Internet Governance Shaping the Internet's Future

Day Zero 2019: Bringing Together Young People to Talk about Internet Governance

As we work to foster the multistakeholder model in Internet governance, we must include the voices of youth. They’ve grown up in the age of the Internet, where using connected devices is second nature and we’re beginning to have conversations around issues like encryption and privacy. Young people deserve not just a seat at the table, but to have a say.

Which is why the Internet Society supported the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) USA Youth Day Zero. It’s an event for young people to come together, discuss the Internet policy issues they care most about, and brainstorm potential solutions ahead of the IGF USA. Held at the Center for Democracy & Technology, Day Zero brought together youth from across civil society and academia to ask questions of professionals and talk with one another. It also provided an opportunity for young people to create and foster connections with one another.

The first panel featured professionals who shared how youth could get involved in Internet governance – and the importance of their participation. The panelists were Dustin Phillips (co-chair of the Internet Governance Forum USA and executive director of the Internet Society’s DC chapter), Katie Jordan (Senior Policy Advisor at the Internet Society’s North America Regional Bureau), Marilyn Cade (CEO of mCade LLC), Emma Llansó (Director of the Free Expression Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology), Rob Winterton (Director of Communications at NetChoice), and Melinda Clem (co-chair of the Internet Governance Forum USA and Vice President of Strategy at Afilias).

They shared advice, especially that youth should try to have a little bit of expertise in many different areas rather than focusing all of their attention onto one specific topic so early on in their careers. Similarly, they encouraged youth to focus on building up skills rather than pigeon-holing themselves into a single area.

The panel also stressed the importance of simply being young in the technology sector. Winterton said young people were inherently valuable by virtue of growing up with technology. The panelists empowered and encouraged the participants to use their ingrained skills to their advantage and not to shy away from sharing their perspectives.

The bulk of the event was a policy “hackathon” in which participants chose an issue they cared about, divided into breakout groups, and devised potential policy solutions for the issues at hand. Many participants discussed content moderation on online platforms and how online radicalization could move into the physical world. Certain ideologies can find spaces to convene online but they can also bring the violence they discuss to the outside world.

Another breakout group discussed encryption and arguments for why youth want stronger encryption. Young people – particularly women – may be worried for their safety and how hackers could use their data to compromise their security. At the same time, young women would want to be able to control their data, including who has access to it data.

In a hypothetical scenario, a young woman in a city could go missing during a run. If she has her running data uploaded to Strava (an app where friends can follow each other’s runs), the followers – whom she approves – would know her normal routes and could provide information as to where she might have been when she went missing. In this case, it would be useful and potentially life-saving to share sensitive, location-based data.

The encryption group’s potential solutions proposed avoiding the “backdoor” approach and instead relying on stronger encryption and privacy standards that allows user choice in data-sharing habits. Many young people have been online for most of their lives, and encryption would better protect their current and past data.

The group also floated the idea of an “emergency contact” system in which a user could allow a trusted family member or friend to access their digital life in case of emergency. However, that system could exacerbate potential harm if a user is pressured to make their proxy an abusive partner, parent, or friend. This system also does not allow a user to choose who gets to access which aspects of their digital life; a user may feel comfortable letting a family member know their location, but not their banking and health information.

Because they grew up with technology, young people inherently have a different perspective on platforms, devices, and security than seasoned professionals do. This different perspective is reason enough to include them in Internet governance conversations. They are used to the pace of technological change and are accustomed to having so much of their lives online.

While youth can be difficult to reach, they could engage through channels such as listservs, academia and professors, and social media. Moving forward, we should value the insights that youth can bring to Internet governance conversations. We can do that by providing more spaces for young people to come together, learn from each other, and prepare for discussions with others.

Youth can get involved at the Internet Society by becoming a member and joining our Youth Special Interest Group or by applying for our Youth IGF Ambassadors Program.

Internet Governance Shaping the Internet's Future

We Are on This Road Together

Twenty-six-year-old software engineer Akah Harvey N L has fun building things and sharing his knowledge with local communities in Cameroon. While an undergraduate, Akah took part in the Google Summer of Code, giving him the opportunity to develop an application for one of the largest software organizations in the world. He is now a code reviewer for the online learning platform, Udacity, and leads software development training at Seven Academy in Cameroon. Akah is a 25 under 25 awardee and a cofounder of Traveler, a road safety and emergency app.

I am a software engineer and it’s hard to talk about anything I do without talking about the Internet. Beyond using the Internet for communication – reducing the distance between people with a speed that’s yet unrivaled – lies the gamut of useful services that help me accomplish my day-to-day tasks, like running client-server applications, downloading tools for my work, synchronizing software projects, collaborating on global impactful software projects with people I have never met, mentoring people online who are learning how to code on MOOC platforms, and even traveling the world. The ways in which the Internet simplifies peoples’ lives is difficult to accurately quantify. From social media to education, science, and research, the Internet is now considered one of the most significant inventions of humanity after fire and the electric lamp.

The Internet establishes a level platform for everyone, irrespective of race, gender, or age to express their creativity in ways that were, not so long ago, difficult to imagine. It offers limitless opportunities. But it’s important going forward that we educate people, as skills become more technical and the future of work changes. I have had the privilege of working with people from the largest software foundations in the world and their wisdom and guidance were invaluable in shaping the way I approached learning technology. It made it so much easier for me to understand the world I live in and to be able to enjoy sharing that knowledge with literally anyone willing to learn.

