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  • Published 09.03.23

    Children’s Rights feature prominently in submissions for the IGF 2023 program


    Each year, the thematic focus of the IGF is determined by the community in a joint survey. For the 18th annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) hosted by the Government of Japan from 8 to 12 October 2023 in Kyoto all stakeholders were invited to take part in the process. They were given the opportunity to select up to three themes and up to three issues under each theme that they think should be represented at this year’s IGF.

    Stakeholders could select the following ten thematic areas:

    1. Cybersecurity (17%)
    2. Emerging Tech (15%)
    3. Universal Access (13%)
    4. Data Governance (13%)
    5. Rights and Freedom (11%)
    6. Digital Cooperation (10%)
    7. Economic Issues (7%)
    8. Environmental Sustainability (7%)
    9. Media and Content (6%)
    10. Technical and Operation Topics (2%)

    From a child rights perspective we welcome the high number of stakeholders from all regional areas having submitted issues regarding children’s rights and we expect this year’s IGF will have a strong focus on children and young people. Child online safety was seen as the most important issue under the thematic area Cybersecurity, and children’s rights online was the most often chosen issue under the thematic area Rights and Freedom. In addition, many submissions were made concerning youth engagement. In the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) child online safety and children’s rights online were among the four most often submitted issues.

    The call for thematic inputs was open for almost 4 weeks, from January 6 to January 31, 2023. 193 stakeholders marked 524 themes and 945 issues in the IGF online submission system. The biggest number of submitted issues came from the African region and the civil society stakeholder group. A full list with all received submissions as well as an analysis of the results is available on the IGF website.

    We thank all child rights advocates for their engagement in order for children’s rights to feature prominently in the IGF program 2023.

    Based on the results of the call the Multistakeholder Advisory Group has set the thematic focus and program for the IGF 2023. The overarching theme of this year’s IGF is "The Internet We Want - Empowering All People" and will address the following topics in various event formats:

    • AI & Emerging Technologies
    • Avoiding Internet Fragmentation
    • Cybersecurity, Cybercrime and Online Safety
    • Data Governance and Trust
    • Digital Divides and Inclusion
    • Global Digital Governance and Cooperation
    • Human Rights and Freedoms
    • Sustainability & Environment

    The Call for session proposals is under planning and expected to open in early April 2023.

  • Published 06.02.23

    Safer Internet Day: Protecting Young People against Sexual Violence Online

    Jutta Croll, SDC

    7 February is Safer Internet Day, the day when organisations and people around the world campaign for a safer internet. Children and young people today spend a lot of time on the internet and more online time also means a higher risk of sexualised violence online. That is why the project Kinderrechte.digital, together with ecpat Germany, has developed an instrument as part of the work of the National Council against Sexual Violence to identify where sexualised violence begins and in which areas countermeasures are necessary. The tool is intended for providers and developers of services and applications as well as for people who work with children and young people or are responsible for them. The tool enables providers and developers to assess the risks potentially associated with their services. Thus they will be able to recognize where suitable countermeasures for risk minimization need to be implemented. The tool provides educators with information about the possible initiation and course of sexualized violence against children and adolescents. In this way, risks associated with the digital environment can also be taken into account in the classical protective concepts of educational institutions.

    The Instrument for Risk Assessment of Sexualized Violence in the Digital Environment can be downloaded here.

  • Published 27.01.23

    IGF Messages 2022 and Call for Thematic Inputs 2023

    Marlene Fasolt, SDC

    The IGF Secretariat has issued a Call for Thematic Inputs for the IGF 2023 that is still open until Tuesday, 31.01.2023. You can find the form here.

    The result of this community survey will later serve as the basis for the workshop selection by the MAG. This means that the more often a topic is mentioned now, the more strongly the topic will be represented in the program later on. We encourage all child rights advocates to support children’s rights featuring prominently in the IGF program 2023.

    Looking a few months back to IGF 2022 you may find messages and lessons learned below.

    The 17th annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was hosted by the Government of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa in a hybrid format from 28 November to 2 December 2022. The IGF Messages summarize the most important lessons learned from this IGF, as well as demands addressed towards the government and private sector. The messages focus on the 5 themes:

    • Connecting All People and Safeguarding Human Rights
    • Avoiding Internet Fragmentation
    • Governing Data and Protecting Privacy
    • Enabling Safety, Security and Accountability
    • Addressing Advanced Technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    Many sessions at this year’s IGF focused on children’s rights and the messages emphasize the need for children to enjoy the same rights and protections online as they do offline. They call to ensure children’s online safety by including digital literacy skills in the educational curricula. Digital literacy skills are important for all age groups and need differentiated approaches for young people and older generations.

    The messages also underline the need for lawmakers and digital platforms to take responsibility to ensure children’s safety within a framework of children’s rights online consistent with international rights agreements including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as both stakeholder groups carry the responsibility.

    Other messages do not explicitly mention children’s rights, but can be applied to the children’s rights framework. They emphasize the importance of having a human rights-centric framework for meaningful access to the internet. This is in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and includes not only having access to the internet, but also the ability for users to express themselves freely, the unfettered exercise of democratic and political participation, and for persons of all backgrounds to experience the Internet without fear of harassment or discrimination.

    Translation issues present significant barriers that can inhibit young peoples meaningful engagement with platforms’ community standards and guidelines, as a lot of online content is not available in local languages. Engagement with different language communities to improve the accuracy and relevance of translation is an important part of empowering children and young people to participate. It is necessary to consider the intersectionality of digital disadvantages through the combination of factors related to age, gender, ethnicity, language, social class and other factors.

