Digital Policy Issues for the New Communications Bill

Digital Policy Issues for the New Communications Bill

A Meeting to be held as part of an ESRC Seminar Series entitled ‘Digital Policy: Connectivity, Creativity and Rights

Location: Oxford Internet Institute (OII) Seminar Room, 1 St Giles’, Oxford

Time: 10.00-16.00 on 24 June 2011

An invited group of academics and practitioners will meet at the OII on 24 June 2011 to identify the key policy issues that should be considered in the UK’s new communications bill. Press coverage of the Oxford Media Convention, various interviews over the following months, and an open letter by the Minister, indicate that the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) plans to issue a green paper in the near-future – possibly by the end of the summer or early autumn 2011. Therefore is critical that debate over the key objectives and issues of the new communications bill begins early, before the initial green paper is published. The meeting will be one in an ESRC Seminar Series, entitled ‘Digital Policy: Connectivity, Creativity and Rights’: for which I am a co-principal. My colleagues and I are in the early life of this series, but one of our clear aims is to help shape and inform debate about digital policy. It is difficult to think of a more significant focus of a discussion of digital policy in Britain than the forthcoming communications bill. That said, we would define ‘digital policy’ broadly, in the spirit of increasing convergence across the ecology of media and related information and communication technologies, such as the Internet and mobile communication, that are shaping the quality and diversity of communication in the UK and worldwide.

If you would like to join this discussion, please comment on this blog or send a note to <> at your earliest convenience. We are trying to limit numbers but should be able to bring in individuals that can add to the mix of expertise we wish to assemble on the day. Whether or not you can attend this session, you are invited to send a one-page position paper before the 17th of June, which we will use to identify the key issues. I will edit and collate these for participants on the day, and use them to shape the agendafor the seminar. A key outcome of this meeting is the identification of key issues, but we also hope this meeting will suggest follow-ups to this discussion, which can be organised by the ESRC Seminar Series, or by others, as we seek to broaden and deepen discussion of the communications bill.

A short summary of the seminar will be posted in due course, but do let me know if you wish to attend, and please post or send your thoughts on critical issues. Also consult the event page on the OII Web site for further details at:

Launch of New ESRC Research Seminar Series on ‘Digital Policy: Connectivity, Creativity and Rights’

A new ESRC Research Seminar Series on Digital Policy: Connectivity, Creativity and Rights will be launched at University of Wales, Newport, on April 1 2011. This event ‘Digital Wales: Inclusive Creativity and Economy’ is hosted by the School of Art, Media and Design. The main project Web site is at:

The day features speakers including David Warrender (Director Digital Wales, Welsh Assembly Government), Ian Hargreaves (Cardiff University), William Dutton (Oxford Internet Institute), Lorna Hughes (National Library of Wales), Rhodri Williams (Ofcom), Hamish Fyfe (University of Glamorgan), Panayiota Tatsou (Swansea University), Sangeet Bhullar (Wise Kids), Iain Tweedale (BBC) and the Artist Keynote will be John Goto (University of Derby).

The series led by Gillian Youngs (University of Wales, Newport), Tracy Simmons (University of Leicester), William Dutton (Oxford Internet Institute), Katharine Sarikakis (University of Vienna) will run over two years.

Digital policy is currently high on political, communications and commercial agendas. Controversial areas such as copyright infringement, the future and functions of public service content, and the role of Ofcom are core issues.  In the longer term the potential for economic transformations and growth through the digital economy, including the development of new skills, technological and industrial innovation and creativity, are at stake.

This seminar series aims to bring together a distinctive mix of academic researchers at all levels, including research students, with policymakers and practitioners to focus on three key areas: connectivity, creativity and rights.

The series aims to explore questions such as: What kind of digital future is envisaged in Britain? Who continues to be left out or at risk in this digital future? What can be done to overcome major technical, knowledge and skills barriers to this? What new kinds of creativity and innovation are being unleashed by digital change and how can these be expanded? How is the public service ethos being tested and enhanced in the digital environment?  The series will consider connectivity from social and skills-based as well as infrastructural and technical perspectives.

We are currently filling the last few places for the April 1 seminar. If anyone is interested in presenting their research or participating in the series or co-hosting an event as part of it please contact Gillian Youngs (


UNESCO Publication on Freedom of Connection – Book Launched and Accessible in Print and Online

Our manuscript has been published by UNESCO in a print edition, also available online.  The citation is:

William H. Dutton, Anna Dopatka, Michael Hills, Ginette Law, and Victoria Nash (2011), Freedom of Connection – Freedom of Expression: The Changing Legal and Regulatory Ecology Shaping the Internet. Paris: UNESCO, Division for Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace.

