Youth SIG at the IGF2021

The YouthSIG (Youth Observatory) participated at the annual Internet Governance Forum with several sessions in collaboration with the Youth Coalition on Internet Governance, and others as part of the NRIs we coordinate.

NRI Coordination session: Our Head of Editorial Commission Pedro Lana spoke about the experience of organising the YouthLACIGF2021 as it was the first time the Youth NRI received funding from the Internet Society Foundation.

Day 0 Event #123 Global Youth IGF- Presenting Successful Initiatives: Our Head of Translation Commission Umut Pajaro Velasquez gave an introduction of the work done during the year and invited people to join the Youth Observatory. Also, our Regional Engagement Director for LAC region Eileen Cejas spoke about the Youth Coalition on Internet Governance.

Global Youth Summit: Our Board members Mohammad Atif Aleem, Umut Pajaro Velasquez and Eileen Cejas presented the results of their Working Groups. Also, Pedro Lana presented the winners of the Wikicontest completion about Open Data.

IGF 2021 WS #259 Digital Cooperation process – Analysis from Youth lenses: This session explored the three models of architecture of Digital Cooperation: IGF Plus, the Co-Governance and Digital Commons model. Participants agreed on the importance of educating youth on Internet Governance topics. Our Board member Eileen Cejas also remarked that youth should become a separate stakeholder in order to obtain more impact to create agency in the Internet Governance field.

Eileen Cejas commenting on the role of youth in the MHLB

IGF 2021 WS #271 Youth Talk about IoT Security and AI misuse. Speakers discussed Artificial Intelligence and IoT from a youth perspective, exploring advantages and disadvantages of both, and how young people should take action and be involved especially in standardization for an inclusive and robust standard.

Nicolás Fiumarelli was one of the speakers from the session, while Juliana Novaes our Board member was the rapporteur for the session.

GF 2021 Town Hall #63 Tackling the menace of E-Waste through greener ways. The session covered wide points and approaches on greener ways, policy oriented solutions to e-waste challenge, and it encouraged the young audience through exploring innovation in the e-waste management sector, catering to newer avenues for environmental education as well. 

IGF 2021 WS #240 Education 4.0: Who is looking at cybersecurity?: The goal of the session was to tackle the issue of cybersecurity given the context of the pandemic and the transition from traditional education to online education. It addressed the challenges for privacy and safety of children and youth, who are the most impacted by online educational platforms and the roles of each stakeholder in improving the trust of digital educational spaces for the purpose of expanding teaching and learning to the Internet.

IGF 2021 Lightning Talk #32 AI vs. Our Bodies: Queering AI: our Head of the Translation Commission Umut Pajaro Velasquez shared about the work of the organisation Queer in AI and invited participants to discuss more inclusive policies in Artificial Intelligence.

Umut Pajaro Velasquez, at IGF2021

IGF 2021 WS #115 Fan the Flames? Regulating Competition in Digital Markets: The session co-organised with Youth Observatory analysed that local small and medium-sized enterprises are not often in the same level with big tech companies in complying with those regulations that can even be destructive to the SMEs, that is why governments should take into consideration these companies while regulating the digital markets and use a multistakeholder approach considering the future impacts of their regulations.

YCIG Session IGF 2021 YCIG Youth in the decision-making process: hear us!  At the YCIG DC session, we discussed the youth engagement in the IGF2021, looking at the youth’s opinions on the Multistakeholder High Level Body and the Leadership Panel, with the participation of Pedro Lana as onsite moderator and our board member Eileen Cejas as a remote speaker. From the session, YCIG created this “Map to Youth Initiatives” that gathers the outcomes of all the YCIG meetings so far.

IGF 2021 WS #272 Youth in IG policy-making process: Let’s talk about the MHLB. The speakers shared some insights from the MHLB and youth participation in this body, the role of the Youth Coalition on Internet Governance and the Youth Summit process. As part of the session, we also compiled the inputs into a document called “Youth position towards the present and future of Digital Cooperation” which are available here.

From left to right: Joao Moreno Falcao, Umut Pajaro Velasquez and Emilia Zalewska

NRI Coordination session on Digital Sovereignty was the perfect opportunity to discuss digital sovereignty, the jurisdiction of data and free flow of information. Our Head of the Editorial Commission Pedro Lana spoke on behalf of the YouthLACIGF, and our Regional Engagement Director Eileen spoke in the representation of the Youth IGF Argentina.

