October 17 – 18, 2022, The Hague Conference Center, The Hague, Netherlands 

IGP will hold its 7th Annual Conference in October. We invite scholars and practitioners in business and government to join us in a wide-ranging exploration of its theme: “From Internet Governance to Digital Political Economy.”

What scholars and policy makers used to call Internet governance no longer exists. Every policy problem that involves the Internet is now a subset of a larger set of policy problems posed by a globally networked system of digital capabilities and services. To understand these problems, scholars need to focus on the political economy of the digital ecosystem. 

As the communications infrastructure that supports the ecosystem, the Internet is very important, but its policy and governance can no longer be considered in isolation from other digital developments. The global governance of the Internet is now inseparable from the governance of digital trade, from military conflict and competition in cyberspace, from platform regulation, debates over AI applications, and from industrial policy debates about semiconductors, 5G and other digital technologies. 

This change has already been recognized, tacitly, by the UN Internet Governance Forum, the Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet), and others. A broader set of issues related to the digital political economy already makes up a significant portion of their programs. However, they have not adequately defined what their actual field of study is. In the U.S., the term “tech policy” is often used as a crude label, but that term is too broad (there are many technologies and arenas of technology policy that are not digital). 

We propose digital political economy as the new label. If governance is indeed the focal point of what used to be Internet governance studies, then a political economy approach both sharpens and broadens the focus. It covers problems in “governance” but its understanding and analysis of them is deeper because it situates them in the interaction of ICT, markets, politics and law. By bridging the artificial disciplinary and topical divisions, political economy serves as a stronger basis for public policy analysis and intervention. 

This conference calls for papers or panel proposals in 7 areas of political economy applied specifically to the digital world: Ideas and Ideologies; Politics and Geopolitics; Industry Organization and Regulation; Cybersecurity and Privacy; Digital Currency; Content Governance. It will converge scholars from the fields of law, economics, computer science, software standards and development, Internet governance, public policy, international relations, and international political economy around the problems of digital transformation.   

We welcome submissions of scholarly papers or panel ideas on any of the topics listed below. Registration for observers will be made available later. To participate in the program, send to “info@internetgovernance.org” any one of the following by July 1:  

  • An extended abstract (800 – 1200 words) of a work in progress 
  • A draft of a complete paper   
  • A proposal for panel discussions among experts with innovative ideas. 

Suggested topics

Ideas and ideologies 

  • Critiques and defenses of the “surveillance capitalism” thesis 
  • Critical analyses of “digital sovereignty” and other neo-mercantilist tropes  
  • Alternative models of ownership, control and governance of data  

Politics and Geo-politics 

  • Role of social media in domestic partisan political conflicts 
  • Case studies of national “digital sovereignty” initiatives  
  • The digital economy, digital alliances and digital cold wars 
  • Competition among states for “leadership” in AI, semiconductors or 5G/6G  

Digital Industry and Regulation 

  • The industrial organization of computational infrastructures (app stores, clouds, platforms)   
  • The global political economy of chip production and trade  
  • Prospects for global cooperation and compatibility in platform regulation 
  • Comparative analysis of platform regulation initiatives  
  • Global competition and cooperation in AI  

Privacy and Security  

  • Comparative analysis of data governance initiatives in the U.S., EU, China and India.  
  • Impact of economic and political incentives on software supply chain security 
  • The role of the private sector in the governance of content, standards and identifiers 

Digitization of money

  • Status reports on the digitization of money  
  • The role of digital payment systems in altering or reinforcing geopolitical hegemony  
  • Comparative nation-state policies toward cryptocurrency 
  • Web monetization and Web3 

PE of Content  Governance

  • Algorithms and the public sphere 
  • Content moderation practices and their relationship to geopolitical competition 
  • Is there a content cartel?   
  • Platforms and state-backed influence operations