There was a launch event in Paris on 30 May, with a press release providing details on the launch and access to the online and print versions of the manuscript at:

International Symposium on Freedom of Expression

Freedom of Connection - Freedom of Expression (cover)

An ‘International Symposium on Freedom of Expression’, organized by UNESCO with the support of the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO, will be held on 26 January 2011 at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris. Key topics for panels include ‘The Status of Press Freedom Worldwide’, ‘Freedom of Expression on the Internet’, and ‘Press Freedom and the Safety of Journalists’. I am hopeful that our manuscript for UNESCO, entitled ‘Freedom of Connection – Freedom of Expression’ will be launched at the event. The penultimate draft is available online at: <;


The WikiLeaks story continues to develop in ways that promise to keep this on the agenda for some time. Here are two online panel discussions I participated in, one on the Guardian blog, and the other on Al Jazerra, which might be of interest to those following the debate:

Tech weekly:  WikiLeaks, Anonymous and cyber war
Guardian Online, 14/12/10
Professor William Dutton of the Oxford Internet Institute joins a panel on a podcast hosted by Jemima Kiss to discuss WikiLeaks and the news that major internet companies and services have been taken offline in a battle between hackers and government.

Who rules the web?
Al Jazeera net, 14/12/10
Professor Bill Dutton, professor of internet studies at Oxford University, is on Inside Story, which asks: ‘Who controls the flow of information on the internet? Who sets the rules and under what terms?’

Digital Policy: Connectivity, Creativity and Rights

The ESRC has awarded my colleagues and I support for a seminar series on ‘Digital Policy: Connectivity, Creativity, and Rights’. This will involve: me and colleagues at the OII, University of Oxford; Dr Gillian Youngs, the principal applicant, recently appointed to a professorship at the Newport School of Art, Media and Design at University of Wales; Dr Tracy Simmons at the University of Leicester; and Professor Katherine Sarikakis at the University of Vienna (2011-13). [ESRC RES-451-26-0849] The project Web site is at:


Digital policy is high on political, communications and commercial agendas currently with the Digital Economy Bill (BIS 2009-10) currently going through Parliament following on from the Digital Britain Final Report in June 2009 (BIS 2009).  While the digital revolution is already well underway in the UK in terms of business developments and changes in daily life, these transitions mark a major policy and legislative push towards Britain’s digital future. Controversial areas such as copyright infringement, the future and functions of public service content, and the role of Ofcom are core to these changes.  In broader terms the potential for economic transformations and growth through the digital economy, new skills, innovation and creativity, are key concerns.

The three core areas of focus of the seminar series offer an original synthesis bringing together consideration of connectivity, creativity and rights to encourage links between technical, political and economic issues. The series will consider connectivity from social and skills-based as well as infrastructural and technical perspectives. Creativity will be examined in a wide sense including creative and media industries, transitions in public service and other forms of content, new knowledge and networking and political and commercial innovations. Rights points not only to the importance of digital inclusivity but broader concerns of digital empowerment through access not only to digital technologies but to the knowledge, skills and motivations that are required to use in imaginative ways and to their full potential. The benefits to individuals and communities as well as to the economy at large are at stake here. Across the seminar series different aspects of the digital knowledge economy, knowledge work and skills and rights issues will be addressed including from critical perspectives.

An innovative approach of the series will be to examine these areas through multi-stakeholder engagement to identify the practical implications and challenges as well as critical debates about winners and losers in the digital game. It will bring policymakers and politicians at different levels together with academics, regulators, communications, media and creative industry representatives as well as members of NGOs, social and digital entrepreneurs and innovators.

The organizers of the series recognize that at this moment of profound digital change an inclusive debate of the kind that can only be stimulated by bringing actors with contrasting interests together is crucial. Not least to identify major tensions and concerns as well as opportunities, but also any areas requiring a particular policy focus, including in relation to complex issues of access and digital rights at collective and individual levels. What kind of digital future is envisaged in Britain? Who continues to be left out or at risk of being left out of this digital future? What can be done to overcome major technical, knowledge and skills barriers to this? How much control needs to be exerted to achieve a safe online environment including for the most vulnerable? What new kinds of creativity and innovation are being unleashed by digital change and how can these be expanded? How is the public service ethos being tested and enhanced in the digital environment? These are the kinds of questions that are central to this series.

