On March 23, 2023, Executive Director of Project Liberty’s Institute (then known as the McCourt Institute), Constance Bommelaer de Leusse participated in a panel titled “The Next Move of Governance Models” at Paris Blockchain Week 2023.
De Leusse was joined by
- Teana Baker-Taylor, VP of Policy & Regulatory Strategy at Circle
- Chris Donovan, general counsel at NEAR Foundation
- Brynly Llyr, Head of Blockchain and Digital Assets at the World Economic Forum
- Romain Pellerin, chief technology officer at Input Output HK
Panelists talked about how Web3 and decentralized technologies offer new challenges and possibilities for the next evolution of governance models. While current Internet governance models can be improved to catch up to the pace of innovation, we are at a moment with Web3 which offers exciting opportunities to construct a holistic infrastructure that engages stakeholders across society and considers the public’s best interest.
Decentralization offers a solution to the problems of current Web2 governance models
Addressing the issues that arise with the centralization of current Web2 platforms and their models of governance, de Leusse pointed out that the founders of the Internet – though they couldn’t have predicted how technology would evolve – had always intended to create a network that was truly open. Openness is the key to ensuring that technology would serve humanity, that data and ideas would flow across communities and transcend borders. Open protocols (TCP/IP and HTTPS) formed the basic functionality of the system, ensuring its interoperable and accessible nature. However, technology has evolved recently in a direction that is, to a certain extent, quite contrary.
The “Web2” era is characterized by dominant platforms who have progressively established a closed and proprietary layer, on top of the Internet’s open protocols. Web3 technologies offer new possibilities to reopen the digital economy walled off by Web2 platforms and even strengthen public institutions through decentralized systems such as blockchain, which inherently offers transparency and openness. These technologies also offer new ways to improve the governance of the Internet by enabling open, democratic systems that can help ensure fair and transparent decision-making, as well as increased protection of personal data and increased security for online transactions. One of the most important promises of Web3 is the ability to allow users to control access to their data and decide who to share it with and distributing economic value more fairly.
As a core aspect of Project Liberty, the Institute is a multidisciplinary initiative that invites technologists, policymakers, business leaders, and civil society to build a new civic architecture for the Internet using Web3 technology – aims to promote an Internet with democratic values. Our integrated solution is the Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP), an open-source protocol to empower users to own their own data and its economic value. We believe that if well designed, the next generation of technologies can reinforce users’ privacy, agency and therefore support free and open societies.
Fix Technology, Save Democracy
During the panel, moderator Pierre Noro, Blockchain professor at Sciences Po, said that according to the UN, the average level of trust in institutions, both public and financial, has fallen by 10% in the past 20 years at the global level – with some extreme cases such as the US where trust in the government went from 74% to 24% over the past 50 years. De Leusse then said that Web3 technologies, and the governance models that can be built to guide them, can provide new pathways to engage citizens more in democratic processes and built back trust in public and private organizations. This can be made possible if three main features are considered in the next moves of governance models: transparency, inclusivity, and resilience.
- Transparency: Web3 governance models are designed to be transparent, with all decisions and actions recorded on a public ledger that can be accessed by anyone, thereby building trust by design.
- Inclusivity: These new governance models can allow all participants to engage in decision making processes and provide great potential to enhance democratic participation and give people a say in how systems are governed.
- Resilience: Web3 governance models are designed to be resilient, with multiple layers of redundancy and fail-safes built in to ensure the network can withstand attacks and disruptions. This resilience helps to safeguard democracy by ensuring that the network can continue to function even in the face of challenges and threats.
Areas of application of these new governance models discussed have already emerged, but we aim to continue advancing ethical governance of frontier technologies. At Project Liberty's Institute, we want to bridge policymakers, technologists, entrepreneurs, investors, academia and civil society experts to catalyse responsible innovation.