IGF 2018 Messages

November 2018

Cybersecurity, Trust and Privacy

Overarching messages

All stakeholders agree on the importance and relevance of cybersecurity. Only a secure and reliable cyber space can generate and preserve trust in the Internet. With the development of the Internet and new technologies, the cybersecurity question has become more complex, translating into a wide range of angles and issues and engaging a multiplicity of players. Privacy, data protection, and the security of new technologies, are among some of the issues that are central to the cybersecurity dialogue.

Trust & Stakeholder cooperation

  • Cybersecurity and privacy are often intertwined and interdependent. They impact the trust in the digital space and may limit its potential for growth and prosperity. Cooperation based on mutual recognition and successful models of engagement between governments, the private sector, technical community and the civil society, can address privacy and cybersecurity concerns without undermining the open, free and secure nature of the Internet.
  • A holistic view on cybersecurity that addresses technical as well as economic-socio-cultural elements within countries and organisations is important. Risk management and multistakeholder processes are crucial to start the conversation, in working together and building trust.
  • Strengthening multistakeholder cooperation on cybersecurity capacity building is increasingly recognised as a major challenge. Joint engagement among government actors, the private sector, and civil society should be the basis for more effective, strong and sustainable public- private-civil partnerships.
  • Security is a task for all stakeholders, including individual users. Informed users, aware of the risks and conscious of their behaviour, will take better decisions when active online. Too often however, too much responsibility is put on the shoulders of end-users, who are identified as part of the risk or threat, when instead, cybersecurity measures should be focused on protecting people.

Cyber Diplomacy

  • Cyber stability is a common goal for State and non-State actors – because without it, the benefits of cyberspace and the future of the digital economy will be jeopardized. Stakeholders need to recognise the highly complex and transfrontier character of cyber threats, and undertake appropriate international cooperation, share information and pursue norms of responsible behaviour.
  • A combination of diplomatic efforts and confidence building measures can contribute to preventing cyber conflicts between States, while non-binding voluntary norm-building for State behaviour in cyberspace serve as essential guides.
  • States have legal and ethical responsibilities in ensuring cyber stability. Policy initiatives, controls on the proliferation of cyber arms, and their commitment to the Call to Protect the Public Core of the Internet contribute to cyber stability.
  • Developing a cybersecurity strategy requires a multistakeholder and multidisciplinary approach. While all have a common interest in having a stable and safe cyberspace, each stakeholder has its own, but complementary, responsibilities.
  • The cyberspace is different, but not separate from, the real world. Therefore, the existing principles that together form the basis of our world and societies, should be recognised as basic principles in Internet governance, in combination with specific answers for challenges inherent to cyberspace.

Data Privacy & Protection

  • Institutional solutions adopted in countries in the Global North to reconcile the protection of privacy and access to data to address digital threats affect the entire Internet ecosystem, and may therefore have implications for countries in the Global South. There are opportunities for the creation of legal interoperability frameworks between developed and developing countries in a mutually-agreeable and negotiated way.
  • Enhanced digital identity management must increase data privacy, in particular where data- sharing is made mandatory under national digital identity programs. Personal data must be protected from hacks and misuse, and tracking and monitoring of users must be avoided.
  • Biometric data are privacy data and require a minimum level of protection. Biometric information is inseparably linked to a person and its life, and with possible risks to be abused. A safe, rights-respecting use of biometrics requires collaboration of experts, practitioners and stakeholders with diverse backgrounds (such as technical, business, government, philosophy, gender experts, etc.).
  • The right to privacy is a crucial safeguard for the ability of individuals to live freely, form opinions, express themselves without fear and fully develop their personality. Privacy protection is key for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members of society who are at greater risk of discrimination. Privacy is essential to allow civil society to operate and meaningfully participate in public life.
  • The continued push for meaningful access comes against the background of a new digital divide where protecting privacy comes at significant economic cost and can undermine people’s ability to opt-out.
  • “Smart City” services will increasingly shape urban governance and public policies. Insight is needed in the use and protection of personal data, and the existence of legal gaps that may unintentionally allow social and economic discrimination, including discrimination in access to public services.


  • A better understanding of how algorithms affect people’s lives, of the potential risks of automated or algorithmic decision making, and of their impact on human rights and the right to privacy, will allow adequate technical and policy solutions, including a right to explanation.

Internet of Things

  • The Internet of Things is the key driver of the digital revolution and creates new opportunities for our society, such as new products and services, but also creates vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity is a basic requirement for trust in the Internet of Things, as vulnerabilities could undermine the trust of individual users, and of the society as a whole. A joint global or regional approach is also needed, as the Internet of Things is a cross-border phenomenon.

Hate Speech

  • The distinction between hate speech and the freedom to express unpopular opinions can be complex. The removal of content raises important challenges and can’t be the full answer to the problem. The challenges related to hate speech require a holistic approach. There’s a need for stakeholder education and cooperation, the development of tools which empower citizens and new reporting systems.

