Global Internet Governance - Actors, Regulations, Transactions and Strategies

2018 Theme Rationale and Main Topics

Discussions on how to enhance inclusiveness in digital decision making processes have been at the centre of internet governance debate for at least two decades. Yet, despite adoption of strategies aiming at enhancing transnational representation and equality, we have yet limited evidence on how they impact on diversity and enhance influence of non-traditional actors. As a result, there is an increasing need to address existing forms of inequalities and expose how these influence the agenda setting and decision making processes in the internet governance domain.

After having explored “Global Internet Governance as a Diplomacy Issue” at its first edition held in Paris in 2007, the Second European Multidisciplinary Conference on Global Internet Governance Actors, Regulations, Transactions and Strategies (GIG-ARTS 2018) addresses power inequalities in internet governance, and digital policy capacity building strategies aiming at overcoming gaps in digital policy developments.

Today, connectivity infrastructure is constantly expanding, while internet access is incessantly growing across countries, regions and socio-political contexts. According to the ITU, 3.5 billion of the world population is connected to the Internet and 70% of these live in the global south. With the expectation that these percentages will keep growing over time in the next years, new and crucial questions emerge from a governance and security perspective. As for the latter, new connectivity calls for cybersecurity capacity building strategies aiming at secure digital infrastructure. At the same time, from a governance perspective, traditional powers in the governance of the internet are increasingly challenged from newly connected actors who demand more influence in the transnational debate around digital policy development. As a result, despite claims for equal representations and diversity since the first World Summit on Information Society in 2003, the narrowing of the digital divide opens new and key questions: Whether and what inequalities exist in internet governance decision making? How is the rapidly changing internet geography and sociography reflected in the governance of the internet?

Moreover, in order to increase awareness and enhance involvement of newly connected countries in national and transnational digital policy developments, what are the best internet governance capacity building strategies available? How do newly connected countries and actors build their digital policy capacity, and do they develop an active role in the transnational internet governance debate?

Whether in newly or early connected countries, various kinds of divides persist across socio-cultural and political contexts, reflecting if not extending societal and socio-economic inequalities. Furthermore, an inadequate (internet and media) literacy level increases people’s vulnerability to all kinds of information manipulation. Are such renewed forms of inequalities and discriminations adequately addressed in internet governance debates? What are the requirements for digital policies to actually empower people and uphold their individual and collective rights online?

In order to answer these crucial and manifold questions, the conference will bring together an outstanding network of experts working on internet governance, digital inequalities, and cybersecurity capacity building. The conference welcomes theoretically relevant, empirically grounded research, and/or policy oriented contributions, addressing internet governance inequalities, digital policy making, and cybersecurity capacity building.

In particular, submissions could address either of the following topics (non exhaustive list):
- Inequalities in the governance of the internet
- Governance strategies among new and emerging actors
- Geopolitical coalitions among actors (e.g. BRICS)
- Multistakeholder models and their efficacy
- Cybersecurity capacity building
- Digital divides
- Telecom Reforms
- Online discriminations
- Violent content and harassment online
- “Fake news” and other kinds of manipulations
- Individual and collective empowerment
- Human rights online
- Digital trade