Everyone should learn about technology. It opens one’s mind to a whole new set of possibilities and can unlock hidden potential beyond our wildest imaginations.

The first step is for people to gain consciousness of their environment. Engineers, manufacturers, and developers need to be conscious that they have a moral obligation to build tools that save, not hurt. The very foundation of the Internet is violated when we fail to implement basic user privacy rights. Privacy and security should be built in by default. And users need to be aware of the long-term effects of upcoming technologies and how they are expected to be prepared. Read the Terms & Conditions. Read the updated privacy policy messages they see at the bottom of their screen. Both parties have a role to play in achieving a better society online.

It all starts, however, with keeping the Internet free and as open as possible for the less privileged to afford. Cost and distribution of bandwidth in Africa are still the most limiting factors for Internet access.

When the Internet was shut down in the country, we were developing the roadside safety app, Traveler. It made us realize how badly we needed to include a failsafe in our system to ensure we were not crippled during such events. And it presented some real challenges; finding out what could be achieved using different types of connections, and the amount of information being processed in real time. It’s hard to conceive that the absence of basic Internet connectivity could still be an issue in the 21st century. But that is how it is in Africa. Hopefully we will see improvements, major stakeholders who are interested in the development of our continent.

We are all on this road together. Stop and ask for help on your journey. Learn as you go so that you can empower those coming after you.

Visit #CountMyVoice and help build an Internet that’s for everyone!

Building Trust Internet of Things (IoT) Privacy

Get IoT Smart: Homework for Many Indonesians

Today’s guest post is from Bhredipta Socarana, an Intellectual Property lawyer based in Indonesia and a Youth@IGF Fellow.

As one of the most populated countries, Indonesia has grown as one of the biggest markets for technology development. From the import of various over-the-top platforms to the implementation of Artificial Intelligence, technology has changed the Indonesian livelihood, including my own. This is also the case for Internet of Things (IoT).

As an emerging country, Indonesia admittedly has not been an advance player in responding to technology improvement. Despite the heavy invasion of technology-related products, many Indonesians have homework to do, especially for IoT. The business player needs to be aware of the responsibility of manufacturing and distributing IoT, while the public must also be aware of the various risks that they may be exposed to using IoT products.

Through the rapid development of technology and the intention of the Indonesian government to push the public to enter the “Industrial Revolution 4.0,” it will be mostly impossible to prevent penetration of IoT to our life. This leaves the public with the need to get smart with IoT.

Privacy and cybersecurity are among the issues revolving around IoT, and the need to have a safer and reliable IoT becomes more relevant as our private life becomes connected to the Internet.

The Indonesian public must realize that safety should start with themselves. Taking preventive measures as the initial step in using IoT can never go wrong. It starts when an IoT purchase is made.

As a lawyer specializing in intellectual property and information technology law practice, I am accustomed to the risks of using counterfeit products: from losing money, being attacked by ransomware, to not being able to claim after-sales warranty, just to name some. Furthermore, in terms of operation, terms and conditions related to IoT usage must also be understood. This could include giving the device and its apps permission to record, to track, to store, and other activities involving our privacy. Ultimately, users need to know their rights and have the relevant authority to ask help, if something goes wrong.

As such, a collaborative effort must be made in Indonesia. We must get smarter in choosing and operating IoT, and these efforts must be made by everyone who has a stake in its security: government, business, as well as the public.

The connected future is here. Imagine the possibilities. #GetIoTSmart

Photo of the Indonesia Jakarta Chapter during the Internet Society’s 25th anniversary celebration

Internet Governance

The Internet Is Knowledge and Knowledge Is Power

Adisa Bolutife is a 22-year-old open access advocate based in Lagos, Nigeria. A graduate of the University of Lagos with a degree in and electronics engineering, he is passionate about issues related to access, technology, inclusion, and Internet Governance. In 2016, Bolutife founded Open Switch Africa, where he leads a group of students, researchers, and academics to advocate for open access in research, education, and data in Nigeria. He is also a co-founder and director of Digital Grassroots, a global initiative that works to improve digital literacy in local communities. He is an Internet Society 2017 Youth@IGF fellow and an alumnus of the UNESCO Youth Leadership Workshop on Global Citizenship Education, Mozilla Open Leaders, and OpenCon 2017.

Like many people around the world, the Internet has contributed largely to the person I am today – building my knowledge base through access to a wealth of information. Without the Internet, a lot of things would not be as easy as they are right now.

As a recent graduate, I can relate to the fact that the Internet has been extremely helpful in aiding and improving student learning and research, as I can cite academic resources online and watch lectures from world class tutors from the comfort of my room. I am a strong advocate for open access in research, education, and data, and the Internet has been a powerful enabler in bridging knowledge gaps between privileged and underprivileged communities. The ability of the Internet to serve as a platform for disseminating information to all and sundry, regardless of race, gender, or nationality is what makes the Internet a global tool trusted by billions of people around the world.

In 2016, I founded Open Switch Africa, where I advocate for an accessible and inclusive Internet where information is not hindered by paywalls, regulation, or lack of connectivity.

Without connectivity we cannot have the vast interconnection that the Internet creates between billions of computers and devices, thereby forming an interconnection between people and information. Information brings knowledge, and knowledge, as they say, is power.

