Workshop 1


When the public sphere became private

Referring to proposal no.: 6, 8,11,63, 83, 94
Find here the list of submitted proposals

Organising team / focal point:

Plamena Popova, University of Library Studies and IT (UniBIT)

Key participants:

Moderator: Gry Hasselbalch, The Danish Media Council

Reporter: Plamena Popova, University of Library Studies and IT (UniBIT)

Remote participation moderator: Viktor Szabados, facilitator of the No Hate Speech Movement, IRPC board member, ICANN stakeholder

Description / key focus:

The present session is aimed to address the issues and current structural changes that are viewed within the public and private spheres. The session will be focused on the current changes/transformations in the public/private provided by the points of views of the representatives of the main stakeholder groups (state/interstate – business- users/public) and their possible solutions.

Over the last years more and more public fields and services became private or out of public sovereignty and control. IT infrastructures and services provided by municipalities and public authorities are not based on open source and standards but proprietary brands and norms. In certain cases, public services are even outsourced to private enterprises like Arvato (“a leading international service provider that thrives on digital technology”) what is usually called “public-private partnership”(PPP). And while the public is usually informed about “advantages of such PPPs”, key questions like WHO owns (sovereignty) and controls public infrastructures and services are not even raised. Or should public data (from registration or tax offices etc.) be run and managed by private service providers and under what conditions?

Some assessments (Berliner Manifest 2008) observe an “usurpation of the public sphere” with fatal consequences and loss of public sovereignty when its services depend on private IT infrastructures and proprietary systems. It raises concerns about eGovernment models and applications, transparency, open access, safeguarding critical infrastructures etc.) – see:

In a broader context, traditional public services like education, transport, health, housing, broadcasting, libraries etc. are “sold out” while municipalities cannot afford its maintenance any longer – water supply is a worst case. On the other hand, access of the public and provision of basic supplies is understood as a human right in the digital age.

The outlined problems will be discussed during this WS in order to provide relevant responses and perspectives. Or what are the limits and borderlines of public-private partnerships?

Documents: Berlin Manifest


…find out more on the WIKI here


Read the transcript here!