May 4, 2023, 11am-12pm

CITI-IMMAA Seminar: Shelly Palmer, CEO, The Palmer Group, and Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University

The Intractable Problem of Alignment in AI

Artificial Intelligence has emerged as an major subject of interest and hype.  While some of the talk has focused on ways that AI will improve people’s lives, much of it has been dystopian..  This session will focus on how these two views can be merged, and how to align the various models of AI with values important to humanity.  

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing, and co-founder of Metacademy, a free educational platform that teaches practical applications of blockchain, crypto, NFTs, Web3, the metaverse. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Fox 5’s Good Day New York, and is a regular commentator on CNN and CNBC. He’s the co-host of the award-winning podcast Techstream with Shelly Palmer & Seth Everett and he hosts the Shelly Palmer #Web3Wednesday Livestream.

Shelly is a prolific author. Along with his daily newsletter, his books include, the Amazon #1 Bestseller, Blockchain – Cryptocurrency, NFTs & Smart Contracts: An executive guide to the world of decentralized finance and Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV, the seminal book about the technological, economic, and sociological forces that have changing everything about the business of television, Overcoming the Digital Divide: How to use Social Media and Digital Tools to Reinvent Yourself and Your Career, and Digital Wisdom: Thought Leadership for a Connected World.


April 26, 2023, 11:00am-12:30pm

"Social Media and International Governance: The UNESCO Guidelines for Regulating Digital Platforms"

The many issues raised by social media platforms have stimulated calls for new governance mechanisms. Some platforms have responded by establishing self-governance systems like oversight boards, and some governments and regional bodies like the European Union have responded with laws and regulations, in particular for the largest platforms. At the multilateral level several in initiatives are underway, in particular the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) effort to develop Guidelines for Regulating Digital Platforms. The Guidelines are intended to promote regulations that both support freedom of expression and deal with content that is illegal and risks harm to democracy and human rights. A draft was debated at UNESCO’s February 2023 Internet for Trust conference. 

In the course of this process, stakeholders have raised a wide range of concerns. Some have argued that:

  • The need for UN-created guidelines has not been demonstrated;
  • The process has been inadequately inclusive and transparent;
  • The scope of entities covered and the respective roles and responsibilities of relevant actors are unclear;
  • The intended creation of regulatory agencies and frameworks and their treatment of potentially harmful content are problematic;
  • The inattention to competition policy, privacy and data protection, and business models based on data harvesting is severely limiting;
  • Above all, that the guidelines, despite good intentions, could provide international legitimacy and support for nondemocratic governments seeking to penalize and suppress a wide variety of speech.

This webinar assembles a panel of leading expert participants in the UNESCO debate and related discussions. The group will assess driving issues and interests, negotiation dynamics, potential outcomes and larger digital governance implications.

As always, the panelists’ conversation will be followed by an extensive and open dialogue among all participants.


Eli Noam is Paul Garrett Professor of Public Policy and Business Responsibility, Professor of Finance and Economics, emeritus, and the Director of the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information

Moderator and Organizer

William J. Drake is Director of International Studies at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information and Adjunct Professor, Columbia Business School.


Alison Gillwald is the Executive Director of Research ICT Africa (RIA), a digital policy and regulatory think-tank based in South Africa. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Cape Town’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance. (South Africa)

David Kaye is Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the International Justice Clinic at the University of California, Irvine. He is also Chair of the Board of Directors of the Global Network Initiative, a multistakeholder initiative that brings together 85 leading businesses, NGOs, and academics. From 2014 to 2020, he served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. (USA)  

Laura O’Brien is Senior UN Advocacy Officer at Access Now, an NGO that advocates for the digital civil rights and organizes the annual RightsCon Convention. Previously, Laura engaged in strategic litigation support, including at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and for human rights organizations, clinics, and experts including two U.N. Special Rapporteurs. (USA)

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 April 6, 2023

Blockchain Decision Rules and Their Impact on Performance and Stability


March 23, 2023, 11am-12:30pm

'Fair Share' or an 'Internet Traffic Tax'? The EU Telcos vs. 'Big Content' Debate and its Global Implications

The peering and transit model of interconnection has been a key building block for the Internet’s spectacular growth. But over the past decade, the major European telecommunications carriers have sought to move the EU toward a system under which the major content suppliers would be required to pay them volume-based fees for delivering content to their customers. The telcos argue that accommodating today’s explosive growth in network usage, especially for video on demand, requires broadband investments that they cannot afford to make without receiving mandatory payments from ‘Big Content’ originators. Accordingly, they have pushed at both the multilateral and regional levels for legally required ‘fair compensation’ by these originators for the use of their networks. The European Commission has welcomed this proposal in the context of its far-reaching Digital Agenda that has emphasized industrial policy and the regulation of US-based tech giants in the name of building Europe’s ‘digital sovereignty.’ In time, such fees also could target emerging data-intensive domains like the metaverse.

In response, the European telecom regulators and some other governmental entities, corporate suppliers and users, industry associations, the Internet technical community, civil society organizations, and others have mobilized against the telcos’ proposal. The critics argue that the the proposal constitutes a Sending-Party-Network-Pays (SPNP) system that is contrary to the traditional peering model; content providers already invest heavily in infrastructure build-outs and the telcos are already adequately compensated by their customers; the mandated compensation could negatively affect many actors beyond Big Content; the proposal is contrary to network neutrality and would require further regulations that could favor incumbent carriers; and that an EU shift to SPNP could ripple across the the global Internet. Amidst this heated debate over whether the telco proposal constitutes ‘fair compensation’ or rather an ‘Internet Traffic Tax,’ the EC is running until May 19 an online open consultation on electronic infrastructure in advance of considering legislation. 

