intermediary liability and free expression. The debate will include the following speakers from different backgrounds and world regions:

- Western Europe: Monica Horten; LSE
- North America: Jonathan Zuck; Executive Director, Innovators Network Foundation and ICANN At-Large Vice-Chair; United States
- Central Asia: Anja Mihr; Program Director; Center on Governance through Human Rights;
Humboldt-Viadrina Governance Platform, Berlin; currently DAAD Associate Professor, OSCE Academy in Bishkek
and speaking on the results of "Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network":
- Frane Maroevic; Director of I&J's Content & Jurisdiction Program
- Elizabeth Behsudi; Director, Domains & Jurisdiction Program

Expected Outcomes

1) The overall outcome of this session is to bridge the siloed discussion on platform regulation and DNS Abuse. The fine line between technical management of key internet resources, such as DNS and content regulation, particularly aimed at protecting individual end users interests such as privacy or freedom of expression lie at the core of this panel.
2) The debate will welcome input from policy makers, civil society and business trying to identify similarities and divergences between content moderation and technical day to day operation of "Internet's core", including but not limited to key internet identifiers.
3) Engaging a dialogue to better understand end user needs and expectations will support the development of relevant and well measured policy tools to attend to the current challenges and threats. These range from online fraud, through privacy concerns, all the way to hate speech and freedom of political speech.
4) Another aim for this panel is to think together about effective solution to tackle online threats to end user interest by identifying appropriate next stapes and relevant platforms for further debate. This discussion, initiated at the IGF, touches the core of current debates on platform regulation and technical internet management and will be continued also beyond the IGF 2021 annual meeting.

Once informed by the MAG that the session has been accepted, the panelists will hold a series of online working meetings to best identify themes to be covered and complementary discussion points. Specific wording of the questions will be provided as well as initial statements of all panelists. These will serve as a starting point of discussion. We will use the case of platform content moderation to reflect most current themes relevant to individual end users. This will be complemented with a perspective on current trends in DNS Abuse policies and a reflection on the forums where these are discussed.
Building upon the years long experience of panelists, actively involved in various forms of online policy development, the session will rely on both: in person and remote participation, with the remote moderator ensuring equal participation to those in Katowice and online.
The format of the debate will welcome brief (5 mins) interventions of all panelists (currently expected to be on-site) and an open Q&A and comments session, welcoming input from online and on-site participants. We will also open a Twitter thread with the hashtag #DNSAbuseAware to welcome feedback from social media channels. Two moderators will be assigned to ensure equal participation from on-site and online participants.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: As noted above this will be a culmination of a series of workshop devoted to the two leading themes of platform regulation and DNS Abuse. As such, the debate will benefit from a comprehensive set of social media and online tools, including but not limited to a dedicated Twitter feed (#DNSAbuseAware), earlier webinar interaction as well as dedicated e-mail and social media campaigns.