It has become increasingly clear that the Internet is at the core of almost all that we do. With automation and machine learning at the forefront of transforming the scope of future jobs, open education and open data driving the scope of education and research, and social media plus blogs disrupting the status quo in communication, very soon a much larger percentage of the world population will depend on the Internet for their livelihood. This is why it is extremely important, in preparation for the future, that we ensure all voices are heard when it comes to critical decisions regarding the future of the Internet.

The Internet is diversity by its very nature, and youth involvement is crucial to shaping the Internet of tomorrow. Young people are already shaping the online culture in so many ways. They are building their dream Internet. And yet when it comes to policy discussions, they are not at the table.

We need policies that protect us and prepare us for the future of the Internet, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

Visit #CountMyVoice and help build an Internet that’s for everyone!

Internet Governance

Because Our Future Depends On It

Esther Mwema is a youth leader passionate about gender, digital literacy, and grassroots advocacy. She is founder of the SAFIGI Outreach Foundation and President of Digital Grassroots.

She is also a 2019 IFF Community Development fellow, a 2019 Engineers Without Borders Canada Kumvana fellow, a Mozilla Open Leader, an Internet Society 2017 Youth@IGF fellow, an open knowledge advocate, and a champion for capacity building of youth and girls.

Mwema graduated summa cum laude in multimedia journalism, and is a contributor on and  She is an emerging African writer, working on her debut fantasy novel and does photography in her free time.

Born in 1994, about the same time Tim Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium and a commercialized Internet started to take form, the Internet has inextricably shaped my life and career.

At 16 years old, I got my first job at an Internet café. I had taught myself to type, and that was all I needed to teach people that they couldn’t just guess a password if they had not already set up an email account. Many young people in developing nations are still grappling to learn the computer (it’s far worse for adults). This fact, however, has not stalled a social media boom. There’s a robust consumer market, but the consumers aren’t reflected in the faces of those making decisions for them in shaping the future of the Internet.

At 17 years old, after living abroad alone as a young girl, I founded the SAFIGI Outreach Foundation (Safety First for Girls) in an effort to create a world where girls are empowered, equipped, and fulfilled for the benefit of the entire world. UN Online Volunteers allowed me to collaborate with over 250 volunteers in 50 countries to use Safety Education, Research, and Advocacy in order to respond to core issues affecting safety for girls across the globe.

At 23 years old, I was named an Internet Society 2017 Youth@IGF Programme fellow, and received funding to attend my inaugural Internet Governance Forum (IGF) at the United Nations Office at Geneva in Switzerland. What would become a harrowing journey across borders without a passport, this was my first glance at the wires behind the glossy and bright screen called the Internet and the birthplace of my brainchild, Digital Grassroots.

Shape Your Digital Future! could not have been a more fitting theme for the 2017 IGF. It inspired me to create Digital Grassroots in response to what I see as a gaping digital divide. Despite being major stakeholders of the Internet, young people from marginalized communities are underrepresented in major policy developments and implementation processes that shape our digital future. Events like the IGF can often be taken for granted, and I believe it sets a dangerous precedent for the global IGF to be circulating throughout Europe, when digital rights abuses like Internet shutdowns, social media tax, and threats to journalistic freedom of speech happen predominantly outside the region. While the IGF is mainly for dialogue, for persons who live under administrations that believe “governance” in Internet Governance means government, such dialogue could make a world of difference.

Our team of 2017 Youth@IGF fellows, all under 25 years old and living in 11 different nations across the globe, are passionate about the core values of the Internet. Together we are striving towards ensuring openness, security, privacy, web literacy, and decentralization of the Internet. Starting at the grassroots level, Digital Grassroots created an Internet literacy course to address the existing lack of awareness of basic Internet literacy knowledge in local communities in the developing world. Our Cohort 1 Outcome Report highlights the impact we’ve had. After three cohorts, the final one being in French, we have released a Communiqué on Youth Resolutions in Internet Governance. Mozilla Open Leaders gave our team the tools we needed to work and lead Open, helping us to empower and collaborate within inclusive communities. In 2018, we trained at least 300 young people in digital literacy and mentored over 100 in youth participation in Internet Governance.

Now at 24 years old, I recognize that representation matters if we want to see transformative change online and off. And this is why Digital Grassroots is so important. If we do not create these spaces for ourselves to participate and to be heard, no one will.

Young people seem to have to do more to get a seat at the table, especially young people from underrepresented regions. For most of our team it has meant sleepless nights, working long hours, and sacrificing our own resources to create a relatable Internet literacy course, build a Digital Rights Monopoly game, mentor youth in Internet Governance, travel to meetings, and organize youth IGFs and national IGFs. Digital Grassroots has also recently raised a petition asking local and international Internet Governance bodies to include youth at the table and we invite everyone to sign it.

It’s our future

The journey may start at the IGF but it does not end there. In 2019, I will be curating the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) as the Next Net IFF Community Development fellow. Next Net focuses on the future of the Internet, opportunities, and risks. The Internet we want.

The Web may not have been invented for a person like me, who did not start out life as a digital native regardless of the era. Policymakers may brush someone like me aside because I don’t fit the market group and seem to have little influence. This is an oversight.

Youth have the power and skill to reinvent and shape an open and healthy Internet, if given the opportunity.

Regardless of attitudes towards young people, girls, and the underrepresented when it comes to participating in Internet issues, it will remain that the Internet is on our side; a neutral platform that embraces all equally.

We are inventing the Internet we want because our future depends on it.

 We need your help! Are you a young person who wants to be a part of the making the Internet for everyone? Here’s where you can get started.

