Governance for Gate Keepers - Shaping Access to the Internet.

4 December 2008 - A Workshop on Access in Hyderabad, India




Internet users increasingly rely upon gatekeepers (e.g. news portals, search engines etc, which act in various ways to filter access to information) to access content and services which facilitate the way we communicate, work, learn and research and entertain ourselves.


They have become a vital door for the public’s everyday activities. They are evolving as organic tools for navigating web content. The range and number of popular gateways is shrinking as market forces make the powerful engines even more powerful. 


The overall aims of the workshop are to better understand the control and influence that gatekeepers can have over the way we access, search, select and use of content, and to consider how they are (self-) governed, how they are (ethical) responsible and transparent in their operations. 

The objectives of the workshop are to consider who these gatekeepers are, to examine how they assist and facilitate access, search, selection and use of content, and to assess the benefits and risks to users (e.g. with regard to free choice, consumer protection, harmful content and free speech, etc).   

Outline Agenda: 


1.  Opening and setting the scene by the co-moderators: Jonathan Charles, BBC World

2.  Panellists debate: Who shapes access to the Internet, by which means, and is it fundamentally different to how we access content and services in the offline world? (20 mins)

Media perspectives: Alex Shulzycki, World Broadcasting Union

Business perspective: Marco Pancini, European policy counsel, Google

BBC perspective: Khalid Hadadi, BBC EU and International Policy

3. Open debate: Risks and benefits to users? (25 mins)

Civil Society/academic perspectives: Ang Peng Hwa, Singapore Internet Research Centre, and Murali Shanmugavelan, Panos, UK (5 mins)

Government perspectives: Thomas Schneider, Ofcom, Switzerland

Business perspectives: Sheriff Haja, Microsoft

Media perspectives: Mr Alexandre Jobim Kruel, AIB-AIR/WBU

4.  Open debate: How to enhance the benefits and mitigate the risks to users? Is there is a need for measures to ensure that there is no monopoly over access? Should alternative gate keeping tools be made available, and is the public is aware of all the implications of its choices? (25 mins)

5.  Wrap up: conclusions, messages and reporting back (5 mins)