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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.