Internet Governance Women in Tech

EQUALS in Tech Awards: Nominations Now Open

Are you working to build a better Internet for women? Do you know initiatives that are promoting the development of digital skills for girls? Is your organization contributing to defend the Internet by helping women get equal access to leadership opportunities?

If the answers are yes, we have something for you.

The EQUALS Global Partnership has announced that the nominations for the 2019 EQUALS in Tech Awards are now open.

The Awards recognize groundbreaking initiatives from around the world aimed at bridging the gender digital divide.

The nomination period will run until June 11, 2019. You can nominate your own initiatives or those of others for an award in one of the following categories:

  • Access: Initiatives related to improving women’s and girls’ digital technology access, connectivity, and security
  • Skills: Initiatives that support development of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills of women and girls
  • Leadership (two subcategories):
    • Initiatives focused on promoting women in decision-making roles within the ICT field
    • Initiatives promoted by tech sector companies to bridge the digital gender divide
  • Research: Initiatives prioritizing research on gender digital divides and producing reliable evidence to tackle diversity issues within STEM and computing fields

The annual EQUALS in Tech Awards are organized and presented by the EQUALS Global Partnership – a network of 90+ organizations, companies, UN agencies, and research institutions. The Internet Society is proud to be the Chair of the Steering Committee and a member of the Coalitions.

The winners will be announced during the awards ceremony that will take place in November in Berlin as a side event at the Internet Governance Forum. Winners will be invited to attend and share their inspiring stories.

We know that our community of Chapters, Special Interest Groups, Organization Members, and Partners are doing a lot to improve women’s digital inclusion in many corners of the world. We want to encourage everyone to nominate their initiatives or help us to identify those who are working to build, promote, and defend the Internet for women and girls.

For information about how to submit a nomination, please visit:

Interested in helping to tackle the digital gender divide, but don’t know where to start?

  • Join SIG Women, which aims to “promote a global neutral space that works towards the involvement of women in technology and contributes to reducing the gender gap in the field.” Currently, there are many initiatives in different regions throughout the world.
Economy Internet Governance

Internet and Jobs: What Do Young People Think of the Future of Work?

When we talk about the impact of the Internet and technology on future jobs, is important to bring youth to the center of the discussion: they will live the future of work and can contribute to shaping it.

“The Internet and Jobs: A Youth Conversation,” held in Panama in June 2018, was a side event organized by the Internet Society in coordination with Y20 and the Youth Observatory that brought together a group of young people, students, lawyers, communicators, and entrepreneurs to discuss the topic.

What do young people think about the impact of the Internet on employment? How do they see themselves in this scenario? What tools are necessary to take full advantage of the opportunities that the Internet offers them? These were some of the most challenging questions addressed during the meeting.

While education was the key of the debate, several themes came up from the conversation:

  • Boosting digital skills by scaling initiatives:It was argued that the lack of digital skills is starting to amplify the digital divides as more and more jobs are requiring some level of digital skills. In this context, equipping children and youngsters with the skills required to enter the job market is more necessary than everGovernments, institutions, and industry must prioritize skills development and training to empower youth for the digital economy. While many initiatives are currently being implemented in different countries of Latin America, it is essential to scale them to have a more significant impact.
  • Developing skills that endure for life: While digital skills are essential for the future, particular attention was paid to skills that endure.Preparing youngsters for a lifetime will help them to understand the rapid evolution of technology better and adapt their skills to the different scenarios. Skills for life need to be better incorporated into the curricula not only to understand technology but also to help them on all spheres of life. Some of the skills mentioned were: assertive communication, perspective taking, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking.
  • Memorization vs. Critical Thinking: In primary education, memorization of information is still an essential part of the learning experience. As memorizing is precisely the thing that machines do best, participants highlighted the importance of critical thinking as a tool that will help youth to better prepare for the future as it will enable them to better understand emergent technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.
  • Building capacities in rural communities:Rural areas face several challenges from the lack of infrastructure to the lack of specific training to use technology. As youth from Central America formed one of the breakout groups, they recommended improving the collaboration between stakeholders to provide not only better connectivity but also skills development in rural areas.