Growing the Internet Internet Governance

Emerging Technologies: Bridging the Digital Gap in Africa

With all the excitement about the role of technology in contributing to social change and improved development outcomes across Africa, it is easy to forget that only 11% of the world’s Internet subscribers are Africans, while only 35.2% of Africans use the Internet. An effective science and innovation system in any country, and globally, I believe, depends on strong basic research and higher education infrastructure. In addition to knowledge production, basic research facilities, development of human resources, and applications are critical. But in the course of conducting, applying, and managing research, both researchers and managers of research and innovation have information needs. These needs must be satisfied in order for the scientists and the science innovation system to function effectively.

My recent participation at the 13th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Paris as a Youth@IGF Fellows brought me closer to the realization that technology has really increased the speed and reach of information everywhere – and now to communities in Africa.

Africa is leapfrogging information and communication technology development, which is also fueled by mobile broadband, but there are also worrying trends, such as a growing the digital divide between men and women, and between urban and rural areas.

While organizations need to address barriers around the digital divide, I also think if we champion a course for the combination of low and high-tech approaches to ensure that citizens are able to access critical information that can help improve their lives as well as contribute to our quest in connect the unconnected.

IGF2018 was a platform for many realizations. One of the key moments was embracing the fact that technology can enable critical information to reach marginalized communities at a rate and scale never before. What is left for digital ambassadors like me to do is to create more awareness on how this information can be used appropriately while encouraging organizations to integrate technology-driven approaches into their programs to maximize their impact. When doing so, however, it is important to think about how these approaches can be combined with low-tech methodologies, which are already known to be effective.

In terms of both numbers and reach, mobile telephony is the dominant form of telephony in developing countries in Africa. But we can also take a second look at the new, low-cost, emerging technology where increased utilization of TV white space (TVWS) can provide an opportunity to connect the world’s population. Google and Microsoft are already chasing the emerging white space market in Africa. Because the waves can travel up to 10 kilometers in radius, it is great for remote, off-the-grid villages.

Paris is beautiful and overall the 13th IGF was a great experience for me. The session on digital inclusion reignited my interest to do more for the continent. There were a few sessions that discussed issues in Africa. The desire to help my continent grow digitally is alive, hence what governments and international development organizations in Africa can also do is to enhance the public-private partnership in investment in ICT services and ICT-related infrastructure. I believe we also need more ICT schooling at all levels of education, especially in rural regions – and especially for girls, another initiative I will champion starting from home. It’s one of the issues that has been taken lightly but it needs refocusing.

While inadequate knowledge of English and weak ICT infrastructure topped as factors contributing to the digital divide in Africa, it is my hope to further create more awareness on the continent using my experience and knowledge, not forgetting the good connection built at IGF2018 to help reshape the continent while connecting the next billion.

Learn more about community networks and then let’s work together to #SwitchItOn.

Image © Internet Society/Nyani Quarmyne/Panos Pictures

Internet Governance

The Importance of the Multistakeholder Approach: My Experience at the Internet Governance Forum

My name is Gustavo Babo, I’m from Brazil and I’m a Law and Political Science student. One of my biggest interests is to understand the best way to create national and international policies related to the Internet and other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, IoT, and Blockchain. Having participated in the IGF as a 2018 Youth@IGF Fellow has enhanced my perspective on the future of all these technologies. Enjoy my opinion!

Throughout the IGF event, in all the panels I have attended, I have noticed one thing in common: the feeling that the human being has had less-and-less control over technology and its implications. The unpredictable factor for the future of some emerging technologies that have developed very rapidly is a situation that divided the event into two perspectives: some of those present believe that technology will bring to the world many positive situations and we need to collaborate with its acceleration to any cost. However, there are others who fear the speed and lack of control of the impacts of these technologies – which are really transforming the world – believing also that the human being may be tracing a disastrous path for itself, since we no longer control the consequences of the development of the technology.

A situation that supports these different perspectives well and the uncertainty of how people might proceed in the face of the accelerated development of technology is the speech of the president of France at the event, Emmanuel Macron. The president also shared the same uncertainties discussed there in the forum, always on the wall and saying that we need to promote the growth of technologies in a healthy and positive way and we must try to prevent the second pessimistic perspective from happening. Macron’s solution to this is a greater government approach and possible intervention through regulations and public policy. (You can read his speech here.)

However, Macron is not necessarily right. Sharing experiences in the forum with different countries of the world, I realized that there are innumerable perspectives regarding the future of technology in each country. Thus, it is possible to say that the human being does not yet know the best way to lead the emerging technologies, there are many opinions about these technologies that imply different results, many still unknown, as we can see in a global analysis of countries that adopt more or less restrictive regulations and policies. Therefore, we can conclude that we do not yet know how to regulate (or not regulate) technology and how best to create policies. However, at least we can say that we already know what is the ideal model to discuss these technologies, which is the multi-participatory or multistakeholder model adopted by the Internet Governance Forum. This is exactly what was made clear to me during the experience of attending the forum as an Internet Society Youth@IGF Fellow. The model that the forum works is absolutely exceptional in what it proposes and it is exactly in this style of discussion that the world will discover what to do with all this.

