13 November 2018

Secretary-General Stresses Need to Overcome Cyberattacks, Hate Speech, Censorship, Data Breaches as Internet Governance Forum Opens

We Must Adapt to Stay Ahead as Innovation Affects Security, Culture, Education, President of France Tells Participants

PARIS, 12 November — Delegates representing a broad range of interests — from Governments to technology companies — focused on efforts to promote “digital growth” while overcoming many of the abuses of the Internet, as the thirteenth Internet Governance Forum opened here today.

United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres and President Emmanuel Macron of France called for bolstering policies to contain malicious use of transformative technologies and for turning risks into opportunities.

The Secretary‑General cautioned against emerging negative use of the Internet, emphasizing that cyberattacks, data breaches, hate speech, repression, censorship and control must all be addressed and overcome.  “Discussions on Internet governance cannot just remain discussions,” he said.  “Policy, and relevant normative frameworks, must be developed to ensure impact.  We cannot leave our fate in the digital era to the invisible hand of market forces.”

Running from 12 to 14 November, the 2018 Forum brings together more than 3,000 onsite and remote participants from over 99 countries, including representatives of Governments, the technical community, business and civil society as to discuss amplifying digital cooperation.

The Secretary‑General said technology should be harnessed to “empower rather than overpower”, encouraging participants to reach out beyond the “usual suspects”, break out of existing silos and take a more multidisciplinary approach.  That entails engaging with specialists who may not typically be included in technology discussions, including Governments of developing countries, and amplifying the “weak and missing voices” in the conversation.

“Digital growth affects everyone,” he said, calling for traditionally unheard and marginalized voices to be more visibly involved in the Forum’s work.  “Reach out to local communities that have many fascinating stories and insights on leveraging digital technology for business and inclusion.”  He continued:  “Get stories from people with disabilities, who are among the most creative users of digital technology.  And spare no effort to bring in the voices of women, who have been underrepresented and subjected to deep gender gaps in access to digital technologies.”  He went on to note that the Multistakeholder Advisory Group, which sets the Forum’s agenda, will reach full gender parity in 2019, a key objective of the United Nations.

The Secretary‑General also renewed the 2019 Internet Governance Forum Multistakeholder Advisory Group today.  Its 52 members will advise on developing the programme of the fourteenth Internet Governance Forum, to be hosted by the Government of Germany in 2019.

Echoing the Secretary‑General, Liu Zhenmin, Under‑Secretary‑General for Economic and Social Affairs, cited a potential “true digital revolution” as the “greatest single enabler of sustainable development”, emphasizing:  “We should galvanize the momentum to mobilize technology and innovation for the service of people and not allow them to result in polarization and division.”

President Macron, in his first official speech at UNESCO Headquarters, said:  “Technological transformation is also a cultural, philosophical transformation which is manifesting itself in all aspects of our lives, and this revolution is still ongoing.”  He noted that “in our lifetimes, we are likely to see the effects of innovation on security, culture and education, and we need to adapt to stay ahead”.

The list of Multistakeholder Advisory Group members is available at

Many other dynamic discussions took place over the course of the first day, all of which can be found here:

Workshops and Events

The programme includes more than 70 workshops, 20 open sessions under eight themes:  Cybersecurity, Trust and Privacy; Development, Innovation & Economic Issues; Digital Inclusion & Accessibility; Emerging Technologies; Evolution of Internet Governance; Human Rights, Gender & Youth; Media & Content; Technical & Operational Topics.

Internet Governance Forum

Convened annually by the Secretary‑General, the Internet Governance Forum conducts multi-stakeholder dialogue on public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance issues, such as the Internet’s sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development.

Its purpose is to maximize opportunities for open and inclusive dialogue and to facilitate the exchange of ideas on issues related to Internet governance; create opportunities to share best practices and experiences; identify emerging issues and bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the public; contribute to building capacity for Internet governance.

The 2018 Forum, the thirteenth, is held under the theme “Internet of Trust”.

For additional information and schedule, please visit:

Online Participation

Media and other stakeholders not present in Jalisco, Mexico, are encouraged to participate and engage remotely in all sessions.  Anyone can access the events at

Live webcasts of all sessions are also available.

Media Contacts

Martin Samaan,, United Nations Department of Public Information, +1 917 868 0584; Wai Min Kwok,, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, +1 646 833 8868.

For information media. Not an official record.