Can Internet rights and access goals be reconciled?

10 November 2015 - A Workshop on Other in João Pessoa, Brazil


“Having your cake and eating it too: can Internet rights an access goals be reconciled?” is the title of this session to address how Internet governance often seems to navigate between two seemingly competing goals: on the one hand, the protection of desirable governance principles such as user privacy and the open architecture of the network; on the other, the provision of affordable access to Internet infrastructure and services to as many users as possible. The tensions between Internet governance principles and access goals are hardly new, dating back to the walled-garden architecture of early access services and privacy concerns over free email services. More recently, these tensions have resurfaced in debates about zero-rating plans offered by many mobile broadband operators in developing countries, which has pitted those defending neutrality principles against those arguing for expanded access opportunities for low-income populations. This roundtable session brings together academics, activists, and representatives from the public and private sectors for an honest, open format discussion about these tensions, particularly from a developing countries’ perspective. Key questions that will orient the debate are: How to strike a balance between these seemingly competing goals? Can empirical research help advance the discussion beyond the statement of principles? Are Internet governance principles necessarily at odds with expanded access goals? In other words, can we have our cake and it eat too? Are there best practices cases in developed or developing countries for striking such a balance? To what extent is government regulation desirable in this area?
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