IGF 2021 Main Session: The good, the bad and the ugly of the Internet in times of crises: our Board member Eileen Cejas spoke on behalf of the Youth IGF Argentina, sharing the Argentinian experience conducting the virtual meetings in 2020 and the upcoming meeting of 2021, adding some reflections on the role of youth building the Internet Governance ecosystem.

Youth SIG @ Youth Summit: Enroll in the WikiYouth contest!

We are thrilled to tell you that Youth SIG is organising within the frames of the Global Youth Summit a wikimedia contest called “WikiYouth” where young people from around the world will be able to learn about Wikidata and bring valuable knowledge on digital rights and Youth.

There will be an introductory webinar on November 13 at 14 UTC where you will access the information on how to edit and give great contributions to increase your possibilities to get the prizes.

In order to participate, apply at our form (here: ) create a Wikiaccount (here:, and register yourself at the WikiContest Dashboard (here:, then attend our introductory webinar to learn how to edit. It will also be recorded for those that cannot participate at that time.

Prizes are up to 100 euro.

You can find the rules at

For inquiries, please reach out to

Youth SIG at RightsCon 2021

Originally posted at the YCIG website here

The Youth Observatory got two sessions approved for the RightsCon 2021, an annual event that gathers great quality of activists and human rights defenders from around the world.

Reset rewind: building agency toward the future by looking at the present as if it were the past

This session was held in RightsCon as part of the thematic area “Future, Fictions, and Frontiers” in this “Community Lab” session where participants time travelled “back to the present” to examine possible future scenarios that had predominantly negative or positive traits related to data protection, artificial intelligence and the fight against discrimination.

Facilitators of this session were Raashi Saxena (The Sentinel Project), Elisabeth Schauermann (German Informatics Society), Pedro Peres (LAPIN), Eileen Cejas (YCIG & Youth Observatory), Yawri Carr (Global Shapers San José Hub), Lily Edinam Bostyoe (Youth Observatory) and Marcel Krummenauer (Youth IGF Germany).

You are invited to read the recommendations made at the Youth4DigitalSustainability, which encourages us to participate in RightsCon here:

The way you see your wor(l)ds: fighting against gender-based violence online

On June 11th, YCIG conducted a session about online gender-based violence in collaboration with Youth Observatory. The goal of the session was to raise awareness of violence directed to women and gender diverse people in the online environment, by opening a dialogue with personal experiences, best practices and good examples of public policy adopted.

Some of the outcomes from the session included: documenting the GBV facts via audio or video recordings using the examples of national strikes documentation and strategies created by organizations like Fundación Karisma; advocating for data collection of the situations in order to visualize at a higher scale the gender-based violence; promoting safe landlines to call for help; encourage legislators to update legislation in order to have integrative approaches to have justice proposals; and reach out to private companies which to settle zero-tolerance policies against gender-based violence.

The facilitators of the session were: Eileen Cejas (YCIG & Youth Observatory), Juan Pajaro Velasquez (Queer in AI) and Ayesha Abduljalil (Global Shapers Community, Manama Hub).

Wikicontest Youth in IG – Winners and results

After the evaluation by our judges, we are glad to announce:

(i) The winners of the English track/language:

  1. DaSupremo – U$80,00 gift card
  2. NanaYawBotar – U$50,00 gift card
  3. TemiTaiwo – U$30,00 gift card

(ii) The winners of the Portuguese track/language:

  1. Gotsoua – U$100,00 gift card
  2. Elizmarinab – U$70,00 gift card

DaSupremo was a strong contender for first place overall. Still, by majority vote, Gotsoua ended up winning the overall prize, taking into consideration mainly the balanced contributions in both Wikipedia and Wikidata, focusing all his efforts on content directly related to Internet Governance and Youth, while also being a new member of the Wiki community, learning as he was going.

Sadly, most participants were not able to fill all eliminatory criteria. Nevertheless, since a few participants made meaningful contributions without filling all necessary criteria, we decided to provide a “consolation prize” of 10,00 USD. These participants are:

-Madamebiblio (ES)
-Yamila Maribel (ES)
-Parzeus (PT)

Unfortunately, we also had no relevant francophone participation at all.

All three EN winners had very relevant participation in the Wikicontest. NanaYawBotar in Wikidata, with a fantastic job with Internet Society chapters in Africa, and TemiTaiwo, who started with some mistakes but later made some outstanding contributions on Wikipedia. So, we decided to also add U$10,00 (value of the “consolation prize”) to their prizes.

Please, confirm that you have accepted the prize by messaging us at confirming your identity, with the preferred kind of gift card you would like to receive (we can work only with the most used ones, such as Google, Apple, Amazon, etc.)

