IGF 2023 WS #381 Emerging Norms for Digital Public Infrastructure


Global Digital Governance & Cooperation
Digital Commons as a Public Good
Harmonising Global Digital Infrastructure
Regulatory Sandboxes for Technological Innovations

Organizer 1: Jyoti Panday, 🔒Internet Governance Project
Organizer 2: Milton Mueller, 🔒

Speaker 1: Jyoti Panday, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Pramod Varma, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Milton Mueller, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Jyoti Panday, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Milton Mueller, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Jyoti Panday, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Panel - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

What are the varying definitions of DPIs across jurisdictions? What are the specific values, design features and functions that allow for classification of systems as DPIs?
What are the gaps in existing models in balancing innovation, economic growth and human rights? How can we ensure the institutional frameworks keep pace with the changing role of state-market collaboration and advances in technical capabilities of networks and platforms?
What could be the respective role of regulation and industry self-regulation in enhancing trust in DPIs and helping them scale? How can we enhance multi-stakeholder cooperation in this space to facilitate knowledge-sharing and collaboration?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The workshop will be an opportunity to discuss IGP's ongoing research on the evolution of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) in India and its impact on governance of digital technologies and markets. By bringing together experts that are involved in the development and introduction of DPIs, a key aim is to develop a shared understanding of the term “digital public infrastructure” and unpack its link to the concept of “digital sovereignty”. Presentations from participants will facilitate comparison of various approaches, and help identify shared opportunities, challenges and learnings. Panelists will reflect on the rise of state-market collaboration related to DPIs and what are some of the trade-offs associated with this development. Attention will be drawn to the impact of the emergence of DPIs on governance of data. The workshop aims to gain consensus across various approaches towards arriving at a common principles-based framework for the development of DPIs.


Digital public infrastructure (DPI) is a strategy for building large-scale networks, platforms and services to mediate key processes or functionality essential for operating in the digital economy. The term encompasses the underlying design, institutional frameworks, and resources that enable the development and use of these large-scale systems. The emergence of DPIs has altered relations between state, market and citizens, blurred the differences between public and private sector, traditional and new economies, tradable and non-tradable products, and between goods and services. They have also created new avenues for the development of norms and standards for domestic and global internet governance issues such as domestic and cross-border flows of data, intellectual property rights, consumer and data protection, and digital security.
The push for DPIs at the G20 and bilateral negotiations indicate DPIs are at a tipping point of adoption. The advancement of DPIs is despite legitimate concerns about their impact on competition, security, privacy and trust in the digital economy. The centralization of mechanisms for authenticating identity or making payments has led to policy problems like exclusion, fraud and compromise of digital security. Rapid development and deployment of DPIs also has profound implications in terms of disrupting traditional sectors and businesses. Control of the institutional arrangements and technical architecture of DPIs, and its usage creates discrete spaces of data and transactions, which can encourage and enable governments to pursue a sovereignty based agenda. Delays in reform, and rise in protectionism could hinder the adoption and expansion of DPI and nationalistic policies, if embraced elsewhere, could encourage their replication and extension into new arenas.
Given the stakes, it is important to explore robust governance frameworks that go beyond legislative and regulatory measures and actively engage stakeholders to enhance the accountability and integrity of DPIs and the entities involved in their creation and utilization.

Expected Outcomes

This proposal calls for a moderated debate and discussion that will bring together experts from US, Japan, India and EU. We seek to identify shared principles, baseline standards for the development of DPIs to avoid internet fragmentation. We will also explore the concessions that states and markets will have to make if DPIs are to scale globally. Through this workshop we hope to contribute to an institutional framework for DPIs that is consistent with the multistakeholder approach and with the principles of an open Internet. The workshop is organized as a 90 minute session which will include 30 minutes of presentations from select panelists and 45 minutes for debate and discussion which will be moderated. 15 minutes will be allocated for questions, answers, and contributions from the audience.

Hybrid Format: Once it is known that the proposal has been accepted by the MAG, the organizers will begin preparing the speakers by holding several online pre-meetings to facilitate engagement between online and onsite speakers. Advance preparation of this kind improves the quality of the interactions. During the workshop, apart from assigning a slot for online speakers we will ensure, they are given an opportunity to respond to discussions as well as highlight the steps being taken to address issues being raised. An open mic session follows the main session to enable the onsite and online participants from other countries to join the conversation and present their experiences, opinions, suggestions, etc., on how to move the discussion forward and identify action areas. To broaden participation, social media (Twitter and Facebook) will also be employed and online moderators will be charged with distilling the discussion using a dedicated hashtag.