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Published 17.06.24

Humanity at the centre

Torsten Krause, SDC

This year's European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) opened in Vilnius on 17 June. The President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nauseda, welcomed the 765 participants and emphasised in his video message that people should be at the centre of all considerations. All developments and progress should serve humanity and contribute to overcoming the digital divide. To achieve this, it is necessary to provide all people with information on how to use the digital environment and to develop their skills.

This coincided with the key demands of the youth representatives, who have already worked on digital topics that are of particular importance to them in recent days. They clearly pointed out that inclusion, privacy and capacity building are crucial for them in the context of the digital environment. Artificial intelligence should be trained in such a way that existing inequalities are not perpetuated and reinforced, but reduced. In order to achieve this, the young participants consider transparency about the data used and the programming to be just as important as the organisation of focus groups, which should be diverse from various perspectives. In addition to transparency regarding the use of data, they emphasised that individual data should be protected. Companies' profits should not be based on users' data. The YouthDIG participants consider capacity building to be particularly important in order to increase users' knowledge, e.g. about dark patterns in digital services. In addition to media literacy, they also include investment in research and the funding of appropriate exchange formats in order to be able to incorporate the opinions and perspectives of young people into ongoing processes for shaping and regulating the internet.

Representatives from politics, industry, science and research as well as civil society are currently discussing at various levels how and by whom the digital environment will be significantly influenced in the near future. All eyes are on the Global Digital Compact, which is currently being finalised and will play a key role in shaping further processes. There is still uncertainty regarding the organisation and future of existing processes and formats, such as the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Both formats have emphasised the importance of the multi-stakeholder approach in recent years and have shown that the diversity of perspectives and stakeholders can be used beneficially to shape the digital environment. With this in mind, Thomas Schneider, President of the EuroDIG Support Association, called on all participants to use the coming days to discuss their own ideas, define visions and shape processes in order to prove that the multi-stakeholder model is alive and also suitable for the future.