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Friday, April 1 • 12:00pm - 1:15pm
The New Policymakers: The Benefits and Perils of Multistakeholderism

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How to protect Internet users’ rights has never been an easy question for lawmakers or the courts. Increasingly, it’s being left to multistakeholder (MSH) processes — non-governmental vehicles composed of industry, civil society, and academics. Government sometimes participates actively, convenes the discussion, or simply lurks in the background. Internet governance has long been handled primarily through a variety of MSH processes whether through formal institutions like ICANN and the IGF, or through ongoing standards-setting and private dispute resolution. On privacy, the Obama Administration has hailed MSH processes as providing the “flexibility, speed, and decentralization necessary to address Internet policy challenges.” Its Commerce department has convened a series of MSH fora on notice, facial recognition and drones.

Multistakeholderism, it seems, is the future of Internet policymaking. But what are the different models of decisionmaking grouped together behind that general term? How do they compare with European models of co-regulation? What does it mean for them to be “appropriately structured?” How can, and should, governments steer MSH processes? What are their advantages and pitfalls? What does their growing use mean for how user rights are protected? What cautionary tales should we learn from past MSH experiments, or from other private bodies that have attempted to deal with new media, from bygone censorship codes to more recent child protection efforts?

We aim generally to produce a clearer understanding of the various models of MSH processes. We willl also focus the conversation around two questions: (1) Can we agree on a common definition of “multistakeholder” or of sub-concepts under that umbrella term and (2) could civil society groups dedicated to user rights, but from across the political spectrum and with different substantive areas of focus, agree on a joint statement of principle and build on such definitions about how to structure MSH processes to avoid undue influence by government, incumbent companies, or other special interests?

avatar for Bennett Freeman

Bennett Freeman

Co-Founder & Board Secretary, Affiliation Global Network Initiative
Over the last 17 years of a three decade-long career, Bennett Freeman has worked at the intersection of multinational companies, responsible investors, NGOs, governments and international institutions to promote corporate responsibility, sustainability and human rights around the world. An innovative leader in the fields of business and human rights, natural resource governance and responsible investment, he has played key roles in developing and... Read More →
avatar for Rebecca MacKinnon

Rebecca MacKinnon

Director, Ranking Digital Rights, New America Foundation
Ranking Digital Rights
avatar for Shane Tews

Shane Tews

IEF Board, American Enterprise Institute
Internet Governance, Cyber security, Privacy, Data Protection, IANA, ICANN, Domain Name Policy, Cloud computing

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

Attendees (33)