The Multistakeholder Model

This is the model used by the UN forum to discuss the different perspectives, regulations, and policies of the Internet and emerging technologies. The multistakeholder model consists of a discussion involving representation from all interested sectors: the private sector, the government sector, the academic community, the technical community, and civil society. These actors participate through an inclusive and egalitarian basis. In this way, the interests of multiple parties are met and the results of the discussion can be very positive and balanced. To be sure, this is the model of discussion we must follow in order to understand the best way to conduct technology from a national or global perspective. We still do not know how to regulate, but it is clear that with this model of discussion we will have the best results, since, for example, discussions between engineers alone or between politicians have already proved to be very unproductive and unrealistic. We need to move this model to other discussions, regulations, and policymaking that involve technology as quickly as possible. As I said, we still do not know how we should regulate technology and create public policies. In this way, we should discuss how to do this – using this model. So, one day we will know how to do it in the best way. I hope it’s not too late!

Young people are one of the categories most affected by these technologies and Youth@IGF promotes their approach to the discussion environments. The program gives form and voice for young people to contribute to the important debates. In addition, the program also serves as training for hundreds of young people who will one day move from Youth to You. We need to think in the long term to have more and more qualified people around the world to participate in debates and decisions in the world of technology.

Thank You(th)!

Read “We Won’t Save the Internet by Breaking It.”

Image from APrIGF 2018 ©Frederic Courbet/Panos Pictures

Development Growing the Internet

Youth@IGF Fellow Story: How Far Are You From the Internet?

Growing up, a family friend will run all the way from her house with a pot of soup hoping to find out something we had at home that could complement the soup she had. On days when my twin sister and I were also missing a part of a meal, she will also return the good deed. Though the distance was not a short one, the thoughts of having a complete meal urged us on.

This neighbor of mine currently studies in Ukraine and none of us has or late had any thoughts of running all the way from Ghana to Ukraine – that will be a new record for the longest run.

The world is currently undergoing a difficult transformation with a rapid migration of almost all manual process to digital and the effect is a massive one both in advantages and disadvantages.

Just like distance resulted in the gap with my friend who now studies many miles away, several reasons have also been identified to be the ones causing the widening digital gap.

Some of the common ones are:

  • Access – the ability to actually go online and connect to the Internet (largely relying on the constant supply of electricity)
  • Skills – to be able to use the Internet and understand it.
  • Motivation – knowing the reasons why using the Internet is a good thing – seeing the Internet as a tool and not just a space.
  • Trust – the risk of crime, knowingly or unknowingly or not knowing where to start online.

Closely related to these reasons are the issues of Gender-based violence and the language barrier online.

As the number of Netizens (Internet users or Internet citizens) rapidly increase, we all should be able to have access to, and skills to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) while being safe online and hence reaping the numerous benefits that comes with using the Internet as a tool.

Again with the current trend in most places being the use of IT tools and online platforms to gradually replace the manual processes which has been in use for a long time, the way forward will be to act responsibly and herald initiatives that:

  • Teach the relevant skills that will help people easily use the Internet not only for leisure but to benefit fully from them. Some of these initiatives will be to volunteer to physically teach groups to first know the environment they will be working in by laying emphasis on what the Internet is and Internet Governance. Again, to be able to accommodate others who are far from our geographical location, a couple of us will herald the creation of online schools with certificates of completions awarded to motivate more people to come on board. Through this program, many people can be mentored to eventually choose careers in IT.
  • Encourage and motivate the use of the Internet through periodic online challenges that encourage rigorous participation.
  • Advocate for the bridge of the digital divide that stems from the unavailability of devices through online campaigns and applying for grants to implement fully resourced mobile labs that will travel places to bring digital skills to the grass root and the marginalized especially those who do not know about these tools or basically cannot afford them. In addition, simple educational resources mainly graphics with captions in local languages will also be produced to help reach people who do not read or speak the English language. In future, I would lead campaigns to have an all-inclusive digital front where all can utilize and benefit greatly from applications regardless of one’s physical disability.
  • Provide community network services that could either run on quota basis or properly implemented to serve wide areas also with the ability to withstand adverse weather conditions.
  • Discourage the gender-based violence online by reporting such cases to administrators of the platform and educating persons on when to sense abuse and to report accordingly.
  • Encourage staying safe online by teaching basic security hacks such the avoidance of posting very private information online, connecting with only people who they can verify online, updating anti viruses and using safe and strong passwords.

This is therefore a clarion call to have everyone rally behind me and the team implementing the Global Repository for Internet Studies by following and participating on social media and the call for online trust with the hashtag #3kNetVoices.

This is the second blog post in the series of stories from Youth@IGF Fellows. Read other impressions on the Youth@IGF Program and the IGF. 

Internet Governance

We Cannot Shape the Internet’s Future Without the Voices of Youth

After almost a decade, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) remains a cornerstone of international Internet and local governance with participation from over 140 countries. The approach of the IGF is simple: anyone who has a stake in the future of the Internet can go and be heard. It was founded and operates on the principles of being bottom-up, transparent, and inclusive.

At the Internet Society, we want to empower youth as a key force in reforming decision making approaches to deliver sound Internet policies that put people’s interests at the center. With the goal of having Youth Voices heard, together we must demand world leaders to break down the barriers that shut their voices out. With this in mind, and together with our partners, we have brought more than 200 youth to IGF 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, under the Youth@IGF program. This is part of our commitment to ensure that the next generation of Internet leaders are primed to advance an open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet for everyone.

Some of the 50 Youth@IGF Fellows who attended this year’s IGF in Paris wanted to share with us their impressions of the Youth@IGF Program and the IGF.

