A Look at World Trends in Freedom of Expression Online

21 December 2017 - A Workshop on Other in Geneva, Switzerland

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Full Session Transcript

>> Good morning.  Calling all speakers to the podium, anyone that should be on the stage.  We will start about 10:30.  It is a large room and a strange configuration.  We ask everyone to come close to the front.  We want it to be an engaging discussion and have you part of the conversation.  Please come closer to the front of the room.  Maybe look towards the speakers if you twist your chairs a little bit.  Thanks. 

 

 

>>VIDEO: Everybody has the right to receive information. 

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: Hello, good morning, I'm sure many of you are tired after a long week and APC party last night.  Thank you for coming.  My name is Rachel Pollack Ichou.  I am an associate program specialist at UNESCO.  And for many years, I worked on a series of reports called world trends and freedom of expression and media development.  You will find them scattered along the tables by our friends Chris Buckridge who will be our super special Rapporteur who will take notes and give a summary at the end.

 

 

To give you a quick overview of the panel, before we get started, we will start with a short teaser video about the report.  Then we'll hear opening reports from Anna Cara fel, which has generously supported this project.  Next, we'll have a presentation by my colleague Guilherme Canela Godoi from UNESCO office in Montevideo.  Who will report on the trends of the report.  After that an interactive discussion with subject matter experts on each of the thematic areas within the world trends report.  So speaking on media freedom, we have ‑‑ you told me how to say your last name, I have forgotten.  Florence Poznanski, Florence Poznanski from the Internet without borders, Brazil chapter.  We will have Claudio Lucena, a law professor from Brazil talking about algorithms and interesting things.  On media independence, Peter Micek from Access Now.  We were going to have a speaker on the safety of journalists, so she wasn't able to make it.  If there are journalists in the room, people on media development, feel free to jump in the conversation then and I'll say a few things on that topic.  We'll have cross cutting themes looking at the gender equality dimensions of freedom of expression and media development.  We have Bishakha Datta.  From Point of View in India.  Last subject matter expert is Thomas Schneider from OFCOM, one of the organizers of this week's event that will speak about overall trends, global Internet governance and the impacts it has on freedom of expression and media development. 

 

 

So with that, I will hand it over to Guilherme to show a short video. 

 

 

>>VIDEO: Everybody has a right to freedom of expression.  That is the right to expression yourself and send and receive expression.  UNESCO has studied this.

 

 

>> I think we're at the right of new technology.

 

 

>> Democracy and freedom are natural partners.  We've noted a decline of both.  In media, we will say first the violence.  Two journalists are killed every week and most of the crimes go unpunished.

 

 

>> Freedom of expression is the D.N.A. that powers democracy.  So we have to fight to make sure that the freedom of expression is there.

 

 

>> Do I think there is need for more clarity and transparent about who decides the distribution and creation of content.

 

 

>> (?) the literacy programs to build the critical minds in the agenda moved appropriately.

 

 

>> It is in our interest to deepen and open media as a critical source of information.  So do yourself a favor.  Read through the world trends (?) (audio distorted)

 

 

Because we need to do some changes. 

 

 

(Video ended)

 

 

 

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: That is out at a theater near you.  Ha‑ha.  Now, I will give the microphone to my colleague Guilherme Canela Godoi.  Apologies.  Yes, I switched it over.  Excuse me.  To Anna from CETA who will give us opening remarks.

 

 

>> ANNA: Thank you so much Rachel and UNESCO for convening this conversation and this important report which we are proud to partner with you on.  Our support to the report goes back to the benchmarking report, 2014, if I am not mistaken, yeah.  We find it is important to support this initiative as we see that the monitoring of the development and trends, both offline and online is crucial to our work.  It helps us see the bigger picture, identify challenges and also form strategies ahead.  I think that the many forms of crackdowns identified in the report makes it really evident that we need a comprehensive approach and strategies to counter this development.  I think one such example is the dramatic increase of shutdowns.  It has impacts on human rights and development at large.  It hinders the freedom of expression and severe threat to open, human rights based Internet.  But with this gloomy development, it is encouraging to see the many initiatives to counter the negative trajectory on shutdowns, on both the human rights councils, condemning shutdowns, but many civil society initiatives, like the Keep It On Campaign, for example.

 

 

And also, just, the attention that it has been given during the IGFas well.

 

 

I think that with so many threats to combat and at so many levels, now more than ever, it is important with joint efforts and multi‑stakeholder approach.  We want to applaud UNESCO for taking such a lead in the U.N. family for terms of utilizing multi‑stakeholder approach.  And in that spirit, I really look forward to this conversation and to the ones to come as well.  So thank you. 

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: Thank you so much.  Again, I would like to express our deep gratitude and expression for all the support you have given over the years to the world trends series and to our work more generally on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists. 

 

 

Maybe to give a little bit of background before we move to Guilherme's presentation on the world trends report.  This started through a request from the 195 UNESCO member states.  In 2011, there was a resolution that was a draft resolution introduced by Sweden and about 20 other countries asking UNESCO to monitor trends and safety of journalists and report on them to the general conference.  This request turned into what became the world trends report, which I believe as my colleague Guilherme will explain, is based on our conception of press freedom derived from the VINTOG declaration, which sees it as media freedom, independence, and safety of journalists.  This is the prism used to analyze trends.  We had the first report in 2014.  Second in 2015 that looked at selected digital trends.  Digital era trends and this is our 17 report, of which we will discuss the key finds.

 

 

I would like to introduce our remote moderator, Olga, you have to help me with your last name.  Olga Kyryliuk from Ukraine, the cofounder of digital defense partners.  Thank you.  I should have had my notes in front of me.  She is keeping track of our remote moderated chat room.  So we'll be asking her also if there are questions or comments.  Remote participants, you are not here physically in the room, but you're very much welcome and we're eager to have you in the conversation. 

 

 

A quick hello to some of my colleagues that are watching.  Oscar, who helped with the video design.  So before a forget, shoutout to Oscar.  Guilherme? 

