🌟 B&B Panel: Enabling Democratic Discourse Beyond Privatized Digital Public Spheres (EN)
10-01, 17:00–18:00 (Europe/Berlin), ADA
Language: English

Digital technologies accelerate political and social processes and leave little room for deliberative discourse. At the same time, state actors who should exert informational and regulatory influence often outsource their capacities and services to these companies, withholding public sector data and information from citizens. How can the DSA be advanced?


The infamous Cambridge Analytica case illustrates: powerful corporations like Meta pose a major threat to democracy. The digital public space is organized by corporations to which the state grants a lot of control. These corporations are fiercely focused on profit maximization and lack public transparency. Fake news, hate speech and manipulation flourish in so-called "social media." Their algorithms promote "echo chambers" in which like-minded people spiral into ever more extreme views. Meta and Google endanger independent media that work with journalistic standards and whose business model is collapsing. Digital technologies accelerate political and social processes and leave little room for deliberative discourse. At the same time, state actors who should exert informational and regulatory influence often outsource their capacities and services to these companies, withholding public sector data and information from citizens.
In order to counter this, the following questions, among others, will be discussed in this thematic strand: How can a better discourse be shaped and which instruments do we need for this at which levels? What alternatives are already available today and how can we develop them further? How can aspects such as data protection, transparency and open source be better valued and implemented? Last but not least, the role of the state as an enabler or impediment to democratic opinion-forming will also be discussed in this context.

Zara Rahman is a Berlin-based researcher and writer whose interests lie at the intersection of power, technology and justice. Over the past decade, her work has focused on supporting the responsible use of data and technology in advocacy and social justice, working with activists from around the world to support context-driven and thoughtful uses of tech and data. She has held fellowships with the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford University; digitalHKS at the Harvard Kennedy School; and Data & Society. She serves on the Board of Saheli, a UK-based non-profit providing support and refuge to women of colour fleeing domestic abuse, and on the Advisory Boards of A People’s Guide to Tech, and Mnemonic. She most recently served as Interim Executive Director at The Engine Room, and currently works as a freelance consultant.

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist whose work examines the impact of technology on our societal and cultural values. Based in Berlin, she is the Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a fellow at the Center for Internet & Human Rights at the European University Viadrina, a visiting professor at the College of Europe Natolin, and the author of Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism (Verso 2021).

Dr. Henriette Litta ist Geschäftsführerin der OKF. Die Politikwissenschaftlerin beschäftigt sich seit 20 Jahren mit Fragen der Souveränität im demokratischen Gemeinwesen. Sie ist aktiv und vernetzt im Stiftungssektor und bringt Expertise insbesondere in den Bereichen Organisationsentwicklung, politische Wirksamkeit und Finanzierung mit.

This speaker also appears in: