IGF 2018 WS #264 Platform neutrality – mapping the challenges

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 3: Private Sector, Eastern European Group

Speaker 1: Kristina Olausson, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Giacomo MAZZONE, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Luca Belli, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Break-out Group Discussions - 90 Min


The session intends to be highly interactive, since the topic is in early stage and requires broad discussions and clear mapping of further discussions. The session, therefore, will not have speakers, but rather resource persons that will help with providing reflections on raised issues from angles of various stakeholders and developed and developing regions; resource persons will also act as facilitators of breakout group discussions. The entire session will involve strong moderation, with heavy interactions with resource persons and the in-situ and remote participants.


The topic is ultimately about the experiences of end-users, and involves roles of various stakeholder. It is therefore important to harness the experiences, opinions and knowledge of the entire set of participants, rather than few experts. The broad interest in the topic is expected to bring variety of participants, from diversity of stakeholders and regions, which will already ensure great diversity. In addition, number of resource persons will be involved in the session. The list of speakers in this application is just an indication; more people will be invited to act proactively as the session is approaching and as it becomes clear who will be available for the IGF.

The session will start with asking all the participants to bring examples of breaches of platform neutrality and the effects of such measures on aspects of public interests. Resource persons (not panellists) will contribute with reflections. Summary of discussions at SEEDIG and EuroDIG will be presented briefly, in order to suggest the main components of the discussion on platform neutrality (such as regulatory aspects, economic aspects, human rights aspects, development aspects). Participants will then be broken into smaller groups, to discuss each topic specifically. Resource persons will be engaged to facilitate the group discussions. Volunteers in each group will be required to take notes. Groups would then be gathered together into a plenary setting to exchange views, and have a final round of reflections. The session should end with a greater clarity of issues that need to be further discussed within this topic, and crosslinks with and feeds to and from other topics that have more mature discussions (like privacy, content policy, human rights, net neutrality, etc).

Interaction needs to be ensured by a clearly open format of the session, and an experience moderator that can provoke live discussions. In addition, the resource persons will be encouraged to act as “devil’s advocates” to ensure confronting views to come out, to provoke reflections from the audience (following the experience from the EuroDIG platform neutrality session). An experienced online moderator will ensure continuous involvement of remote participants as well.

How can lack of platform neutrality impact public interest, such as access to information and media freedom? (When) Is regulation needed, and what are other ways to ensure public interest? What are the rights and responsibilities of regulators, industry and users with regards to platform neutrality? The topic of platform neutrality emerged at several national IGFs, and a session was organised at the South-Eastern Europe IGF (SEEDIG) in 2018. Following this, a session on platform neutrality also took place at EuroDIG 2018, which brought up an unconferense-style of mapping the components of discussion on platform neutrality (such as discussions on monopolies of industries and regulation of misuse, responsibilities of platform operators, effects that discrimination by platforms can make on access to information, freedom of media and economic development, algorithm neutrality, and responsibility of users to create a demand). The participants of the platform neutrality session at EuroDIG (5 June) were directly invited to contribute to putting up the proposal on the session at IGF which should move this discussion forward.

Online Participation

Due to high interactivity of the session, it is of great importance that the voice of participants both in situ and remotely are heard. In the plenary parts of the session, interaction between a moderator and an experienced remote moderator will ensure that opinions of remote participants will be fed in directly whenever existing. In the breakout sessions, the experience from EuroDIG sessions will be used: one breakout group will be located next to the remote moderator, so that remote participants can participate in the work of the breakout group; in case of many remote participants present, there is also an option for an entirely online breakout group to be created, where one facilitator will be assigned to the remote group to stimulate discussions, and then feed the results back into the plenary ending.