Please also feel free to message us if you have any doubts.

We hope you will continue your engagement with the Wiki community and keep an eye out for new events!

Wikicontest Youth in IG – Introductory Webinar and Updates

Dear participants of the Wikicontest.

We have three important updates for you.

  1. The first one is that, after some tests, we realized that most newcomers were finding Wikibooks and Wiktionary too challenging to understand and edit correctly. Thus, we changed the platforms of the Wikicontest to Wikipedia and Wikidata.
  2. Secondly, we decided to leave applications open to everyone until the end of the contest, to join whenever they can. But those that join early have more time to contribute and thus greater chances to win.
  3. The introductory webinar will happen tomorrow (Sunday, May 16) at 18h00 UTC. As we have not had the request of at least 15 people in Spanish, Portuguese, or French, it will be in English only, but we will ask presenters to explain slowly for everyone to understand. Rules and how to edit efficiently will be presented by a Youth SIG Board member and by Alex Stinson and Melissa Huerta, from  Wikimedia Foundation. You can ask for the link through our e-mail,

Those who have a hard time understanding spoken English can check the guides on “how to edit” available in the Wikicontest rules. Our email is also open for any questions in any of the four official languages of the contest. Feel free to ask us anything you want, including 101 explanations.

Update: You can access the Introductory Webinar at this link below in our YouTube channel

Wikimedia contest: Youth in IG

The Youth SIG is organising a Wiki Contest called “Wikicontest: Youth in IG” with the goal of having hundred of young participants creating and editing Wikipedia, Wikibooks and Wiktionary articles on topics related to Internet Governance.

The introductory webinar will take place on May 8 and 9, with the exact hour informed in the next few days to participants and in our Blog and Social Media. In this webinar we will provide you of a short training on how to edit at Wikipedia and use the involved platforms in order to participate successfully in the contest.

During the month of May, you will be able to edit articles in Wikimedia platforms and participate in the contest by contributing meaningful and high-quality content related to Internet Governance in four languages: Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.

To encourage those who commit more during the duration of the contest, after an evaluation by a jury, those with the best contributions will receive gift cards in the value of U$100.00, U$70.00, U$40.00 and U$20.00, with prizes going to the best three in each language, plus and the first place overall, accumulating to the amount of U$ 620,00.

Check the rules here (ver Reglas en Español, Règles in Francois, Regras em Portugues)

You can register at this link

YouthSIG at MozFest 2021

Please also visit YCIG post on the MozFest 2021

For the first time, Youth SIG held two sessions at the MozFest 2021. MozFest is the annual event for activists, technologists, designers, students and journalists organised by Mozilla. This year, the 10th edition of the event happened in a virtual setting due to the ongoing impact of the COVID 19-pandemic at the videoconference platforms Zoom and SpatialChat.

The first session, called “404: Planet B not found. (Try connecting to Mother Earth through Youth4DigitalSustainability)”, took place on March 11 at 12 pm UTC. The session was conducted with the support of Elisabeth Schauermann as facilitator who made the introduction to the 4 scenarios: Environment, Business, Society and Governance. These scenarios were created as part of the discussions raised at the Youth4DigitalSustainability program. Using the method of guerrilla writing, the facilitators invited participants to comment and exchange ideas in order to define points of actions and concrete advocacy on digital sustainability.

Facilitators: Elisabeth Schauermann (German Informatics Society, Youth4DigitalSustainability); Raashi Saxena (studio intO); Eileen Cejas (Youth SIG, YCIG); Noha Abdel Baky (YCIG) and Pedro Peres (LAPIN).

2) “Regulating Artificial Intelligence with Collective Intelligence” on March 16 at 14.45 UTC Link: session was the perfect platform to discuss with attendees some suggestions to tackle these issues while using materials from the Global Citizens Dialogues used, and it was facilitated by Missions Publiques.
Facilitators: Raashi Saxena (studio intO); Eileen Cejas (Youth SIG, YCIG); Jean F. Queralt (The Io Foundation); Manon Potet (Missions Publiques); Jon Stever (i4policy) and Antoine Vergne (Missions Publiques).

3) Our Board member Juan Pajaro Velasquez presented the work at Queer in AI related to the regulation of more inclusive policies on Artificial Intelligence.

Global Citizens Dialogue in Argentina: check the results!

Accede al reporte en Español aquí

This year has been a significant experience for everyone due to the challenges of the COVID 19 and the necessity of being connected to be closer to our friends and carry on with our lives in a digital setting. For the Youth SIG Youth Observatory) has also meant an extraordinary opportunity: hosting for the first time in Argentina the Global Citizens Dialogue on the Future of the Internet.

