IGF 2023 Lightning Talk #57 Digital taxes & reprogramming value in the network society

Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (08:40 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (09:10 UTC)
SC – Room H

Global Digital Governance & Cooperation
Governing Digital Economy

Global Digital Governance & Cooperation

Berkman Klein Center at Harvard Law (Affiliated - not representing)
Juan Ortiz Freuler, Berkman Klein Center at Harvard Law (Affiliated - not representing), Academia


Speaker: Juan Ortiz Freuler, Berkman Klein Center at Harvard Law (Affiliated - not representing), Academia

Onsite Moderator

Rohan Grover, Academia, North America (US)

Online Moderator

Rohan Grover, Academia, North America (US)


Rohan Grover, Academia, North America (US)


8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
13. Climate Action
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Targets: The relation to SDGs can be summarized in two layers. The primary layer is focused on SDG’s number 9 and 17. A failure to achieve a model that is viewed and accepted as legitimate can lead to investments like firewalls that could overall reduce the resilience of our infrastructure (SDG 9). In the paper’s conclusion, I promote indicators that could help monitor the impact of the renetworking process. Furthermore, the pressures to adopt a global digital tax regime that is. not considered legitimate can reduce intergovernmental collaboration, creating more friction in the circulation of information that could hinder economic growth globally and the attainment of partnership goals more broadly. The second layer is focused on indirect impacts. The lack of resilient infrastructure and the friction in the information networks would subsequently limit the ability to achieve progress on other SDGs, in particular, 4, 8, 10 and 13. A quality education in the 21st century involved access to a broad range of information sources and platforms, and the process of renetworking puts that at risk. The friction in information networks in general can undermine economic growth over the long term as well as create profound negative shocks, similar to those created by the pandemic. Lastly, it is likely that such tensions would affect the peripheral countries the most, where global entities might be deprioritizing investments in infrastructure like servers or undersea cables. Lastly, but perhaps most urgently, if this reprogramming leads to fragmentation, as it is commonly understood, it would limit the possibility of our information system to operate at the planetary scale our climate problems need it to.


Lightning talk: Presentation during 15 minutes, followed by questions and comments over the subsequent 15 minutes.

Duration (minutes)

Full title: Reprogramming value in the network society: The disruptive potential of the OECD’s digital tax regime Abstract: Digitization has triggered a new wave of debates regarding the definition of value. Among the changes triggered by digital technology is that much of the value production processes are now dissociated from the material production that was characteristic of the industrial era (Castells, 2010 p. 160). As a corollary of this shift, the traditional mechanisms used by governments to levy taxes on businesses, which traditionally anchored themselves around the physical presence of the business, are struggling to achieve their goals. In this paper, I argue that the effective deployment of a global digital tax could reprogram the goals pursued by our information networks. As such, this reprogramming would redefine how the network evolves, reshaping information flows and impacting on politics, culture and other key aspects of our society.

Both in-person and virtual participants will have equal opportunity to engage in questions and comments through the microphone or written chat format.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)
The architechture of the internet is not stable, but in constant flux. The shape of the internet responds to the program that defines what is valuable (Castells, 2008). Thus, the idea that there is an ongoing process of active re-networking is more accurate than to frame such process as one of fragmentation, which has connotations of some passive occurrence and the idea that something is lost.

There are two key ways in which reprogramming and the resulting re-networking take place: i) Through direct pressure (i.e. governments imposing sanctions on companies, governments- which I discussed at IGF 2022 and then published as a paper https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/epdf/10.1177/20594364221139729); and ii) Through a coordinated shift in incentives,the greatest example of which is the proposed global tax being advanced by the OECD

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Establish an IGF ambassador to participate in these OECD meetings charged with providing an assessment of the potential policy impacts of the proposed program with a policy, politics and geopolitical lens, with particular focus on low and middle income countries, and progress towards the achievement of the SDG goals

The establishment of a committee to define what data should be collected to be able to assess the progress towards such goals and stop-gap corrective mechanisms that might need to be introduced into the OECD project to ensure that it does indeed advance the public interest.