Internet as a Commons: Public Space in the Digital Age

Internet as a Commons: Public Space in the Digital Age

Today, 1 October 2015, the European Green Group, The Commons Network and the Heinrich Böll Foundation will arrange a conference about re-decentralizing and reclaiming the internet for all. The conference goes under the name ‘Internet as a Commons: Public Space in the Digital Age’. For those unable to participate in Brussels it will also be live-streamed 15-18.30 (GMT+1).

INTRODUCTION

The Internet as a whole has become an important part of our global public sphere. Internet provides access to a wealth of information and knowledge, and the possibility to participate, create and communicate. This public space made up of internet infrastructures is increasingly threatened from two sides; by the centralization and commercialization through the dominant positions held by giant telecom and Internet companies, as well as by an increasing trend in state regulation and censorship of the net. This poses important questions about how we choose to organize and regulate our digital societies, and how Internet governance models can be developed and implemented to ensure fair and democratic participation.

When it comes to the future of the Internet, a key discussion is one of infrastructures; who owns, runs and controls them. The question of regulation, and who oversees the regulators, is made complicated by the transnational nature of the net.

As much as people expect a broadly and equitably accessible Internet open to diversity, we are, slowly but surely, moving away from it. Monopolization of Internet infrastructures and services by companies such as Facebook and Google has gone hand in hand with privacy intrusions, surveillance and the unbounded use of personal data for commercial gain. As we all interact in these centralized commercial platforms that monetize our actions we see an effective enclosure and manipulation of our public spaces. Decentralization and democratization of the Internet infrastructure and activities is essential to keep a free, open and democratic Internet for all to enjoy equitably. But can the “small is beautiful”-idea be compatible with the building of state-of-the-art successful infrastructure in the future?

The debates around net neutrality, infrastructure neutrality and Internet monopolies reflect the important choices that are to be made.  It is essential the EU formulates a comprehensive vision on the internet that addresses the protection of civil liberties such as free speech and privacy, but also the growing commercialization of our digital public spaces and the commodification of personal data with the effect of the market encroaching on all aspects of our daily lives. Only then can it make relevant interventions regarding the Internet and its governance.

PROGRAMME

15:00-15:30
Introduction
With opening remarks from Michel Reimon, Sophie Bloemen and professor Yochai Benkler

15:30-16:45
The big picture (panel debate)

What, if anything, in the current model of Internet Governance is clashing with a decentralized, resilient internet viewed as a common good? And what steps should be made by policymakers to foster the best environment for decentralized, community managed projects to grow?

Participants: Renata Avila, Aral Balkan, Jennifer Baker and Nicole Dewandre
Moderator: Max Andersson

16:45-17:00
Coffee break

17:00–18:15
Decentralised infrastructure:  Examples

What examples of local and decentralized projects do we have today and what are the obstacles they face?

Participants: Edmon Chung, Robbert Mica, Olivier Schulbaum, Leandro Navarro and Estelle Masse
Moderator: Julia Reda

18:15–18:30
Conclusions and final remarks

Interpretation will take place in English – French – German

Featured image: Modified from CC-BY, Maria Cabrejas

Josef Ohlsson Collentine

About Josef Ohlsson Collentine

I'm a dual citizen (American/Swede) and try to integrate my reflections from a more global perspective if possible. I'm the organizational leader for Pirate Times and work actively to strengthen the pirate movement through this work as well as being the international contact for Piratpartiet (PPSE). Elected board member of PPSE for 2015-2018. If you would like to ask me something I speak English, Swedish and Spanish. Find me on the links below

All content is CC-BY if not mentioned otherwise. Please link back to us if using content.