Seminar Format

There will be at least five seminars, with additional seminars possible through support from other sources. The first will be held over two days to launch the series and explore the linking themes in some depth, and then four one-day seminars to focus in detail on separate areas. The aim will be to have some core participants who will attend a number of the seminars and then participants related to each theme for the individual seminars. All seminars will have a mix of stakeholders, ranging across policy, business and civil society, in addition to academics to generate theory/practice connections in fresh and productive ways. The aim will be to involve between 30 and 40 people in each seminar including core group participants (regular attendees) and guest speakers and participants.

Dr Sarikakis


Tracy Simmons
Gillian Youngs

The series is international. First it aims to examine digital Britain in its global context. Secondly, it aims to do that in part through the direct participation in the series of leading scholars from North America, Canada, Europe and East Asia. Finally, it aims to harness digital media in its own methodology in engagement and outreach terms, such as by using the Internet to extend cost effectively the number of international speakers who can be invovled in the series, and by using the web to enable worldwide access to the series. By experimenting with popular social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, the series also aims to contribute to new models of academic practice.

The international contributions to the series are vital when digital communication and problems and challenges affecting it have national dimensions and characteristics but also go well beyond them in creating an era of everyday global communication for leisure as much as work, consumption as much as production. The international aspects of the series will stimulate interesting comparative questions for research, contrasting areas of good practice, varied perspectives on issues such as risk, and different sets of policy priorities and objectives. The international character of the series will also significantly enhance its outputs, both in terms of the text and audiovisual material to be mounted online, but also the academic publications from the series. It is also anticipated  that new international networks will develop out of the series which will give academics at all levels of experience and others involved access to knowledge outside of the UK context. The in-depth quality of the seminars will offer plenty of opportunity for new research collaborations to be generated.

The ESRC Research Seminar Series ‘Digital Policy: Connectivity, Creativity and Rights’ (RES-451-26-0849) runs from 2011 to 2013 led by Prof. Gillian Youngs, University of Wales, Newport, with Dr Tracy Simmons, University of Leicester, Prof. Bill Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute, and Prof. Katharine Sarikakis, University of Vienna.

International Symposium on Freedom of Expression, Paris, 26 January 2011


UNESCO is holding an ‘International Symposium on Freedom of Expression‘ on 26 January 2011, with the support of the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO. One panel session will focus on freedom of expression on the Internet, and we also expect that our UNESCO publication, entitled ‘Freedom of Connection – Freedom of Expression‘, will be launched. A penultimate draft of the manuscript is online at SSRN, but a print version will be available by the date of the symposium.

There has hardly been a more critical time to focus on freedom of expression. It is not simply WikiLeaks that makes this a timely topic, but also worldwide trends in policy and practice that could undermine expression online unless the larger ecology of policies shaping expression are more fully understood.

Symposium site at:

Freedom of Expression – Freedom of Connection: UNESCO Coverage of Vilnius Workshop

UNESCO Workshop at Vilnius

UNESCO has an overview of the paper and presentation we made at the Internet Governance Forum in Vilnius available online. My co-authors and I will be revising the workshop paper for publication by UNESCO, scheduled before the end of the year. There is a link to the report within the news release, and also a version on SSRN.

Please do comment should you have the time to do so.


SSRN Paper at:

A Decade in Internet Time: Symposium on the Dynamics of the Internet and Society

A Decade in Internet Time: Symposium on the Dynamics of the Internet and Society

University of Oxford

21-24 September 2011

Event: Symposium

Location: OxfordUniversity of Oxford with sessions at the Social Sciences Manor Road Building, and Said Business School

Organized by: Oxford Internet Institute and iCS (the journal Information, Communication and Society)

Sponsors include: Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group)

The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and the journal, Information, Communication and Society (iCS) are co-organizing a symposium to critically assess the last decade of social research on the Internet and identify directions for research over the next. The symposium will be held in Oxford from the afternoon of 21 September until noon on the 24th. This event will be punctuated by a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the OII, providing an opportunity to relate broader lessons for the field to the case of one of the first departments at a major university focused on the societal implications of the Internet and related information and communication technologies. Ten years is only a moment in the span of social research, but eons in Internet time. Has social research across the disciplines been up to the challenges?

There will be parallel sessions across the days, with late-afternoon plenary sessions, and ample time for informal discussion. One plenary session will focus on the Anniversary of the OII. The parallel sessions will focus on the presentation of papers submitted for review in response to this call.

Invited Keynotes

Manuel Castells is Research Professor at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), in Barcelona. He also a University Professor and the holder of the Wallis Annenberg Chair of Communication Technology and Society at the Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, the Marvin and Joanne Grossman Distinguished Professor of Technology and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Internet Studies at Oxford University. He was Professor of Sociology and of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley (1979-2003).