 

 

>> GUILHERME CANELA GODOI: Thanks a lot.  Good morning to all.  I was wondering how many of you came to this session because of the title, fake news to Internet shutdowns.  As you heard from Rachel, this is not exactly what we will discuss here.  I hope ‑‑ it was a sexy title that my colleagues invented for grabbing my audience to this session.

 

 

But at the end of the day, the idea is to present the main results of the big effort.  I think you all can see how difficult it is for an international organization like UNESCO to produce a report with the world titles.  The world trends on freedom of expression and media development.  We're talking about huge amount of options to decide what we can say about world trends on those topics.  And ‑‑ but this is part of our role as an institution who also needs to serve our number states as a laboratory of ideas. 

 

 

So the entire conception of this report among the request of member states is to precisely to offer to the discussion in our different governing bodies, substantial inputs to identify those trends, those challenges, things that are moving forward, but also things that are moving backwards.  So this is the heart of the publication of the world trends report.  And by our surprise, it's kind of an editorial success, considering UNESCO or United Nations publications, since we launched the first edition in 2014, I looked at figures this morning, we have 75,000 downloads of the reports, the three reports we have already launched in different language.  So this shows that different constituencies around the world are dually interested in what we are saying in the different reports.  At least from my experience in the Latin American region, the Latin American governments are using the data and information we're publishing in these publications to reshape policy, to further discuss policy.  Even to antagonize with us, saying we're not right.  And that is also the purpose of this kind of publications, no? 

 

 

So to move forward quickly on the key findings ‑‑ I don't know who is helping me with that.  So as Rachel has already underlined, and I was saying in the beginning, it is quite difficult to produce a report with this very big title, world trends on freedom of expression and media development.  So the decision was to select the key issues that were agreed in the VINDOC declaration and our understanding of the complex development of the human rights declarations.

 

 

We are talking about media freedom.  We're talking about media pluralist, and media independence, and journalist safety.  Because of course, the journalist safety is hugely important for the other three.  As a cross‑cutting element, we're talking about gender sensitivities in all of those areas. 

 

 

Next, please.  And since we are a U.N. organization, we love to create new acronyms.  Allegedly to facilitate your lives, not always are we successful in that.  We are now talking about this idea of fish, freedom, independence, safety and since it didn't work with the pluralism, we created the creating of ‑‑ we make the concepts, the pillars to work better.  How we enhance the positive trends, foster the positive trends and we find tools, policies, regulations, cooperations, activities, programs, whatever you want to revert negative trends or movements backwards.  Next, please. 

 

 

So you will see in all of the different info graphics in the next slides, this ambiguous movement in many of the concepts I just mentioned, freedom, independence, plurality, safety of journalists, we have good trends, positive trends.  When we say good and positive in the case of UNESCO, those in lines of the international standards of freedom of expression.  But we also have negative trends in every single area that we have researched for this report. 

 

 

So on the bright side of things, we have in the last 20 years, but this is a growing trend, fortunately, an amazing explosion of freedom of information laws in the entire planet.  So for you to have an idea, in 1989, which in historical terms is yesterday, we had only 12 countries with freedom of information laws in the entire planet.  In this report, it is showing that we now have 112 countries with freedom of information laws.  Still 80 more to go, but it is quite impressive, in a period of less than 30 years we have grown so much in countries approving information regarding freedom of information.  Of course, the next challenge, as you can imagine is how to implement well the same laws.  Improving the law is just the first step.  But we have ‑‑ we do have negative trends in the area of media freedom, including the continued growing of restrictions, legal restrictions and as you were saying in the graphic, increasing in the number of reported shutdowns that, of course, affected very seriously media freedom in many parts of the world. 

 

 

So later, we're finishing what we're doing to try to help our member states to cope with the different challenges.  So next, please.

 

 

In the area of independence, as you can see, we also have interesting positive trends in terms of we are researching different and vary interesting and creative ways of self‑regulations, which is something UNESCO has stimulated, particularly when it regards to content.  So we do stimulate the different media and the different platforms to create and put in place new forms and old forms of self‑regulation to avoid to be regulated.  But we also have problems in terms of particularly a symbolic, in terms of the discourse of main political figures in more and more criticizing the media as a relevant player for the society.  As you can imagine, this is really dangerous.  No? 

 

 

So this antagonization, they will join the next discussion, freedom of press, protection and foster of rule of law.

 

 

Also we have research in increased dependence of many media platforms, government incorporate subsidies to exist.  Of course, this has impacts in independence in many countries of the world, particularly Latin America, the so‑called governmental advertisement.  It is a very serious issue creating problems for media independence.  So this is one of the things you will see also in the regional chapters that will be launched wide soon, I mention.

 

 

So the next one is about safety of journalists.  Unfortunately, this is also a problem that it is an old problem of freedom of expression and press freedom that keeps going.  You can see there is no single week we don't need to launch a combination of another killing.  So the time of this report is covering, we have reported 530 journalists killed in this period of 2012 and 2016.  With huge extra issue that feeds back the cycle of violence that is impunity of every 10 cases, nine are not going to final process in the justice and legal system bringing the perpetrators to justice.  So this is a huge element of feeding back of the cycle of violence.  On the positive side, we have a strong commitment of many member states on the U.N. action and the journalism impunity.  We have many reporting back what is going on, on the investigations on the crimes against journalists and we're seeing an interesting trend in different parts of the world.  But in Latin America particularly, the media, the journalists themselves engaging in new investigative reporting on the crimes against their colleagues. 

 

 

So in Brazil they're doing interesting work on that.  The Congress of investigative journalists in Latin America is how to investigate the crimes against the investigators.  We think it is an interesting trend, trying to cope and shed light to this very important issue. 

 

 

Next one.  So on the pluralist, also again, talking about good and problematic trends, obviously, we have an amazing explosion of contents, plural contents, diverse content, voices, particularly due to the advancement of Internet.  But we also have another important issue that is the cries of so many so‑called traditional media.  With the crazy circulation of newspapers around the world, with very few exceptions.  And on the gender‑based area, we still watch a significant low number of women in key positions in different media outlets.  Finally, again, just remembering the areas we have covered, freedom, independence, safety, and pluralism.  So those are the things we want to highlight in terms of those reports.  It is interesting, because now that we have a series, we can compare as Anna said from the benchmarking of 2014, although those who follow UNESCO for more years.  We had back then in other decades of our history, a similar trends report, particularly for press.  So there are some possible comparisons with those areas back then as well, which could be interesting for Ph.D. students and historians of the media.  Then we also must say that we have good trends, we have bad trends and ambiguities that are part of this discussion and role of being laboratory of ideas. 