Since August, our Regional Engagement Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Eileen Cejas, started to set the infrastructure of the dialogue, taking into account the inclusion of Argentinian citizens from all walks of life in collaboration with two local citizens, Ignacio Isas Chebaia and Andrés Crisafulli.

The event had the participation of 100 Argentinian citizens in October 2020, where they discussed the topics of digital identity, artificial intelligence, misinformation and fake news, and Internet Governance in focal groups. Each focal group had a neutral facilitator, who was in charge of conducting the discussion in a peaceful environment while guaranteeing equal participation of the members of each group.

It also included the topic of content moderation, censorship and freedom of expression as part of the national session. This session was facilitated by speakers Professor Garmendia Colombres and digital content creator Pablo Sosa, who shared some reflections with participants and later opened the discussion on a series of photos that should be marked by an imaginary content moderator as “acceptable” or “unacceptable” content.

Some of the key findings were:

*More than 50% of participants had confidence in organizations like the UN, research communities, technical community, international and regional organizations and civil society organizations. However, on the other hand, they expressed distrust in national governments, the private sector and local governments.

Moreover, when we asked if citizens should be involved in the decision-making process related to Internet Governance policies, 60% agreed on the statement. That means they are keen to give their inputs in the decision-making process not just as observers, but as key actors.

*About Artificial Intelligence, 82,2% considered it important that artificial intelligence is based on human values. In this way, it will foster the discussion in society about the necessity of regulating the boundaries of this technology that can affect artistic productions and human rights overall.

*Finally, 92% of participants told us that they have increased their knowledge on the topics of the event, and they are willing to learn more.

Read the full report in English here. Lee el reporte completo en Español aquí

Youth SIG-YCIG sessions: Check the outcomes!

Article written by Mohammad Atif Aleem, Elnur Karimov and Eileen Cejas.

Youth SIG co organised this year with the Youth Coalition on Internet Governance (YCIG) three workshop proposals to the Internet Governance Forum. Read our reviews below:

WS #139 CopyLeft or Right? Mediating Interests in Academic Databases (check the report at the IGF website and Geneva Internet Platform)

Summary of Issues: 

Mr Thierry talked about how the private sector also promotes open access policies, complementing the social purpose of the companies with its aim. The sharing of data between the public and private sectors has always been done, approaching some government initiatives that facilitate this sharing. In pandemic times, while it’s possible to go after more profits, it seems wiser to private sectors agents to try to be more flexible to make it easier to fight pandemic-related issues.

Ms Mariana Valente spoke about the importance of opening academic databases to civil society. She talked about how digital technologies created the possibility of sharing knowledge and works, but this didn’t come with the legal possibility of sharing, because copyright law posed some barriers. She mentioned that open licenses are not enough, and the academic ecosystem needs to have an active role to stimulate open access, recognizing and promoting these type of initiatives.

Mr Elnur Karimov pointed out how the theme of the session is especially relevant to the youth. He remembered how youth starting to research have great barriers in getting access to protected academic texts, mostly because they do not have the same level of access or the same financial resources as older researchers have.

Ms Vivian Moya presented how the government can help to develop access and mediating the involved interests. She started with a brief introduction about how copyright works (and what are its aims) around the world, with higher or lower levels of copyright protection depending on national legislation.

Key Takeaways: 

The session reached a consensus on the need for providing tools to facilitate open access and open knowledge.

The private sectors shouldn’t seem like the enemy here, since there are also many initiatives in this sector to reinforce open access to academic databases. Governments also have a role in diminishing costs and expenses to commercial companies that work with these types of databases.

Academia has a particularity, which is that authors and readers are commonly part of the same group because one needs to research from other works to produce their own. There’s less interest from authors in financial returns, and more interest in being recognized by others. The pandemic showed us the importance of open science and how it can be effectively used to fight against pressing issues, and how actors from different sectors can work together to achieve a similar objective.

WS #105 Designing inclusion policies in Internet Governance (check the report at the IGF website and Geneva Internet Platform)

Summary of issues:

Ms. Eileen Cejas talked about the gender aspects within inclusion while drafting policy making related to the inclusion of women, girls and gender diverse people at equally footing.She highlighted the importance of “one size does not fit all”, therefore it is essential to consider multicultural backgrounds. In this way, most of the changes related to gender matters start from online discussions and later they create a change on societies. Therefore, advocacy is essential to accomplish it: on one hand she mentioned the BPF Gender and Access Report (link) and on the other hand  the Youth4DigitalSustainability program and its recommendation to policy makers on gender from youth: “Women and gender diverse people are facing restrictions in accessing information and participating meaningfully. To establish healthy and equal societies, youths should urge governments and civil societies to guarantee the rights to freedom of online expression for these communities.”

