Governance of Social Media

17 November 2009 - A Workshop on Openness in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt


Recent years have witnessed the rapid emergence of large social networking platforms (such as MySpace and Facebook), user-generated content aggregation sites (such as YouTube or Flickr), as well as more recently micro-blogging sites (Twitter). This Web 2.0 (that could also be labelled as the SocioNet) enables users to share more and more information about themselves and to post a great variety of content accessible on a global scale, raising renewed legal and policy questions concerning privacy, responsibility of actors, freedom of expression, copyright protection, relevant jurisdictions, access to information and use of behavioral data, to name a few.

Furthermore, sites with very large and global communities of users are now facing a dual challenge in defining their “terms of service” : 1) to ensure compatibility of general terms of service with a diversity of national laws, and 2) to involve in an appropriate manner their tens or sometimes hundreds of millions of users in the elaboration of their own internal rules.

The workshop “Governance of Social Media” is conceived as a preparatory workshop feeding into the Emerging Issues session dedicated this year to Social Media. A brief introductory panel will present the general context and the main social, economic and legal aspects of this evolution, including but not limited to : 
- the management of “intimacy” as a new dimension of privacy protection (management of “friends networks” and public display of personal information)
- the rights regime for user-generated content (data ownership, applicable rules for copyrighted material)
- the diversity of nationally applicable laws regarding freedom of expression

Workshop participants will then collaboratively share their perspectives and the approach they have taken in their respective activities, in particular to describe the differences with existing practices concerning traditional Media (such as print or broadcast). 

The intended outcome of the workshop will be a clearer mapping of the various challenges and the relevant actors involved, an appraisal of the current discussions and processes under way, and an identification of possible ways forward. A brief synthesis, prepared during the Sharm El Sheikh meeting itself, will help prepare the Emerging Issues session on the last day. 

Introductory panelists :
- Rebecca McKINNON, Global Network Initiative
- Peter FLEISHER, Global Privacy Counsel, Google
- Jan SCHALLABOEK, Data Protection Agency, Shleswig-Holstein
- Pavan DUGGAL, Cyberlaws.Net
- Bertrand de LA CHAPELLE, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Moderator