IGF-USA 2017 Plenary Session

Plenary Session | 8:30 a.m.

Nationalism, Disinformation and Free Expression in the Age of the Internet

#igfusaProp

“The trouble with the Internet… is that it rewards extremes. Say you’re driving down the road and see a car crash. Of course you look. Everyone looks. The internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply them.”

New York Times paraphrasing Evan Williams.

The internet seemed to hold the promise of human freedom and the creation of a global public sphere. Inherent within the promise, the Internet would remove obstacles to the access of information and thereby break down barriers between people. That has been undermined by countervailing forces and widespread disillusionment with a globalized Internet that has arisen amid the rise of nationalism online and the spread of disinformation.

Ideas flourish at the speed of fiber optics, yet data does not distinguish between good and bad so hate and disinformation spread as instantaneously as front page news or cat videos. In light of recent events, it seems like that Internet that we were promised was supplanted by one that has siloed us into filter bubbles while amplifying spam content and disinformation. The cyber frontier is turning into a battleground where information (true or false) has been weaponized and micro targeted to create uncertainty, doubt, and to manipulate public opinion.

Companies, governments, and civil society all have a role in protecting a free and open Internet that encourages free expression and rewards truth and human rights, but mitigating harmful content while maintaining the free flow of information is proving to be a very challenging task.

This panel will examine:

  • How the internet ecosystem allows nativist content and movements to flourish and increasingly silos people
  • How content is weaponized and disinformation used in politics
  • How to ensure free expression with any proposed solutions.

Video



Keynote Speakers

Vint Cerf

Chief Internet Evangelist for Google

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Vinton G. Cerf is vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google. He contributes to global policy development and continued spread of the Internet. Widely known as one of the "Fathers of the Internet," Cerf is the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet. He has served in executive positions at MCI, the Corporation for National Research Initiatives and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and on the faculty of Stanford University.

Vint Cerf served as chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) from 2000-2007 and has been a Visiting Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1998. Cerf served as founding president of the Internet Society (ISOC) from 1992-1995. Cerf is a Foreign Member of the British Royal Society and Swedish Academy of Engineering, and Fellow of IEEE, ACM, and American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the International Engineering Consortium, the Computer History Museum, the British Computer Society, the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, the Worshipful Company of Stationers and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He currently serves as Past President of the Association for Computing Machinery, chairman of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) and completed a term as Chairman of the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology for the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. President Obama appointed him to the National Science Board in 2012.

Cerf is a recipient of numerous awards and commendations in connection with his work on the Internet, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, US National Medal of Technology, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, the Prince of Asturias Award, the Tunisian National Medal of Science, the Japan Prize, the Charles Stark Draper award, the ACM Turing Award, Officer of the Legion d’Honneur and 29 honorary degrees. In December 1994, People magazine identified Cerf as one of that year's "25 Most Intriguing People."

His personal interests include fine wine, gourmet cooking and science fiction. Cerf and his wife, Sigrid, were married in 1966 and have two sons, David and Bennett.

Craig Newmark

Founder of Craigslist and the Craig Newmark Foundation

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Craig Newmark is a Web pioneer, philanthropist, and a leading advocate on behalf of trustworthy journalism, veterans and military families, and other civic and social justice causes. In 2017 he became a founding funder and executive committee member of the News Integrity Initiative, administered by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, which seeks to advance news literacy and increase trust in journalism.

In 2016 he created the Craig Newmark Foundation to promote investment in organizations that effectively serve their communities and drive broad civic engagement at the grassroots level. Amid growing concerns about the proliferation of “fake news” in the context of the presidential campaign, one of the foundation’s first donations went to the Poynter Institute to create the Craig Newmark Chair in Journalism Ethics. Newmark is widely credited for his leadership in promoting “news we can trust.”

Craig serves on the board of directors of a range of nonprofits including Blue Star Families, Center for Public Integrity, Consumers Union/Consumer Reports, Girls Who Code, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Poynter Foundation, Sunlight Foundation, VetsInTech, and Women in Public Service Project. He also serves on the Board of Overseers of the Columbia Journalism Review. He serves on the advisory board of nearly twenty other nonprofit organizations including Donors Choose, EFF, New America Foundation, Voto Latino, Wikimedia Foundation, Women Who Tech, and many others.

In 1995 Craig started curating list of San Francisco arts and technology events he personally emailed to friends and colleagues. People were soon calling it "Craig's List,” and when Craig turned it into a company he monetized minimally, opting for a business model that prioritized "doing well by doing good." Today more than 5 billion ads have been posted on the site, the vast majority for free. While Craig remains chairman of craigslist, he has not been involved in management since 2000.

In 2015 craigslist received an award from the FBI in recognition of its undisclosed cooperation with the bureau in combatting human trafficking. Craig was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2013 he was named “Nerd-in-Residence” by the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation.

Born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1952, Craig earned degrees in computer science from Case Western Reserve University. He lives in San Francisco and enjoys bird- and squirrel-watching, science fiction, TV, and Dad jokes.

Craig communicates regularly through his own blog at craigconnects.org and through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, and HuffPost. He also travels the country speaking about issues and appearing on behalf of organizations he supports.

Moderator

Dana Priest

The Washington Post

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Dana Priest is an American journalist, writer and teacher. She has worked for nearly 30 years for The Washington Post and became the third John S. and James L. Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism at the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism in 2014. Before becoming a full-time investigative reporter at the Post, Priest specialized in intelligence reporting and wrote many articles on the U.S. "War on terror" and was the newspaper's Pentagon correspondent. In 2006 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting citing "her persistent, painstaking reports on secret "black site" prisons and other controversial features of the government's counter-terrorism campaign."