Legal & Regulatory issues

  • Businesses have to protect themselves against the exponentially increasing number and variety of threats in the digital environment, but also depend on governments for legal counter-offensive actions against attackers. Public policy should further evolve and clarify the conditions, limits,and safeguards for proactive defensive measures by the private sector.
  • Cybersecurity norms could be viewed as an important mechanism for State and non-State actors to agree on a responsible way to behave in cyberspace, given that the speed of legislation often falls behind the pace of changes in the sphere of cybersecurity.
  • Both social platform giants and governments increasingly recognize the need for regulation. It is important for enhanced cooperation in the regulatory process, along with a sufficient level of multistakeholder participation in order to regulations to be efficient and enforceable. Risk management measures should also be embedded in regulations. Regulatory public-private partnerships could become a solution for securing political buy-in and predictability for the States and for economic profitability for tech companies. A “take it or leave it” approach is not helpful, and therefore, more resources and efforts are needed for efficient modalities of joint regulatory process in moving forward.

Cybersecurity Best Practices

  • The successful implementation of a collaborative model for cybersecurity strategy development and implementation resides in agile adaptability, transparency, and trusted information sharing among and between all participants. Cybersecurity collaborations should display both vertical and horizontal collaboration between stakeholders, be descriptive rather than prescriptive, and be sufficiently agile in order to adapt alongside evolving cyber risks and technologies. Participation should extend not only to public and private sector entities who tend to own and control critical information infrastructure, but also to stakeholders from other sectors (e.g., the banking and finance sectors, business process outsourcing (BPO), health, tourism, and energy sectors) and non-profit stakeholder groups (e.g., the technical community, academia, and civil society).
  • Private-public partnerships (PPPs) in cybersecurity should allow the government and major Internet service providers (ISPs) to pool their resources and know-how to tackle key aspects of cybersecurity, including protection of critical infrastructure and the fight against cybercrime. The effective cooperation between public and private actors countering cybercrimes is often challenged by obligations regarding disclosure and exposure; evolving liability and regulatory landscapes; cross-border data transfer restrictions and investigations of cybercrime.
  • It is important that countries implement national cybersecurity measures through a risk-based approach. Cybersecurity policymaking must take into account the social and economic opportunities offered by the digital environment, while also guaranteeing fundamental rights. A dynamic balance between cybersecurity, economic development and human rights requires answers that are not limited only to technical solutions strictly aimed at eliminating the threat. On the contrary, in order to reap the social and economic benefits of digitalization, while protecting fundamental values, stakeholders must reduce risk to an acceptable level.
  • Stakeholders should promote enhanced coordination and collaborative, risk-based frameworks of regional and national cybersecurity initiatives. A more meaningful global-oriented approach and more strategic risk-based collaboration in building national and regional cybersecurity capacity will enable nimble responses to security challenges.
  • Threats to cybersecurity impact governments, private companies and people in general. Norms are helpful in general, on different aspects and from various parts of the world, but more efforts are needed to involve non-State stakeholders in the development and implementation of norms.

Development, Innovation & Economic Issues

Overarching messages

The role of Internet and ICTs in driving development, including as outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is becoming ever-more central. Technology is not just a factor in development targets related to infrastructure and partnerships; it has the potential to support or even ‘turbocharge’ all aspects of development. As societies and economies try to seize the technological moment and harness the power of the Internet, calls are growing to ensure those development strategies are inclusive, equitable, transparent and take into account potential risks and unintended consequences.

Future of Work

  • Society is worried about the risks that the Internet and new technologies could pose for jobs. How will industries and Governments cope with the prospect of mass unemployment? It is important to understand these concerns and ensure no voices are left behind, particularly youth voices, in the discussion on the future of work.
  • Two key reflections should also be at the centre of the Future of Work issue: that public policy will and should play a major role in curtailing the risks to labour markets and in adapting jobs to the digital age; and that quality education is an essential mitigating factor to the rapid changes in global workforce.

Internet for Development & the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • Supporting the digital transformation will require a strategic mix of approaches and public policies. These should be aimed at promoting innovation and the constructive use of emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Big Data, Fintech, etc., to provide concrete solutions to development challenges. Digital technologies may be effective in accelerating the achievement of the SDGs, but capacity building of institutions will be key to understanding and harnessing the full potential of digital technologies.
  • Strong cooperation among regions and blocs of states, such as Small Island Developing States (SIDS), should continue to play an important role in managing and innovating in the digital age. For SIDS specifically, enhanced collaboration could help create resources that will contribute to the development of their digital economies.
  • The Internet is helping youth access resources, deepen connections and exchange ideas globally. A digitally mobilized youth is an economically vigorous youth – and there is a correlation generally between high youth mobility and the overall health of an economy.
  • Policymaking around maximizing the potential of new technologies and digitizing societies must be people-centred and examine carefully the full impacts of technological adoptions, including any unintended consequences. In this regard, possible questions might include: (i) Is the advent of mobile Internet, versus fixed Internet, a necessary good in developing economies? (ii) Are there tangible and intangible forms of culture that are suffering as a result of fast-paced advancements in technology? (iii) In light of both positive and negative impacts of digital technologies, how can policymakers best assess and manage the synergies and trade-offs? Dimensions of individual and societal well-being should be re-configured for the digital age.
  • A people-centred digital transformation should understand who the people at the centre of the transformation are – women, youth, people with disabilities and small and medium enterprise owners. It should not stop at examining how citizens can be reskilled and economically supported for the future, but how they can be prepared in a more holistic way. How can they be prepared to be good users, content creators and innovators?
  • In order for the Internet and technologies to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, some of its goals will first require action in other, non-digital areas. For example, SDG 5 (on gender equality) illustrates that eliminating discriminatory practices against women and girls that keep them circumscribed to marginal roles and unconnected to the Internet will be a precondition for women to benefit from the empowering effects of connectivity. ‘Positive discrimination’ measures should be applied to that effect.