Ms. Debora Barletta addressed the topic of rural, indigenous and remote areas into digital literacy. She remarked the idea that policies should take into account the intersectional approach and the diverse needs of these communities, because currently governments’ solutions are focused on connectivity plans, and these communities don’t accept these measures because they aren’t community based solutions. Thus, the said  communities should be involved internally on the development of technical and human solutions related to digital literacy with a bottom up approach. Finally she concluded this type of solution is meant to increase the competencies of these communities and their sense of agency in this policy.

Ms. Mamadou Lo spoke on the topic of cost to access as it isn’t affordable in many parts of the world, which also applied to data packages in low income economies. These challenges should be fixed through policy and regulatory framework. As Mamadou said “A really competitive digital market, I think has to be answered by Government among all of the stakeholders and NGOs.” He also mentioned the problem of moratorium on taxation for organizations: this moratorium is still being implemented however private companies don’t pay taxes, which could be use to bring more connectivity to people in developing countries.

Ms. Meri Baghdasaryan addressed the topic of governments, and how they ensure human rights in terms of inclusion in three points. On one side, governments must guarantee digital rights need by providing in a first place access to Internet. The second point comprises digital literacy, in which she stated “by enhancing the level of digital literacy, the Governments actually create a solely base for safeguarding various aspects of rights and also in a way they are actually preventing further issues.” The third point of Meri’s input was about implementing sound policies regarding misinformation, especially on the context of the pandemic. She concluded by saying the role of governments is participating more actively in the multistakeholder process. 

Key Takeaways:

High level policy makers should address inclusion from a holistic way, as in the current situation inclusion is analysed and delimited towards specific target groups (women, girls, rural) though it is not consider multicultural backgrounds and diverse perspectives of each community.

 In the case of of gender diverse people, governments should design policies that creates a welcome space for them in order to participate fully in the Internet Governance ecosystem: digital literacy programs, anti harassment policies and a broad discussion of gender topics including transparency in AI programs.

Regarding accessibility, governments should support other stakeholders on the design and application of accessibility-by-default policies: there are several communities part of the persons with disabilities  with different requirements that should be taken in consideration for the improvement of societies.

Participants of the session realised inclusion frame a wide range of issues,  although they agreed we can start the conversation from the 5 selected topics we chose for the session: women and gender diverse; persons with disabilities; rural and urban communities; governments and human rights.  The conclusion emerged from the session was the relevance of  ensuring the protection of digital rights, helping people understand their digital rights and how to advocate for them.     

Moving forward…

The outcome of the session will include the launch of an online campaign on the topics on Inclusion discussed at the session in our social media channels. Stay tuned for more!

WS #273 Enhancing sustainable computing, production & consumption (read the report at the IGF website and Geneva Internet Platform)

Summary of the Session:

As per the research in recent times, the current production models are seriously impacting the economy, environment, and the society at large. The digitalisation of the economy is no exception. How will these effects change the course of sustainable computing, production and consumption in the future was largely the core topic of discussion at the session. Ms Ece Vural (International Relations Department Manager, Habitat Association and moderator for the event) asked the session panellists five main policy questions which address how newer ways of computing and digital advances can improve the sustainability of current productions models and benefit society. First of all, it is important that we define the concept of sustainable computing and make society understand that there are ways to optimise and reduce the energy consumption of the existing computer infrastructure. The context setting in this regard was done by giving some background of the topic and explaining the status quo.

Ms Jaewon Son (Committee Member, Korea Internet Governance Alliance) explained how Korea is increasing its investment in the economy, especially towards small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and businesses that provide online services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She shared her personal professional experiences in regards to the advancement of sustainability  work.  Mr Daniel Jr Dasig (Associate Professor, De La Salle University Dasmarinas) explained that the geography of innovation continues to shift, and the sustainability of computing is an issue that affects both developed and developing countries. He stressed upon the need for a strong curriculum at University level and adoption of green lifestyle as well. Mr Mohammad Atif Aleem (Regional Engagement Director for Asia Pacific Group, Youth Special Interest Group, Internet Society) clarified that sustainable consumption is about doing more and better with less. He added that information and communications technology (ICT) penetration is still a challenge in many developing countries. This is especially relevant when addressing the climate change challenge. For example, in the sub-Saharan region, there is still a lack of meteorological stations, and hence a scope for technology to assess the risks related to the Climate. He advocated for a positive use of technology and balancing the trade-offs between sustainability and profits for organizations. Ms Chineyenwa Okoro Onu (Founder and Managing Director, Waste or Create Hub) stressed the importance of putting people first and equipping them with information and knowledge. Education being a key component to understand the complexities of such issues, needs to be taken seriously right from the budding stage, and some valuable case studies were highlighted as discussed in the session.

