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Published 12.11.18

Putting People at the Centre - Report on IGF Day 1

Jutta 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.

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