Global internet policy observatory tool

2 May 2016 09:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the WSIS Forum 2016.]

Ms Cristina Monti (European Commission, DG Connect) showcased the Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO) at a dedicated session at the WSIS Forum. The tool – currently under development – was introduced by the European Commission (EC) last year. The EC provides funding for the project, which is operated by an external consortium with the backing of all member states.

The session provided the rationale behind the GIPO. Monti explained that the GIPO is using available technologies to simplify the life of those involved in Internet governance. In her view, this is particularly important for stakeholders with limited resources, such as civil society, or stakeholders from developing countries. ‘The idea is not new and is not ours’, she said.

The concept lies in the use of new IT technologies (data mining, semantic analysis, data visualisation tools), as well as available data (articles, papers, conference proceedings, websites, forums, newsletters, blogs).

But why is such a tool needed? As Monti explained, there are many players in Internet governance and there are also many layers. The Internet is becoming more and more important in our lives touching many more domains and areas. There is a lot of complexity and information overload, as well as fragmentation. Weaker stakeholders are disengaged.

The beta version of the GIPO was launched in February this year (a second release is planned for July). It is based on a search system that makes it possible to browse by issues. The system collects only the most relevant issues from a list of identified sources, including social media. As specified in an answer to a question posed by Mr Chengetai Masango from the IGF Secretariat, the tags used by the GIPO for classification are automated, not based on user input.

Future releases of the tool will allow users to configure and personalise the tool to obtain the information they need.

Other observatories can use the content produced by the GIPO for their work. The GIPO team is in touch with other platforms and observatories for collaboration.

Monti also stressed that the taxonomy used by the GIPO relies on the taxonomy developed by DiploFoundation, used by its GIP Digital Watch observatory.

Prof. Sonia Livingstone (London School of Economics) brought up the challenge of where the automation can end. From her academic perspective, she enquired about how quality control may suffer if there is no careful selection of sources. Monti confirmed that this is still to be decided.

Mr Luis Bobo (IGF Secretariat) applauded the tool and hinted about an interest in future co-operation with the GIPO.

by Tereza Horejsova