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  • Published 09.10.23

    Trust is essential

    Jutta Croll, Marlene Fasolt & Torsten Krause, SDC

    The role of artificial intelligence plays a major role in many events of the Internet Governance Forum 2023, but also in the corridors of the Congress Centre in Kyoto and in discussions during breaks. Common to these conversations are, on the one hand, the great expectations and hopes associated with the technologies. On the other hand, concerns and fears about their effects are also present. At the High Level Panel on Artificial Intelligence, it was emphasised several times that knowledge about the data used and its diversity, but also transparency about the effects of the technologies are crucial for accepting the results and consequences of artificial intelligence and dealing with them. Openness is the key to creating the necessary trust, which in turn provides the basis for being able to use the opportunities that are opening up for all people and in the sense of their rights. How companies and providers can be encouraged to ensure this openness is also a matter of debate for many states and organisations around the world. In the event The Role of Parliamentarians in Shaping a Trusted Internet Empowering All People, parliamentarians were also called upon to create meaningful solutions and regulations that bring order to complex issues. Furthermore, it was pleaded for the United Nations to be used as a catalyst for these diverse processes in order to learn from each other and, as a result, to set frameworks that make it possible to realise the rights of all people by means of artificial intelligence.

    #495 Next-Gen Education: Harnessing Generative AI

    A discussion with three speakers and the audience explored what policies should be in place to ensure the responsible and ethical use of generative AI technologies in educational settings. There were also an exchange on how policymakers can collaborate with relevant stakeholders to ensure that teaching and learning processes are enhanced while sustaining creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, but also how to ensure that the use of generative AI by youth in education is inclusive, age-appropriate and aligned with their developmental needs and abilities.

    The speakers agreed that generative AI has immense potential to reform education and can lead to more inclusive, personalized and accessible education. As everyone has a different learning style, generative AI can personalize the learning tools and e.g. translate lectures into different languages, add audio description, etc. They also noted the risks regarding data privacy, an overreliance on the technology as well as discrimination and biases due to the training data sets that are based on white westerners and often times ignore minorities. Because of this, more robust data protection rules were recommended as well as generative AI built in different countries and regions that recognize local language and cultures. It is important to keep a balanced view that looks at the benefits as well as the risks of this technology.

    When regulating generative AI the importance of cooperation and collaboration was emphasized, especially the need to include children’s and young people’s voices in the discourse. As important is also starting an ongoing discussion between policy makers, technology companies, students, teachers, and parents that aims to establish clear guidelines on generative AI in education. Policy makers should take a human centric approach, embrace new technologies, and not hinder innovation, while educators should learn to work with generative AI, instead of banning it, as students will use it regardless. When considering these points and leading additional digital literacy programs AI can become a bridge and not a barrier to education.

    DC-DDHT Robotics & the Medical Internet of Things (MIoT)

    Children's rights were also addressed in the Dynamic Coalition on Data Driven Health Technologies (DC-)DDHT session, which focused on robotics and the medical Internet of Things (MIoT). Jutta Croll referred to Art. 24 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child that obliges states to recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. More than 30 years after the UN-CRC was adopted General Comment No #25 provides for guidance how states obligations should be interpreted in the digital environment children are now growing-up in. The Internet of Things may play an important role in children’s health, given privacy and the protection of children’s data are ensured. Jutta Croll also emphasized that a child’s health begins at its birth and has to be addressed continuously. A child’s health, she said, start with its birth, therefore without identification, registration and acknowledgment of child / person, access to healthcare may be limited, delayed or denied - as described in General Comment 25. With regard to medical Internet of Things she referred to Teddy the Guardian, a health monitoring device for children and pointed out there are issues of privacy, transparency and ethics in regard to children’s sensitive data.

  • Published 08.10.23

    Take young people’s opinions into account in developing the internet

    Jutta Croll & Torsten Krause, SDC

    With the events of day 0, the 18th Internet Govenance Forum began in Kyoto, Japan, on 8 October 2023. More than 8200 people will come together in the coming days to discuss all relevant issues of internet policy and regulation. Especially the events important for children’s rights will be reported on our homepage.

