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Published 02.12.22

How do we get this Right? - Day 2 and 3 dealing with Rights and Responsibilities?


Day 2 started with WS #369 Harmonising online safety regulation.

The session was organized by statutory regulatory agencies dealing with online safety issues. 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. They pointed out that the global regulatory landscape for online safety is rapidly evolving. Australia passed legislation to establish an online safety regulator in 2015, and Fiji followed in 2018. The European Union is seeking to set global standards with the enactment of the Digital Services Act, and the UK has aspirations to be the safest place to be online, via its Online Safety Bill. These so-called First movers in online safety regulation have formed the new Global Online Safety Regulators Network.

The session concluded with the following key takeaways:

  • Legislators around the world are increasingly engaging with online safety questions, and implementing novel regulatory regimes aimed at enhancing online safety and addressing various online safety risks. In this context, more and more independent online safety regulators are emerging, whose job it is to implement and enforce novel online safety regulations.
  • To ensure people are protected online and to ensure that regulation is effective and consistent across boarders, international collaboration amongst regulators is essential. While substantive rules may differ across the world, there is significant scope for alignment around regulatory toolboxes and for the sharing of best-practices and expertise. The new Global Online Safety Regulators Network will serve as a crucial vehicle for collaboration.

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. Jutta Croll was speaking for the Dynamic Coalition on Children’s Rights in the Digital Environment. She referred to the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation that outlines the prevalence of child sexual exploitation and abuse as a major concern. Croll stressed children’s rights are a cross-cutting issue that the Dynamic Coalition is addressing with a strategic focus on facilitating the stakeholder dialogue on human rights advocating for children being respected as rights holders and early adopters of new technology. In dialogue with Amandeep Singh Gill - UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology (Tech Envoy), Ex-Officio Member of IGF Leadership Panel (LP) the panelists outlined how the IGF community of stakeholders will advance equitable and secure the digital transformation in support of sustainable development and greater social well-being worldwide. Amandeep Singh Gill encouraged the community to contribute to the Global Digital Compact thus shaping the future based on human rights, also children’s rights, and equal opportunities in education and profession.

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. Finding a balance between these areas of intervention continues to be a complex issue and is the topic of much ongoing debate at national, regional and global level. At the same time, there have been significant developments across all of these areas in recent years. The session started with an introduction to General Comment No. 25 on Children’s Rights in the Digital Environment that emphasises in para 30 regularly updated data and research as being crucial to understanding the implications of the digital environment for children’s lives, evaluating its impact on their rights and assessing the effectiveness of State interventions. The research done by the Disrupting Harm project conducted in 13 countries in Southeast Asia and Southern and Eastern Africa by ECPAT International, UNICEF Innocenti and INTERPOL being presented next is paying tribute to this. In a second step an instrument developed by ecpat and the Digital Opportunities Foundation was shown, providing a a framework for assessing violence against children. Jutta Croll emphasized the need to address sexual violence not only when it has already happened and is spread online in the form of child sexual abuse material. Service providers and people who care for children need to understand where the escalation of sexual violence starts from and were to implement countermeasures to combat the most horrific forms of exploitation and abuse.

Key takeaways from the session were as follows:

  1. The collection of data using tested methodologies that enable comparison is essential to ensure child rights in the digital environment. This can directly influence policy at the national level.
  2. Education remains essential as a preventive measure but cannot replace the need for proactive measures by online service providers.

The sessions Calls to Action are phrased as follows:

  1. Governments must provide funding for such data collection and analysis, as outlined in existing legal frameworks.
  2. Industry must respond in a coordinated way and adopt a safety-by-design approach.

Further resources can be found on the homepages of Core Evidence, End Violence, Global Kids Online, and childrens-rights.digital

Eventually the day closed with the Main Session Connecting All People & Safeguarding Human Rights. Again in this session regulation was discussed as a means to address the various threats that the online environment poses to human rights, as for example internet shutdowns restricting the human right to access of information and freedom of speech. As further hazards to human rights hate speech and gender-based violence, child sexual exploitation and abuse were mentioned. Dawit Bekele - Regional Vice President for Africa at the Internet Society enthusiastically put it all together in his final remarks: “Any right will need time to be established. Access to the Internet needs to become a right at national as well as on global level. Governments need to accept that. We need to make sure that the Internet is a safe place for everyone.”