In February 2006, Priest was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting for her November 2005 article on secret CIA detention facilities in foreign countries. Priest also revealed the existence of the Counterterrorist Intelligence Centers (CTIC) in a November 17, 2005, front page article, which are counter-terrorist operations centers run jointly by the CIA and foreign intelligence services. The Alliance Base in Paris, involving the DGSE and other foreign intelligence agencies, is one of the most important CTIC.

Panelists

Craig Newmark

Founder of Craigslist and the Craig Newmark Foundation

View Bio

Craig Newmark is a Web pioneer, philanthropist, and a leading advocate on behalf of trustworthy journalism, veterans and military families, and other civic and social justice causes. In 2017 he became a founding funder and executive committee member of the News Integrity Initiative, administered by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, which seeks to advance news literacy and increase trust in journalism.

In 2016 he created the Craig Newmark Foundation to promote investment in organizations that effectively serve their communities and drive broad civic engagement at the grassroots level. Amid growing concerns about the proliferation of “fake news” in the context of the presidential campaign, one of the foundation’s first donations went to the Poynter Institute to create the Craig Newmark Chair in Journalism Ethics. Newmark is widely credited for his leadership in promoting “news we can trust.”

Craig serves on the board of directors of a range of nonprofits including Blue Star Families, Center for Public Integrity, Consumers Union/Consumer Reports, Girls Who Code, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Poynter Foundation, Sunlight Foundation, VetsInTech, and Women in Public Service Project. He also serves on the Board of Overseers of the Columbia Journalism Review. He serves on the advisory board of nearly twenty other nonprofit organizations including Donors Choose, EFF, New America Foundation, Voto Latino, Wikimedia Foundation, Women Who Tech, and many others.

In 1995 Craig started curating list of San Francisco arts and technology events he personally emailed to friends and colleagues. People were soon calling it "Craig's List,” and when Craig turned it into a company he monetized minimally, opting for a business model that prioritized "doing well by doing good." Today more than 5 billion ads have been posted on the site, the vast majority for free. While Craig remains chairman of craigslist, he has not been involved in management since 2000.

In 2015 craigslist received an award from the FBI in recognition of its undisclosed cooperation with the bureau in combatting human trafficking. Craig was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2013 he was named “Nerd-in-Residence” by the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation.

Born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1952, Craig earned degrees in computer science from Case Western Reserve University. He lives in San Francisco and enjoys bird- and squirrel-watching, science fiction, TV, and Dad jokes.

Craig communicates regularly through his own blog at craigconnects.org and through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, and HuffPost. He also travels the country speaking about issues and appearing on behalf of organizations he supports.

Ambassador Karen Kornbluh

Council on Foreign Relations

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Ambassador Karen Kornbluh is senior fellow for digital policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Previously, Kornbluh was executive vice president of Nielsen, responsible for global public policy, privacy strategy, and corporate social responsibility.

Kornbluh served as U.S. ambassador in Paris to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. As the representative of the largest donor, she served on the OECD governing board and audit committee. She spearheaded development of the first global Internet Policymaking Principle and launched both the OECD's Gender Initiative and the Middle East-North Africa Women's Business Forum. In addition, Kornbluh led efforts to expand the OECD's reach to emerging economies and expanded anticorruption and governance efforts. Her work was featured in a New York Times profile and a Washington Post op-ed on "The Foreign Policy of the Internet."

Previously, Kornbluh served as policy director for then-Senator Obama. She served in the Clinton administration as deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Treasury Department, and as director of the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Federal Communications Commission.

Prior to her government service, Kornbluh was a management consultant at Telesis and Townsend-Greenspan & Co. Kornbluh has written extensively on economic, technology, and family policy in publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly, and Harvard Journal of Law and Technology. She founded the New America Foundation's Work and Family Program.

Yochai Benkler

Harvard Law School

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Yochai Benkler is the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School, and faculty co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Since the 1990s he has played a role in characterizing the role of information commons and decentralized collaboration to innovation, information production, and freedom in the networked economy and society. His books include The Wealth of Networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom (Yale University Press 2006), which won academic awards from the American Political Science Association, the American Sociological Association, and the McGannon award for social and ethical relevance in communications. In 2012 he received a lifetime achievement award from Oxford University in recognition of his contribution to the study and public understanding of the Internet and information goods. His work is socially engaged, winning him the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award in 2011, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award for 2007, and the Public Knowledge IP3 Award in 2006. It is also anchored in the realities of markets, cited as “perhaps the best work yet about the fast moving, enthusiast-driven Internet” by the Financial Times and named best business book about the future in 2006 by Strategy and Business. Benkler has advised governments and international organizations on innovation policy and telecommunications, and serves on the boards or advisory boards of several nonprofits engaged in working towards an open society. His work can be freely accessed at benkler.org.

Amie Stepanovich

Access Now

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Amie Stepanovich works to ensure that laws and policies on surveillance and cybersecurity recognize and respect human rights. At Access Now, Amie manages and develops the organization's U.S. policy and leads global projects at the intersection of human rights and government surveillance. Previously, Amie was the Director of the Domestic Surveillance Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, where she testified in hearings in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as in State legislatures. Amie is a board member of the Internet Education Foundation. She was a liaison to the American Bar Association's Cybersecurity Working Group and co-chaired the 2014 Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference. Amie was named as a Privacy Ambassador by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada and was recognized in 2014 as one of Forbes magazine’s 30 under 30 leaders in Law and Policy. She has a J.D. from New York Law School, and a B.S. from the Florida State University.

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