    #16: Youth participation: co-creating the Insafe network

    On Sunday morning, various representatives of the INSAFE network presented their national activities, each emphasising the involvement of young people in these and in developing materials. Regardless of whether the Safer Internet Centres in Belgium, Poland or the activities in the UK were reported, it became clear that the existing guidance and support services are increasingly enriched by peer-to-peer services. For this purpose, young people are empowered to provide help and advice to people of their age group. For example, the Safer Internet Centre UK runs the "Digital Leaders Programme" together with Childnet. And in Poland, young people have created a joint webinar series "talking about internet" to reach more young people through digital services and inform them about issues that are important to them. But even though young people are increasingly taking action themselves to help others with concerns and challenges, this does not replace the role of adults in the services. In Belgium, the Max programme is currently being implemented with the aim of ensuring that every young person has a trusted adult to turn to when they have unpleasant experiences in digital environments. Central to this is that young people can choose their "Max" themselves. Crucial to this approach is that research shows that young people often do not turn to their parents or educational staff to share their concerns or ask for help.

    IGF 2023 Global Youth Summit

    In the afternoon, the Global Youth Summit addressed digital topics of concern to young people all over the world. The young representatives from Hong Kong, India and Italy called for processes and policies to make the internet and digital applications safe for children and young people. In order for this to happen in the interest and sense of young people, it should be ensured that they are involved in the development of such policies and that their opinion is taken into account. A representative of the European Commission pointed out in this context that the European Union is committed to an approach that puts people at the centre of its policies and considers their interests rather than those of states or companies to be decisive. Adult participants also emphasised that the aim was to balance the various fundamental rights to freedom, privacy and protection. Vint Cerf also addressed these aspects at the beginning of the event. In contrast to what was heard from adults later on, however, he already anticipated his support for the concerns of the young generation by clearly stating that the freedom of each individual ends where it interferes with that of the other. With regard to the protection against attacks or violations in the digital environment, which young people called for several times in the debate, he critically noted that these unintended effects of the internet should not undermine its goal of overcoming barriers and enabling networking and exchange.

    #149 Scoping Civil Society engagement in Digital Cooperation

    The session addressed the engagement of civil society organizations in the Global Digital Compact (GDC) which was first mentioned in the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation in June 2020. The Global Digital Compact’s objective is to ensure that digital technologies are used responsibly and for the benefit of all, while addressing the digital divide and fostering a safe and inclusive digital environment.

    Among the issues addressed by the GDC are

    • Upholding human rights
    • Avoiding fragmentation
    • Digital connectivity
    • Promoting trust

    As it turned out in the debate although children’s rights may be assumed under human rights they nonetheless do not feature as prominently in the GDC so far as one could have expected from the Roadmap.

    In regard to the process to develop the GDC civil society organizations recommended transparency, an accurate reflection of the scope and coherence.

    The substance of the GDC was discussed along the lines of the paper issued by the Co-facilitators of the UN SG’s Global digital Compact on Sept. 9th, 2023 based on the deep dive discussions on the GDC. Participants came to the conclusion that the paper should be the basis for on-going discussions. The IGF 2023 is a key moment for Civil Society in regard of expressing a common position towards the Gobal Digital Compact.

  • Published 04.10.23

    New CWA 18016 provides a practical framework for children’s protection and well-being online


    CEN and CENELEC, together with IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) just published a new Workshop Agreement, CWA 18016 Age appropriate digital services framework. This document describes a set of processes to help design and develop online products and services with the rights and well-being of children in mind. Read more about this in the article New CWA 18016 provides a practical framework for children’s protection and well-being online.

  • Published 29.09.23

    More cooperation to successfully combat sexual violence against children

    Torsten Krause, SDC

    On 28 September 2023, representatives of hotlines, law enforcement agencies, service providers and non-governmental organisations met in Amsterdam to discuss how cooperation and the exchange of information on combating sexual violence against children can be further improved online. INHOPE, an international network of hotlines to combat illegal content on the internet, had invited to the joint exchange and thus created a framework to discuss existing challenges, uncertainties and obstacles of the individual actors and in their cooperation. Through the exchange of experiences and perspectives, as well as through presentations of successful practices, an understanding of the respective work processes and competencies was created, and ways were shown of how the common goal can be approached.