 

 

And so the main conclusions here from our side is that we need to keep protecting and promoting those elements, the fishing elements, freedom, independence, safety of journalists and pluralism.  This is quite important for the agenda, so what is being said in the SDG16 is the success of the information and free media is successful to achieve the other 16 goals that are in the agenda.  We have a huge opportunity in 2019, the SDG16 will be the key topic being discussed in the high level political fora in New York.  This community should be prepared to offer important elements to member states and to that discussion.  And we want to strongly encourage you to use this document to share the discussions to organize national debates about the trends and other elements you might have from your organization.

 

 

To finalize, I mean, what we're doing, very briefly, to help our member states and other stakeholders with this.  One, as many of you have heard is to intensify the discussion around this concept of Internet universality, rights, access and stakeholderism.  Many of the panelists will talk about the different aspects of this, particularly in the prediction of indicators to measure the concept of Internet universality.  We're strengthening our cooperation with other agencies and international partners for the serious implementation on the part of the safety of journalism and issue of impunity.  We're launching a specific program for three important players in this area.  One is judges, we have a massive program with judges in Africa and North America.  Thousands of judges trained.  We'll keep it with this program in the future.

 

 

We're discussing a program for regulators and police forces in different parts of the world.  All three players are quite relevant for coping with the different areas of the trends I have just underlined.  I hope this was useful.  I hope our panelists can also comment on the different aspects of the trends we have identified, either to say they think the trends are correct or we completely got it wrong and need to do some sort of rights to reply.  Not the rights to forget, but rights to reply on what we said.  Thanks a lot.

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: Thank you, Guilherme for the overview and presentation.  He was not the one that came up with the FISH.  The positive trends to trending now.  If you know our director, Guy Burger, you know he's a man who loves his puns.  Ha‑ha.  To add also, I hope the title was not misleading or fake news.  The goal also, I think it is very important and helpful to Guilherme gave an overview of the overall trends, including both traditional media and new media or Internet related trends, because it is an important interplay.  You can't understand the media ecosystem without looking at both sides.  This session will focus specifically on the digital trends.  We're not going to ask the panelists to comment on every issue that was raised.  Although all of them could probably have a session on their own. 

 

 

So I think we will address the topics of so‑called fake news and Internet shutdowns.  On the term ‑‑ there is an issue that you may have heard our assistant director general Frank LaRue used.  When we submitted the title, that was the term of the day, I will say.  I think now, the discussion on Tuesday at the high level discussion on democracy and public trust shows actually, it is important to differentiate types of fake news.  Disinformation, misinformation and mal information is what they called it.  There was a briefing note prepared by the DiploFoundation.  I would highly recommend you read it.  It was well done. 

 

 

With that, and again, LaRue's point, fake news, it is a contradiction.  If it is fake, it is not news.  It is used to discredit journalists and journalism.  We prefer disinformation or so‑called fake news in scare quotes to clarify that.  So let's now move to our first speaker.  Florence from Internet Without Borders.  You have done a lot of work, your organization has done a lot of awareness raising about Internet shutdowns.  And access partners.  Tell me, in your view, why is this a major challenge?  What are the trends in restrictions, in shutdowns in your region where you work, Latin America and also globally? 

 

 

>> FLORENCE POZNANSKI: Yes, thank you, Rachel.  Actually, I'm responsible of the head of the desk of Brazil Internet without border, but the first invite was made to Julia Uno responsible for the African desk.  With that I will talk more about the Keep It On Campaign in Africa.  Even if in Brazil, we are member of global organization what is called (speaking non‑English language) democracy collaboration.  That is never shut down, where we make monitoration of the view of the freedom of expression.

 

 

Today, I will talk more about the Keep It On Campaign.  I think two important things that I think here that I could give is firstly, Internet shut down is not affecting just journalists or just communicators.  When we think or talk about rights to communication we're not just talking about people who are making information who are producing news.  We're talking about the entire society, people receiving information, people who are citizens who need to communicate and think in order to interact in the society.  And we also are talking about economy.  About all the services of our country.  That is why thinking about Internet shut down in a global way is so important. 

 

 

Second thing, it is that ‑‑ I think it is also the big value of this campaign, Keep It On, is that Internet shut down always happen in a (?) way.  Most of the times may be for the shutdown who are less impersonate little, punctually.  People are not organized to denounce.  And in some case, this shut down can be like a mistake or something that is not intentional.  And the existence of the campaign and international campaign where all the case can be reported and gives more force to the people to get denouncing.  That is interesting when we see the data.  In 2014, the Keep It On Campaign related 18 cases.  And that total increase in 2016 when we reported 56 cases.  And 2017, it is not ended, but we have already 77 cases.  So we see ‑‑ I'm not sure that it's a showing that it is ‑‑ it was a case in 2014.  But it showed that with the force of such a campaign, the cases are always related and not any more an isolate case, but a global phenomenon that we are able to fight.  Maybe I can give some example about Cameroon, or just ‑‑

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: At this stage, we want a short, three‑minute introduction and we'll come back in the discussion and comment to individual examples.  I would like to say also that the statistics that we cite in the world trends respects on Internet shutdowns are the work done by Keep It On collation and Access Now.  So this nice info graphic is using your data.  Thank you for your important work.

 

 

Now we'll move on to media pluralism, and hear from Claudio.  Can you tell us in your view, what is the most striking trend happening in the digital sphere that affects media pluralism.  I have a fear that it is probably related to algorithms.  Take it away.

 

 

>> CLAUDIO LUCENA: I would like to thank Rachel for the opportunities not only to share the space here with you but in touch with the impressive material that is produced and tackle so many elements for us to understand the challenges of our time.

