Digital Policy Lab

ISD’s Digital Policy Lab brings together key policymakers to address disinformation, hate speech, extremism and terrorism online

The Digital Policy Lab (DPL) is an intergovernmental working group focused on charting the regulatory and policy path forward to prevent and counter disinformation, hate speech, extremism and terrorism online.

It comprises a core group of senior representatives of ministries and regulators from key liberal democratic countries. The DPL intends to foster intergovernmental exchange, provide policymakers with access to sector-leading expertise and research, and build an international community of policy practice around key regulatory challenges in the digital policy space.

Since launching in November 2020, the DPL network has brought together officials from 14 countries and the European Commission. Currently, the DPL includes representation from government agencies and regulators from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, Slovakia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the EU Commission.

The DPL facilitates a structured dialogue with these senior representatives, through regular online sessions, convening working groups and co-producing policy briefs with DPL network participants. Once a year, the DPL Summit in Berlin provides an opportunity for in-person networking and an exchange of ideas.

We are grateful to the Alfred Landecker Foundation for their generous support of the DPL. From November 2020-2023, the DPL was funded by the German Federal Foreign Office. We remain grateful for their generous support.

The work of the Digital Policy Lab builds on ISD’s former initiative, the Policy Planners Network on Countering Radicalisation and Extremism (PPN), that ran from 2008 – 2019. The PPN worked to inform and enhance the strategies of its 12 governmental members through sharing of information and best practices for designing and implementing policies in countering terrorism, extremism and hate, both on- and offline.

DPL Summits: 
September 2023 saw the DPL convene more than 50 network members in Berlin to discuss “Effective Strategies for Mitigating Digital Threats to Democracy”. Over two days, high-level representatives from DPL countries came together to discuss democratic approaches to digital threats and the implementation and enforcement of regulation, including key topics such as data access and legal protections for researchers, assessing and mitigating algorithmic risks, safety-by-design approaches, and regulating smaller platforms and emerging technologies. We look forward to hosting future DPL Summits in Berlin in 2024 and 2025.

DPL Working Groups and Policy Briefs:
Online working groups enable key topics to be discussed in more depth among a smaller group of interested DPL members and multi-stakeholder subject matter experts from civil society, academia and industry. These discussions provide the basis for a series of in-depth policy briefs. Between 2022-2023, ISD facilitated five working groups which culminated in five respective policy briefs:

DPL Online Sessions:
The DPL hosts regular online discussions with members designed to align with key digital policy developments and ongoing debates. These sessions are primarily intended for government and regulatory representatives, but often also feature experts from international organisations, civil society, academia or the private sector.

In 2023, the DPL conducted a series of online sessions on regulatory compliance and the emerging digital threat landscape. Discussions focused on online misogyny, post-organisational extremism, foreign information manipulation and interference, and climate mis- and disinformation.

In early 2022, DPL discussions explored risk-based digital policy responses and discuss instruments for formulating, designing and conducting risk assessment of online platforms. Due to the unprecedented nature of the risk-based approach outlined in the EU’s Digital Services Act, these discussions drew on European examples but always with the aim of informing policy discussions and proposals in other contexts.   Conversations in the latter half of 2022 focused on approaches to improving data access for public interest research.

In 2020 and 2021, the DPL focussed on developing frameworks for transparency in digital regulation, and reviewing specific legislative proposals at the time, such as the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), the UK Online Safety Bill, and German and French approaches to regulating online harms, as well as non-regulatory proposals such as the European Democracy Action Plan (EDAP). These events were accompanied by a series of policy papers, which are available in both English and German.

Special DPL sessions also allow participants to discuss new and developing issues impacting the digital policy landscape. Following elections in several DPL countries, in 2021 a special session focused on the range of harms impacting the integrity of elections, providing an overview to the complex threat environment, from extremism, targeted harassment of politicians and election workers, to disinformation and conspiracy theories. Following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022, a special session reflected on platform responses to information manipulation in this context.

All DPL sessions are accompanied by a Policy Digest newsletter, which provides general updates on recent digital policy developments in DPL member countries, including both regulatory and non-regulatory initiatives aiming to address online risks such as disinformation, hate speech, and extremist or terrorist content. In addition to general updates, each Policy Digest provides a snapshot of topic-specific research or policy approaches relevant to the upcoming DPL session. All Policy Digests are available here.

DPL Summit September 2023

DPL Summit September 2023

DPL Summit in Berlin, Germany, September 2023

DPL Summit September 2023

ISD CEO Sasha Havlicek moderates a panel at the 2023 DPL Summit with representatives from the European Commission, eSafety Australia and UK Ofcom.