    During the exchange, the CPORT project of INHOPE was presented. In this project, various actors are working together to make the ICCAM database on reported material of sexual violence against children accessible to partners outside the hotline network. Through CPORT, INTERPOL and national law enforcement agencies will be able to access this data and use it for their work. Likewise, the analysts of the hotlines should be able to use the existing ICSE and IWOL databases at INTERPOL. The aim is that through better networking and data processing, more time will be available for researching and prosecuting sexual violence against children online.

  • Published 20.09.23

    Bringing sustainability and digitization together

    Jutta Croll, SDC

    On 13 September, the 14th National Internet Governance Forum Germany (IGF-D) took place at the Federal Foreign Affairs Office in Berlin. The youth IGF-D already met the evening before at the Wikimedia premises. Internet governance - like the Internet itself - affects the entire world and is therefore a task that must be dealt with at a global level. The fact that, in addition to the annual Internet Governance Forum of the United Nations, there are also forums on national and regional levels is entirely justified. There is a need for professional exchange between the actors in the respective region in order to develop a common multistakeholder perspective and to bring this to the global IGF.

    The event kicked off on 13 September with a panel discussion on how the European Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act) can create a quality standard for artificial intelligence (AI) as a catalyst for digital innovation. The Act aims to set high standards for AI-based systems with potentially serious risks for society and individuals. There is currently a struggle in the ongoing parliamentary process, particularly over the question of who should be responsible for deciding the level of risk potential and the associated obligation to comply with the standards. Moderated by Julia Kloiber (Managing Director, Superrr Lab), the panelists Markus Beckedahl (founder of netzpolitik. org; Co-Founder re:publica), Rosanna Fanni (Trade and Technology Coordinator, Centre for European Policy Studies), Linda Schwarz (Policy and Science Officer, Gesellschaft für Informatik), Matthias Spielkamp (Co-Founder and Managing Director, AlgorithmWatch) and Alexandra Wudel (Co-Founder and Managing Director, FemAI) focused the debate on the risk of fundamental rights being violated by unregulated AI applications. The potential threat affects all people regardless of their status or national affiliation, but marginalized, disadvantaged or vulnerable groups - such as children - must receive special attention. In order to enable victims who have been discriminated against or had their right to privacy violated to seek redress, Spielkamp said that complaint mechanisms are indispensable. According to the panelists and participants, the AI Act should take a holistic human rights-based approach to the standardization of AI-based systems.

    Friederike von Franqué (EU & International Regulatory Advisor, Wikimedia Germany) then discussed the UN Secretary General’s Global Digital Compact and its influence on the Internet Governance Forum with Tobias Bacherle (MdB).

    In the second part of the day, the Youth IGF took over the moderation. By linking sustainability and digitalization, the German Youth IGF - a group of young professionals who prepared this year’s IGF-D - chose a topic that also requires global consideration. After an introductory lightning talk by Katrin Ohlmer (Managing Director, DOTZON GmbH, Chair of the Board, ISOC.de e. V.), work was carried out in the light of the previous evening event under the heading "Digital Sustainability: An Opportunity for the Future?" on the connection as well as the interactions between digitalisation and sustainability in the areas of "ecology", "economy" and "social affairs".


    At the end, Wolfgang Kleinwächter discussed what role protection against attacks from cyberspace play in the new national security strategy of June 2023 with the German government’s cyber ambassador Regine Grienberger. According to Grienberger, a rather static field of work until then has become a highly dynamic one as a result of the Russian war of aggression in the Ukraine, in which peace initiatives for cyberspace are being discussed at various levels. However, he said, there is neither a majority for a treaty that is binding under international law, nor is it clear what would have to be regulated in it. With reference to existing norms of international humanitarian law and human rights law, a regulatory gap could hardly be identified. Germany is actively involved in the negotiations of various UN bodies for the development of capacity- and confidence-building measures for cybersecurity and responsible behavior by states in cyberspace. In addition, Germany is participating in the so-called "Ad-Hoc Committee" (AHC), in which 193 UN states are discussing a new UN convention to combat cybercrime. According to Grienberger, however, there are significant differences in what individual countries understand by cybercrime. Cybercrime specifically exploits this arbitrariness of jurisdictions, which is precisely why combating it only makes sense and is only possible across borders.

    Grienberger made a plea for the IGF’s multistakeholder approach and thus a well-rounded conclusion to the event with her statement, "The stability of cyberspace is not only ensured by states, it also needs non-state actors."

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