Furthermore key takeaways were drawn and the ways to mitigate environmental constraints and lead a green lifestyle through different means, digital empowerment, ways of gender inclusion and education were highlighted with relevant examples.

The key takeaways of the Session were:

– Insights on how SDGs 9, 12, 11 and 13 can be fostered digitally and lower the impact on the environment

– Potential that digital technology offers in the field of production and consumption

– Role of quality education in enhancing sustainable initiatives

– Information on how gender equality can be promoted through digital ways, and in the associated SDGs for equitable distribution and representation

– Information on Sustainable Computing and digital advances to improve the sustainability

Summaries of attended IGF sessions by IGF Youth Ambassadors 2020 – Daphne Stevens

Summaries of attended IGF sessions by IGF Youth Ambassadors 2020 – Daphne Stevens

IGF 2020 Pre-Event #62 Digital Sovereignty for States, Nations, or Users? An insight into the Polish Charter of Digital Sovereignty.

2 November 2020

The panelist of this talk was Jan Zygmuntowski, who works for the Polish think-tank Instrat. Instrat has created the Polish Charter of Digital Sovereignty, which can be seen as the Polish version of the Digital Services Act. They have been talking with different actors (companies, citizens, the government), where they encountered different perspectives regarding digital sovereignty.

When establishing the Polish Charter of Digital Sovereignty, they have had different achievements. A coalition was established for this subject, where actors from different fields are involved.

They have also organized a Digital Detox Day in Poland. Smaller communities find it very difficult to have an impact on digital sovereignty, and the coalition has aimed to show that this is possible. This has led more people to start believing in this as well. Currently, they are participating in different European consultations regarding digital sovereignty, and they keep advocating.

In the Charter, the coalition fights for:

  • Greater efficiency for tax collection.
  • Effective protection of Polish consumers and small and medium enterprises.
  • Extended powers for national authorities.
  • Greater transparency on digital markets.
  • The creation of common data spaces and socially beneficial AI.

The coalition also supports different EU initiatives that aim to modernise the platform-to-business regulation.

During the session, different questions were asked by the attendees. One attendee asked what impact the Charter will have on the free Internet. Jan stated that it mostly affects national commerce. However, it may boost innovation as well, for example through standard-setting.

Another attendee asked what he uses of a Polish Digital Services Act would be if an EU Digital Services Act is created. It is currently unclear what the EU Digital Services Act will look like. The Polish Charter aims to boost the national authority. It is a temporary action when better EU law is created, the Polish law will be retracted. Furthermore, the Polish Charter could be another nudge towards Brussels to take steps on the subject of digital sovereignty.

IGF 2020 Pre-Event #10 An open discussion about tackling terrorist and violent extremist content with the Global Internet Forum to Counter-Terrorism.

2 November 2020

The moderator of this discussion was Nicholas Rasmussen from the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT). The panelists were Ghayda Hassan (professor on radicalization), Albert Antwi-Boasiako (national cybersecurity advisor in Ghana), and Dina Hussein (Facebook). 

GIFCT was established by Facebook, Microsoft, Youtube, and Twitter with the aim to tackle misuse by terrorists and extremists. There are 4 pillars:

  • Share knowledge (also with smaller tech companies).
  • Share technology (hashes, URLs, programs to match videos and images).
  • Research.
  • Crisis response. This pillar was established in response to the Christchurch attack.

Furthermore, an independent advisory committee (IAC) was established. GIFCT finds it very important to bring together different stakeholders from all over the world to deal with the content issues of terrorism and extremism.

According to Ghayda Hassan, a major issue at the moment is the closing of the minds. Leaders become more and more masters in instilling fear, which has a big impact on individuals. The Internet has a big influence on this, it creates a space for acting out. Users are no longer exposed to complex, nuanced voices. For this reason, stakeholders such as governments and tech/social media companies should be responsible and accountable. It is important to act proactively.

The moderator asked the panelists what could be possible outputs of the GIFCT. One aim is to expand further than just the persons on the UN terrorist list, looking at extremism as well. For this reason, it is of great importance to be transparent and to clearly define what is understood as extremism (also, who will be involved in creating this definition). Furthermore, the IAC currently has an advisory role, which should be broader.

