IGF 2018 WS #255
An app for that? IG for a Platform Generation


Sub-theme description: IG frameworks to address the regulation of platform ecosystems.

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Francisco Brito Cruz, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Lisa Garcia, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Yujie Chen, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Rosanna Ducato, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Christina Colclough, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Birds of a Feather - 90 Min


The workshop brings together speakers who will approach the question of the platform economy from various lenses and stand-points, thus allowing for a diverse range of deliberations on the topic. The workshop will bring in speakers’ research and policy expertise to the fore through short lightning talks. Audiences will then engage with the issues and the discussion moderated to include responses from speakers who will engage with the topic as follows:

1. Deborah James, Our World is Not for Sale – will speak on the issue of global trade justice and the ways in which digital platforms have become key actors in sites of policy negotiation. (Confirmed)

2. Julie Yujie Chen, Leicester University – will unpack the Chinese platform economy model and discuss policy insights emerging from the same. (Confirmed)

3. Rosanna Duccato, Universite catholique de Louvain – will explore consumer rights issues in the context of platform regulation from a pan-European perspective. (Confirmed)

4. Francisco Brito Cruz, InternetLab – will speak on cultural rights issues through an examination of the rise of global Video on Demand platforms and the impact on local content. (Confirmed)

5. Liza Garcia, Foundation for Media Alternatives – will examine the gender implications of the platform economy. (Confirmed)

6. Christina J. Colclough, Uniglobal – will shed light on the ways in which labor arrangements have transformed in the digital paradigm and reflect on new policy measures to govern the same. (Confirmed)

The session will be moderated by Parminder Jeet Singh, IT for Change.


The proposed workshop reflects diversity in both its composition and its focus. Our workshop panel comprises speakers, scholars, activists and policy actors from varying contexts, whose work is rooted firmly in social justice and rights frameworks, working on empirical aspects of policy In both the global south and the global north.

In addition to this, we hope to have the participation from the following:

-Civil society groups and individuals working in the domains of data governance, protection and tech and privacy
-Policy makers and researchers engaged with platform governance and neutrality debates
-Activists, practitioners, technologists and economists interested in labour and gender in digital technologies

The proposed session seeks to tackle head on the multiple policy challenges that the platform economy presents for rights –whether they be the labor rights of workers, consumer rights of the user, the political and data rights of the citizen, the collective rights of marginalized communities, or the right to development and equitable trade for countries at the margins of development.

Speakers will engage with the issue from their varied backgrounds in research, policy intervention and advocacy and explore and articulate possibilities for institutional-legal arrangements with the workshop participants, that can establish the building blocks of a conducive policy environment to promote egalitarian platform models.

We see the proposed session as part of continuum of efforts to develop a rights oriented model of the platform economy and a set of policy principles. Some of the future outcomes we will work towards include;

1. Coalition building: Bringing together a network of activists, academics, civil society members and researchers around the issue and feed into existing networks and coalitions.

2. Knowledge building: Build an online space for archiving, interaction and sharing of ideas, narratives, research and writing.

3. Policy building and advocacy: Through IGF we will connect with other groups, activists and explore possibilities of accessing other spaces and public for furthering debate.

The choice of a ‘Birds of a Feather’ format for the proposed workshop has been chosen to facilitate an interactive and issue-centred participation that can draw from multiple perspectives. The tentative schedule for the workshop is provided below with details of how discussions will be facilitated.

1. Context setting and discussion: Speakers will briefly address the issues outlined in the session description, drawing upon their respective work in research, policy and advocacy. Participants will be able to respond, comment and raise counter questions.

2. Breakout sessions on brainstorming Internet governance frameworks: The idea of having breakout sessions is for participants to branch off into more focussed conversations around specific domains of engagement. Groups will discuss issues and come up with policy issues and solutions.

3. Concluding plenary: Groups will come back with their ideas and inputs to an open plenary session where policy and legal recommendations will be presented by groups.

Platforms are not only reshaping the Internet as we know it but are rewiring the DNA of the global economy. The discourses around how we work, transact, interact, engage socially, buy, sell and consume are undergoing fundamental shifts. These shifts in turn necessitate a rethink around the idea of Internet Governance as concepts of labor, representation, autonomy, agency, value and capital have become inextricably linked to the digital paradigm. The offline and online rights of communities and people face new and complex challenges, those that the current Internet Governance paradigm seems rather inadequate to address.

As a key digital phenomenon, platforms have critical implications for Internet Governance issues. This is more in the global south where the regulatory environment in developing countries is still nascent and governance challenges in these contexts tie in with other geo-political issues.
In this context, the proposed session, which builds on a year long series of research and policy engagements by the organizers at different policy fora is highly relevant to both the IGF forum and the theme of Evolution of Internet Governance. It is also hoped that through this workshop, a committed work track can be evolved towards research and deliberation on policy issues around platform economies.

Online Participation

The workshop will be made open to online participation, which we will actively seek through reaching out on our mailing lists and networks, and the use of social media in the time leading up to IGF. At the workshop, we will facilitate remote participation through a designated moderator to facilitate questions and comments via Jitsi through live audio/video and chat. We will also live-blog the proceedings of the workshop to allow outreach beyond the formal online and offline venues of the IGF.