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Published 18.11.18

Clear Goals and ethical Values - Common Responsibilities for the Internet of the Future

Jutta Croll

The Internet Governance Forum 2018 in Paris ended last week with a clear appeal by the French Government to face up to the challenges and assume joint responsibility for the Internet.

Mounir Manjoubi, Secretary of State for Digital Affairs in the French Ministry of Economics and Finance stressed in his final statement: “The multilateral aspect of the IGF is something that France supports more than ever. We acknowledge the importance of the IGF and underline the fact that we want to work together with IGF in order to take decisions. To do this we need to take on our responsibility and seize the opportunity to shape the world before us as many have been hoping for for decades.” France does neither advocate excessive nor negligent regulation, but rather policies designed to protect and respect the common good, so Manjoubi.

Fabrizio Hochschild, UN Deputy Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination, also stressed that the Internet could not be a legal vacuum. Where the rule of law does not exist, the law of the mightier applies; this does not mean freedom, but rather abuse. With regard to artificial intelligence - one of the main topics of this year's IGF - Hochschild questioned the possibility of programming computers in such a way that they are able to make ethical decisions.

This aspect was also taken up again on Thursday, Nov. 15th at the UNESCO event on the use of artificial intelligence for the knowledge society, which took place at the Mozilla Foundation. In particular, the question of respect for human rights was discussed. Decisions should not be based solely on algorithms, so the prevailing opinion, because this basically goes hand in hand with the problem that existing positions continue to be handed down and reinforced. This is particularly the case with regard to gender aspects, but also with regard to disadvantaged groups such as children or the elderly, refugees or the disabled. Michael J. Oghia, Global Forum for Media Development, stressed that freedom of expression is also limited by law and the rights of others. Anyone who disseminates false information on the Internet clearly violates such rules. This has not only gained relevance through the Internet. There have been lies since mankind could speak, but the Internet is an amplifier and accelerator. In most cases, the deliberate misinformation, which can also be described as propaganda, receives more attention than the later fact check. This has to be counteracted by transparency and media literacy.

Technical innovations in the field of the Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence as well as corresponding opportunities for economic development and ethical challenges will form the thematic bridge from Paris to the Internet Governance Forum in Berlin, which will take place from 24 to 29 November in the Estrel Conference Centre. Thus, thirty years after the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 November 1989, the IGF 2019 can be a platform next year to pay appropriate attention to the rights of children in the digital environment.

Please find here our reports from the IGF.

Paris Peace Forum opens the Paris Digital Week 2018.

Report on IGF Day 1 - Putting people at the centre.

Report on IGF Day 2 - Children's Rights - Child Protection - Human Rights.

Report on IGF Day 23 - Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and the Internet of Things.