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  • Published 18.11.18

    Clear Goals and ethical Values - Common Responsibilities for the Internet of the Future

    Jutta Croll

    The Internet Governance Forum 2018 in Paris ended last week with a clear appeal by the French Government to face up to the challenges and assume joint responsibility for the Internet.

    Mounir Manjoubi, Secretary of State for Digital Affairs in the French Ministry of Economics and Finance stressed in his final statement: “The multilateral aspect of the IGF is something that France supports more than ever. We acknowledge the importance of the IGF and underline the fact that we want to work together with IGF in order to take decisions. To do this we need to take on our responsibility and seize the opportunity to shape the world before us as many have been hoping for for decades.” France does neither advocate excessive nor negligent regulation, but rather policies designed to protect and respect the common good, so Manjoubi.

    Fabrizio Hochschild, UN Deputy Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination, also stressed that the Internet could not be a legal vacuum. Where the rule of law does not exist, the law of the mightier applies; this does not mean freedom, but rather abuse. With regard to artificial intelligence - one of the main topics of this year's IGF - Hochschild questioned the possibility of programming computers in such a way that they are able to make ethical decisions.

    This aspect was also taken up again on Thursday, Nov. 15th at the UNESCO event on the use of artificial intelligence for the knowledge society, which took place at the Mozilla Foundation. In particular, the question of respect for human rights was discussed. Decisions should not be based solely on algorithms, so the prevailing opinion, because this basically goes hand in hand with the problem that existing positions continue to be handed down and reinforced. This is particularly the case with regard to gender aspects, but also with regard to disadvantaged groups such as children or the elderly, refugees or the disabled. Michael J. Oghia, Global Forum for Media Development, stressed that freedom of expression is also limited by law and the rights of others. Anyone who disseminates false information on the Internet clearly violates such rules. This has not only gained relevance through the Internet. There have been lies since mankind could speak, but the Internet is an amplifier and accelerator. In most cases, the deliberate misinformation, which can also be described as propaganda, receives more attention than the later fact check. This has to be counteracted by transparency and media literacy.

    Technical innovations in the field of the Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence as well as corresponding opportunities for economic development and ethical challenges will form the thematic bridge from Paris to the Internet Governance Forum in Berlin, which will take place from 17 to 21 November in the Estrel Conference Centre. Thus, thirty years after the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 November 1989, the IGF 2019 can be a platform next year to pay appropriate attention to the rights of children in the digital environment.

    Please find here our reports from the IGF.

    Paris Peace Forum opens the Paris Digital Week 2018.

    Report on IGF Day 1 - Putting people at the centre.

    Report on IGF Day 2 - Children's Rights - Child Protection - Human Rights.

    Report on IGF Day 23 - Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and the Internet of Things.


  • Published 14.11.18

    Artificial Intelligence, Big data and the Internet of Things - report from day 3 IGF 2018, 14.11.2018

    Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    Day three of the IGF started with the Best Practice Forum on Artificial Intelligence. Such thematic forums are part of the activities that take place between the annual IGFs, with the intention of exploring topics of current interest in greater depth.

    Nobuhisa Nishigata, OECD pointed out how difficult it is to exploit the benefits of artificial intelligence while keeping risks under control. Imane Bello, Sciences Lecturer, Human Rights & AI, proposed to avoid the terms Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, after all, it's all about people, not just machines, she said

    Taylor Bentley, ISED, Canadian Government, explained the Canadian approach of working with business and academia to develop legislation for IoT, AI and Big Data. However, there are currently more examples of unsafe and risky applications, the representative of MISEC, an IT security company, said.

    The difficult balance between security and innovation was also addressed by Michael Nelson, Cloudflare. All participants agreed that IoT, AI and Big Data offer excellent opportunities to make the world a better place. But this can only succeed if human rights are respected and the needs of particularly vulnerable groups are taken into account and the risks minimized. This requires a balanced relationship between government regulation and the willingness of companies to implement Safety by Design as a principle of development and design.

    Human Rights and the impact of domain names was the topic of another session this morning. Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs) are a useful and increasingly widespread tool to inform private actors of the potential negative impacts of their policies, and to help mitigate their consequences. Currently, there is little mutual acceptance of the results of HRIAs if they were carried out either by business or civil society, says Michelle Neylon, representative of an Irish company responsible for domain name registration. The proposal to implement ICANN's and IGF's multi-stakeholder model for HRIAs could help avoid misunderstandings. However, companies are generally sceptical about the enforcement of human rights with regard to additional contractual requirements. In response to questions, those involved in the session stressed that child sexual abuse representations are content that violates human rights. There was a willingness to tackle the problem together, but further discussion of contractual and technical possibilities was needed. At the beginning of December, an article will appear in the magazine Medien + Erziehung - merz Wissenschaft, pointing out a way to do this. Access to the English translation of the text will be published here.


  • Published 13.11.18

    Child protection - children’s rights - human rights - report from day 2 IGF 2018, 13.11.2018

    Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    The protection of children was one of the major themes on day 2. In the morning, WeProtect Global Alliance, ACSIS, an organisation gathering more than 600 civil society organisations vom from the African Continent, UNICEF, the Internet Watch Foundation and Arda Gerkens, Senator in the Dutch Parliament were engaged in a debate on fighting the sexual exploitation of children. Exorbitantly rising numbers of child sexual abuse imagery, new forms of abuse as live streamed videos, and an ever younger age of the children depicted, so Susie Hargreaves, IWF, demonstrate the necessity of immediate action. At the same time especially on the African continent more and more children have mobile access to the Internet, but they lack offers of media literacy training in order to be empowered to cope with the risks, stressed Aicha Jeridi, ACSIS.