Marko Paloski from Macedonia, founder & coordinator of the Youth IGF MKD and active member of SEEDIG (South Eastern Europe Dialog on Internet Governance), summarizes his experience as Youth@IGF Fellow as follows:

“I was for the first time on Internet Governance Forum (IGF) at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. I was there as part of Youth@IGF Fellows program from Internet Society. The experience is invaluable. First of all, the event is huge it has over 100+ sessions on every Internet Governance topic. What I liked the most was that in every session you could ask questions or give your opinion on the topics, with all the people there from all around the world. You could also speak open and get advice from professionals that work in Governments, Private Sector, Civil Societies, Academia, etc.

Also, I had the pleasure to meet Internet Society president & CEO Andrew Sullivan on the Collaborative Leadership Exchange on Day 0, where we had the opportunity to share our projects and experience in our topics. Andrew took part with us, like he was part of the Youth@IGF Fellows group. We had presentations and meetings with representatives from the Program’s Sponsors, Microsoft and Google that work in this domain, and they listened to us about what obstacles we are facing and how can they help us accomplish our projects goals for better healthy and open Internet. I met a lot of people and with some of them we are still in connection on weekly basis whenever we are working on projects, initiatives or discussing the situations in our societies.
I like to thank the Internet Society that allowed me to take part in the program and have the pleasure to participate on the IGF event. Also, big thanks to our mentors Sheba Mohammid and Tracy Hackshaw for the experience that they gave to us, and Alejandra Prieto for all the coordination and help during the IGF meeting.”

Harsh Ghildiyal is a Teach for India fellow who is teaching at an under-resourced school in Mumbai and helping communities the students come from solve problems. Harsh, whose interests lie in policy and technology, and owing to those interests, over the past couple of years, repeatedly chanced upon the term ‘Internet governance’ until he applied for the Youth@IGF Program. In his own words:

“I knew I would love to play a part in shaping the future of the Internet. However, I couldn’t find a way to do so. Soon enough, though, opportunity knocked. Through Internet Society Youth@IGF program, I entered the intimidating realm of Internet governance with relative ease, and I left Paris with broadened horizons – a more informed and motivated individual. Through the Collaborative Leadership Exchange, the Internet Governance Forum, and other informal interactions, I was able to learn, grow, and most importantly, establish relationships that are helping me collaborate and play a role in shaping the future of the Internet like I always wanted to.”

Sebastian Hoe Wee Kiat from Singapore University of Social Sciences, who builds and strengthens community networks to create a digitally inclusive society to bridge the digital divide, shared with us his impression of the Youth@IGF Program:

“Coming from a low-income family background, I am grateful for the 2018 Youth@IGF Fellowship to contribute to the global conversation on Internet Governance in Paris. As an Asia-Pacific youth, I contributed my voice to the conversation as an invited speaker panelist in the UNESCO workshop The Internet and Jobs: Preparing Gen YZ for future of work. My key takeaways are: we need to champion for a multi-stakeholder approach, allowing more youths and community stakeholders to contribute to the IGF global conversation. My experience as Youth@IGF Fellows allows me to further contribute my work in creating stronger community networks for action. Moving forward, I plan to collaborate with community partners, create resources for digital inclusion projects and champion them by speaking in schools and various local and regional events on topics that are important to our society and which I am deeply passionate on: Mental Health & Technology, Community Networks, and Digital Inclusion.”

Gabriel Karsan, a graduate Intern at the Union of Tanzania Press Clubs (UTPC), reflected:

“I return home as an optimist with a fundamental base of knowledge and resources from the people and sessions attended as a proud 2018 Youth@IGF Fellow, as of now my dream for an egalitarian Internet for all is closer as the path is set. Currently, we are working with our Group Project DreamInternerVoices, collectively pushing for a safer equal internet, breaking the digital divide by sharing our voices through a touch of diversity and niche-based rhetoric.”

Juliana Novaes, Head of the Projects Comission of the Youth Observatory, shared her impression of the IGF:

“Some years ago, when I thought of the expression “policy-making”, I always imagined old men wearing fancy suits and having difficult conversations in a big company or congress. Not exactly a welcoming place for a young Latin American woman. However, my perceptions of the term started to change when I first heard of the IETF meetings and the decentralized processes in which protocols and technical decisions were made. It was curious to me how it functioned so well without a centralized authority. Later on, I became aware of a United Nations Forum about Internet Governance, and it seemed so strange to me how it was possible for this space to be open for everyone who wished to participate, with no governments retaining all the influence. It wasn’t only until my first IGF, though, that I really saw what policy making really was and how openness, transparency and decentralization are basic principles to be followed by any initiative that calls itself multistakeholder. I’m young, and for this reason there will be many doors closed to me in terms of policy making, but having the opportunity to attend the IGF and to participate in a program such as Youth@IGF gave me strength to fight for these doors to be opened for us. We are young, but we have things to say and we want these things to be heard.”

All these testimonials show us the importance of having a diversity of voices, including Youth, in Internet Governance world. We cannot shape the Internet’s future without Youth’s voiceslet’s open the doors and let them in! Youth are a vital force to get an open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet for everyone.

Are you a passionate young person who thinks you should have a role in shaping the Internet? Learn what you can do at #CountMyVoice!

Internet Governance

The Youth Internet Governance Forum India: Our Experience

On 12 October, the Internet Society’s India Delhi Chapter (ISOC-Delhi) hosted the Youth Internet Governance Forum (YIGF) in New Delhi, India. Adarsh Umesh and Praneet Kaur share their thoughts on the event.

