Expression and image online

6 December 2008 - A Workshop on Security in Hyderabad, India


Expression and image online - building an evolving personal identity

Expression and image online is fundamental to an Internet for all which reaches the next billion and through which we should be secure, have our privacy respected and be able to enjoy the openness and general freedom of the Internet to live and work with confidence and trust.

However, incidents of identity theft, identity checks which encourage discrimination and selection (e.g. at the workplace, admission to higher education, university, etc) and stereotypical portrayals of women and minorities are examples of the challenges to our online freedom to express ourselves as we increasingly use and rely upon the Internet.

Our personal identity and even human dignity are issues which require examination and discussion at all levels of the Internet’s development and delivery of tools and services which facilitate and foster expression and image online. “Dynamic identity governance” (Frau-Meigs) or “active identity management” (FING) are attempts to reconcile personal identity, expression and image online.

The workshop will discuss how to deal with the management of personal expression on the Internet (images, texts, links, collective and collaborative writings, etc) in order to encourage expression and openness on the Internet. There will be focus on the construction of personal identities and profiles, the use of commercial and non-commercial (media) tools, services and platforms. National policies, the roles and responsibilities of industry actors as well as personal initiatives to foster a personal, lifelong attitude and approach to our evolving online (and offline) identities will be addressed. 

Outline Agenda: 

1. Opening and setting the scene by the moderator: Divina Frau-Meigs, Sorbonne Nouvelle University, France 

2. What is identity management at the design level? Is it possible?  

- business representatives: Joseph Alhadeff, Oracle, and Marco Pancini, European policy counsel, Google 

- media perspectives: David Wood, European Brodcasting Union   

- civil society perspective: Divina Frau-Meigs, Sorbonne Nouvelle University, on the traditional and new forms of identity in the ecosystem of ambient screens 

3. How to manage one’s dynamic identity governance?  

- business representative: Serge Ravet, European Institute for E-Learning (IffEL)or Hong-Kong representative (to be confirmed)  

- civil society perspective: Ms Andrea Gita Millwood Hargrave, Associate, University of Oxford, UK, on youth usage of media and harmful content management  

- other perspectives: Ceren Unal, lawyer, Turkey, ISOC Ambassador & Sunyoung Yang, Center for youth and cultural studies, Yonsei University, South Korea 

4. The role and policies of the state with regard to identity management?  

- state representative: Ang Peng Hwa, Singapore Internet Research Centre (SiRC), on collective risks and solutions at policy-making level  

- media education perspective: Biswajit Das, Centre for Culture, Media and Governance, Jamia Millia Central University, India & Krishna Reddy, Associate Professor, Osmania University, Hyderabad

- state representatives: Thomas Schneider, Ofcom, Switzerland, and Michael Truppe, Federal Chancellery, Austria 

- IGO perspective: Lioubov Samokhina, Building a Europe for and with children, Council of Europe

5. Wrap up, conclusions, messages and reporting back

Dignity, security and privacy of children on the Internet – applying international law to protect their best interests


The aim of this workshop is to discuss whether, and how, it is possible to provide legal remedies globally to protect the rights of children on the Internet.The workshop will consider the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, written in a pre-Internet age, and consider its relevance today.

The workshop will look at whether such Conventions and other texts, such as the Council of Europe Declaration on protecting the dignity, security and privacy of children on the Internet, can work effectively outside legal frameworks (e.g. by considering the signatories to the Convention, the work undertaken since then and the reporting/evaluation procedures).

The Council of Europe Declaration (signed by 47 European states) on protecting the dignity, security and privacy of children on the Internet stressed that “(…) other than in the context of law enforcement, there should be no lasting or permanently accessible record of the content created by children on the Internet which challenges their dignity, security and privacy or otherwise renders them vulnerable now or at a later stage in their lives.”

Is there a technical solution that can be offered to ensure there is ‘no lasting or permanently accessible record’ of material put up by children and what are the legal, criminal and economic ramifications?

Bearing in mind the inherent right for children to dignity and to protection against all forms of discrimination or arbitrary or unlawful interference with their privacy and to unlawful attacks on their honour and reputation, the objectives of the workshop will be to examine the extent to which international law can and should protect but also promote children’s well being on the Internet so that they may rely on it as an essential tool for their everyday activities (communication, information, knowledge, entertainment, commercial transactions).

In this connection, the effectiveness of relevant international legal instruments (including those listed above but also instruments such as the UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, the Council of Europe Convention against the sexual exploitation and abuse of children and the Convention on Cybercrime) will be considered in relation to three key rights:

-          the rights of minors to protection,

-          the right for everyone  to express and inform themselves freely 

-          and the right for the Internet industry to commerce.  

The workshop, working with a variety of stakeholders on the panel and in the audience, will seek to examine whether or not these instruments are sufficient and whether they should be supplemented or replaced to increase their effectiveness.   

Outline Agenda:

1. Opening and setting out the areas for consideration: Ms Andrea Gita Millwood Hargrave, Associate, University of Oxford, UK (5 mins)

2. Panellists debate: what is dignity, security and privacy for children on the Internet, and are we succeeding to protect and foster all three elements? (15 mins)

-Academic/civil society perspective: Divina Frau Meigs, International Association for Media and Communication Research, Professor, University of Sorbonnne, France / Krishna Reddy, Associate Professor, Media Politics, Osmania University, India

- State perspective: Michael Truppe, Federal Chancellery, Austria

- Media perspective: Khalid Hadadi, BBC EU and International Policy

3. Open debate: can we all agree on protecting children’s dignity, security and protection to the same level? (25 mins)

4. Panellists debate: what are the barriers to the same level of protection? (15 mins)

- Security/technical perspectives: Marco Gercke, University of Cologne, Germany / Yves Poullet, University of Namur, Belgium / Carlos Gregorio, Privacy expert, Latin America

- Business perspective: Marco Pancini, European policy counsel, Google

5. Open debate: Is there an optimum solution(s) for harmonised levels of dignity, security and privacy of children on the Internet? What is the likely ‘buy-in’ across nations? (25 mins)

6. Wrap up by the moderator: conclusions, proposed solutions, messages and reporting back (5 mins)