Views expressed at Internet Governance Forum suggest global internet challenges can only be confronted by strengthened international cooperation.
Paris, France, 13 November– Increased global cooperation was a common thread in discussions around cyber security and online rights during the second day of the Internet Governance Forum now taking place in Paris. Stakeholders from government, private sector and civil society engaged in over seventy multilingual sessions taking place on issues relating to new technologies, both in person and online.
With cybersecurity and privacy high on the agenda, French Government representative David Martinon, Ambassador for Cyber diplomacy and the Digital Economy, linked laws on cybersecurity to democratic oversight, stating that it is the government’s responsibility to safeguard its citizens. “Cyber security is all about protecting people.”
Tremendous progress has been made internationally in accepting that international law and the UN Charter apply in cyberspace. He urged the private sector to be involved in countering the number of malevolent tools being deployed in cyberspace, especially in developing more secure software.
Confidence-building measures were one of the pillars of a stability framework that Christoph Steck, Director of Public Policy and Internet, Telefonica, suggested; along with self-regulation — a key approach that companies should take to make cyberspace safer. However, there is also a need to see a global agreement supporting such an initiative to empower companies to inform when something goes wrong. “International collaboration is the bedrock of how we should confront these global challenges.”
Long Zhou, Coordinator of Cyber Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, agreed, but remarked that unless the principles of rule of law is implemented by all, internet governance would be unsuccessful. “Given the rapid pace of technical development we believe we need innovative ideas in order to be able to govern the internet. We need to focus on this idea of shared development. We all need to cooperate. China is taking an active part in UN led efforts. The process should be more inclusive, bring even more countries into the fold to ensure a fair and sustainable development in governance.”
Combating Fake News and Dangerous Content in the Digital Age
The consensus from the session on Fake News was that part of the complexity to tackle disinformation was the challenge to define it. From election interference to stoking up hate or increase religious hatred, there are also other multilayered levels such as spam, and misleading types of content like opinion pieces masking as objective journalism.
Irene Poetrant, Senior Researcher for Citizen Lab of University of Toronto agreed, saying definitions matter and in order to maintain an open and democratic system, it is important for government, private sector, civil society and institutions to work together, and that fake news is not just a problem of the west but a global problem.
“Misinformation is the antithesis of Google’s mission”, said Jake Lucchi, Head of Online Safety and Social Impact. Partnering with journalists, governments, and third parties, they try to find product solutions to identify misinformation and find ways to surface authoritative content. “Young people need to have critical thinking and skills to be able to navigate the internet and check our sources.” Improved algorithms and having policies in place to prohibit hate speech are also key – providers have to ensure misinformation are not allowed on their platforms.
How technology will reshape jobs
Challenges relating to future employment were discussed in a session that brought up automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence as increasing inequality and polarizing jobs. Maarit Palovirta, Senior Manager at the Internet Society, said “Youth are most at risk because tasks may be automated which reduces opportunities.” She cautioned about the consequences and loss of work if even just one large company shifted functions to automated processes.
Education is essential to keep up pace with evolving technologies. “Coding skills integrated in curriculums will allow youth to fully partake in a digital economy and digital society.” said David Autor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Acquiring new skills are instrumental to prepare youth for future employment.
Development, Innovation and Economic Issues
The potential for emerging technologies to positively impact the Sustainable Development Goals was the topic of another high-level panel that agreed that when it comes to innovation, human rights laws and sustainable development should be guiding future new technologies. Taking women and girls into account, having access to technology doesn’t always equate to knowing how to use it.
Executive Director Bishakha Dhatta from Point of View, a non-for-profit women’s rights organization, said: “Research is showing that many women, many girls, particularly from low-income communities who do not speak English or who access the net in other languages, don’t feel the sense of confidence, autonomy, agency or belonging to actually participate meaningfully in those spaces and sometimes tend to become bystanders in these spaces.”
Jac SM Kee, an IGF Dynamic Coalition Member on Gender and Internet Governance said it is important to look at gender issues in the context of sustainable development and stressed that addressing access is critical. “Currently there still exists a large gender digital divide and the proportion of women using the Internet is 12% lower than men globally and this number is much bigger in several countries and region. This gap is not just in terms of access to connectivity and devices but also the ability to use them freely in a way that realizes a range of their human rights.” She further suggested that “Many intersecting factors impact on our ability to realize a range of rights. This includes factors like disability, location, income, ethnic identities and sexual orientation.”
In conclusion, they gathered that with every technology comes new threats as well as opportunities. Ethical governance across all stakeholders would ensure proper use and management.
Many other other dynamic discussions took place over the course of the second day, all of which can be found here: http://bit.ly/IGF_Live.
Workshops and events
The programme includes over 70 workshops, 20 open sessions under 8 themes: Cybersecurity, Trust and Privacy; Development, Innovationand Economic Issues; Digital Inclusion and Accessibility; Emerging Technologies; Evolution of Internet Governance; Human Rights, Gender and Youth; Media and Content; Technical and Operational Topics.
About the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)
The IGF, convened annually by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, is a Forum for 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.
The purpose of the IGF is to maximize the opportunity for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet governance (IG) related issues; create opportunities to share best practices and experiences; identify emerging issues and bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public; contribute to capacity building for Internet governance.
This year marks the 13th Forum, and takes place in Paris, France, from 12-14 November under the theme “Internet of Trust”.
For additional information and schedule, please visit:http://www.intgovforum.org
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:https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/content/igf-2018-remote-hubs
Live webcasts of all sessions are also available