Twenty years ago, the earlier controversies regarding human rights implications of Internet uses emerged at the national level, leading policymakers to start addressing issues related to e.g. illegal and harmful content vs. freedom of expression; state surveillance, private companies abuses, and various forms of cybercrime activities vs. the protection of privacy and personal data; intellectual property rights vs. a vision of Internet content as commons to foster education, knowledge, innovation and global development. Becoming even more prominent with the development of the web2.0, these debates also led to procedural issues related to the role and liability of Internet intermediaries, in terms of legal, technical and economic aspects. Ten years later, the United Nations held the World Summit on the Information Society that added the need to define globally how the Internet should be governed, and how Internet governance processes should be institutionalized, in an open and inclusive manner through multistakeholder participation. One of the main outcomes of the Summit is the creation of an annual Internet Governance Forum, which serves since 2006 as the main global place for such dialogue among all interested stakeholders.
In the mean time, Internet technical, social and market innovations are developing, raising new issues such as, to only name a few, network neutrality and the regulation of all sorts of Internet platforms in various sectors (from social networks to the so-called “Uberised” or “sharing” economy and society). Many still unresolved challenges are consequently raised for policymaking decisions, all being highly sensitive in terms of sovereignty and other political, legal, economic, social, cultural and societal choices. One of these main crosscutting challenges is the need to channel and maintain European values in global Internet governance processes and the need to ensure that European and third countries (especially those in the EU’s neighbourhood) Internet-related legislations and regulations embed them. Such good governance values are that of sustainability, participatory governance, openness and transparency in policies and markets, the respect of human rights, social justice and social cohesion, as well as democracy and the rule of law. This challenge is particularly difficult to address with private US firms, such as the GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) and other giants, dominating the innovation market.
With this proposal, the GIG-ARTS Network intends to address these challenges, among other raised by current and future global Internet innovations and developments. Considering global Internet governance as a perfect terrain of science diplomacy, the proposal eventually aims at fulfilling three main objectives: (1) Advancing scientific research on global Internet governance actors, regulations, transactions and strategies; (2) Organizing the global Internet governance academic community; and (3) Knowledge-sharing and networking with non academic stakeholders.
The GIG-ARTS Network is composed of 19 partners from 10 EU countries and 3 third countries. It has an excellent level of gender balance (10 women, including the coordinator, out of 19 scientific members), involves four main disciplines of Social Sciences (Political Sciences, Law, Economy, Media and Communication Studies), and its members are among the most renowned academics in the field. The GIG-ARTS Network will prepare a 48-months H2020 project proposal aiming at realizing the identified objectives. The targeted H2020 Call is under the 3rd Pillar (Societal Challenges), addressing the main societal challenge of “Inclusive, innovative & reflective societies”. The targeted type of Action is a “Research and Innovation Action”, but includes some education, capacity building, and coordination activities.