On the agenda of the Summit for Information and Democracy, held in New York on September 22: new members for the Partnership for Information and Democracy, deliberation on the Forum’s recommendations, presentation of the Observatory on Information and Democracy, commitment of States to the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI), etc.
For the second time, the Summit for Information and Democracy was held in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. On September 22, seventeen foreign ministers and representatives of member countries gathered to advance the Partnership for Information and Democracy, a multilateral process that brings together a coalition of states to build a democratic digital space, with a particular focus on the right to information.
The summit was co-chaired by the French Foreign minister Catherine Colonna and the chair of the Forum on Information and Democracy, Christophe Deloire, in the presence of Volker Turk Under-Secretary-General for Policy of the United nations.
New states announce their endorsement of the Partnership
The United States and Uruguay announced they were joining the Partnership for Information and Democracy at the Summit, bringing the number of signatory states to 47.
- The list of signatories includes South Africa, South Korea, Canada, Costa Rica, India, Senegal, Germany and France.
- Elizabeth Allen, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, representing Antony Blinken, assured the US “are deeply honored by the opportunity to join this Partnership and explore new opportunities for collaboration. It is through platforms like the Partnership that we convene, innovate, build consensus, and work to create a more democratic information and communication ecosystem.”
- About the membership of the United States, Christophe Deloire said: “The United States joining the Partnership on Information and Democracy is a significant step forward that will strengthen this multilateral effort, and it is crucial that the United States continue to make a major contribution to establishing democratic principles for the public sphere.”
Creation of the Observatory on Information and Democracy
As announced at the first Summit, the Forum on Information and Democracy, a civil society-led implementation body, released plans for the creation of the Observatory on Information and Democracy, which will produce periodic assessments of the structure of the information and communication space and its impact on democracy.
- The steering committee of the prefiguration group was co-chaired by Shoshana Zuboff, author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, and Angel Gurria, former Secretary General of the OECD. Its members include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa.
- The Observatory will produce meta-research on the information space, it will be an interface between the world of research and policy makers, and could eventually become a rating agency for digital platforms.
- A high-level steering committee and an advisory group will be formed, bringing together governments, regulators, researchers, civil society and private actors.
- The governance will be presented at the next edition of the Paris Peace Forum in November.
- The first cycle of work should enable the publication of a first evaluation report by the end of 2024.
The Forum released its recommendations on accountability regimes for social network accounts and their users at the Summit.
- Co-chaired by Damian Tambini, Distinguished Fellow at the London School of Economics, and Kjersti Loken Stavrum, CEO of the Tinius Trust, the report calls for the establishment of users’ rights and duties.
- The report focuses on establishing rules for social networks, a generic regime for account holders and specific regimes for, among others, journalists and influencers.
- The report provides for a scale of sanctions for users depending on specific behavior.
- Finally, it recommends the creation of an architecture at national and international level for the implementation of these liability regimes.
Pluralism in indexation and curation algorithms
The Forum announced the launch of its new working group dedicated to information pluralism in indexing and curation algorithms, which is expected to deliver its findings by the end of 2022.
- The group will be chaired by Pier Luigi Parcu, director of the European Center for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom at the University of Florence (Italy).
- It will develop recommendations to strengthen existing and future personal data protection and privacy regulation in the context of curation and indexing algorithms and on recommendations to improve news and information pluralism and enable user choice.
Declaration of Support for the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI)
- Eleven States of the Partnership have signed a declaration in support of the Journalism Trust Initiative, a self-regulatory mechanism to promote ethically and independently run media that implement journalistic methodology.
- These states call on all stakeholders to support the Journalism Trust Initiative in order to promote free, independent, pluralistic and financially sustainable media.