Putting People at the Centre - Report on IGF Day 1Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen
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.
In November, Paris will be the Capital of Internet Governance - IGF 2018 in FranceJutta Croll
The thirteenth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will be held in Paris, France, from 12th to 14th of November 2018, hosted by the French Government. The meeting will be held at the headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in parallel with the Paris Peace Forum on 11th to -13th of November.
In his announcement, French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized the importance of welcoming the IGF in Paris in order to “share common ideas” and to advance discussions on International Internet policy issues. Sharing ideas and broad and thoughtful collaboration has never been more important given the pace of change and the clear and increasing need to make progress.
The IGF programme and the intersessional activities are guided by the 55-member Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General to advise him on these matters. Jutta Croll, chairwoman of the board of the Digital Opportunities Foundation, was appointed as a member of the group this year. As a representative of Civil Society she will serve the MAG with her expertise especially with regard to children’s rights and child protection in the digital world and bring in her experience as a member of the Dynamic Coalition on Child Online Safety since its establishment at the IGF in Rio de Janeiro 2007.
From July 11th to 13th, the Multistakeholder Advisory Group convened for their second meeting this year in Geneva to decide on the programme and to discuss the selection of workshops for the IGF 2018. 344 proposals were sent in from all around the world within the four week deadline. When shaping the IGF programme, the MAG is strictly following the principle of diversity regarding regional background, stakeholder groups, gender, and content. The internet policy issues the IGF participants 2018 will focus on include cybersecurity, data privacy, emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things, Human Rights, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These themes for the meeting were derived through an open global call for issues, thus ensuring that the thematic main sessions, the workshops and other session formats will address themes that are currently of high relevance in Internet policy.
The IGF is unique as a platform for multistakeholder Internet policy discussions. After the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva and Tunis 2003 and 2005, the United Nations first initiated the IGF for five years to address the issues brought up during WSIS. In 2010, the mandate was prolonged for another five years and then in 2015 for the next decade till 2025. Past IGF meetings have attracted between 2,000 and 3,000 participants, representing all regions and stakeholder groups, including governments, the private sector, civil society and the technical community.
The fourteenth IGF will be hosted by the German Federal Government in Berlin in November 2019. Stakeholders from politics, industry, academia and civil society are already invited to engage in the multistakeholder process and develop their topics and ideas for the programme. For more information please refer to the website of the IGF at https://www.intgovforum.org/.
Recommendation of the Council of Europe on children’s rights in the digital environmentJutta Croll
How to better respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the child in the digital environment is at the core of the new Recommendation adopted on July 4th by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.
When the Council of Europe adopted the Sofia-Strategy for the implementation of the UN-CRC in April 2016 the enforcement of children’s rights in the digital environment was addressed for the first time and established as one of the five pillars of the strategy. In light of the rapidly advancing process of digitisation of our everyday life this was a reasonable step forward to ensure that children’s rights are also respected in the digital environment.
The task resulting from the Sofia-Strategy was commissioned to a group of experts - the CAHENF-IT, to which on behalf of the project childrens-rights.digital also Jutta Croll belongs. During the last 18 months the group has examined the effects of digitisation on the realisation of children’s rights and formulated recommendations for a child-centered implementation. Building on international and European legal instruments, the text provides comprehensive guidelines for action by European governments.
The digital environment shapes children’s lives in many ways, creating opportunities and risks to their well-being and enjoyment of human rights. Governments are recommended to review their legislation, policies and practices to ensure that these adequately address the full range of the rights of the child. States should also ensure that business enterprises and other key partners meet their human rights responsibilities and are held accountable in case of abuses.
Poor access to the digital environment may affect the ability of children to fully exercise their human rights. States should ensure that children have adequate, affordable and secure access to devices, connectivity and content specifically intended for children; in dedicated public places such access should be rendered free of charge. However, specific measures should be taken to protect infants from premature exposure to the digital environment.
States should guarantee the rights of the child to hold and express any views, no matter if their opinions are received favourably by the State or other stakeholders. As creators and distributors of information, children should be made aware by the States of how to exercise their right to freedom of expression in the digital environment, how to respect the rights and dignity of others, and be informed of the legitimate restrictions on the freedom of expression, for example to prevent intellectual property rights violations and counter incitement to hatred and violence. It is crucial to provide high-quality content tailor-made for children.
States should also take measures to protect the right of children to engage in play, in peaceful assembly and association, as well as to foster participation, inclusion, digital citizenship and resilience both online and offline. States must respect, protect and fulfil the right of the child to privacy and data protection. States should not prohibit in law or practice anonymity, pseudonymity or the usage of encryption technologies for children. Processing of personal data should only be possible with the explicit and informed consent of the children and/or their parents or legal representatives. Profiling of children to analyse or predict their personal preferences should be prohibited by law.