Vint Cerf is a computer scientist who is recognized as one of the ‘fathers of the Internet’. His contributions have been widely acknowledged by many honorary degrees and awards, including the National Medal of Technology, the Turing Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and membership in the National Academy of Engineering. Vint Cerf is currently Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google. [Provisional Acceptance]

Andrew Graham is the Master of Balliol College, University of Oxford, and founding Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Oxford Internet Institute. He was the driving force in establishing the OII and was the Acting Director of the OII until July 2002. An Oxford graduate, Andrew Graham became economic adviser to Prime Minister Harold Wilson, 1967–69, before joining Balliol as a Tutorial Fellow in Economics. He returned to 10 Downing Street as a Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister, 1974–76 and later, from 1988–94, became economic advisor to the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and, from 1992, Leader of the Labour Party, John Smith.

Laura DeNardis is a Research Scholar, Lecturer, and the Executive Director of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. DeNardis is an Internet governance scholar and the author of Protocol Politics: The Globalization of Internet Governance (MIT Press 2009), Information Technology in Theory (Thompson 2007 with Pelin Aksoy), and numerous book chapters and articles. DeNardis received a Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from Virginia Tech, a Master of Engineering degree from Cornell University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering Science from Dartmouth College.

Eszter Hargittai is Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Faculty Associate of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University where she heads the Web Use Project. Eszter received a B.A. in Sociology from Smith College and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University where she was a Wilson Scholar. She was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford (2006-07) and a fellow at the Institute for International Integration Studies, Trinity College Dublin (2007). Currently, she is a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

Lisa Nakamura is the Director of the Asian American Studies Program, Professor in the Institute of Communication Research and Media Studies Program and Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. She is the author of Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet (University of Minnesota Press, 2008), Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity and Identity on the Internet (Routledge, 2002) and co-editor of Race in Cyberspace (Routledge, 2000). She is editing a collection with Peter Chow-White entitled Digital Race: An Anthology (Routledge, forthcoming) and is writing a new monograph on social inequality in virtual worlds, tentatively entitled ‘Workers Without Bodies: Towards a Theory of Race and Digital Labor in Virtual Worlds, or, Why World of Warcraft needs a Civil Rights Movement’.

Barry Wellman is the S.D. Clark Professor at the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto, where he directs NetLab. He is also a cross-appointed member of the university’s Knowledge Media Design Institute, and Faculty of Information. With Lee Rainie, he’s just finished Networked: The New Social Operating System, to be published by MIT Press, January 2012.

Call for Papers and Panel Proposals

Authors are invited to submit abstracts of unpublished, original work for initial review as symposium papers. Abstracts for papers should be limited to approximately 500 words; abstracts for proposed panels or workshops to 1000 words, including information about participants.

Abstracts for papers or panels should be submitted by 8 December 2010 to and have ‘iCS Symposium’ in the subject. Authors for whom abstracts are accepted will be asked to provide a completed paper by 12 September 2011.

Abstracts and papers may address any topic concerning social research on the Internet and related technologies. Proposals can be made for individual papers or for a panel. They will be evaluated on the basis of their originality and promise for shaping theoretical, methodological or empirical advances in the study of the Internet. Work that has a promise to shape research, policy or practice in this emerging field would be especially welcomed.

Themes of parallel and plenary sessions are likely to focus on change over time, including, but not limited, to such themes as:

  • The diffusion of the Internet: shifts and plateaus in digital inclusion and divides across geography, generations, and society;
  • Sizing the Internet economy and its growth over time and space;
  • Changing patterns and requirements for digital literacy and skills;
  • Trust over time and across areas of Internet use, from commerce to public services and news and information;
  • Emerging roles of networking in the public domain, government, and democratic institutions and processes, such as in election campaigns, democratic accountability and the rise of a Fifth Estate;
  • The role of the Internet in major societal crises and natural disasters;
  • Evolution of digital academe, including digital collections, formal and informal learning, e-research and academic publishing;
  • The quality and changing sources of information – from news to research – and their consequences;
  • Collaboration – myths and realities of new forms of collaborative network organizations and technologies;
  • The developing role of the Internet in social networking, whether in the workplace, everyday life, or in shaping major life chances;
  • The dark side of the Internet: growth of cyber-crime, cyber-terrorism, malicious computing, and approaches to addressing these problems;
  • Collective action – the evolving role of the Internet in social and political movements;
  • Privacy and surveillance trends and research;
  • Localism – the new Internet frontier;
  • Closing of the Internet through appliances, aps, and regulations;
  • The rise of Internet governance and regulation in areas ranging across policy arenas, from standards to freedom of expression?
  • The development of Internet research and digital research methods.