    Anjan Bose, UNICEF, presented the catalogue developed by the WeProtect Global Alliance covering 21 issues, the so called Model National Response. Participating countries can implement the catalogue according to their national situation in order to combat sexual abuse of children. Based on the catalogue ‚threat assessments’ were performed for the first time in several countries, to measure the risks and implement respective policies. The full report can be found at We Protect Global Alliance.

    Arda Gerkens referred to the possibility to address the phenomenon based on administrative law. Only an authority endowed with the necessary powers could bring the service providers hosting such content to delete it. We need a zero tolerance strategy towards child sexual abuse, so Gerkens. But it would also be necessary to provide advice and assistance for those men who consume this type of content since only if demand were to dry up, the swamp of these offers could be drained away.

    In the following session organised by the Dynamic Coalition on Child Online Safety web services directly offered to children or used by them were in the focus of the debate. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child children have the right to access to information, to express their opinion freely and participate to society together with others. Also they have the right to privacy and to protection, especially from sexual abuse and commercial exploitation. Nowadays children have access to networked devices and services at an ever younger age. Education of children therefore also has to enable them to make use of digital opportunities responsibly. Nonetheless responsibility could and should not be with parents and pedagogues alone, so a majority of participants to the session. Rather, providers would have to develop new services in such a way that they can be used safely by children. Offers that are designed in a way that motivates children to maximum engagement with the service, for example apps that provide incentives for longer and more intensive use, are as questionable as services that reward the number of users linked to the profile, or games that require the purchase of items for a fee to reach the next level. This leads to a commercialisation of childhood, which is based in particular on the evaluation of the behaviour recorded during the use of the services and the economisation of these data for the development of new services. The participants in the session called for an ethical debate on such business practices; providers should take into account the different needs of children as based on their psychological developmental.

    Both themes also made their way into the thematic main session „Effective policies for inclusive und prosperous digital transformation - what’s needed?“, jointly organised with the Dynamic Coalitions as well as the final thematic main session on Human Rights and Internet Governance.


  • Published 12.11.18

    Paris Peace Forum opens the Paris Digital Week 2018

    Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    After the celebration of the commemoration on armistice day 100 years after the end of the second world war president Macron has together with UN Secretary general António Guterres and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the first Paris Peace Forum on Sunday afternoon. While US president Donald Trump ostentatiously did not take part, other leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan were among those who listened as Merkel, Macron and Gutteres lauded the U.N. and institutions like it that seek multilateral solutions to global problems.

    In the following days during the Paris Digital Week representatives of governments, international organisations, NGOs and also private companies will gather to discuss the most burning issues the world is facing nowadays with a strong focus on finding concrete answers.

    In parallel the thirteenth Internet Governance Forum will take place at UNESCO premises in Paris. Both events are thematically strongly interconnected, one focus will be on Artificial Intelligence. In an Open Forum organised by UNICEF for example taking children’s rights in consideration in the development of applications based on artificial intelligence will be discussed on Tuesday. Human Rights is another main issue among the topics of the IGF. Here the exercise of violence is addressed as well as the prevention of child sexual abuse material being distributed via the Internet. Taking up the debates at the Paris Peace Forum at the Internet Governance Forum also aspects of economic development in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Cyber Security are on the agenda.

    Please find here our reports from the IGF.

    Report on IGF Day 1 - Putting people at the centre.

    Report on IGF Day 2 - Children's Rights - Child Protection - Human Rights.

    Report on IGF Day 23 - Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and the Internet of Things.


  • Published 12.11.18

    Putting People at the Centre - Report on IGF Day 1

    Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen
    Ansicht: Der Mensch im Mittelpunkt - Bericht vom ersten Tag des IGF 2018

    The thirteenth Internet Governance Forum was opened with a high-level panel on Monday afternoon. UNESCO General Director Audrey Azoulay welcomed the participants and underlined the importance of education, cultural values and ethics - especially regarding the developments in the field of artificial intelligence. These are the core values of UNESCO that should be upheld in light of digitisation.

    UN Secretary General António Guterres subsequently asked to put technologies and their fantastic possibilities in service of the people. He also referred to strengthening the fundamental values of humanity. Internet Governance should, according to Guterres, include and amplify the weak and missing voices and help to bridge these digital divides between and within countries. Technology should empower not overpower people. The risks associated with digitisation could also be turned into digital opportunities. Guterres underlined the efforts of the French and the German Government to sustain the importance of the IGF. In the area of digitisation cooperation is needed, he said, that is why the United Nations launched the High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation - HLPDC in 2018.

    Then the French President Emmanuel Macron called for the values of the UNESCO to be upheld. We stand at a critical juncture, Macron said, and asked for efforts to ensure a free, open, safe and secure Internet. We should not allow mistakes to happen out of a misunderstood sense of neutrality. Therefore, according to Macron, it is incumbent to regulate the internet and regulate its actors. Internet stakeholders have to take charge, we need to shoulder our responsibility in order to protect the people.

    Macron explicitly stressed that child sexual abuse imagery, terrorism and hate speech should be subject to regulation. A strategy based only on self-regulation could endanger democracy, according to Macron. We have to see today, that there are democratic and liberal conceptions of states, but also undemocratic ones. Therefore it is necessary to establish a new multilateralism.

    For the Internet Governance Forum Macron demanded to go a step beyond debates and promote concrete measures. Based on the initial approaches at the IGF 2017 in Geneva and in the light of the IGF 2019 in Berlin, participants of the IGF 2018 in Paris should draw up a Road Map of results. Concrete suggestions made by President Macron are in the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace . This high-level declaration on developing common principles for securing cyberspace has already received the backing of many states, as well as private companies and civil society organizations.



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