 

 

The track of algorithms, automation more broadly in algorithm and artificial intelligence have dominated my time when I started dealing with a situation where autonomous systems incorporate some levels of coerciveness.  Automation of law enforcement.  Internet governance is covered in the media pluralism.  As you can understand, the report has cross cutting issues.  It has to do with safety and clear connections with both independence and freedom.  Because of this current study, I have had opportunity to share ideas with friends in many different areas about the implications of the technologies.  The specialists in the area are also interested in how algorithms can back the subject of study.  I have spotted what might be an interesting trend, not fully developed or constructed.  That is what an IGF is about.  Every time automatization is done in an area, there is a tradeoff in rights.  When we employ them in driving and transportation, there is the efficiency for the human advantage which we trade‑off for security.  When you talk about natural processing of language, for example, it is also about expanding the capabilities of written language at the expense of precision.  Even in law enforcement, the more delicate issue, there is the issue of public security also.  It is not only life but also crime that went digital.  This is between cryptography and others all the time.  And the sextortion, to prevent and fight sextortion.

 

 

When we use an expression in English that might be clearer, when we interfere with the information see and access be it through more active showing or hiding or through just ranking, what is the tradeoff?  User experience.  Because I see user experience as keeping the user, highlighting audience, and not necessarily enhancing experience.  Incorporating in i‑tools, activities to explore activities is fine, but technology solutionism is not.  Ask my fellow here, Amelia, the fear that the policies that propose to incorporate and automated control of content to take down content in intellectual property and the fear that they cause for the freedom of expression.  As pioneers of AI, if the technology is ready and mature for everything.

 

 

Let me leave you for this first minute with one reflection and a question.  What if there is no such thing as fake news, which is a tentative concept that dominated the IGF.  What if ‑‑ I will leave you ‑‑ don't get my wrong.  Alternative facts here.  There is negative manipulation of information.  It has always been a problem.  It has been scaled in the digital realm.  There are people that want to control and manipulate the information.  Always have been.  They have faced two interesting difficulties along the world.  First, it is operationally difficult to manipulate that information.  Second, it takes a lot of effort.  It is a cost plea operation anyway.  Now, social media has completely altered the way people access content.  It might be that those people have spotted this opportunity and finally overcome the two obstacles.  They can scale.  Now they can scale and less costly.  Much cheaper operation.  It is not anyone's fault.  It is not anyone who is in good faith's fault, but it is a trend.  It is there.  It is not as sexy as Guilherme has pointed out.  More difficult to explain.  Probably wouldn't have attracted that much attention, but this might be a better diagnostic. 

 

 

And with poor diagnostics we can even say there is a problem, save finding a good solution.  The question I would like to leave for this time, is it financially viable for us to have business models in this content platform that do not interfere with how people see content?  Because the answer to that question ‑‑ and I suspect it is no, there is no viable financial model ‑‑ if the answer is no, we should probably ask why.  I will leave it here, Rachel, and then we can take it back.  Thank you very much.

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: Thank you, Claudio for the thought provoking comments and questions you raise.  I think that leaves a lot of rich material for our debate.  I would like now to move on to our next speaker who is Peter Micek from Access Now.  As I mentioned, Access Now has done a great deal of work with the Internet shutdowns.  Since we have heard about that issue from Florence, I would like to ask you, Peter, I know you have a background in business and human rights, one of the trends we have observed is greater self‑regulatory efforts by Internet companies, Internet intermediaries, what do you see as key trends in this area? 

 

 

>> PETER MICEK: Yes, I'm Peter Micek, general counsel from Access Now.  The basic rights to human information and technology sector.  First, I want to give an overview of some of the threats that we see and the emerging challenges to media independence and the work of independent and otherwise media Yorkers in 2017.  I think it is important to set out that the speed and scale of information is increasing.  It will be soon increasing at machine speed.  Far surpassing human speed.  This calls into question that the solution to bad speech is more speech. 

 

 

Setting that as the framework, I think it is important to look at what happens online and how it may be different from our traditional modes and traditional safeguards against disinformation. 

 

 

When we look online, I think the disinformation is the right term, but I want to talk more about the infrastructure and ecosystem around the pursuit of journalism in the digital age, in addition to the attacks on information itself.

 

 

A few trends we see are the credibility of journalists are attacked and the capacity to receive the information that they produce is also under attack.  This is as true offline as it is online.  Online, getting to the infrastructure, we see that more and more journalism is being forced through intermediaries, including the largest Internet platforms.  The platforms themselves have welcomed their role as distributors and sometimes producers of news in the digital age.  They welcome this role.  I think it is incumbent on all of us, including policymakers to understand what the responsibilities are that come with the role. 

 

 

The platforms are engaging in the production of news as well as the dissemination and the furthering by the users of information.  We have seen, unfortunately, that false information, disinformation can be more popular than accurate information online. 

 

 

In the last three months of the U.S. election in 2016, in the last three months, the top 20 false news ‑‑ I should say false stories presenting themselves as news on Facebook, the top 20 false stories outperformed the top 20 accurate stories in the last three months of the election.  That's in terms of user engagement.  Users were engaging more, liking, sharing these posts.  I think that is also person.  That is not talking about advertising.  That is not talking about the content around what you see in your feed.  It is also talking about the feed itself and what real people were spreading.  That is concerning.  Few other points, looking at impacts on female journalists and women engaging online, we see one study by an Access Now grantee in India, found 28% of women restricted their online participation due to harassment and the perceived inaction or ability of intermediaries and government authorities to intervene.  36% had taken no action to combat this harassment.  Other studies have found that women journalists find three times the abuse on Twitter as men. 

 

 

So the platforms are the infrastructure of journalism in the digital age.  They're failing to understand the particular impacts on vulnerable users, including women journalists. 

 

 

I do, you know, finally want to talk about some of the regulations and pressure on content platforms.  The spread of new laws and regulations, as well as extra legal measures to encourage our coerce platforms to simply censor more contents and accounts has resulted in over censorship.  Stark example this year came in June when a new YouTube machine learning application looking for content of a violent nature ended up taking down hundreds of thousands of videos documenting human rights violations and violence in Syria over the past decade. 