    The IGF messages stress data privacy as a human right that affects the right to privacy, equal treatment and non-discrimination, as well as the right to healthcare, education and public services, free expression and association. Privacy laws should be substantial, evidence-based and capable of clear enforcement. Those affected by them should be able to understand their implications clearly.

    The full IGF Messages can be downloaded here in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish.

  • Published 20.12.22

    In the rearview mirror: a children’s rights perspective on the sessions of the IGF 2022 on YouTube

    Marlene Fasolt, SDC

    The 17th annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was hosted by the Government of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa in a hybrid format from 28 November to 2 December 2022. All the sessions were recorded and uploaded to the IGF’s YouTube channel and we have uploaded daily reports on the sessions that relate to growing up in the digital environment on this website. Following are the links to these videos:

    Give Way for Children’s Rights: The Internet Governance Forum 2022 started on November 28th, in Addis Ababa

    In the Day 0 session #35 Harass me not participants were informed on gender-based violence on the Internet in various countries and respective countermeasures.

    The Global Youth Summit highlighted young people’s voices and concerns in the digital environment and was prominently featured on Day Zero.

    Help me if you can … Resilience in the focus of Day 1 at IGF 2022

    The networking session Safe internet use for all: Helplines working with communities showed that there is great interest from civil society organizations and governments on the African continent to engage in child online protection.

    Speakers in the Opening Ceremony: Resilient Internet for a shared sustainable and common future referred to the 2.7 billion people still left offline and encouraged participants in the IGF to find solutions for creating a human-centered and resilient digital future.

    Safety and security were also in the focus of WS #523 Youthful approach at data protection in messaging apps. Special attention was given to quantum computing which will have a massive impact on how users’ data disclosed in messaging apps can by analysed and used either for their benefit or detriment.

    In the WS #70 Fighting the creators and spreaders of untruths online safer product design, algorithmic transparency, and the development of critical thinking skills to counteract the spreading of untruths was asked for. A professional fact checker in Ethiopia explained how difficult it is to check what is true and what is false in a country where over 80 different languages exist, with content even in the five main languages being difficult to oversee.

    The WS #183 Digital Wellbeing of Youth: Selfgenerated sexualised content was organized by the German Children’s Fund and the Digital Opportunities Foundation and dealt with the questions: What does “self-generated" mean? Which answers do legislation and further national policies and transnational strategies provide? How can Internet Governance support a common approach in respect to different political systems and cultural backgrounds?

    The WS #269 Data privacy gap: the Global South youth perspective called for data protection being mandatory in school education, for young people to understand the concept of protecting their privacy.

    How do we get this Right? - Day 2 dealing with Rights and Responsibilities?

    In WS #369 Harmonising online safety regulation speakers addressed the question how it can be ensured that regulatory regimes are interoperable and how co-operation to protect human rights online can be well organised.

    Later that day in the Main Session Our Digital Future: How Dynamic Coalitions support the Global Digital Compact representatives from various Dynamic Coalitions discussed how specific intersessional activities of IGF dynamic coalitions can contribute to the evolution of the so-called IGF+ eco-system.

    The WS #341 Global youth engagement in IG: successes and opportunities dealt with the opportunities for involvement that already exist for young people in the Internet Governance community, youth-oriented programmes and building a platform for dialogue and exchange of experiences and outcomes between participants and organisers of various projects, programmes and training in Internet Governance.

    The WS #318 Gen-Z in Cyberspace: Are We Safe Online? underlined that the safety of children and young people not only lies in the parent’s responsibility, but it requires many distinct stakeholders including the government, technical experts and civil society.

    How do we get this Right? - Day 3 dealing with Rights and Responsibilities?

    Early on Day 3 the Dynamic Coalition on Children’s Rights in the Digital Environment held their session Translating data & laws into action for digital child rights. Faced with growing concern about the safety, security and privacy of children in digital environments, experts have long highlighted a broad range of data, legal, regulatory, policy and technology gaps needed to build robust prevention and response mechanisms. The link to this video will be uploaded soon.

    The day closed with the Main Session Connecting All People & Safeguarding Human Rights. In this session regulation was discussed as a mean to address the various threats that the online environment pose to human rights, as for example internet shutdowns restricting the human right to access of information and freedom of speech. The link to this video will be uploaded soon.

    Focus on the people: The 17th United Nations Internet Governance Forum ended on Friday, 02 December in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    On the final day of the IGF the so-called National and Regional IGFs from around the world held their joint session under the title Actions needed to keep our children safe online. Representatives stressed that the rights of every child must be respected, protected and fulfilled in the digital environment, and children should have access to age-appropriate and empowering digital content, and information from a wide diversity of trusted sources while being protected from various dangerous risks. The link to this video will be uploaded soon.

    The WS #471 Addressing children’s privacy and edtech apps emphasized that the use of edtech apps by children and adolescents generate different risks, especially with regard to privacy and the protection of their personal data. Large corporations that create and provide these services, some of which are free, can collect massive amounts of data and use it to send personalized advertising and behavioral modulation based on their vulnerabilities.

    The WS #252 Building a safe & trustworthy digital world for all children, showed that while the Internet offers many opportunities for learning, communication, creativity & entertainment, two thirds of the world’s children don’t have internet access at home. Going online is essential for future generations to reap the benefits of digital transformation & support a sustainable future, but bringing children online requires more than expanding connectivity: it needs to respond to specific risks. The link to this video will be uploaded soon.

    The WS #352 Youth lenses on Meaningful Access and Universal Connectivity showed that the concept of universal access has evolved over time however, evidence increasingly indicates that access to connectivity is not sufficient on its own. People and institutions from all sectors and stakeholder groups should reflect on connectivity in a holistic way that takes into account how people are able to make use of connectivity once they do have access.

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