As it becomes crystal clear that quality education is essential for rethinking the future of work, the question, once again, is how to move forward. While a range of paths is possible, we cannot forget that we already have the tools to make the change: the Sustainable Development Goals.

As Claudio Lucerna, an AI researcher at the University of Paraiba in Brazil, addressed during the discussion: “When we talk about education and the future work we are talking about key issues of the global human agenda which is translated into the SDGs. They’re so important that it is fair to say that many other goals depend on these two. The good, adequate, open, democratic, and inclusive use of digital technologies and the Internet is the best opportunity in the history of humankind to scale tools, solutions, and practices that will help us fulfill those goals.”

When it comes to Internet Governance, we don’t just need young people to be the future – we need them to be part of the present. Apply to the Youth@IGF Programme!

Building Trust Encryption Improving Technical Security

Encryption is key for a trusted Internet

One of the few regrets of Vint Cerf, who is often referred to as the ‘father of the Internet’, is the fact that encryption using public cryptography was not baked in the original ARPANET design. While the early Internet was meant to meet a number of requirements such as resilience and openness, encryption was not one of them. Some of this was because of the high cost associated with encryption, and some if it was for other reasons. This explains why encryption was only introduced at later stages when CPU and memory resources were more affordable.

And, after the revelations in recent years of surveillance, hacking, eavesdropping and leaking information, the need to have strong end-to-end encryption cannot be overstated. The rise of the Internet of Things has made those threats even more salient.

ISOC believes in a safer Internet that everyone trusts. If we don’t trust the Internet, we’re risking one of the world’s greatest tools for communication, economic growth, and endless positive opportunities we haven’t even thought of yet.

In an effort to make Internet access safer, ISOC is promoting good encryption practices on the infrastructure level through programs such as the Deploy360 program and through campaigns encouraging websites to turn on HTTPS by default and have DNSSEC compliance.

The proper use of encryption is critical to building that trust.

Knowing The Subtle Differences

Encrypted traffic going from one device to another generally passes through one or more intermediaries. If a message gets encrypted before leaving the device, Internet service provider and other gateways between the device and the platform would not be able to read it.

But some services are known to provide encryption that’s not end-to-end. This is because the data is decrypted on the intermediary servers before being encrypted again and sent to the target device. Some services assign the same private key for the sender and receiver. This is called ‘symmetric’ encryption, which is not a safe way of encrypting your data since it is possible that something, or someone, could read your stuff before it ends up at its destination.

Where You Can Find End-to-End

The good news is various software vendors are increasingly adopting end-to-end encryption. But It is tricky to know for sure which of those vendors are truly offering end-to-end encryption and which ones are not. The Guardian Project listed a number of mobile apps that have implemented end-to-end encryption. Or, if users are a bit more tech savvy, they could do the encryption themselves instead of relying on the vendor’s software. This is often done for email communication through Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption, which is used by many cyber activists and techies. For instant messaging, Off-the-Record Messaging (OTR) is also widely used.

Any encryption is of little meaning if it is not strong enough to sustain brute attacks, which are becoming stronger because of faster processors and cheaper memory. To minimize risk from such attacks, private keys, as well as passcodes, should be sufficiently complex and long.

It’s Up To All Of Us

A safer Internet we trust is going to take all of us. Boosting the strength of encryption Internet users are using is key to preserve their online privacy.

Sometimes using encryption may very well be the difference between life and death for whistleblowers, activists and journalists who use the Internet to send confidential and sensitive information. In many countries under repressive regimes, protecting the confidentiality of data is critical for survival.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that Internet access with strong end-to-end encryption is critical in today’s world where cyber threats of all kinds are on the rise. The more of us who start to use encryption, the more trustworthy the Internet becomes since communication channels become safer.

Although we will not be able to turn back time to embed encryption in the original design of the Internet, we can continue working to make it a priority moving forward.

Join us at the Internet Society and let’s work for a safer Internet we can all trust.