Late last year, some friends and I got together to form ISOC’s first Youth Special Interest Group (SIG) or, as we call it, the Youth Observatory. Why? The voices of young people aren’t heard when it comes to Internet policy.
We’re the generation that’s been using the Internet since we were children, and we’re the one’s who will be using it for the next 50 years.
Our voice matters.
Today, having the first Youth Latin American and Caribbean Internet Governance Forum, which will take place in San José, Costa Rica on the eve of the larger Latin America and Caribbean Network Information Centre Internet Governance Forum. We’ll be speaking here too, but before we can talk about young Latin Americans’ vision for the Internet, we need as many young people from as many different backgrounds as we can — to help share the vision.
We ALL need a space where we can have a conversation about what they want the Internet to look like.
And we’re going to turn the idea of a meeting on its head. There will be no panelists. We don’t want this to be a conference where people sit and listen to experts.
I mean, if we wanted just to sit and listen to smart people, we could just as well stay home and watch videos in our pyjamas.
We want this to be a conference where young people working in various areas get to exchange ideas; where someone working for a telco in Cuba can sit down and talk with a Paraguayan privacy expert or Mexican app developer. We’re going to look at four broad topics: Infrastructure and Access, Internet and Human Rights, Security and Surveillance, and Youth and Governance. From there, we’ll come up with a few subtopics we’d like to explore. Then we’ll break out into a series of small groups to discuss those subtopics and report back. Those ideas and conversations are going to be at the core of what we present to the larger IGF.
We want these conversations to be as serious as the subject matter, but informal enough that everyone feels like they can take part. We want to make an environment where there are no bad ideas, and where we consider everyone’s perspective.
It’s a crucial time for the Internet in Latin America and the Caribbean. Many countries are looking to create or revamp their laws on online data collection. In the Caribbean, there is a debate around the tradeoff between privacy and better Internet browsing experience provided by ad blockers. Our work at the Internet Society is to make sure that young people are represented in these discussions.
We think it is now or never
Our IGF is just part of that mission. We are working hard to change the world. It’s now or never