Hello everyone! A special “Hi!” from our side to the youth because this blog is specially dedicated to the youth of India.

We’re very much inspired to write this blog due to the wonderful experience with the India Youth Internet Governance Forum (YIGF 2018). It was amazing to be a part of the multistakeholder advisory group and the event overall was a grand success. This would not have been possible without the consistent support from inSIG, ICANN, APNIC and the Internet Society.

The YIGF 2018 was organized as day 0 event on the 12th October 2018, a day before the India School on Internet Governance 2018 (inSIG-2018) at Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women (IGDTUW). The event was well-designed and planned with a lot of technical exposure as well as fun. It extended support to youth from all over the country to attend the event. We provided fellowships to 15 delegates from different parts across India. The fellowship covered both travel and accommodation expenses for five delegates and accommodation expenses for the other ten delegates, and we received more than 200 overwhelming expressions of interest.

The event was inaugurated by the chief guests: Samiran Gupta, ICANN GSE; Amrita Choudhury, ISOC-Delhi; Sunny (Srinivas) Chendi, APNIC; Glenn McKnight, the Internet Society Board of Trustees; Dilpreet Kaur, ICANN APAC; and Anand Raje, ISOC-Kolkata. Thanks to IGDTU also for all of their support to make the event a great success.

Samiran Gupta gave a wonderful speech on Internet Governance. It covered the basics of Internet Governance and also provided pertinent details which enabled better understanding of the Internet by the audience. This was followed by multistakeholder role play by the organizing team, titled “Connecting the Next Billion.” It was an interactive session which allowed conversation and bonding between the participants. All the stakeholder teams came up with ideas for connecting the next billion through Internet Governance.

The Internet has been identified as a key enabler of development by helping facilitate positive results in education, healthcare, agriculture, employment, commerce, and many other areas. Despite the progress achieved since the emergence of Internet, more effort is necessary in order to connect the next billions, the last billion, and to address the digital divide. Connecting these people requires not just addressing the challenges of the supply side: building the infrastructure needed to provide universal and affordable access; but also addressing the considerable challenges of the demand side: local capacity-building to enable not just adoption, but also production and consumption of localized content and services through training for all people, especially youth and disadvantaged populations, along with support for local small and medium sized enterprises.

As part of the second half of the day, the sessions started with a game called as “How the Internet Works – IPGo Game” by Sunny Chendi and Dilpreet Kaur. All the delegates enjoyed the exciting learning experience and Sunny gave a wonderful presentation which included a hands-on section involving all participants for a better experience of the Internet working process. It was a memorable activity and multiple delegates approached Sunny to carry out the game in their respective universities. The main highlights are documented below.

  • Focus was laid on how the Internet works starting from the ISPs obtaining IP addresses to real-time network deployments.
  • The concept of IP address classification, port number assignment and range issues was explained in a very understandable manner by making use of custom playing cards.
  • NAT- and URL-based naming conventions were put together and presented to the participants.
  • Lastly, the function of various bodies involved in the functioning of the modern day Internet such as IANA, ICANN, IGF, W3C was highlighted.

Later, we had a panel discussion on “Privacy & Safeguards on the Internet,” moderated by Amrita Choudhury. It was a very informative discussion and covered a lot of areas related to privacy on the Internet.

  • Internet and digital privacy are viewed differently from traditional expectations of privacy. Internet privacy is primarily concerned with protecting user information. Given the dynamic nature of the online sphere, privacy concerns and issues are rapidly changing.
  • Existing practices such as secure connections, firewalls, and antivirus services in order to overcome or better prevent mishaps due to breach in privacy.
  • The Information Technology Act (ITA) 2000, which includes India’s most comprehensive legal provisions that speak to privacy on the Internet was also discussed briefly.

The event received a lot of appreciation from multiple communities. The organizing team provided a remarkable direction with this event, to getting started with Internet Governance for all the young minds of India. Heartfelt thanks to everyone for the extended support. We look forward to making this journey a greater success by reaching out to more people and enlightening them with more events like this.


Our Right to Protect Our Autonomy and Human Dignity

We are entering a new world in which data may be more important than software.”
– Tim O’Reilly

In this digital era where modern technology has become as ubiquitous as air, a seismic shift in innovation, revenue generation, and lifestyle has transpired, whereby data has become the most valuable commodity. In Australia, many youths struggle to “disconnect” completely from digital devices, with the proliferation of wearable technologies and broadband access facilitating the unavoidable integration of technology into our everyday lives. As a 21st century youth, and part of the demographic who consumes the most Internet and digital media, there exists a stark disparity between the amount of time we spend engaging with digital devices and our actual understanding of Internet governance and/or legislation.

We have become so reliant on the Internet and technology, we rarely question the personal risks we take and potential breaches of law that occur. Our dependence on digital devices and instant gratification prompts us to accept “Terms and Conditions” without ever reading a word and allows cookies to be saved despite having no idea what they are. Alarmingly, in the event our data is exploited or shared without our consent, we are oblivious to the repercussions or are completely unaware of the privacy breach. Richard Adler eloquently encapsulates this sentiment, “The cost of [data] breaches will be viewed like the toll taken by car crashes, which have not persuaded very many people not to drive.”

