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Welcome to the Official Schedule for RightsCon 2019, the world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age.

Together at RightsCon Tunis, our first summit hosted in the Middle East and North Africa, more than 2500 expert practitioners will come together across over 400 sessions to shape, contribute to, and drive forward the global agenda for the future of our human rights.

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Wednesday, June 12 • 9:00am - 10:15am
Big Tech and the Future of Journalism: Reinventing news and information in the age of Google and Facebook

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This session is meant to consider the wider impact of the digital economy on democratic societies, and will take a hard look at both the benefits and harms of a world where global platforms are dominant distributors of news and information as well as major forums for public debate. Currently, the sector-specific approach to media regulation is inadequate. Regulatory disparities between digital platforms and heavily-regulated media businesses lead to market advantages that these platforms have (and often abuse). Additionally, many states are taking an approach to online content regulation by essentially “subcontracting censorship” to digital platforms. Thus, the time is right for addressing market mechanism- and failure-related challenges as well as regulatory and ultimately information flow challenges in digital environments.

One of the biggest problems with the debates raging in government legislatures and policy circles around the world is the lack of attention given to the news, journalism, and information ecosystems, and the implications of digital platforms’ market power on access and availability of quality news content on the Internet. To foster a pluralistic media ecosystem that strengthens democratic systems, combats dis/misinformation, and produces professional, high-quality, and fact-based news, media sustainability must be considered a significant priority. Any serious effort to address the myriad problems plaguing digital platforms must include competition authorities, economists, media policy experts as well as privacy, digital rights freedom of expression advocates. Building on this context, this session will explore five key issues/questions related to digital market mechanism- and failure-related challenges, including:

(1) How to monitor digital platforms’ activities, their market behaviours, and the potential consequences of those activities for citizens, journalists, news media organisations, and advertisers.

(2) Strategies to address regulatory imbalances – i.e., what are new approaches to the regulation of digital spaces?

(3) How to better inform consumers/citizens of their rights when dealing with digital platforms.

(4) What are the mechanisms that would support and sustain choice and quality of news and journalism in digital spaces?

(5) Market power and behaviour of digital advertising’s two most-dominant companies, Google and Facebook, what can be done to address competition barriers, and how to promote plurality, sustainability, and diversity as well as overall consumer choices.

The session will take a holistic approach to the topic by treating each of these factors as equally important pieces of the larger puzzle of media ecosystem failure as well as the subsequent problems it creates that are currently vexing governments.

Resources and recommended reading:

GFMD’s Internet Governance Resource Centre: https://gfmd.info/internet-governance/ 


Nathalie Maréchal

Senior research analyst, Ranking Digital Rights
Corporate transparency & accountability; surveillance capitalism; targeted advertising business models; artificial intelligence & human rights
avatar for Timothy Karr

Timothy Karr

Senior Director of Strategy, Free Press
Tim builds on the Free Press' grassroots and policy work to promote universal access to open and affordable networks, defend acts of journalism and protect free speech everywhere. Before joining Free Press, Tim served as the vice president of business development for Globalvision... Read More →
avatar for Deniz Yazici

Deniz Yazici

Adviser, OSCE

Wednesday June 12, 2019 9:00am - 10:15am BST
Oya 2 (Laico)