Recent Digital Policy publications

Click here for more related ISD Publications

ISD’s Digital Policy team

Sasha Havlicek
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Sasha Havlicek

Co-Founder and CEO

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Sasha Havlicek
Sasha Havlicek

Co-Founder and CEO

Sasha Havlicek is a social and policy entrepreneur who, for the last two decades, has incubated and scaled global initiatives to counter the rise of weaponised hate, disinformation and extremism, on- and offline. As founder of the leading global ‘think and do tank’, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), she has led the build-out of ISD’s advanced digital analytics capability designed to detect and mitigate information threats to democracy, public safety and national security. Spearheading ISD’s extensive partnerships with governments, cities, businesses and communities, Sasha oversees ISD’s teams delivering research, policy advisory, training, digital literacy and communications programming around the world.

Sasha has advised a range of governments at the highest levels, has testified before US Congress and the UK Parliament, and is a regular commentator in the media (CNN, BBC, Channel 4 News and other networks). She is a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the Advisory Boards of the Global Internet Forum on Counter-Terrorism, the Christchurch Call and the Global Partnership for Action against Tech Facilitated Gender Based Violence. She is a founding board member of the Forum on Information and Democracy and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Coalition on Internet Safety.
Huberta von Voss
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Huberta von Voss

Executive Director, ISD Germany

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Huberta von Voss
Huberta von Voss

Executive Director, ISD Germany

Huberta von Voss is Executive Director at ISD Germany, where she has led the expansion of ISD's German office since 2019. She has previously been part of the leadership team of the New York based NGO Seeds of Peace. Her efforts as Director for Public Affairs and Communications led to steep digital growth, new media engagement, a Podcast series as well as a series of high level events in New York and Washington, D.C. Huberta is the author of "Portraits of Hope: The Armenians in the contemporary world" (Berghahn Books) as well as "Arme Kinder, reiches Land" (Rowohlt) on child poverty in post-reunification Germany. She has appeared on various German and international TV shows and is fluent in English and French. She serves on several boards, among them United Ways Germany, to foster social cohesion. Huberta was awarded the Leo Baeck Medal (2018) and the BGA Medal of Honor by the British-German Association. She is a member of the Young Leader network of the BMW Foundation and an alumni of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.
Milo Comerford
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Milo Comerford

Director of Policy & Research, Counter-Extremism

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Milo Comerford
Milo Comerford

Director of Policy & Research, Counter-Extremism

Milo Comerford is Director of Policy & Research, Counter Extremism, leading ISD’s work developing innovative research approaches and policy responses to extremism. Milo regularly briefs senior decision makers around the world on the challenge posed by extremist ideologies, and advises governments and international agencies on building effective strategies for countering extremism. He was previously Senior Analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, where he led major research projects on Salafi-jihadi propaganda, international educational responses to extremism, and the transnational far right. His writing and research features frequently in international media and he has made recent broadcast appearances on BBC News, Sky News and Al Jazeera.
Isabelle Frances-Wright
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Isabelle Frances-Wright

Director of Technology and Society, ISD US

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Isabelle Frances-Wright
Isabelle Frances-Wright

Director of Technology and Society, ISD US

Isabelle Frances-Wright is Director of Technology and Society at ISD US, where her work focuses on the impacts of current and emerging technologies on civic discourse and the online information ecosystem.   Previously, Isabelle was the Global Head of Election and Civic Integrity Policy at TikTok, where she led the development of policies to combat election misinformation, coordinated inauthentic behavior and synthetic media. She also built and led the company's operation centers for rapid response for both elections and high-risk civic events.  Prior to that, Isabelle served as Digital and Technology Director at The Messina Group, led by President Obama's former campaign director Jim Messina, where she worked on electoral, legislative and advocacy campaigns both domestically and internationally.  Her work has been recognized and featured by leading media outlets including The New York Times, NBC, USA Today, CNN, BBC and Fast Company. An active member of Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media, Isabelle also lends her expertise to the national advisory board of election integrity nonprofit Keep Our Republic. 
Jennie King
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Jennie King