 

 

One organization found 180 channels, entire channels were taken down, along with hundreds of thousands of videos and they were struggling to get those put back up by the company.  So the company was under immense pressure and is under immense pressure.  YouTube is one of many platforms to combat what is perceived as fake news and counter violent extremism, but this leaves them in the role of judge, jury and executioner.  They're not in a position to understand how to apply human rights online and there is no human rights laws that give the judges the authority to make determinations as we suggest.  Thanks.

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: Thank you, Peter for the informative intervention and for bringing some of the evidence and concrete cases of phenomena that a lot of people are talking about.  It is important when we recognize a general trend that we have some evidence to support those observations.  Thank you for that.  And thank you, also for bringing up the issue of online harassment of women journalists.  As I mentioned our original speaker, subject matter expert on that issue was not able to attend.  I was planning to say a few things, but I think you raised this issue and you cited some of the evidence.  I would like to say that this is a topic that people are becoming more and more aware of.  Of course, we have the me too hashtag movement about sexual harassment of women, IRL on real life and online.  At UNESCO and within the U.N. plan of action on the safety of journalists and issue of impunity, this is one of the priority areas of action that has been identified this year.  The U.N. Secretary‑General has an annual report on the safety of journalists.  This year it is focused on the violence against women journalists.  That is a topic, if any of you are working on this area, if you have data studies, ideas, projects on this topic, but actually any that we bring up, speak to me afterwards and we will be happy to carry forward the conversation.

 

 

Okay.  Moving on and a good segue to the next speaker, Bishakha from Point of View.  Can you tell us, in addition to the violence, against online harassment of women journalists, there is a persistent problem of gender inequality in and through the media.  I know you are the ‑‑ are you still the head of the dynamic coalition on gender and Internet governance and also Point of View, does a lot of work in India.  From your perspective what are the key trends of gender equality and Internet institutions.  If you would like to add others, feel free to modify that question. 

 

 

>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Let me start.  I wanted to tell you a story about freedom of expression online, offline, media, traditional and new, how gender cuts through it.  Last year ‑‑ last month, we had a situation where a Bollywood director in India wanted to release a film which was made on a mythical character, a woman who was a princess at a particular time.  The subject of the film, as well as the way it was being made was actually ‑‑ strong opposition to it from a group of people as well as a group of political actors who deemed this antinational for various reasons. 

 

 

The complicated thing, the woman who was the lead actor in the film ‑‑ there was a particular politician who threatened to give sort of a huge amount of money as a reward to anybody who would cut off her nose in real life.  Yeah.  You see where the freedom of expression conversation is going first of all.  How bizarre it is, that a politician can in public, make this sort of kind of offer, which is totally criminal as far as most of us are concerned.  And because of total impunity, of course get away with it.  This whole conversation continued online and offline. 

 

 

Then a small newspaper that is run by rural women in India, which incidentally won a UNESCO award for literacy years back.  They have an online platform and decided to actually cover this entire issue both online and on their Facebook page.  What happened immediately is sort of predictable.  The minute this was on their Facebook page, they were heavily, heavily harassed.  But I think the distinction is that while news journalists who covered it were harassed ‑‑ there was a debate on the merits of making this kind of film or not making this kind of film.  In this particular case, all of the women journalists were harassed because they're women.  The conversation was not around hey, this is what you said about this film.  And we don't agree.  The conversation was entirely around you are a woman.  How dare you even like think like this, speak like this, et cetera.  So I think that is actually the first complication, and it takes us into the realm of Internet governance.  I think there is a belief that women sometimes actually don't have a place on the Internet.  You know, this is something that Internet governance needs to challenge very strongly.  The other thing I wanted to say, which is related to the gender question again and Internet governance, is that at this time and place, just like the journalists of this tiny newspaper who operate with cell phones and make cell phone videos, any of us who has a cell phone is actually media at some level.  Right?  Like, I can actually be at a particular place where something has happened.  I can do a video on my cell phone, I can put it out Twitter.  It can go viral and picked up by mainstream media.  In a sense, I can be news.  I think the me too case actually really illustrates how all of us talking about certain things that are not mainstream media priorities can actually have this huge effect to the extent ‑‑ time now named the moo too cam ‑‑ me too campaign as person of the area.  It can have the different voices and ways of talking.

 

 

In this context, it is really important to think of the Internet as a space where people who are traditionally considered marginal or have less power or less privilege are able to speak, are able to amplify our voices, et cetera.  This is something that Internet governance really has to reckon with. 

 

 

So in closing, I just want to say that when we face threats like this of online violence, harassment, right?  It takes away our freedom of expression at a very fundamental level.  What happened in this particular case from India and happened with countless other cases is they just stopped writing about this issue on social media because it was just utterly unacceptable and highly unpleasant to wake up every morning to face rape and death threats because you as a woman journalist have said certain things and you are attacked on the basis of your gender.

 

 

Online violence took away their freedom of expression.  Online violence takes away our freedom of expression.  Online violence cannot be seen as a silo any longer by itself but is critically connected to freedom of expression and something that governments online platform Internet users and media must address.  Thank you. 

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: Thank you, Bishakha, for sharing your point of view.  That was also a little pun.  I think, yeah, exactly the points you raised are very much in line with what UNESCO has been observing and saying as far as attacks of women journalists, they're often double attacks, both because the person is a journalist and because she's a woman.  I think you raise a very interesting and important observation that an attack ‑‑ this violence ‑‑ violence, harassment against women journalists and the silencing chilling effect on the expression has an impact on their freedom of expression and also as Florence observed not only the freedom of expression of those who would like to speak, but the freedom of expression or the right to access information or right to have information of the public as a whole.  It is a big question now of how to find the balance of what is the right approach to allowing especially marginalized group of women, minorities to be able to express themselves online without having undue restrictions on freedom of expression, whether they come through laws or through technical solutions.  So I think that's an important discussion as we move ahead.

