IGF 2021 WS #47
Balancing Platform Privacy Innovation and Competition

Organizer 1: Matthew Schwartz, Innovators Network Foundation
Organizer 2: Brian Scarpelli, ACT | The App Association

Speaker 1: Dr. Aparajita Bhatt, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Dylan McKee, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Lourdes Turrecha, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Brian Scarpelli, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Matthew Schwartz, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Matthew Schwartz, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - Circle - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

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?

Improving competition within markets while at the same time considering how competition regulation could unintentionally weaken privacy if not appropriately scoped is core to the theme of "regulation, competition, and innovation". The panel intends to address this by diving into the following questions:

i. Does a privacy vs. competition tradeoff exist within currently circulating competition proposals? How is this dynamic influenced by underlying platform business models?
ii. As written, which, if any, of the regulatory proposals intended to improve competition are correctly situated to also preserve privacy? If not, how can policymakers ensure that proposals allow consumers to retain strong privacy and security protections?
iii. How can competition regulation incent platforms to compete on privacy innovations?


8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Targets: Increasing use of digital technologies in the current crisis presents a unique and unprecedented opportunity to think carefully about equitable growth of the platforms that facilitate those technologies, while also promoting healthy privacy innovation in the sector. Finding a viable, responsible path toward those goals will help ensure consumer trust and strong institutions going forward.


Over the past year, legislators in jurisdictions including the United States, U.K., EU, India, China and elsewhere, have leapt into action with proposals intended to increase competition in markets led, and sometimes dominated, by large tech platforms. While the motivation and particulars of such proposals vary widely, a key component of many are requirements to effectuate greater data interoperability and access for the third-party companies who both rely on the large platforms to reach customers in the greater market, and who, in many cases, directly compete with those same platforms.

Such frameworks thus raise important questions for internet governance, possibly pitting privacy and competition against each other in certain instances. For example, prohibition on the platforms' ability to require approval of software being downloaded on an operating system could weaken cybersecurity, privacy, and safety for app companies and consumers, who currently rely on the assurances of a platform that they might not receive elsewhere. On the other hand, such rules could broaden access, increase consumer choice, and allow platforms to compete on privacy in areas where protections are not as strong.

This panel will evaluate principles for how to best manage potential competition and privacy tradeoffs as lawmakers consider sweeping legislation on such topics; assess current proposals globally; and provide insight into how to harness the opportunities and mitigate challenges in this moment of great impetus on tech regulation.

Expected Outcomes

i. Understand the spectrum of opportunities and challenges that existing competition proposals bring to bear on privacy specifically.
ii. Learn about what the IGF community can do to further action and cross-sector collaboration to realize the potential and work through challenges surfaced in the conversation.
iii. Share diverse perspectives regarding the discrete priorities and/or changes needed from the IGF community to combat these challenges and harness opportunities.

i. For each of the areas of interest, introductory short presentations/remarks by experts will provide basic knowledge and discuss important trade-offs. The moderator will ensure the active participation of the audience, who will be able to intervene and ask questions to the experts. Sufficient time will be given to online participants to ask questions, by the online participator. Following these initial interventions, the roundtable will get to the heart of the debate, guided by the moderator who will begin by giving an opportunity to online and in-person participants to pose questions and discuss views on the strategies presented. The moderator will guide the debate on investment strategies with the goal of finding common ground between views brought forward. In addition to the background documents and papers that will be prepared ahead of the IGF, additional articles of interest, reference materials, and social media conversations will be published and distributed ahead of the workshop. The moderator and organizing team will work with speakers in advance as to ensure the quality and the content of the discussion.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: i. The online moderator will encourage remote participation through various social networking platforms in addition to the platform provided by the IGF Secretariat. After the first round of interventions, the discussion section of the roundtable will open with an invitation to online participants to weigh in on strategies discussed and pose questions to the speakers. The organizing team will work to promote the activity on social media and will specially invite relevant stakeholder to join the session and share questions ahead of the debate. Online participants will be given priority to speak, and their participation will be encouraged by the online and in-person moderators.