International Engagement Strategy on Diversity of Content Online

The Department of Canadian Heritage's International Engagement Strategy on Diversity of Content Online commenced through a series of meetings and open, transparent discussions, based on the following key principles:

  • That civil society, the private sector, and governments share responsibilities for encouraging a diversity of content online; and
  • That they can each adopt practices beneficial to diversity of content in the digital age.

These principles reflect existing international norms on cultural diversity, in particular:

International Meetings and Declarations

International meeting at Stanford University, California

A first concrete step occurred in March 2018 when an international meeting of experts was held at Stanford University, California, U.S.A. The meeting, titled Governance Innovation for a Connected World: Protecting Free Expression, Diversity and Civic Engagement in the Global Digital Ecosystem, was co-organized by Canadian Heritage, the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Stanford University.

Held under the Chatham House Rule, the meeting encouraged open exchanges between representatives from governments, private sector, and civil society on a range of topics, including disinformation and diversity of content. Participants also discussed the strengths and weaknesses of different models of governance.

The Stanford Meeting Conference Report (PDF format) summarizes participants' contributions to the discussion. It concludes that a multi-stakeholder approach is necessary to deal with the complex and interrelated challenges around Internet governance in order to protect the values of free speech, diversity, and civic engagement.

Canada-France joint declaration

In April 2018, the Joint Declaration on Cultural Diversity and the Digital Space, signed by Canada and France, publicly signaled Canada's intention to launch an open and multilateral dialogue on diversity of content in the digital world.

The Declaration represents a good starting point to reach a global agreement. It states that governments, the private sector, and civil society must:

  • support the creation, discoverability and accessibility of diverse local, regional and national content;
  • contribute towards making sure content creators are paid and benefit from financial viability;
  • promote the quality and transparency of news and information; and
  • ensure that creators and consumers have access to information relative to the impact of algorithms on the availability and discoverability of digital content.

International meeting in Ottawa

Another important step took place with the International Meeting on Diversity of Content in the Digital Age. Canadian Heritage co-organized this meeting with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, in Ottawa, on February 7 and 8, 2019.

The meeting's objectives were to:

  • deepen the common understanding of issues;
  • identify lessons learned and best practices; and
  • identify measures that could be implemented by governments, digital platforms and civil society organizations.

The meeting was held under the Chatham House Rule. To support discussions, academic experts also prepared five discussion papers on issues related to diversity of content. You can also consult the meeting's program.

You can view the list of participants and read the report of the meeting.

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