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Deliberative polling for multistakeholder internet governance: considered judgments on access for the next billion

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Multistakeholder Internet governance aspires to fulfill democratic values in a process of dialogue producing results that can be considered for possible action. How can these goals be accomplished when the participants in these processes come from entities as varied as corporations, governments, civil society and academia drawn from countries all over the world? How can such a multistakeholder process embody democratic values? How can it be based on dialogue? What kinds of results can it produce? This article applies Deliberative Polling as a possible solution to this problem by using a stratified random sample of netizens, citizens of the Internet, drawn from all the relevant stakeholders of the Internet Governance Forum, engaged together in dialogue and with opinions collected in confidential questionnaires before and after deliberation. This pilot application focused on the topic of Internet access ‐ policy proposals to increase access for the next billion users. We believe it demonstrates the possibility that deliberators drawn from all these sectors can participate in substantive dialogue weighing the merits of issues and coming to specific conclusions. The pilot was limited in its duration and scale but produced, nevertheless, results that strongly support the conclusion that this approach to multistakeholder Internet governance is promising.
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Keywords: Deliberative democracy; deliberative polling; internet access; internet governance; multistakeholder governance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Center for Deliberative Democracy and Department of Communication, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA 2: Google, Mountain View, CA, USA 3: Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

Publication date: November 2, 2018

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