 

 

Now, to our last subject matter expert, Thomas Schneider, who is, as I mentioned, one of the host country organizers of this week.  So thank you for all of the work that you and your team have done in the past year to make this Internet Governance Forum happen and happen so well. 

 

 

You also have served as the chair of the government advisory committee, GAC within ICANN, you have been active in the Council of Europe.  Could you say from your perspective a little bit of trends and global Internet governance and why those matter for freedom of expression and media development.

 

 

Before I give you the floor, on Sunday, there was a discussion ‑‑ two events led by the center for international media systems.  Article 19, GFMD the global forum for media development.  The title was the battle for freedom of expression online, where are the journalists.  I think there has been ‑‑ I see at UNESCO, speaking personally, those two communities and discussions have not always been linked between Internet governance on the one hand and freedom of expression and media development.  Could you please touch on this point?  What is happening globally in Internet governance and why does it matter for freedom of expression and media development? 

 

 

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Thank you, Rachel.  Thank you, thanks to UNESCO in general for convening this session.  Because we also think that this is a very important issue.  It is freedom of expression, safety of journalists is an issue that is important for all regions in the world.  Also, again, in Europe not just in the southeastern Europe, but EU countries where we see shocking killings of critical journalists landfall.  This is something that can happen in every country.  For Switzerland, this is really something that is very important.  We also strongly support UNESCO's work in this field.  We announced of the conference to contribute 100,000 frank to this special fund for the freedom of expression, impunity and safety of journalists.  We think we all need to join forces and work together.  Listening to the discussions and debates, I decided to slightly change what I was going to say, because we have heard a lot about trends.  I think the facts are now not fake facts but the true facts are now on the table.  What you have not heard that much is what can be done about it.  Since I have been working, as you said, for the Council of Europe for many years on human rights issues in the digital world on media issues, they have produced a number of soft law standards, guidance and are still producing such things, it is world highlighting for two or three minutes on the trends I think are important and may be useful guidance not just for governments on how to do things but media or civil society to analyze government's behavior, analyze law about media freedom, safety of journalists, so on. 

 

 

One of the elements is a recommendation from the community of ministers from last year on the protection of journalist and safety of journalism, that gives guidance on appropriate legal bases for prevention, prosecution of journalists and also ‑‑ this is important, because it is controversial in a number of countries, about the fact that these protections and preventions should also include new media actors, not only traditional journalists, because this is something that is still in hot debate in many countries and also some areas of Europe.  Another one, which is I think a useful tool is also from last year, the recommendation on Internet freedom, which many select what the government likes, some freedom of expression, others maybe privacy.  They don't take the notion of fundamental freedoms as a whole.  This tries to encompass Internet freedom with all aspects.  The interesting thing is it provides for a set of indicators on how to analyze on what level you are in your country, once it got to a particular aspect of Internet freedoms.  With regard to the freedom of expression, you can look at freedom to access the Internet.  And actually freedom of opinion on the Internet, freedom of the media.  The legality, the proportionality of restrictions, censorships, take‑down measures, so on, so forth.  An important thing when you talk about rights is what remedies do you have to actually fight for your rights or claim your rights in case they are violated.  Some countries, in particular have also started to task independent academics to assess the level of Internet freedom in their country.  And presented at the OAC in October.  I think this is something that can be picked up by other countries also outside Europe, too, in academics to see how is my country performing on Internet freedom.  Another one is the ‑‑ something there as a draft to be adopted next spring is a recommendation of media journalism, and that is also an element that looks into issues about transparency of ownership, organizations, funding issues.  Regulation about media ownership, concentration, so on.  And the last one is studies in question.

 

 

In Germany we call it the media landscape.  It is not stable, it is an ecosystem that is extremely fast evolving with a number of actors taking on different functions.  It is very difficult to assess what kind of services do they have media character or not, is it intermediary service?  The whole notion of responsibility of private sector actors or of ‑‑ let's say, also responsibility of governments to protect private sector actors intermediary from being instrumentalized.  We had that discussion on the high level session of democracy on Tuesday Morning.  This is something looked at as a recommendation that is there as a draft on the roles and responsibilities of Internet intermediaries that shows one of the obligations of governments of states with regard to dealing with intermediaries, protecting them from being abused or used and then also looking to what is the private sector, what are their responsibilities, not to restrict freedoms, but actually to protect the uses of freedoms with the privacy, freedom of expression.  I think this is a work that is a recommendation, that is adopted.  This is ongoing work as the industry evolves, as the system ‑‑ the ecosystem evolves, this is something we need to constantly look at.  I close it by eluding to future work.  Looking into algorithms, creation of content, the next step of course is artificial intelligence.  All of these need to be looked at what are the effects of human rights, positively, negatively on freedom of expression.  For those that know me from the ICANN world, we looked at human rights implications on allowing meaningful names as top level domain names, things that are technical at the first stage but may have implications on freedom of expression, on the right to assembly, so on, so forth.  I stop here.  Thank you very much.

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: Thank you, Thomas for that.  Again, all of the interventions have been incredibly rich and informative.  Just to respond briefly before we open up the discussion on some of the points raised ‑‑ first, a great thanks to Switzerland on behalf of UNESCO for the generous contribution to our special account on the safety of journalists and freedom of expression.  It is so important that we have the resources to be able to carry out the work.  We have a lot of technical expertise and we have a lot of normative standards.  But to operationalize it on the ground requires research.  That is very appreciated. 

 

 

A point that was also raised by Bishakha and echoed by Thomas by new media and who is a journalist, that is a discussion that is ongoing, it has been ongoing for many years.  At UNESCO, we use the term social media producers, it is a diplomatic term.  Social media producers that generate a significant amount of journalism.  That is a blogger or so forth.  The function of a journalist, versus a professional journalist without a license to practice journalism.  I will finish and then send it back. 

 

 

On the indicators, Council of Europe, very interesting initiative.  As my colleague Guilherme mentioned, probably if you heard anyone from UNESCO speak, you heard about the Internet universality indicators, in the process of developing them.  We can learn a lot from those developed by the Council of Europe and experience from Austria, you mentioned, I'm sure is informative.  It used to be the term "media landscape" we might still be using that at UNESCO.

