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Wednesday, December 20 • 10:40 - 12:10
Beyond the next gig: Unpacking development, rights and economic futures in the age of platforms (WS147)

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Proposer's Name: Ms. Deepti Bharthur
Proposer's Organization: IT for Change
Co-Proposer's Name: Mr. Nicolo Zingales
Co-Proposer's Organization: Dynamic Coalition on Platform Responsibility 
Dr.,Deepti,BHARTHUR,Civil Society,IT for Change
Dr.,Nicolo,ZINGALES,Civil Society,Dynamic Coalition on Platform Responsibility 

Session Format: Birds of a Feather - 90 Min

Country: India
Stakeholder Group: Civil Society

Country: United Kingdom
Stakeholder Group: Civil Society

Speaker: Viviana Munoz
Speaker: Mark Graham
Speaker: Luca Belli
Speaker: Anita Gurumurthy
Speaker: Mohammad Amir Anwar

Content of the Session:
Digital platforms are re-structuring the DNA of the global economy. By creating new peer-to-peer marketplaces for goods and services and enabling the emergence of 'virtual' economic opportunities in the form of micro-work and game labour, they potentially open up job opportunities for a new generation of workers. This flux in many ways, is a time of great promise, but is often presented through a singular narrative -- of a sharing economy that ostensibly allows the unimpeded flow of digital and material goods, services and data flows over platform marketplaces. There is a need to unpack this narrative and its production models so that the implications for practice and policy, towards egalitarian economic futures, can be understood.

This calls for careful attention to the situated experiences of platformisation in the global South, a debate that is neglected. What are the emerging opportunities for informal sector labour in the gig economy? How is platformisation transforming the supply chain for small producers? What could be the impact of platforms' terms of service and algorithmic regulation on user rights? The proposed session will examine these questions, from the standpoint of rights -- labour rights, digital and data rights of citizens, rights of small producers etc. For instance, free digital flows may not work for developing economies where domestic policies with respect to digital rights or digital dimensions of traditional rights are not sorted out. Further, developing countries may lack the power to enforce compliance or stipulate standards for big platform intermediaries from outside their jurisdiction. Local models based on cooperativism may not find mooring given the extraordinary clout of monopolies like Uber, who control large platforms. Appropriate sectoral and digital policy and regulation may be nascent. It is also unclear how consumer data is used by platforms for data analytics and market consolidation, and what this means for the economic autonomy and futures of developing countries. The proposed workshop aims to bring together interested actors to deliberate upon this issue, by engaging with the following questions

(a) What are the platform models in countries of the global South? What opportunities and challenges do they open up for individual and collective rights (as citizens, workers, producers and consumers)?

(b) What are the building blocks of a conducive policy environment to promote egalitarian platform models? What could be the impact of platforms' terms of service and algorithmic regulation on users' rights?

(c) What is the impact of platformisation on inequalities within and between countries?

(d) What are the good practices of cooperative platform-based models, and policy measures towards encouraging inclusive economies in the platform era?

Relevance of the Session:
The social, economic and cultural impact of platforms has been significant and only continues to grow. In many ways, they are remaking the Internet as we know it, bearing directly on this year’s IGF theme, “Shape Your Digital Future.” As a key digital phenomenon, platforms have critical implications for Internet Governance issues. Interesting developments in recent times, in regulating Uber in UK and Chile for example, have brought such governance issues to the table. The French Digital Council submitted a report on Platform Neutrality in 2015. It is in this context of the rising significance of appropriate policy development (digital sector and other sectors) to regulate platforms that we seek to propose this session. The regulatory environment in developing countries is still nascent and governance challenges in these contexts tied in with other geo-political issues. We believe that this workshop is highly relevant to the IGF venue and can bring value both to the forum and its participants. It is also the hope of this workshop that a committed work track can be evolved towards research and deliberation on policy issues around platform economies.

Tag 1: Platforms
Tag 2: Digital Economy
Tag 3: Digital Future

The workshop brings together speakers who will approach the question of the platform economy from various lenses and stand-points, thus allowing for a diverse range of deliberations on the topic. Instead of following a traditional ‘talking heads’ panel format, the workshop will bring in speakers’ research and policy expertise to the fore through short lightning talks. Audiences will then engage with the issues and the discussion moderated to include responses from speakers.

-Viviana Munoz – will examine key policy challenges in the area of furthering right to knowledge and right to development in the context of platformisation.

-Mark Graham – will discuss the emerging digital work and enterprise models in the platform economy, and reflect on the key issues and challenges they open up for the rights and inclusion agenda.

-Luca Belli – will discuss the need for platform regulation through an examination of the ‘Terms of Service’ framework.

-Anita Gurumurthy - will outline the sweep of issues concerning platform governance. She will frame the geo-political context of platformization, flagging the new issues and new policy venues (such as the WTO) where significant debates are taking shape.

-Mohammad Amir Anwar will speak to the growth of the knowledge economy in the global South and its developmental outcomes.

The proposed workshop reflects diversity in both its composition and its focus. Our workshop panel – where we have ensured to achieve a gender balance – comprises speakers and scholars from varying contexts, whose work is rooted firmly in social justice and rights frameworks, working on empirical aspects of policy in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

The panel itself aims at unpacking the many dimensions of the political economy of platforms primarily from a global South standpoint, thus bringing to bear on the platform discourse viewpoints and voices from outside the first world.

Onsite Moderator: Anita Gurumurthy
Online Moderator: Parminder Jeet Singh
Rapporteur: Nandini Chami

Online Participation:
The workshop will be made open to online participation, which we will actively seek through reaching out on our mailing lists and networks, and the use of social media in the time leading up to IGF. At the workshop, we will facilitate remote participation through a designated moderator to facilitate questions and comments via WebEx through live audio/video and chat. We will also live-blog the proceedings of the workshop to allow remote participants to follow along in case of bandwidth issues. 

Discussion facilitation:
The choice of a ‘Birds of a Feather’ format for the proposed workshop allows for a highly interactive and issue-centred participation, while still retaining the advantages of minimal structure and facilitation. The tentative schedule for the workshop is provided below with details of how discussions will be facilitated;

Context setting
-Introductory remarks by Anita Gurumurthy (moderator) – 5 mins

-Lightning talks by speakers - (4 x 5) 20 mins

Speakers will briefly address the issues outlined in the session description, drawing upon their respective work in the areas of data, platforms, digital labour, and regulatory/governance issue.

Brainstorming exercise – 15 mins

In this activity, the attendees will respond to the lightning talks and contribute questions on platform economy through post-its which will be put on a bulletin board. Online questions will also be collated in a similar manner.

Open floor discussion - 40 mins

Aided by facilitation from the onsite and online moderator, panelists will engage with the questions generated through the brain storming exercise. Audience members will also be able to respond, comment and raise counter questions.

Concluding remarks by panel - 5 mins 

Conducted a Workshop in IGF before?: Yes
Link to Report: https://www.intgovforum.org/cms/wks2015/index.php/proposal/view_public/134

Additional Speakers: 

Vahini Naidu, South African Permanent Mission, Geneva



1. Context setting: 25 minutes

Speakers will briefly address the issues outlined in the session description, drawing upon their respective work in the areas of data, platforms, digital labour and regulatory and governance issues.

  • Introductory remarks by Anita Gurumurthy (moderator) 5 mins
  • Lightning talks by speakers (4 x 5) 20 mins
    • Viviana Munoz Tellez, will exa

Session Organizers

Wednesday December 20, 2017 10:40 - 12:10 CET
Room XXIV - E United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)