The advice has to be seriously considered. The industry should look broader than just the economic-political considerations, they should also look at the impact. True and sincere engagement is necessary. A final output that was mentioned by the panelists was to share knowledge, for example through the creation of guidelines for governments.

Lastly, the question was asked how to manage the balance with fundamental human rights. The policies on content moderation should be transparent and publicly accessible. It is important to work together with other stakeholders and to engage with different communities.

There needs to be educated on what freedom of expression is, as this is often misunderstood. Clear definitions are necessary. Facebook uses three pillars when conducting content moderation, namely safety, privacy, and voice. The cultural context plays an important role here as well. They also invest in partnerships with experts on this topic.

IGF 2020 Pre-Event #83 Agile State – opportunities and threats. How is the role of the state changing in digital reality?

3 November 2020

This was a discussion regarding how the role of the state changes in digital reality. COVID-19 has changed the way governments look at digital programs. There are more possibilities in COVID-19-time, and it has also become easier to implement these possibilities. Furthermore, governments have realized the importance and value of data and Big Data.

This may change the way that we provide healthcare for example. It brings forward opportunities, but also risks, such as privacy concerns and disinformation. COVID-19 can be seen as a wake-up call: “We can open doors that were closed before.”

Key technological opportunities and challenges for states were discussed as well, such as more of a focus on the needs of citizens (focus on the user-experience) while using technologies and using the data the government has in other ways as well. However, the increased use of technologies leads to questions regarding privacy, data, and cybersecurity.

There is a need for a better, basic understanding of technology. Governments have to become more flexible and efficient, with hopefully more technologists as well. This can lead to new collaborations. There is room for optimism!

IGF 2020 NRIs Collaborative Session: Cybersecurity local policies and standards

4 November 2020

This collaborative session of NRIs was focused on cybersecurity. First, a discussion took place about the situation regarding cybersecurity in different countries.

  • A panelist from Brazil talked about the situation there. Different actors need to be involved in cybersecurity. There are more than 40 cybersecurity response teams, which are active in different sectors. There is a focus on training, capacity-building, and continued cooperation.
  • Then a panelist from North-Macedonia took the floor. Before 2016, there was no concrete capacity regarding cybersecurity. In 2016, a critical response team was established. Now there is a national cybersecurity strategy, which consists of different components. They took a multi-stakeholder approach. The capacity has been increased over the years.
  • Then the situation in Chad was discussed. Chad is dealing with cyber-criminals and cyber-terrorists, which is a challenge to security. The cybersecurity capacity is at an early stage, there is, for example, no response team or strategy yet. Different actors are victims of cyberattacks. They are in this session to learn from other countries.
  • A panelist from France explained the situation in his country. Cybersecurity is a cornerstone of the digital agenda there. It is of great importance to raise awareness and strengthen educational programs. They have implemented different EU Directives (Nice Directive, GDPR). They also engage with the Council of Europe and other international efforts (such as the Paris Call and the Christchurch Call).
  • A panelist from Albania explained the situation in her country. There are many recent developments with regards to cybersecurity policy and law. The objective is to fully transpose the Nice Directive in national legislation. They focus on capacity-building and training. Albania receives support from many international actors, both in the region as internationally.

Then a discussion took place regarding the question of how international cooperation could be improved. It is of great importance to foster a multi-stakeholder approach (such as through the Paris Call). Stakeholders have to provide support for training and capacity building. It is also important to share information among stakeholders, with the aim to improve transparency.

Lastly, the question was asked how the culture around cybersecurity could be built, in order to get more people involved. This is quite a big challenge, but education on important topics and best practices seem to be of great importance here. Furthermore, it is important to create trust among stakeholders.

IGF 2020 OF #31 Safe digital spaces, a dialogue on countering cyberviolence

4 November 2020

This session on cyberviolence against women was set up by Web foundation, UN Women, and IT for Change. A Google Document was created to summarise this session.

Cyberviolence against women was discussed from different perspectives:

  • In India, there are gaps in criminal legislation regarding this subject. Misogyny is manifested in digital private places. There is a need for a feminist lens when making policies.
  • According to Facebook, blocking perpetrators does not always work in cases of domestic violence. Instead, the aim is to show ways in which different features can be used and how cases of misogyny can be reported.
  • Take Back the Tech aims to reclaim technology for pleasure and consent and stop online harm. The problem is that many personal attacks have political ties, targeting the freedom of expression.
  • A researcher stated that the research on this subject should consider multiplicity, multidisciplinarity, and be participatory and inclusive.
  • It also became clear that there should be a multi-stakeholder approach to trying to stop the continuum of violence online and offline.