Measures to strengthen digital literacy, including critical understanding by children of the digital environment, and educational resources should be promoted. Given the speed at which new technologies emerge, the guidelines also propose measures to address risks for children in the digital environment. These include regular risk assessments, use of effective systems of age verification, putting in place principles for products/services addressed to or used by children, protecting children from commercial exploitation, age-inappropriate advertising and marketing, harmful content and behaviour, sexual exploitation and abuse, grooming, online recruitment for the commission of crimes, participation in extremist political or religious movements, human trafficking, as well as from bullying, stalking and other forms of harassment. Accessible, affordable and child-friendly avenues to submit complaints and seek remedies, both judicial and non-judicial, should be ensured for children and their representatives.
For the first time, these guidelines provide an instrument under international law to support children’s growing up well in the light of the digital transformation. For stakeholders on all levels - be it in politics, industry, academia or educational practice - the recommendations build a basis to focus on the child and implement appropriate measures to realise protection, empowerment, and participation of children in the digital world.
Child Safety and Internet Governance - a brief look back and forwardJutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen
Even in 2006, when the IGF itself was in its infancy, the topic of child safety and protection was on the agenda of the forum. Not necessarily as a top priority and not free of conflicts. Strategies targeted at the prevention of access to potentially harmful content for children were contentious and had its detractors from the Freedom of Speech Community. Through the years empowerment of children and youths for a safe and responsible usage of the Internet gained in importance. This was mirrored also in numerous activities to engage young people themselves in the Internet Governance Forum.
Also from the beginning the topic of human rights was anchored in the IGF events, in fact much less controversial than the topic of child safety. But only in 2015 when Jasmina Byrne, John Carr and Sonia Livingstone published their report One in Three - Internet Governance and Children’s Rights, proving that worldwide one third of Internet users are under the age of 18, the relevance of engagement of young people in Internet Governance processes related to them became evident.
Before the twelfth Internet Governance Forums was opened officially in the frame of the pre-conference on day zero a three hour debate on digital literacy education was organised by the Council of Europe.
Frank La Rue, former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Speech opened the discussion with the indication, that every technology advance in history is a wonderful leap forward for humanity, but every technological development brings with it its own dangers and its own pitfalls. Society would need to react to that fact. Of course there is content available that is illegal under current legislation, f. e. child pornography, and it can be censored, said Frank La Rue. But the actual challenge is to empower children and youth and those responsible for their education for a safe and responsible use of the Internet. That calls for massive capacity building campaigns for teachers.
Villano Qiriazi from the Council of Europe presented the Framework of Competencies for Democratic Culture to be established in all forms of education. Now not all young people have the opportunity to be digital citizens. And the development of relatively inexpensive technology means the digital gap is more likely to be on the side of competencies required to make best use of technology than access to technology per se. Participation and confident use of technology, so Villano Qiriazi are very much connected to values and attitudes necessary to engage in active participation. These need to be addressed in education to achieve non-discriminatory participation.
At the end of the discussion participants dealt with the ten domains defined in the Digital Citizenship Education Project of the Council of Europe to be found at Digital Citizenship Education Project.Overall this was a good start for interesting debates at this years IGF, although there was no doubt that first and foremost empowerment of children was considered in this workshop as key to ensure their rights and their protection. Therefore it remains exciting how the debate will continue in the days to come, if the song of songs on multistakeholderism will continue to set the tone, which stakeholders will be ready to take responsibility for the safety of children and what role industry will play. More reports from the next days of the IGF will be published at News.
November 20th 2017: Today is International Day of Children´s Rights
November 20th 2017: Today is International Day of Children´s Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is celebrating it´s 28th birthday. Since the adoption of this convention the world has been changing, today internet, apps and online games are a matter of fact for children. They bring new opportunities for playing and learning and they can strengthen the rights of children, but they also carry endangerment.
To understand and realize children´s rights today we have to consider benefits as well as risks of digitization and engage in the children’s digital world. Every child has the right to access to digital media, to education with digital media and to media literacy education. Of course the right to information and freedom of expression is reinforced by the internet but obviously the protection from new forms and phenomena of discrimination, for instance cyberbullying or hate speech, must also be ensured. The Convention on the Rights of the Child guarantees the right to leisure, play and participation, but so far digital playgrounds are not (yet) established as a matter of course. The privacy of children has become more vulnerable through the internet, violence and abuse are present also online. Therefore the digital world must provide for measures of protection appropriate to the children’s age and evolving capacities.
On World Children’s Day it’s about time to strengthen children’s rights in the digital world. As for children the internet does not turn the world upside down but it makes the world bigger, more colorful and diverse.
In the course of international co-operation the project childrens-rights.digital took part in the World Congress on Child Dignity in the Digital World at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome on Oct 3rd to 6th, 2017, and developed a program for the implementation of the „Declaration of Rome“, presented in an audience to Pope Francis on Oct 6th. The declaration urges governments, companies and the civil society to undertake measures to ensure the protection of the rights and the dignity of children in the digital world.
The Declaration of Rome is available here.