When conversing with my peers about data protection and privacy so often I hear, “I have nothing to hide.” However, the right to privacy is not about hiding secrets, but about the right to protect our autonomy and human dignity to not be scrutinised and exploited. Privacy is a fundamental human right as dictated in Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “No one must be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation.” Nonetheless, when discussing privacy vs cybersecurity, many have a skewed perspective of how important maintaining digital privacy is and confuse privacy with secrecy. For example, when you go to the bathroom, there is no secret to what you are doing, but you still close the door because you want to maintain privacy.

You purport that you have nothing to hide so do not mind external surveillance, and yet you keep a lock on your phone and you do not share your passwords. Your digital footprint often reflects your identity as openly as a personal diary – and no matter who you are, your personal data is valuable. Your data fuels the business model behind Facebook, a global juggernaut many users trust with their personal information and yet the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal exposed the unethical application of user data in political campaigns.

Take a minute to process that again…our personal data was sold for profit to election campaigns or political referendums (e.g., Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential campaign and the U.K.’s Brexit vote) that dictated the laws and leaders of G7 countries. When we vote for legislation or our members of Parliament, we exercise our right to make informed choices based on personal opinion, but are we really voting autonomously if our data is being used against us to influence public opinion?

So how can we adequately protect the immense volume of data that is transmitted daily? Encryption is the leading mechanism to ensure data security.

Encryption is a powerful defensive weapon for free people. It offers a technical guarantee of privacy, regardless of who is running the government…it’s hard to think of a more powerful, less dangerous tool for liberty.”
– Esther Dyson

The 2015 UN Human Rights Council Report by David Kaye states that “Encryption…protects the confidentiality and integrity of content against third-party access or manipulation.” However, in Australia, the government has drafted legislation that will compel manufacturers and industry to assist law enforcement in accessing encrypted information – essentially creating a backdoor. This will weaken the encryption framework and undermines the right to privacy and structural integrity of encryption software. Ironically, whilst this legislation has been proposed to reduce crime through infiltration of criminal communication networks, it might inadvertently increase cybercrime due to the generation of vulnerabilities within the encryption software and hence, potential access to protected networks that were previously impervious to interference. As Nathan White, Senior Legislative Manager at Access Now said, “Australia is facing a choice on cybersecurity and encryption: real security or false…the country can either be the testing ground for policies that undermine privacy and security in the digital era, or it can be a champion for human rights, leveraging its relationship to raise cybersecurity standards for the next generation.”

To get involved, you can submit comments on the exposure draft.

Ultimately, I hope that as individuals in an increasingly-interconnected society, you actively strive to stay informed, not just for personal assurance and understanding, but to be able to engage in the global movement towards shaping our digital future.

Count my voice! Join Helena and other young people as they stand up for encryption.

Internet Governance

The Internet Society and Global Scribes Work Together to Amplify Young Voices

On International Youth Day, the Internet Society and Global Scribes partnered to connect youth around the world to let their voices be heard, allowing them to become empowered and engaged global citizens, striving toward a more united and sustainable digital future.

As local and international actors innovate to solve the most pressing issues that we face in the world today, young people are often left out of the equation with little or no participation in important discussions and decision-making processes.

Youth across the world are often overlooked as a potential resource to solving global challenges, such as climate change, migration, health, and unemployment, despite being directly impacted by these issues and having opinions on how to solve them.

This also happens in the Internet ecosystem, where young people often do not have a place at the table when it comes to decisions that shape the Internet’s future.

While youth are recognized as “the future generation” and perceived as key to a more sustainable tomorrow, they are seldom given adequate platforms to let their voices be heard or allow them to contribute to their societies in a meaningful way, in their own right as youth.

Young people are often deprived of the opportunity to serve as catalysts for a more united and sustainable world today, and not merely as potential change agents and future decision-makers once they become adults.

There is a need to acknowledge the potential of youth and provide an enabling environment for them to not only survive, but thrive in society today – and as the leaders of tomorrow.

Global Scribes fosters such an environment of creative expression, innovation, and cross-cultural connections, encouraging youth to share and explore their passions and talents, acquire crucial 21st century skills, and turn aspirations into reality through collaboration with peers from around the globe.

The Internet Society also contributes to building this environment by constantly celebrating and encouraging youth around the world who are taking action and using the Internet as a force for good in society.

Through this partnership, we aim to connect youth around the world and let their voices be heard, allowing them to become empowered and engaged global citizens, striving toward a more united and sustainable digital future.

Together, we ask young people around the world to raise their voice and show the world the remarkable impact they can bring about as young global citizens using the Internet for positive impact. Your voices and actions count.

“We’re building our Global Scribes platform on the Internet to connect youth around the world. Thanks to this platform, we share our dreams and goodwill for a better future. We care about the world and work to raise awareness about important issues. An open and globally-connected Internet is one of our aspirations for the future. By telling our personal stories with the Internet Society about what we do and how we are making a positive change thanks to the Internet, we hope that more people will hear our stories & join us in shaping a better future”

– Emirhan Şimşek, Age 16, Turkey

Are you a passionate young person who thinks you should have a role in shaping the Internet? Learn what you can do at #CountMyVoice and then join Youth SIG!

Young people need a space where they can have a conversation about what they want the Internet to look like. Join Global Scribes!

Photo: Scribers Irfan Kalender (Age 17, Turkey) and Fares Dehbi (Age 18, Morocco/Qatar) at TEDx Waltham 2018 with Global Scribes: Youth Uniting Nations