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Stregthening the Internet for Free Expression and Innovation - Agenda

The rapid pace of technological change poses challenges to traditional values affecting government, business and the individual. The 2104 Forum on Communications and Society (FOCAS) explored the competing values of security, innovation, openness and privacy, and proposed constructive recommendations for ensuring free expression, consumer choice, and a secure and vibrant economy. It addressed how to bring more Americans into substantive dialogue on Internet policies, that is, those beyond the familiar constituencies that do participate in these debates.

Monday, August 11, 2014

9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.            Session I. Laying the Groundwork: What’s at Issue?
The opening session will set forth the current state of the online environment in a way that lays out the tension of values and issues at stake. We will address openness, innovation, big data, network effects, and other such attributes of the networked world, good and bad. How do they impact personal and collective security, individual autonomy and privacy, freedom of expression, and free commerce? Are there attributes that, over time, lead inexorably in one direction or another? Can desired values be built-in, such as “privacy by design,” or will there always be a tension between forces of, for example, big data and privacy, censorship and free expression, surveillance and security?  This session will begin with introductory presentations on where we stand with regard to Internet policies at the current time.

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.          Session II. Engaging the Issues
The issues in domestic (and international) Internet governance will be some of the most important of our Age. But broad understanding and civic engagement is not always at the level it should be. Certainly in popularized issues such as Net Neutrality, the FCC can receive over a million comments. But as is the case in many governmental proceedings there is a mismatch between those who have a lot directly at stake and the general public or the unborn business. How do we increase the amount and quality of civic involvement in Internet policy? How can these policies be made more relevant to the public, and the public’s voice more actively communicated to governments at all levels?  This session will begin with a presentation from Quid on their research regarding the current debates on Internet policy, detailing the sources of public participation.

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.              Working Groups
After lunch, participants break into working groups with the aim of developing scenarios of how the Internet might look depending on predetermined variables.  Participants will break into four working groups, each taking on a different scenario aimed at the year 2020.  The scenarios will derive from the following axes: One axis is from Open to Closed Systems and Networks.  The other is from Heavy to Light Regulation.












In the first working group session, the participants will consider what got them to this point, i.e., what likely happened to reach a scenario with the extent of regulation contemplated in that network system.  For example, in the “Closed/Unregulated” group, the group could decide that, in their scenario, the courts decided that the FCC could never get its regulatory authority straight, striking down each attempt at regulation, and Congress could remain at a stalemate on the issue.  The group should then decide what the attributes of the scenario look like, i.e., give a description of the different players’ roles in its 2020 scene.  It should then name the scenario, e.g., “Game of Thrones”.  In describing the scenario the group should also consider “black swans” – unexpected events – that could affect the unfolding of developments.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

8:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.            Session III. Working Groups Progress Reports and Feedback

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.          Session IV. Moving the Needle
This session will consider how citizens can become more involved in the decision-making process to bring about desired changes.  The purpose of this session is to help Working Groups think through how to bring about better results within their respective scenarios.

2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.              Working Groups (continued)
Each Working Group will refine its scenario by describing what it sees as indication that the scenario is coming, what is good and bad about that scenario, from a values perspective, and what people might do to affect the outcome. What can or should be done to make the scenario better for consumers and citizens?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

8:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.            Session V. Reports of the Working Groups
Each group will present its refined scenario and suggestions of what can or should be done to make the scenario better for consumers and citizens. What can individuals do to affect the outcomes? The group will refine these proposals and, ideally, integrate them.

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.          Session VI. Next Steps
In this final session, participants will consider who needs to do what to create a stronger, freer Internet in the years ahead.