During the Q&A, a discussion took place regarding best practices for content moderation and tech companies that focus on something else than content moderation. Furthermore, the question was raised how individuals can engage – through counter-speech (speak up and support), joining campaigns, driving discussion online, and reporting harassing content.

Cyberviolence against women

IGF 2020 OF #25 Freedom Online Coalition Open Forum

5 November 2020

During this session, a discussion took place regarding disinformation. Firstly, it was discussed why the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) aims to act against disinformation. Disinformation is not a human rights violation or a crime, but it affects the enjoyment of human rights. There are worries about discrimination and stigmas.

Disinformation can also have implications for democracy, health, and minority groups. Currently, disinformation can spread faster and have a bigger reach. There is a need for access to accurate information. Education with regards to this subject is therefore important. It is an international, multi-stakeholder issue.

One of the panelists represented Facebook. She stated that Facebook’s aim is to let people connect safely. They use independent third-party fact-checkers in order to reduce, reform and, if needed, remove harmful content. Currently, disinformation regarding voting and that can lead to real-life harm is removed from the platform.

In these cases, safety overrules the freedom of expression. Furthermore, they aim to educate their users about disinformation. It is important to note that the protection of freedom of expression is deemed of great importance.

Then a discussion took place regarding the question of why the topic is so challenging to find agreement in. It is difficult to reach a consensus because it develops itself very quickly, within organisations but also among other stakeholders (novelty, scale, etc).

The more proactive role of the platforms is something that we have never seen before, which complicates this a bit as well. It is of great importance to comply with human rights legislation and try to find common ground among countries to limit these rights in a proportionate manner. The next step is to work further on FOC’s statement regarding disinformation and act forward with regards to that.

IGF sessions

IGF 2020 OF #28 Swiss Open Forum on Self-Determination in the Digital Space

6 November 2020

This session focussed on the debate regarding digital self-determination. Digital self-determination implies that citizens should have access to their data and have an understanding of how this affects them so that they can make a self-determined decision. It contains both an individual and a collective element. 

First, the use of data infrastructure in the energy sector was discussed. There is no platformisation yet, and the infrastructure for data exchange needs to be changed. Furthermore, the use of data starts playing a bigger role, such as through digital metering devices. There is a need for further development in the field.

After this, the legal aspects of digital self-determination were discussed. Users need to have access to and control of data (and they should be able to base their decisions on this). This “right” can be found in different laws and policies. Good examples are the COVID-19 tracing applications and electronic health records.

Digital self-determination depends on the user’s knowledge of data, which is not always the case. This can create issues. It is important to work on giving the users the possibility to make decisions regarding their data.

There is a strong link between awareness and platformisation. It is important to look broader than just regulation. The discussion about this has to be continued. Questions/tensions that still arise with regards to digital self-determination are the following:

  • Should it be based on a protective stance or empowerment?
  • Is it a conversation regarding technical infrastructure or human capacity-building?
  • Is it an individualist concept or a communitarian concept?
  • Is it a story about personal data or about data in general?

IGF 2020 OF #29 Global Encryption Coalition

6 November 2020

The Global Encryption Coalition (GEC) aims to protect encryption. Encryption allows us to communicate freely, it secures privacy and ensures safety. The argument of the GEC is that governments try to weaken encryption. Backdoors make encryption less secure. They argued that better communication between different stakeholders is important (also with governments). It is important to move away from the binary view.

IGF 2020 NRIs Collaborative Session: Digital rights and impact on democracy

6 November 2020

Digital rights are becoming more important, especially now that society moves online. Panelists from different national IGF’s spoke about digital rights. There is a need for best practices and enforcements of these best practices. It is important to focus on intellectual property as well – which was a part of the debate that different panelists had not focussed on before. There is a realisation that the Internet is no longer just leisure, it is much more important now.

It is essential for the functioning of society. The Internet has a big impact on both society and democracy. It has an impact on legislation and policy. Different rights need to be balanced, for which it is important to have courts and prosecutors be involved in this process as well. There is a key role of the Internet in strengthening both democracy and the economy. Cooperation is important.

A short discussion also took place on the topic of the impact that COVID-19 has had on digital rights. It caused citizens to become more aware of their digital rights. This was also caused by the realisation that the world will become more digital. The stream of disinformation is something that we also had to deal with during this time period. Governments have been trying to raise more awareness with regards to that.

By Daphne Stevens

Edited by Connie Siu M.H.