Access to content online: regulation, business models, quality and freedom of expression – PL 01 2009
15 September 2009 | 9:00-10:30
Programme overview 2009
Keywords and questions
Access to content: Digital divides. Should we regulate new media? Professional journalism and trust in the Internet. What role of public service media in the Internet? Quality standards for user generated content? Where is the dividing line between private communication and public expression? Viral advertising. Telecoms package and protecting fundamental human rights. Freedom of expression.
Plenary focus: The questions can be grouped into 4 clusters: How does user generated content influence the diversity and quality of information and content? How will future business models for quality information/content look like? What role for public service information/content/media in the online environment? How should media and online content regulation develop in order to serve users’ demands? From a user perspective, what online information/content will have to be paid for in the future and what will be free?
A basic principle that was agreed on was that users should be able to access, use and distribute the content, services and applications of their choice, with the various ‘gatekeepers’ in the ICT value chain respectful of their responsibilities in this regard (and taking into account technical and legal constraints). This was desirable from both a socio-economic perspective but also crucially in line with (Article 10 of) the European Convention on Human Rights, in particular the freedom to access and impart information and knowledge, the freedom of expression and communication.
The question of how to ensure that quality content continues to be made available both on- and offline, with the removal of barriers to its diffusion, was raised. This included discussions on the rapidly evolving nature and benefits of user created content, the role of public service media and public funding, and the importance of fostering legal business models for the wide diffusion of content also from the perspective of offering an alternative to online piracy.
It was concluded that specific follow-up action was needed, namely:
- Under the auspices of the Council of Europe, a multi-stakeholder, co-operative working group should be initiated to work towards preparing guidance on protecting and fostering unrestricted user access to online content, applications and services, taking into consideration:
- applicability of fundamental rights to the open Internet,
- public value,
- reliability and accountability of the information and of the sources,
- meaningful transparency and consumer choice,
- due process,
- innovation imperatives,
- illegal content,
- technical realities such as traffic congestion,
- socio-economic benefits.
- The barriers to user access should be considered across all layers of the ICT value chain, from infrastructure to applications layers. This process should start and seek to establish an understanding among relevant stakeholders (ISPs, applications and content providers, users/civil society, legislators, regulators and governments) as a matter of urgency. Work feeding into this process should include Norway’s Guidelines on Network Neutrality: http://www.npt.no/iKnowBase/Content/109604/Guidelines%20for%20network%20neutrality.pdf) and the Internet Rights and Principles Coalition: http://www.internetrightsandprinciples.org.
- The EBU and related stakeholders should continue to work around quality content: what it means; how to produce it; the role and potential of user created content; how to diffuse (quality) content as widely as possible, in particular by removing barriers which could include re-examining licensing and copyright obstacles.
- The digital divide and disability dimension of the issues should also be recognised in the discussion, and relevant links with related IGF work be made, such as the APC-produced Global Information Society report on Access to Content.