Public Knowledge Agenda at the 2015 IGF

Best Bits Coalition

The diversity of Internet governance issues and processes creates an ongoing challenge for civil society groups to keep up and to effectively engage. This meeting offered the opportunity to review the Internet governance landscape, and to dive deep into a few selected key areas. Participants at the Best Bits 2015 meeting met to share knowledge of recent developments, broaden their understanding of existing initiatives in this space, and collaborate on the development of shared principles and strategies to advance the use of transparent, participatory processes in the development of Internet policies. Participants also crafted civil society strategy and priorities for the next two years.

Trade and Internet Governance

The panel How Trade Agreements Shape the Future of Internet Governance was organized by Public Citizen and Public Knowledge. Carolina Rossini, PK Vice President of International Policy, served as a moderator and Public Citizen’s Burcu Kilic was a co-organizer and panelist. The roundtable discussion was a step towards articulating equity principles, with specific reference to three existing Internet governance structures: ICANN, the World Summit on the Information Society process, and the International Telecommunications Union. Discussants flagged the democratic and deliberative deficit in each of these processes, offering their recommendations on how to address them. More details are available here. The workshop report can be accessed here.


We organized a cybersecurity strategy meeting for Latin American digital rights advocates with the support of Fundacion Karisma, Derechos Digitales, and Coding Rights. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss priorities and strategies to improve civil society’s knowledge and engagement on cybersecurity. For background, please refer to the cybersecurity presentation by Carolina Rossini and the “Cybersecurity and Human Rights” module that forms part of Public Knowledge’s Spanish-language Open Internet course.

To learn more about our work in this area, please see our Cybersecurity and Human Rights issue page.

Access and Spectrum

PK’s President and CEO, Gene Kimmelman, and PK’s Vice President of International Policy, Carolina Rossini, participated in a roundtable to discuss the results of Stanford’s Deliberative Polls on Internet governance. The purpose was to draw out concrete policy implications as well as insights about Internet governance process principles, while aggregating the views of a diverse, inclusive, representative sample of IGF participants.

Spectrum Reform

Our Senior Vice President, Harold Feld, presented on the Spectrum Allocations: Challenges and Opportunities at the Edge panel. Several forms of wireless technologies became essential to disseminate connectivity at the edges of the Internet. As a consequence, the relevance of pluralist participation in radio spectrum regulatory policies cannot be overstated. With increasing demand for access to mobile communication services, efficient and equitable allocation and use of spectrum is essential to ensure widespread benefit from access to this critical asset of the commons. Recent developments in radio technologies and the upcoming (or already present) transition to digital television open up significant opportunities for local governments, local entrepreneurs, and communities to create innovative applications. More details are available here. The workshop report can be accessed here.

Human Rights and Digital Rights

Carolina Rossini, our Vice President for International Policy, spoke at the Balancing Privacy and Transparency to Promote Freedom Online panel. The session sought to stimulate debate on how to balance privacy and transparency in the context of protecting online freedom of expression. It also examined those national regimes on data protection, which place conditions on the collection, use, and storage of personal data, and are directly relevant to the protection of privacy on the Internet. More details are available here. The workshop report can be accessed here.

Zero-rating and Net Neutrality

We were also involved in the following three activities focused on zero-rating and net neutrality:

  • A Dialogue on ‘Zero-Rating’ and Network Neutrality: The purpose of this session was to help others in their respective countries and local communities with their own analyses of zero-rating. The session was conducted with expert insight and multistakeholder community discussion. More details are available here.
  • Zero-Rating and Neutrality Policies in Developing Countries: Carolina Rossini, our Vice President for International Policy, spoke at this roundtable, which was aimed to go in depth on one of the emerging topics regarding Internet governance: can net neutrality have exceptions in regards to Internet access in countries from the Global South? More details are available here.
  • Net Neutrality: Yes, No or Maybe?: Harold Feld, our Senior Vice President, was a speaker on this panel who asked: should governments impose specific ex ante rules to govern net neutrality? This panel featured two strong advocates on either side of this contentious debate, and three perspectives from the center (advocates of net neutrality who have various concerns about its implementation). More details available here. The workshop report can be accessed here.

WSIS+10 Review

We participated in a WSIS+10 Review Civil Society Strategy Meeting to collectively strategize on our main message and priorities, hear updates on the review process, outline the content of our latest submission, and share information from previous regional and global civil society events related to the WSIS+10 review. Read our latest comments on the WSIS+10 zero-draft, a joint submission with civil society organizations from around the world.

Additionally, Carolina Rossini, our Vice President of International Policy, spoke at the IGF Beyond 2015: Extend Mandate, Strengthen Institution panel. This roundtable provided a debate and discussion about why it is important to extend the IGF mandate beyond five years, how the IGF has served to strengthen the multistakeholder model of Internet governance, and what the critical needs are that can further strengthen and stabilize the IGF in its mission, among other core issues. More details are available here.

Other Relevant Activities

At the Network of Internet and Society Center’s Breakfast, co-organized by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Institute for Technology & Society, Carolina Rossini presented and shared deep dives on emerging and pressing policy issues in Latin America, where research can play a particular role. Some questions she addresses were: How we can we as a network of institutions support colleagues in Latin America? What makes these issues special in this region? Are there characteristics of the policy issues we discuss distinct to Latin American contexts?

Carolina Rossini, our Vice President for International Policy, spoke at the Unlocking Internet Economy Through Copyright Reform panel. There is an urgent need to reflect on current understandings of how copyright can or cannot contribute to innovation delivering economic value. The panel discussed copyright reform and Internet economy informed by detailed policy analysis – not steered by sectional interests – in order to achieve its function in the digital age. More details are available here.

The Benefits and Challenges of the “Free Flow” of Data panel was co-organized by Public Knowledge and the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration. It was also co-moderated by Carolina Rossini, PK Vice President of International Policy. This panel discussed the many benefits and challenges of the free flow of data. It fostered a discussion of the ways in which stakeholders can address the underlying reasons for data flow restrictions (such as the need for law enforcement access to data or the desire to nurture local ICT industry development, etc.) without subverting the Internet’s core potential for innovation, economic growth, and public welfare. More details are available here.

The NETmundial Multistakeholder Statement and the Evolution of the Internet Governance Ecosystem also featured Carolina Rossini as a speaker. The session took stock of the evolution of the Internet Governance ecosystem with regard to the principles contained in the NETmundial Multistakeholder Statement and its roadmap to assess the current and future impact of the NETmundial Statement on Internet Governance processes. More details are available here. The workshop report can be accessed here.

Contributing IGF Bibliography from Public Knowledge:

Inputs to the WSIS+10 review:

Exploring Zero-rating Challenges: Views from Five Countries (July 2015)

The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Brazilian Internet Bill of Rights: Examining a Human Rights Framework for the Internet (September 2015)

Freedom on the Net Report: Brazil Chapter (October 2015)