Key Dates:

Submission of Abstracts for Papers or Panels: 8 December 2010

Notification of Acceptance of Papers and Panels: 21 December 2010

Papers due: 12 September 2011


Programme Chairs

Bill Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Brian Loader, Science and Technology Studies Unit, University of York

Victoria Nash, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Barry Wellman, Netlab, University of Toronto

Programme Committee

Members of the iCS Editorial Board

Faculty of the OII


Information about registration procedures and fees are to follow. Questions may be addressed to

Call for Papers: Consumers and Internet Studies: a Workshop

Call for papers for a Workshop on ‘Consumers and Internet Studies’

Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (UOC) and Oxford Internet Institute

Barcelona, Spain (10th January 2011)


William H. Dutton, Professor of Internet Studies, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford


Inma Rodriguez-Ardura, Associate Professor of Marketing, Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, Open University of Catalonia (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, or UOC), and Visiting Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford


The Internet has become a motor of change in the relationships of consumers with business and industry. Internet users have new opportunities to enhance their power as consumers. They may obtain information regarding an immense range of relevant goods and services and benefit from the enormous possibilities available to participate in social networks, express their opinions on brand names, access independent sources of expertise, and interact and dialogue with firms and other service providers. They can play an active role in marketing communication processes and participate much more in the development and consumption of products. For their part, the Internet – including the processing systems used to manage great masses of consumer data – allow businesses to define and develop marketing proposals that are more precise and more closely matched to their customers. In sum, the new possibilities offered by the Internet make possible advanced forms of exchanges and interactions within which consumers, businesses and other service providers collaborate in the creation and reproduction of the market.

This potential of the Internet to transform the marketing and commercial environment could spawn a field of research within the larger arena of Internet Studies. Early research related to the Internet-based consumer focused on obtaining user profiles and on the segmentation of online consumers. However, as use of the Internet as a marketing channel increased, resulting in its wider use as a purchasing medium, subsequent research became centred on a plethora of questions directly related to the consumer, such as the factors influencing the consumer’s involvement in purchasing behaviours; online consumer satisfaction and loyalty; trust in purchase decisions on the Internet; consumer affairs and protection; as well as the adaptation of classic theories and models to explain online consumer behaviour. In addition, with the emergence of the applications of social networking and the thrust of recent proposals in business sciences – such as, for example, new service-dominant logic and Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM), a new wave of studies has emerged. New studies examine the forms in which the Internet empowers the consumer; exploring the new routes for co-creation of value and for participation on the part of the consumer in processes of innovation and in the generation of content; evaluating the impact of personalization practices tied to CRM programmes and to the new forms of interaction; and, finally, examining the relationship with the brand in virtual communities. A closely related area of research is focused on analyzing the institutional framework of online consumer protection.

Two Internet research centres (the Oxford Internet Institute and the IN3-UOC) are organizing this workshop, with the aim of facilitating further exploration of the terrains and standing of Internet Studies focused on aspects of the consumer and consumer behaviour, and of providing direction for enhancing its substance, significance and impact. The workshop is the second in a collaboratively organized series, intended to support the development of Internet Studies through critical analyses and perspectives from a number of internationally recognized scholars and researchers along with younger colleagues, whose research promises new insights and perspectives.

Subject Coverage

We will invite a small number of speakers from academia and industry, but also invite proposals for contributions from a wide range of disciplines and perspectives, such as consumer behaviour, business sciences, media studies, psychology, economics, political science and other approaches, applied to study of the Internet and the consumer.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Critical perspectives on the growing body of research into the Internet and the Consumer, which help to define the state of this field, its dynamism, and the critical areas in need of clarification and further research.
  • Insights into the main contributions made in the research on the online consumer to the larger domain of ‘Internet Studies’, in terms of new theories, data and methods.
  • Comprehensive overviews of key issues in Internet Studies on the Consumer -such as, for example flow, trust, eCRM, brand communities, co-creation and empowerment, which include major findings and directions for further research.

Submission information

Prospective presenters will be asked to provide an extended abstract/outline of no more than 1,500 words of their paper. Abstracts may be submitted in PDF (.pdf, preferred) or Word (.doc) format. The deadline for submissions is 10th December 2010.

Organizers and Notes

You may send one copy in the form of an PDF or an MS Word file attached to an e-mail to the following:

Prof. Dr. Inma Rodríguez-Ardura

Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, visiting the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom e-Mail: inma.rodriguez-ardura[at]

with a copy to:

Prof. Dr. William H. Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom e-Mail: william.dutton[at]

Please include in your submission the title of the workshop.