IGF 2018 WS #325 Regulation at the age of online platform-based economy

Subtheme(s): 

Other
Sub-theme description: Ensuring that online platforms are accountable toward end-users.

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

This workshop will address the following issues:

- How online platforms challenge classic regulatory mechanisms?
- How regulators could respond to these challenges?
- Regulators across the world regularly observe the systemic asymmetry of information between online platforms and the rest of society (including regulatory bodies, policymakers, civil society organisations and citizens alike). In their defence, platforms operators argue that invasive legislations could put their legitimate interests at risk. How to strike the right balance between these competitive views and interests?
- Across the last decade, few online platforms have managed to become critical market access points to internet users for thousands of businesses. They are growing worries that they may leverage their position to engage in unfair commercial practices. How do we detect and address these potential abuses in a timely fashion?

Format: 

Round Table - 90 Min

Interventions: 

The roundtable discussion will bring together different stakeholders participating in internet policy-making processes to discuss the issues and the relevance for the wider Internet governance community.

Diversity: 

The roundtable format will allow addressing the issues from different perspectives: special attention has been made to ensure a gender balance of participants, speakers from world regions and speakers from a wide array of stakeholder groups.

The rise of the digital platform economy is now an established fact. Indeed, over the last two decades, a few online platforms have managed to become some of the most powerful organisations, often for the benefit of Internet users. Indeed, they have eased our access to information, cultural goods, opened up new business opportunities and reduced transaction costs. They have managed to do so because of their distinctive model of production that breaks with the paradigms of the traditional economy : they generate large flows of data, host engaged communities, optimizes externalities and govern ecosystems. These features have even allowed few platforms to acquire a phenomenal influence over Internet users, individuals and professionals alike. Yet, their development has raised various concerns mostly related to the asymmetry of information and power between them and those who rely on their infrastructures to get the relevant information, good, or service. Because of this, there are growing calls within the policy realm and beyond to develop new means to hold them accountable to society. Regulators are currently ill-equipped to fulfil this duty. This session aims at encouraging various stakeholders to share their ideas on how to upgrade our regulatory frameworks to hold online platforms more accountable.

Discussion Facilitation: 

This format is designed to facilitate maximum participation and information sharing among participants, as well as the exchange of expertise on a highly topical and complex, evolving internet governance issue. The panel session which will be facilitated by the onsite moderator and will set out the differing perspectives on the topic.

Following the panel discussion, a brief round of questions will be taken, onsite and online.

Online Participation: 

The livestream for this event will be promoted in advance through the social networks of the organizer, as well as by discussants.

A remote moderator will enlist questions and comments from the audience during the workshop. Prior to the workshop, a social media campaign will be used to bring in comments and questions from prospective attendees which may enrich the debate.

Responses to the session’s key discussion topics will be solicited in advance from community members who will not be able to participate in the live discussion, such as those located in time zones not conducive to viewing the livestream. Questions and comments received will be shared with the Onsite Moderator for incorporation into the live discussion. During the live session, the Online Moderator will coordinate with remote participants to facilitate live audio participation in the discussion if technical media permit. In addition, non-audio based comments and questions received through social media or chat discussions in the virtual meeting space will be integrated into the discussion directly by the Online Moderator.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678