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Friday, April 1 • 12:00pm - 1:15pm
The Human Rights Response to the Zero-rating Conundrum

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Most debates around zero-rating and net neutrality lack rigor, objectivity, and practical impact. People insist on maintaining different and often irreconcilable dogmatic perspectives, and thus tend to talk past each other. But, is there a perspective that reasonable people could agree on that permits fruitful discussion and enlightened policymaking? There is one: international human rights law. This panel examines the framework that exists under international law for analyzing zero-rating as a limitation to net neutrality understood as a norm of human rights, which it indisputably is. When viewed in context, zero-rating and net neutrality present a conflict of rights -- right to impart & receive information vs right to access the Internet/connectivity -- that can be productively analyzed using the exceptions regime to freedom of expression defined by international human rights law. Under this normative framework, which binds at least 80% of the countries in the world, exceptions to net neutrality like zero-rating are evaluated in specific country scenarios using a balancing test of factors to determine whether, on the whole, freedom of expression is advanced or illegitimately curtailed in a particular context.

Panelists will address the situation of net neutrality and zero-rating in a range of countries across different regions, including Chile, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan and Philippines. In analyzing the issues in their respective countries, each speaker will apply the human rights law framework to evaluate the competing positions on all sides of the debate (to the extent there is one). This approach should generate new perspectives on those countries' domestic zero-rating practices, as well as provide a common baseline for constructive comparison across countries, something which does not currently exist.

The outcomes from this panel will be several. First, it will promote a better understanding of the relatively "new" but essential normative framework provided by human rights for analyzing the seemingly intractable challenges of zero-rating and net neutrality playing out worldwide. Second, the panel will help develop the parameters of that framework by applying it to several country case studies, enabling a more coherent approach to comparative net neutrality as well. Third, it will shed light on specific country situations and inform the ongoing or future policy debates there from the perspective of local advocates. These outcomes should lead (hopefully) to more comprehensive analyses in subsequent research carried out by the panelists, conference participants, and others. Finally, if the session is recorded, it would prove an invaluable resource into the future for advocates, policy-makers and researchers grappling with zero-rating issues locally and internationally.

Speakers
avatar for Luis Fernando Garcia

Luis Fernando Garcia

Director, R3D
JC

Juan Carlos Lara

Content Director, Derechos Digitales Chile
avatar for Claudio Ruiz

Claudio Ruiz

Executive Director, Derechos Digitales
avatar for Sana Saleem

Sana Saleem

Director, Bolo Bhi
Co-founder and Director of Bolo Bhi. I am reelance journalist, researcher, rights advocate and public policy consultant. I have written for Dawn, The Guardian and have been writing for Global Voices for the past five years, where I currently work as Editor for Pakistan. In 2012, I was listed among Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers for her work on free speech and was recognized for my work on #BBC100 women of 2014. I am also on the... Read More →


Friday April 1, 2016 12:00pm - 1:15pm
*The Hub*

Attendees (49)