This webinar, by the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information, assembles a panel of leading expert participants in the raging debate. The group will lay out the merits of the respective arguments; assess the compatibility of SPNP with other policy frameworks and objectives; discuss alternative options for funding broadband rollouts and digital transformation; and in particular, consider the potential implications of EU adoption for the global Internet environment and digital governance.

As always, the panelists’ conversation will be followed by an open dialogue among all participants.


Eli Noam, Paul Garrett Professor, Emeritus, and Director of the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information


William J. Drake, Director of International Studies at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information

Roundtable Panelists

Rudolf van der Berg is a Partner at Stratix Consulting. Previously, he was a regulatory affairs manager at Tele2, a senior policy advisor at the OECD, a management consultant at Logica Management Consulting, and a policy manager at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. (Netherlands)

Michael Kende is a Senior Advisor for Analysys Mason consulting and a digital development specialist with the World Bank Group. Previously he was the Chief Economist at the Internet Society, and a Visiting Lecturer at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. (Switzerland)

Maarit Palovirta is the Senior Director for Regulatory Affairs at the European Telecommunications Network Operators'​ Association, ETNO. Previously she held manager roles at the Internet Society and Cisco Systems and worked in well-known Brussels based consultancies.

March 2, 2023, 11am-12pm

CITI-IMMAA Seminar: Dr. João Palmeiro, President, Portuguese Publishers Association


February 23, 2023, 11am-12:30pm

ICANN Independence, Seven Years On

In 2023, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) celebrates the 25th anniversary of its founding and the 7th anniversary of its transition to independence from the United States government.  The 2016 transition ended the contract under which ICANN performed the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions subject to US government stewardship; created a free-standing organization that is accountable primarily to its multistakeholder community; and constituted a significant change in the international regime for Internet names and numbers.  In light of its dual anniversaries, it is timely to take stock of ICANN’s progress as a unique global governance mechanism that manages functions essential to the global digital economy and society.

This webinar takes up the challenge by assembling a panel of leading experts who have been deeply involved in ICANN processes.  The group will consider such questions as: the transition’s geopolitical, interest group, and institutional consequences; the implementation of ICANN’s accountability framework and of Public Technical Identifiers, the ICANN affiliate created to manage the IANA functions (most notably coordination of the Internet's unique identifiers); the challenges ICANN and its community have faced in responding to new pressures from technological change, industry demands, and government policies; ICANN’s role and engagement in the wider global Internet governance ecosystem; and the lessons of its experience for the future of multistakeholder cooperation in global Internet and digital governance.

As always, the panelists’ conversation will be followed by an open dialogue among all participants.


William J. Drake, Director of International Studies at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information 

Roundtable Panelists :

Olga Cavalli, National Director of Cybersecurity in the Chief of Cabinet of the President of Argentina, and former Undersecretary of Information Technology and advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Argentina)

James Gannon, Chair of the Board of Directors of Public Technical Identifiers, and Vice President of Quality, Trust & Safety at the PharmaLedger Association (Ireland)

Milton Mueller, Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Public Policy, and Director of the School's Internet Governance Project (USA)

February 2, 2023

CITI-IMMAA Seminar: Sally Lehrman, Founder and Leader, The Trust Project


January 19, 2023, 11am-12:30pm

Whither the Internet Governance Forum?

The UN’s annual IGF will have concluded Dec. 2 and there’s been much debate both within the IGF ecosystem and among governments (including EU heads of state) and in UN SG Guterres’ Global Digital Compact process about the future of the IGF and whether and how it could be institutionally reformed to enhance its outputs and make them more politically salient. Looking further down the road, in 2025 the UN GA will decide on whether to renew the IGF’s mandate as part of its WSIS+20 review process. So there’s a lot of debate internationally about the way forward, and we will have a panel of leading participant observers of the IGF to explore the options and prognosis.

January 5, 2023, 11am-12pm

CITI-IMMAA Seminar: Johannes Bauer, Quello Chair for Media and Information Policy in the Department of Media and Information, Michigan State University

"The Return of the State into the Digital Economy"

During the past few years, the state has taken on a more proactive role in shaping the digital economy. Motives, forms, and patterns of interventions differ between countries and regions. However, after decades in which the state withdrew from telecommunications and media industries, it is remarkable how quickly the need for a renewed, stronger role has become accepted among decision makers across the political spectrum. 

This talk explored the anatomy and causes of these developments and critically discusses the rationales, strengths and weaknesses of selected emerging approaches. To keep the topic manageable, it focused on these developments in democratic contexts. It briefly reviewed the reasons for the withdrawal of the state in the late twentieth century before it explored the forces that have led to recent policy initiatives in regulatory and competition policy. 

This requires analyzing political-economic factors in addition to the standard rationales of network effects and dominance. Examples from the European Digital Markets Act and policy discussions in several other countries will illustrate the arguments. It is concerning that some of the interventions are fallbacks on policies that were abandoned as inefficient decades ago. At the same time, we also observe interesting institutional experimentation and innovations.

We explored the consequences of these developments for digital industries, their management, and the likely repercussions on competition and innovation. This will allow a preliminary outlook on whether the emerging policy models offer avenues to reconcile the technological dynamics of digital industries with notions of the public interest.

Johannes M. Bauer is a Professor in the Department of Media and Information and the Director of the Quello Center for Media and Information Policy at Michigan State University. He holds advanced degrees in Economics from the Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria. His research broadly addresses the role of management and policy in optimizing the benefits of advanced information and communication technologies for individuals, communities, and society.