Director of Climate Disinformation Research and Policy

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Jennie King
Jennie King

Director of Climate Disinformation Research and Policy

Jennie King is the Director of Climate Disinformation Research and Policy, leading efforts to translate ISD's digital research into frontline programming and response. Through ISD, she helped found Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD), a coalition of over 50 organisations working to identify, analyse and counter climate disinformation worldwide. She has spearheaded investigations on climate denialism and ‘discourses of delay’ in the contexts of Australia, Canada, Central Europe, Germany, South Africa, the US and UK, as well as co-authored a number of ISD’s flagship reports on this issue. Jennie also helped design, and currently manages, the COP Intelligence Units on behalf of CAAD, leading over 15 partners to produce real-time monitoring of mis- and disinformation around climate summits.
Henry Tuck
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Henry Tuck

Director of Digital Policy

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Henry Tuck
Henry Tuck

Director of Digital Policy

Henry Tuck is the Director of Digital Policy at ISD, where he leads Advisory work on digital regulation and tech company responses to terrorism, extremism, hate and dis/misinformation online. Henry oversees ISD’s Digital Policy Lab (DPL) and engagement on key digital regulation proposals in Europe and Five Eyes countries, advises key governments, international organisations and major private sector tech companies, and collaborates with ISD’s Digital Analysis Unit to translate research into actionable digital policy recommendations. Having joined ISD in 2013, Henry has previously worked across a variety of ISD’s Analysis and Action programmes, including education, on- and offline counter-extremism interventions, and civil society networks. Henry holds a Masters in International Conflict Studies from Kings College London, and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Durham University. 
Mauritius Dorn
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Mauritius Dorn

Senior Digital Policy and Education Manager

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Mauritius Dorn
Mauritius Dorn

Senior Digital Policy and Education Manager

Mauritius is a Senior Digital Policy and Education Manager at ISD Germany, where he coordinates ISD’s digital policy recommendations on election-related online harms and presents them to political stakeholders at EU level and in Germany. He conducts disinformation trainings with political parties and candidates, coordinates with other stakeholders from academia and civil society, and assists in the design of awareness campaigns. Mauritius is also involved in the Digital Policy Lab (DPL), a new intergovernmental working group focused on policy responses to prevent and counter online disinformation, hate speech and extremism. Previously, Mauritius worked as a public affairs consultant in Berlin, advising clients from the public and private sector on their lobbying strategies in the area of digital policy and digital economy. Mauritius holds a MSc double degree in Global Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences and Fudan University, and a BA in Sociology, Politics and Economics from Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen.
Helena Schwertheim
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Helena Schwertheim

Senior Digital Policy and Research Manager

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Helena Schwertheim
Helena Schwertheim

Senior Digital Policy and Research Manager

Helena Schwertheim is Senior Digital Policy and Research Manager, where she leads the Digital Policy Lab (DPL), an intergovernmental working group focused on policy responses to prevent and counter disinformation, hate speech and extremism. Previously, Helena managed digital policy and research projects at Democracy Reporting International. She also has experience working in risk and political analysis in international organizations and think tanks, including at the UN World Food Programme in Rome, and the think tank International IDEA in Stockholm.
Ellen Jacobs
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Ellen Jacobs

Digital Policy Manager, ISD US

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Ellen Jacobs
Ellen Jacobs

Digital Policy Manager, ISD US

Ellen Jacobs is a Digital Policy Manager for ISD US. She focuses on mitigating the effects of online harms, including those from disinformation, extremism and hate speech, by advancing ISD’s digital policy and tech accountability objectives. In her role, she represents ISD to a diverse array of stakeholders including elected officials, NGOs, academics, researchers, and others interested in platform accountability and regulation. Prior to joining ISD, Ellen was at the Omidyar Network, where her funding and advocacy work focused on issues related to platform accountability and open source technologies. Ellen holds an MIA in Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy from Columbia SIPA and a BA in International Studies from the University of Chicago.
Christian Schwieter
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Christian Schwieter

Fellow

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Christian Schwieter
Christian Schwieter

Fellow

Christian Schwieter is a Fellow at ISD and a PhD candidate at the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University, where he investigates the impact of European platform governance efforts on far-right activity on social media. Between 2020-2023, he led ISD Germany’s research on the migration of right-wing extremist actors to Telegram and other smaller platforms in response to increased content moderation on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. At ISD, he also co-led the pilot phase of the Digital Policy Lab, a new intergovernmental working group focused on charting the online policy path forward to prevent and counter disinformation, hate speech and extremism. In his role, he has advised the German Ministry of Justice, the German Foreign Office and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, among others. Before ISD, Christian worked as a researcher for the Computational Propaganda Project at the Oxford Internet Institute and was Specialist Adviser on Disinformation Matters for the DCMS Select Committee at the UK House of Commons. He holds an MSc (Dist) in Social Science of the Internet from the University of Oxford and a BA (Hons) in World Politics from Leiden University.