 

 

Finally, one last point on Internet intermediaries, again, a lot of it depends on the language, but we, at UNESCO, like to avoid the term responsibility and rather talk about accountability ethics, depending on who the actor is, ethics, professional standards.  Because who determines what is responsible? 

 

 

I think there are many areas of overlapping visions and interesting between UNESCO and Council of Europe, we work together, look forward to taking that forward in the coming months and years.  I saw Florence wanted to add something.

 

 

>> FLORENCE POZNANSKI: If you allow me.  I had other things to add about the Internet shut down.  I wanted to talk another minute about this topic.  Is this possible? 

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: I asked everyone to say three minutes.  This is perhaps ‑‑ Bishakha did not either.  It is not gender equality issue.  This is a phenomenon that women answer the question quickly and the men talk on and on.  Yes of course.  The floor is yours. 

 

 

>> FLORENCE POZNANSKI: Thank you, Rachel for this.  Actually, there is something that is important to discuss.  It is difficult to define Internet shut down.  For many people, it is when they cut Internet and don't have Internet any more.  Actually, there are lots of ways of having Internet shutdowns in very specific case.  It is important, it has been at work to build a conceptual definition to help us make the mapping of Internet shut down.  With the Keep It On Campaign has applied to this one, an intentional disruption of Internet or electronic communication, rendering inaccessible (?) for a specific population or within a location after access control of flow of information.

 

 

In this case the whole work that the Keep It On Campaign has done is to make the classification of how, which kind, how many Internet shut down, what is the impact of that.  And we see actually ‑‑ maybe we can take the example of ecosystem.  We have lots of actors involved and lots of actors that we can action in order to react.  When we in the campaign, we have build a tool to calculate the economical impact that a shutdown poses.  That is very important.  When the government decides cut Internet because they want to avoid public manifestation or organization, actually, they impact the whole other of economy.  That possibility to show to the business sectors how they can lose about that is also very important. 

 

 

The last thing, very important, when you also think about a campaign and how we can act is that we don't ‑‑ you don't do Internet shut down just because a government has decided. 

 

 

Who is able to realize the shutdown and to realize the order that the government is other Internet service providers.  And if they want they could or could not do.  In lots of the cases, just say that it's part of the (?) and contract they have with the government.  But they also have to protect the human rights.  If we involve some of the principle organizations of Internet service providers and are able to contract with them, that's kind of involvement to preserve the freedom of expression, we also have the possibility to avoid further shut down.  That is a little bit what we have to do.  In the campaign, we make like contract with some companies, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, they're speaking through the global network initiative.  And we have involved governments, through the freedom online coalition.  The united general assembly has this position.  And we see that more or less, we're able to create this fact and talk about Internet shut down, like a phenomenon and not just about something functionally.  And create all the resistance threats that can avoid the future shutdowns can happen.  I think the IGF in this space, it is very important space because we have all the actor involved just to go away and to make our campaign grow, grow in human rights.

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: I know, I see Bishakha raising her hand.  Guilherme pointed out, we have nine minutes.  It will be very short.  You have to leave?  One thing.

 

 

>> BISHAKHA DATTA: We talk about balancing expression and silencing it.  I think we need a new term.  I feel it is privilege of expression.  So you are on the Internet platform on social media and you have the power on speak or express in a way that takes away other's freedom of expression.  Perhaps what's happening here is that what you are exercising is privilege of expression that is actually taking away my freedom of expression.  I think that is all I pretty much wanted to say.

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: I didn't want to privilege my expression over your expression.  Because we are short on time, we started a little bit late, maybe we can go an extra five minutes or so.

 

 

I think we will take questions.  First, do we have anything in the remote?  Nothing in the remote moderation.  Let's take them as a group.  I will collect them and point them to the appropriate speaker.  Yes? 

 

 

>> QUESTION: Thank you.  So my name is Emily and I'm a digital policy advisor in the greens paper group in the parliament.  I would like to thank you for your input.  I am happy the panel is really diverse with people from all over the world.  The issue I will raise is a global issue.  It doesn't affect only Europe, but it affects us all.  I hope you excuse me by taking it further.  I would like to thank Claudio and Peter Micek for mentioning this topic before.  This is the copyright reform being discussed in the European union.  It is under discussion right now but will enter the trial soon.  Article 13 is about upload filters.  You can search the terms and find somewhere.  This is a threat to the Internet as we know it today.  It affects us all.  The provision imposes the obligation to platforms to implement upload filters that will filter all our content that is being uploaded.

 

 

The second article that affects journalists as well, which is one of the topics discussed here, article 11, which is enabling right for publishers, publishers, not journalists, with a provision if implemented as it is now will cover snippets and hyperlinks.  Again, the sharing of news and rights of journalists as we know them today and our freedom of expression will not be the same.  I would like your reaction on this.  And I really wonder what will happen to the indicators you mentioned, if it is implementing at the end.  Thank you.

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: Thank you, because we're short on time, it is important to explain the context, let's try to keep to a quick questions if possible, so we can get everyone.  Thank you.  Yes? 

 

 

>> QUESTION: Okay.  Thank you, I'm a teacher from China, actually from university.  I have a question between the responsibility and accountability.  I think that gentleman talk about ‑‑ it is a form ‑‑ talk about the responsibility of the private sector.  Actually Rachel correct to say we're talking more about accountability and ethics.  Yesterday, there was a panel that was about (?) and basically they reject the thought that ICANN will intervene if there is any request from the ISP to say can you give me any advice, should I take down the content.  ICANN actually indicated they were not doing that.  I want you to clarify, what is the difference between the responsibility of the private actor and the accountability?  Are we talking about substantive guidance?  That is my question.

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: Thank you.  I see Andrea from ICANN, maybe he will answer that question.

 

 

>> QUESTION: I'm not answering the question, but I can speak to you after.  I have a question to you as an organizer and speaker.  Why no Internet platforms on the panel?  Did you invite them, consider having them online?  The reply yes or no.  Then to Thomas, you define (?) interplatform to be abused.  Can you argument on that?  My take is they're not being abused since they're business model is based on advertisement.  If you look at the fake news in U.S. elections, they're charging for those news and become viral.  I think one point that is being addressed here is that business models of the Internet media platform intermediaries and whether we should look at that and the impact it has on freedom of expression and the discussion we have had so far.

