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Internet & Rights: digital constitutions and “national” Internet governance

April 21, 2016
12:00PM - 01:30PM

CGCS Conference Room
3901 Walnut Street, Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Speaker: Lex Gill, Elisabetta Ferrari, João Araújo Monteiro Neto

Categories: Panel Discussion

Since the advent of the Internet, citizens, advocacy groups, governments, intergovernmental organizations, and corporations have made various efforts to assert the “rights” of citizens in the global Internet space. Especially since the Snowden revelations in 2013, topics such as online privacy, freedom of expression, access to information, participation and digital inclusion have been put at the forefront of not only international documents, but also through national legislation. These “Internet Bills of Rights” have sought to address issues of power and authority on the Internet within the complex transnational and privately mediated aspects of internet governance. In this informal lunch discussion, we will explore this challenging arena through the notion of “digital constitutionalism”, a term which attempts to encompass the many proposals and documents put forward by a variety of actors to give form and legality to the ever-changing concept of “digital rights”. We also discuss the profoundly political and symbolic dimensions of the legislative efforts put in place by democratic states in this domain, focusing in particular on the Brazilian Marco Civil da Internet and the Italian Declaration of Internet Rights. How do national political debates shape national attempts to give rights to Internet users? And how can national documents have an impact on the international level?

Please click here for “Towards Digital Constitutionalism? Mapping Attempts to Craft an Internet Bill of Rights” by Lex Gill, Dennis Redeker, and Urs Gasser.

Lunch will be served on a first come first served basis. This panel is part of the CGCS’ Internet Policy Observatory lunchtime series. Click here to learn more about the Internet Policy Observatory.


Lex Gill is a research consultant to the Privacy, Technology, and Surveillance Project at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, supporting the organization’s efforts to map institutions, practices, and the civil liberties impacts of state surveillance in Canada.

She is also an affiliate to the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, where she has produced research on Internet governance, blockchain technology, and civil liberties in the digital sphere. Lex is co-author to a new Berkman working paper entitled “Towards digital constitutionalism? Mapping attempts to craft an Internet Bill of Rights.”

Her current research interests include topics such as encryption and anonymity, transsystemic approaches to the right to be forgotten, and the legal implications of economically disruptive technology. She has facilitated workshops, conference talks and trainings on wildly interdisciplinary issues of law, technology, and social change. She is based in Montréal and is a B.C.L. / LL.B. candidate at McGill University’s Faculty of Law.


Elisabetta Ferrari is a Doctoral Student at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. She researches collective action, activism and digital technologies; she is also interested in how different social and political actors construct myths and narratives about technology – and how these relate to policy.

Elisabetta has been involved in the international project Ranking Digital Rights, which focuses on the role of ICT companies in protecting and promoting the right to privacy and freedom of expression online; within the project, she has conducted research on telecommunications companies in Italy and Hungary. She also contributed research on the Hungarian social network iWiW to the UNESCO report “Fostering Freedom Online: the Role of Internet Intermediaries”.

Elisabetta has a background in student activism and political campaigning in Italy. She holds a BA in International Studies from the University of Bologna (Italy) and an MA in Political Science from Central European University (Budapest, Hungary). Before joining the Doctoral program at the Annenberg School, she worked at the Center for Media, Data, and Society at Central European University (Budapest, Hungary).


João Neto is a PhD candidate studying Law in the School of Law at the University of Kent in Canterbury, United Kingdom.  His research engages with the legal construction of the multi-stakeholder practice in internet governance, specifically in the Brazilian context where he explores concepts and relations of regulatory entrepreneurship and strategic communication.

João is also a Reader in Law at the School of Law, University of Fortaleza, Brazil where he taught Information Technology Law and supervised undergraduate research related to cybercrimes in Latin America.