Messages from Tampere – Main topic 3: Digital platforms

Subtopic 1:

Virtual worlds, but real risks: navigating metaverses as a next generation of digital platforms

Rapporteur: Boris Begović, Geneva Internet Platform

  1. Establishing robust governance for virtual worlds is crucial and should ensure inclusive and secure spaces accessible to all. Neglecting global governance could lead to exclusive communities controlled by a select few. By collaborating with global stakeholders and utilising existing structures like EuroDIG, ICANN, and the IGF, we should aim to build upon our shared interests and make progress together.
  2. The community must persist in engaging in the discussion about the metaverse, even as it loses its current trendiness and gives way to the prominence of AI. To foster a constructive trajectory, we must proactively contemplate the governance framework before widespread metaverse utilisation.
  3. Prioritising a collective agreement on guiding principles is crucial for effectively implementing and enforcing human rights in the metaverse. However, before addressing these matters, the key is to unite globally and acknowledge that state-centric, corporate-led governance of the metaverse is inadequate.
  4. It is vital to recognise that digital tools are meant to serve and support human beings. Our goal should be to ensure that the virtual world remains in service to the analogue world, harmonising both spheres for the benefit of humanity.

Subtopic 2:

The European Union’s digital transformation – regulatory challenges, technical impacts and emerging opportunities

Rapporteur: Bojana Kovač, Geneva Internet Platform

  1. Defining security is difficult, if not impossible, due to the evolving nature of technology. Current EU regulatory frameworks aim to cover most of the risks posed by existing technologies, including the Cyber Resilience Act, which is in the making to protect the security of digital products.
  2. Security is not absolute; it is always about risk management and reducing vulnerabilities. While larger companies are already equipped to comply with cybersecurity regulations and certifications, the challenge lies in ensuring security in the open source ecosystem, which relies on numerous projects run by individuals, nonprofits, and universities. Rather than solely relying on legal requirements, providing financial support to smaller open-source projects for making security audits and bug fixes would be more effective. Legal requirements should not disrupt the global and collaborative open source software development model.
  3. Ensuring comprehensive technological literacy is crucial, as it empowers individuals with a deeper understanding of technology. Due to its continuous evolution, industry professionals and users must remain informed and educated about emerging risks and challenges.

Subtopic 3:

Platforms as critical infrastructure for democratic discourse

Rapporteur: Katarina Bojović, Geneva Internet Platform

  1. Decentralised platforms have the potential to provide an alternative and overcome some of the concerning features of dominant social platforms, such as surveillance capitalism, the attention economy, and digital colonialism. Yet, many questions and challenges still need to be addressed, such as sustainable financing and the lack of scalable business models.
  2. The surge in large language models such as ChatGPT and other possibilities to create synthetic text creates greater pressure on content filtering and a much bigger need for transparency. Big tech companies must adopt clear and transparent content moderation policies that prioritise accuracy and accountability, with clear procedures for removing harmful content. Companies must also ensure their content moderation systems and rules are fair, transparent, and easily accessible in user languages.