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: One last question, quick responses and sum up by our super‑special Rapporteur.  Yes? 

 

 

>> QUESTION: Okay, my name is Angela, I'm from Africa.  I have a question, take it either way.  It is the question on who is a journalist.

 

 

Part of my work, I try to monitor the situation in eastern Africa and countries that embrace the functional approach of who is a journalist.  We have laws asking journalists to register before they practice and media councils that are making it stricter.  Is the approach of the functional definition and when to work when you have legislation that are trying to maintain the strict divisions between who is a journalist and who is not.  Thank you. 

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: Thank you for that important question.  I see that ‑‑ has to leave.  You are too eager, privileging your expression over someone else's.

 

 

Just kidding.  Just to try to summarize the questions from what I heard, we had a question about copyright reform in being discussed in the European parliament and what impact that might have on news and journalism.  That is one.  One from what is the difference between responsibility and accountability.  A third question about why are the Internet platforms not here and is it fair to say they're being abused or is that what is happening with the so‑called fake news.  Not an inevitable result of the way they're structured.  Fourth, the definition of journalists, what do you do when international standards conflict with national laws.  That is what I picked up.  I will answer a couple quickly that I can answer.  Then I will pass on to speakers.

 

 

On the organization of this session, we did invite one of the companies and I don't want to name and shame.  That is not the U.N. way.  But the response was from this platform was we're not looking for a platform.  And they ‑‑ I think, maybe it is a difference of approach that they ‑‑ my understanding is want more to listen and understand what the debate is and not be speaking in so many sessions.  So it is a shame.  It would have been a very valuable input in this conversation.  And I hope that in future vents we will be able ‑‑ events we will be able to include them again as in the past.  Maybe someone else wants to answer.  The point from UNESCO, as was raised by this question, it can be vague or have multiple meanings to say "responsible."  In the context of what Thomas was mentioning, maybe liability, legal liability, that is a more precise word.  And in the context of ICANN, it is all the discussions around accountability and the cost community working group on accountability, the various work groups.  It is important to be precise.  And definition from UNESCO's perspective, what we tried to do is assist member states in bringing national laws and policies in line with international standards.  It takes time and political will.  That is our hope.  We will be happy to look at this case in eastern Africa.  We did ‑‑ I know Thomas, you would like to respond on a couple of points?  Yep? 

 

 

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Yes, briefly to a number of questions.  There are different aspects.  One is a legal liability and another is accountability that is more linked to transparency.  Responsibility is a broad term, but the term of duty, duty of care.  In the end, it goes to what Andrea's question was.  In some countries, the governments or the laws ask or intermediary or platform providers on what is legal or not, what needs to be taken down, what needs to be censored.  This is what I mean by abuse, decisions are delegated to private sectors that should be done bylaws or courts implementing or interpreting laws.  This is the danger.  Also the question of monitoring content or filtering content when uploaded or when it is up there.  This is a huge debate.  We need to be very careful, what are the duties, the political or private sector pressures.  This is one element.  Quickly, if I may, to the question about defining journalists, the Council of Europe, developed a new notion of media with a graduated and differentiated approach.  You have all level of media actors.  A blogger is also a media actor but may have less responsibility.  He may benefit from less protection but may benefit from protection according to the function that he has in the media system.  I'm happy to talk to you about this offline, because it may help you as a guidance.  It is not just are you a journalist, yes or no, but you may have media functions and may be different with different responsibilities and different rights.  Thank you. 

 

 

>> PANELIST: I would like to react to the point, it could be taken as a cultural slash language issue.  In Portuguese, responsibility is part of the legal expression.  We might have a different organization here.  Responsibility, liability and accountability are I rich broad of terms that we don't have in Portuguese.  In one sentence to react to what was put out about the automatization of control, it depends on the maturity of the tool.  And very short take, are they red to ‑‑ are they ready to ‑‑ are they ready or should they be used to assist as in moderating?  Of course.  The problem is digital scale.  The answer is not in paperwork or analog work.  They have to be tools.  They can take the decision, whether it is in content for intellectual property or whether it is automating the control of what is true.

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: Guilherme would like to say a few words. 

 

 

>> GUILHERME CANELA GODOI: Thanks.  A couple of points that are relevant for us.  As a UA agency, in terms ‑‑ U.N. agency, we need to follow what is in the instrument.

 

 

Regarding journalists, the house the human rights council has issued this, and as far as U.N. secretariat we're following that for journalists.  In other regions, the international inter‑American court of human rights has a famous opinion that is in the jurisprudence saying that journalist does not require license to exercise journalism.  It is important also to discuss those issues, take into account the international jurisprudence we have on the international documents regarding the several issues

 

 

Just to add to elements on the trends that were raised by Thomas as part of the tools but not as the trend.  I wanted to underline that.  One of the things we have identified as the trends, whatever to make the historical difference, it is about concentration of ownership.  This impacts pluralists and issues of independence.  This issue needs to keep discussing and finding the different tools and this very week we have on the front pages of all the newspapers and different media very big case of media concentration in U.S.

 

 

And the other element on the safety side that we didn't raise here, but also among our concerns is the amount of journalists that are being requested by different regulators and even judges to reveal their information.  This is important to be discussed under the elements of threats to the safety of the entire system of communications and information

 

 

>> RACHEL POLLACK ICHOU: I have a tap on the shoulder that the next session will be beginning.  We can maybe continue this over lunch.  I presume we will look for pasta in the supper bar.  Chris, you were going to give us your report.  We don't have time.  It will be posted online.  Chris will send it in half an hour ‑‑ ha‑ha, just kidding.  It will be on the IGF website, and an article on the UNESCO website about this event, which we'll try to summarize the main points raised.  Thank you to our panelists and everyone here in this room for your engaging comments and questions and look forward to speaking again soon. 

 

 

(Applause)

 

 

(Session concluded 11:57 a.m. CET)