IGF 2019 WS #431 Data Governance and Decentralised Web

Organizer 1: Desiree Miloshevic, Afilias plc
Organizer 2: Babu Ram Aryal, Internet Governance Institute
Organizer 3: Matthew Shears , Global Partners Digital; ICANN

Speaker 1: Barrack Otieno, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 2: Jari Arkko, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Desiree Miloshevic, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

1. What are the goals of a decentralized web model? 2. Does it enable a user or a business to be in better control of the data they exchange over the web? 3. What examples of good data governance and decentralization models exist? Are there any successful regulatory frameworks? Or should new frameworks be developed for this? 4. What should an ethical web data governance model in the Internet user’s centric model look like? 5. What current decentralised projects there are, what is their status and what is missing to get them deployed and off the ground? 6. How does a decentralised model affect the Internet users globally? 7. How would it affect development of #AI? 8. Would decentralised web improve the security and safety of user’s online experience? 9. What are the concrete steps that businesses or individuals can do to secure their data on the web?

Relevance to Theme: Workshop will raise various policy questions and provide examples of new data governance models, such as the proposed model of decentralised web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. It will address many regulatory and security issues that stem from data management, data ownership and data centralization. It aims to engage and inform the workshop participants about its advantages and challenges and raise important technical, societal and economic questions.

Relevance to Internet Governance: It provides opportunity for all stakeholders to discuss this aspect of Internet development and how its evolution could affect current and future norms, laws and markets.


Debate - Auditorium - 90 Min

Description: The problem of data centralization and data concentration has many challenges, such as creating system vulnerabilities, for instance, in data security. Over the World Wide Web, (www) or web for short and its enabling Internet protocols, such as the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), vast amounts of users’ and business’ data gets exchanged. Data over the web has to be exchanged in a secure and safe manner and a centralized web increases concentration of data within small number of large entities. Additionally, it creates economic advantages for certain actors having access to the data being transferred over these protocols. The problem of centralization of web data gets even worse with machine learning and AI. The more data you have, the more useful it is. Small business and user’s own data stores will find it difficult to benefit from machine learning technologies. A few years back Sir Tim Berners-Lee announced a decentralised web project to address the issue of web centralization. Protection of users’ online data requires not only sound policies and legal frameworks, but also technical developments and ethical adoption. The workshop will provide examples of what kind of technical architecture is needed to protect users’ data exchanged on the web. Can for example, Solid, a peer-to-peer project at the MIT, meet the needs of Internet users globally? Would users be in better control of their data by running its own instances of a web server and therefore be in control of the data they send across the web?

Expected Outcomes: The workshop aims to map the progress and challenges to date towards creation of more decentralised systems for the web than the largely centralized systems and business models that exist today. The workshop output is an outline of what emerging technical, legal and societal frameworks around decentralised web exist today, and what business incentives as well as policy frameworks would be necessary form more decentralized approaches to become broadly adopted.

Onsite Moderator: 

Babu Ram Aryal, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator: 

Desiree Miloshevic, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


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

Discussion Facilitation: 

The session will be very interactive. The seating is a round-table format, enabling everyone to participate equally in the discussion, including the online attendees.

Online Participation: 

webex and social media platforms

Proposed Additional Tools: as above


GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure