Communication Rights in the Digital Age 24-25 October 2019

The rights-based perspective on ethical and political questions presented by the new digital media has recently regained attention in academic and political debates. This conference will address the interplay of national and global (universal and specific) characteristics of communication rights: What are some definitions of communication rights? Who are the policy and other actors defining these rights? What are current core issues or cases that pertain to communication rights?

The international conference, Communication Rights in the Digital Age, 24-25 October 2019 in Helsinki, was organized by the Helsinki Media Policy Research Group, the University of Helsinki, the ECREA Communication Law and Policy Section and the Euromedia Research Group, and supported by the IAMCR Communication Policy & Technology Section. It was also supported by CORDI, and five of the project’s researchers presented their work in the conference.

The opening panel asked: What rights, whose rights, and who cares?

Communication rights as concept has no fixed meaning. The notion can refer not only to existing legally binding norms but also more broadly to normative principles against which real-world developments are assessed. There is no consensus on what kinds of institutions are needed to uphold and enforce communication rights in the non-territorial, regulation-averse, and rapidly changing media environment. Besides the actions of states, the realisation of communication rights is now increasingly impacted by the actions of global multinational corporations, activists, and users themselves.

It’s time to ask: what and whose rights – and who wants to promote and safeguard them? This theme of the opening panel of the conference was first highlighted by the organizing committee: Karen Donders, Vrije Universiteit Brussel; Marko Milosavljević, University of Ljubljana; Hannu Nieminen, University of Helsinki; Amit Schejter, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel and the Pennsylvania State University, and Josef Trappel, University of Salzburg. A lively debate with the audience on definitions and foci ensued.

The keynote speaker Phil Napoli from Duke University spoke about User Data as Public Resource: A New Approach to Data Property Rights and Social Media Regulation:

CORDI members Kari Karppinen and Minna Horowitz presented their conceptual analysis Dialogical rights as digital rights: Old foundations, new issues, Outi Puukko her work with Minna Horowitz on Right to communicate, media democratization, and digital rights: Connections between movements; Marko Ala-Fossi on Net neutrality debate in Finland; and Katja Lehtisaari, with Anette Alén-Savikko, Minna Horowitz & Hannu Nieminen, on Communication for everyone: Communication rights and their differing contexts.

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