IGF 2023 WS #257 Content moderation challenges and opportunities in APAC


Human Rights & Freedoms
Non-discrimination in the Digital Space
Rights to Access and Information
Technology in International Human Rights Law

Organizer 1: Chenie Yoon, Google Asia Pacific
Organizer 2: Kyung Sin Park, Open Net

Speaker 1: Kyung Sin Park, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Damar Juniarto, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Michael Caster, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Judit Arenas Licea, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Chenie Yoon, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Chenie Yoon, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group


Chenie Yoon, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. How do we balance the need to protect fundamental human rights and regulate the online sphere from harms and risks?
2. What is the impact of online content moderation on free expression? How do we find the balance between preserving the rights and the need to protect people from harmful content?
3. What are positive content regulation models and approaches that can be replicated in the region?; What are the negative examples that heavily infringe on the human rights principles?
4. What roles can each sector play and what types of collaboration and tangible action need to take place?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The participants will gain insights on what responsible content moderation and user data access would look like for the future of the Internet and how the civil society, big techs and governments can engage with each other to protect the Internet and its democratizing potential, drawing from the experience with the three jurisdictions presenting new challenges such as Indonesia, Korea, and Viet Nam mainly. With a focus on APAC, this will foster a deep understanding of the regulatory landscapes and challenge the participants and audience to think about content responsibility, free expression, and anonymity in 2023 and beyond - and how to work towards a more rights-friendly communication environment in the region.


The rise of harmful content online such as hate speech, mis/disinformation, violent and extremist content, has led an increasing number of governments in the Asia-Pacific region to take excessive measures by making intermediaries to be responsible for such content and even imposing harsh criminal liabilities, which create additional pressures on the ability to express and access opinions and content online.

Such laws bestow undue power into the hands of the governments to over-regulate and, in some cases, censor certain contents when the definition of the illegality of contents can be loose and vague – which leaves a huge room for arbitrary decision and abuse. Laws that force a quick turnaround time for removals also create a significant problem when the governments try to become the arbiter of the truth and control the online conversations of people, because these rules create negative incentives for Internet companies to take down content upon government request without sufficient review of human rights and legal impact, for fear of heavy sanctions. Furthermore, the laws allowing access to identify of posting authors without warrant or otherwise free of any procedural safeguards allow the governments to harshly punish the authors of dissident postings.

At the same time, the expectations for platforms to “take the side” of democracy and protect vulnerable groups is also rising together with the calls for moderation on the postings that do not rise to the level of hate speech under international human rights standards. We need to discuss how all the stakeholders can help platforms stave off the rights-infringing content regulations and at the same time fulfill the new expectations for safety. This Workshop will bring together key opinion leaders from each sector and facilitate cross-sectoral dialogues with representatives from the civil society, academia and tech industry.

Expected Outcomes

The participants will be able to collaborate on various forums following the IGF 2023 discussion. For example, the same panelists in this proposal had gathered in an APAC-regional conference on freedom of expression hosted by the Asia Centre (regional think tank) in 2022 and also at the RightsCon in 2022. This demonstrates how the likeminded panelists and key opinion formers are continuing the dialogues in the region to bring about practical changes to protect human rights and open and free Internet. There is no doubt that the stakeholders in this session will continue the discussion and regularly check in, collaborate and contribute to solve the problems and challenges noted above.

Hybrid Format: This Workshop is planned to be led by two moderators for both virtual and on-site participation. They will ensure a smooth and organized roundtable for the 90-minutes duration. They will ensure that it’s a safe space for both online and offline participants to share, propose, and brainstorm new ideas.

As a neutral participant, the moderators will pose guiding questions and encourage participants to answer questions and share examples and case studies from their own experience.

Unless otherwise suggested by the IGF Secretariat, we will consider using the Zoom platform to establish interactive discussions by utilizing the chat functions so that the online participants can freely engage with the roundtable albeit being far away.

At the end of the roundtable, the moderators will share the summary of the discussion and provide paths forward for the continued engagement in the region and beyond.