[governance] APC IGF workshop: content regulation and gov roles etc

karen banks karenb at gn.apc.org
Fri Jun 29 12:49:46 EDT 2007

hi again

the second of the proposals..


Full title: Freedom of expression and the role of governments

Question 1: Provide a concise formulation for the proposed workshop theme.

'Illegal' and 'harmful' content are increasingly cited as 
justification for interventions (legislative, regulatory, voluntary) 
which infringe on the rights of all to full freedom of expression. 
Definitions are interpreted differently, by different stakeholders, 
and definitions extend to include content such as child and adult 
pornography, and 'sensitive' political, social and cultural content 
(often concerning issues such as 'national security', sexuality, 
freedom of faith, freedom of association etc).

The outcomes (regulatory mechanisms, codes etc) are diverse, with 
intended and unintended consequences for stakeholders, including 
disadvantaging 'vulnerable' groups the actions are deemed to serve. 
Engaging stakeholders - particularly intended beneficiaries & 
'vulnerable groups' - invested in this issue is critical to ensure 
that perspectives and priorities are not lost in negotiations 
concerning what constitutes harmful content, for whom it is harmful 
and to what extent. Central to this determination is a recognition 
that States have a duty to protect the rights all to freedom of 
expression & information.

With this in mind, the workshop aims to:

interrogate competing rights, interests and interventions linked with 
content regulation, prioritising the empowerment of users' as citizens;

clarify roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of different 
actors at various points of intervention with regards to the everyday 
users' right to freedom of expression & information;

assess the impact of specific content regulation initiatives, in 
relation to political, social and civil contexts, and especially on 
marginalised groups

The workshop will build on the themes developed during the 2006 IGF 
(see Q7) and will be preceded by commissioning of background/issue 
papers and facilitated online discussion, contributing to a dialogue space for:

demonstration of case studies

assessment and analysis of different governance mechanisms

surfacing concrete recommendations to address content regulation and 
censorship issues on the internet.

In particular, the workshop will integrate women's rights advocates 
as a vital stakeholder, and will locate governments' roles in 
relation to the multiple stakeholders and dimensions of this matter.

Question 2: Provide the Name of the Organizer(s) of the workshop and 
their Affiliation to various stakeholder groups. Describe how you 
will take steps to adhere to the multi-stakeholder principle, 
including geographical diversity.

APC WNSP (Civil Society), UNIFEM (Multilateral, tbc), COE 
(Intergovernmental, tbc).

The organisers will ensure that all stakeholder groups are adequately 
represented on the panel. Publicity will be directed to achieve 
adequate representation in the workshop audience. Working with 
partners and experts (from a cross section of stakeholder groups), 
APC WNSP plans to commission a series of issues paper, documenting 
different content regulations practices and experiences from 
different parts of world, to surface concrete recommendations and solutions.

Question 3: Why do you think the proposed theme is important?

A primary objective of this workshop is to diversify and broaden 
stakeholder engagement and debate in the formulation of content 
regulation policy and mechanisms. Debates continue to be dominated by 
the issue of child pornography (illegal content). While this 
perspective is important, it's dominance overshadows other important 
aspects arising from the use and misuse of the internet that directly 
impact on women's lives and rights.

Some of this work has been done by the global feminist movement, 
which has assessed currently used definitions of universally harmful 
categories and types of content, in different cultural environments, 
and how various content regulations impact on women's freedom of 
expression and access to information. Important insights and lessons 
can be drawn from this.

This is critically linked to the roles played by the private sector 
(in production of content filtering tools) and the user's capacity to 
make informed decisions about the use of self-regulatory tools and mechanisms.

In recognition of the State's commitment towards the creation of a 
people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented information 
society, new solutions can emerge by transforming the paradigm of 
'protection from harm' to the 'protection of fundamental freedoms to 
expression and information'.

Question 4: Describe the workshop's conformity with the Tunis Agenda 
in terms of substance and the mandate of the IGF.

The workshop conforms with the following paragraphs concerned with 
"harmful content", freedom of expression and access to information 
and knowledge for all, and the multi-stakeholder nature of management 
of the internet - paragraphs 42, 46 and 90, 35 and 37 of the Tunis Agenda.

The workshop will support development of solutions to the issues 
arising from the use and misuse of the internet, and everyday users' 
control over content they want to access, filter and produce with 
regards to various content regulation interventions and tools (paragraph 72k).

The workshop will also contribute towards the mandate of the IGF as 
stated in paragraphs 72b, d and f.

Question 5: Provide the Name and Affiliation of the panellists you 
are planning to invite.

All to be further consulted and confirmed:

Alternative Law Forum (India, civil society); EURO ISPA focal point 
(EU, private sector) OpenNet Initiative (International, academic); 
ICANN board member (International, multistakeholder); APC 
(International, civil society); ECPAT (International, civil society)

Question 6: Describe the main actors in the field. Have you 
approached them and asked whether they would be willing to 
participate in proposed workshop?

In addition to feminist advocates, child protection groups (i.e. 
ECPAT International) and ISP providers, we would like to collaborate 
with ICANN board members, filtering software developers, researchers 
looking at internet censorship at global and local levels (e.g. 
OpenNet Initiative; http://opennet.net/) and media experts, 
especially in gender and media (e.g. ISIS-Manila and AWID).

Question 7: List similar events you have organized in the past.

During the inaugural IGF, the APCWNSP successfully brought together 
voices of ISPs, feminists and international agencies in a workshop:

"Content regulations from gender and development perspectives"

effectively integrated women's rights perspectives in debates and 
identified several key areas for further development towards solutions.

We aim to deepen the debate generally, to additionally address 'open 
access to knowledge' in this context, and to follow-up on the 
themes/steps outlined in last year's workshop report, 
]in the workshop in Rio.

In addition, two briefing papers recently commissioned by APC WNSP 
reflect on issues of content regulation in the context of wider 
legislative, cultural, and ethical debates on pornography. 
(http://www.genderit.org/en/index.shtml?apc=r90480-e95147-1 ,and 

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