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Access to content online: regulation, business models, quality and freedom of expression

The mains issues covered by plenary session were: unrestricted access of users to online content, quality and legality of content, role and responsibility of gatekeepers and solutions to the existing problems. As a response to the first question -whether users have an unrestricted access to the online access, participants came up with other concerns. Therefore the first part of the workshop was mainly raising the main concerns rather then answering them.

One of the main concerns that participants raised was who decides what kind of information to be viewed: internet user or search engine how search engines prioritize the information and what type of information (illegal or legal) was meant in the main question. I think the last question left some type of confusion among the participants. Although the Quality of information was not elaborated enough, there were still some remarks regarding it. It was mentioned that youth is well aware how to search quality information, which is hard to agree with. One of the participants raised very interesting question-whether the diversity of online information is used and if yes, how much of it is used? Unfortunately, this question was not elaborated, but in my opinion, I don’t think that diversity offered by the internet is properly used.
Existence and role gatekeepers was most arguable issue of the meeting One group of people agreed that gatekeepers do exist and they are the ones deciding what to be viewed on internet. Thus they suggested imposing some responsibilities rather then breaking the gatekeepers (model of France was named as a good practice). On the other hand, other participants expressed their negative attitude towards gatekeepers, stating that internet should be free and there should be no gatekeeper. Although the last statement might be the ideal goal to achieve, it does not seem realistic so far. It is fact that gatekeepers do exist, restrictions including legal and illegal exist as well.

One of the aims of the meeting was to come up with solutions. It was stated that there are already enough mechanism to be used as a solution, but the problem is lack of political will. It was also mentioned that restrictions envisaged in the ECHR could be used as a restriction criteria. Lastly, there was another solution suggested by the participant, with which I mostly agree. According to it there is a need of designing the policy, for which the starting point will be fundamental rights. In other words, participants suggested formation of balanced principles in the multistakeholder format. Due to the time limit, some interesting questions were not discussed.

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