Infrastructure and Financing Connectivity

  • Public connectivity through free and accessible Internet points, such as those available in public libraries, can deliver meaningful and equitable access to information for underserved communities. These points are a low‐cost, high‐impact resource that is often overlooked. Nevertheless, not all libraries or community centres are online and they are often subject to low or inconsistent public funding. Better awareness-building on how to overcome the barriers to achieving access in public spaces, and on the related financial and legal frameworks, is essential.
  • Successful connectivity, in particular connectivity investment, relies on coordinated efforts from multiple stakeholders. While much of the current investment comes from private network operators, blended financing models are beginning to show promise. Policies should be aimed at promoting new investments for connectivity.
  • Submarine cables are one of the key connectivity infrastructures. Policymaking should be conducive to investments in their deployment, whether the investment models are public, private or public-private, and encourage transparent and participatory management of those infrastructures.

The Multistakeholder Approach for Digital Development

  • Given that some technologies such as algorithms are at the earlier stages of adoption, and that the interplay between their benefits and risks is not always so clear, the multistakeholder model can be used as a mapping tool for algorithmic practices across countries and regions. With rapid technological development we need to constantly examine the application of these technologies and create opportunities for exchanges of best practices and current legislative frameworks that work.
  • Big data should be fully leveraged for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); at the same time, its application should be accompanied by multistakeholder governance discussions with an eye to developing a transnational governance structure.
  • Focus should be placed on ways for the multistakeholder approach to serve as a guiding pole to contribute effectively in international/multilateral digital negotiations, with the engagement of the multistakeholder community – channelling their inputs into intergovernmental negotiations and ensuring they are represented in the 2019 digital agendas of fora such as the G7, G20 and others.

Digital Inclusion & Accessibility

Overarching messages

  • The Internet is really a powerful tool for inclusion — probably the most useful tool. On the other hand, the Internet itself, if not utilised in the right direction, will easily lead to digital exclusion. Even with availability of access, a lack of trust in the Internet will deepen the existing digital divides in various forms.
  • It has taken more than 20 years to connect close to 50% of the world’s population — can we afford another 20 years to ensure digital inclusion for the remaining 50%? The UN Secretary- General has emphasized that “the imperative to leave no one behind is just as relevant in the digital world” — so what is the role of IGF community as a whole, and respective stakeholder group roles, as we edge toward target implementation and deliveries of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to ensure human rights are respected for all?
  • Global statistics tell us that the average cost of Internet access continues to fall and over 70% of the world’s population are now living within range of mobile networks. However, despite increased awareness and development efforts, multiple forms of digital divides remain – from access and connectivity, to capacity divides and gender divides. But there is a growing consensus on the need for more diverse policy perspectives on the root causes and consequences of digital inclusion. A cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary and integrated approach is essential to the fabric of the multistakeholder process — to consider digital inclusion root causes and the inclusive design and deployment of new technologies, and to identify, understand, and address new and cross-generational issues.

Access & connectivity

  • Internet access is a key component in thriving innovations. This is about more than access and connection and being an enabling tool — it is an empowering tool, not just in gaining decent work and employment but also for social inclusion. Equally important to support Internet access is also to ensure that people have a meaningful access that can impact their lives for the better. It is, therefore, important to focus on not just technical aspects but also human [or social] aspects of connectivity.
  • Challenges in access and connectivity remain and take different forms in various environments — a lack of conducive regulatory environments and legislative frameworks that support last mile and rural connectivity, and new technologies in general; inadequate enabling infrastructure (including rural power and backhaul); and some commercial operators focusing on lucrative urban rather than rural connectivity, among others. High access costs due to geographies is also an issue, especially for landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and small island and developing States (SIDS).
  • 5G, starting with its cost-effective features, is envisioned to be a cornerstone infrastructure for digital economy and inclusion. Questions remain on its time-to-market and other enabling factors. On a similar note, mobile connectivity, IoTs and AI are among some new assistive technologies that display strong evidenced success and yet untapped potential to address efficiently the basic needs of the underserved, meeting SDG targets and indicators on electricity, water, education, healthcare and transport, among others.
  • In enabling Internet access, in addition to feasibility, both affordability and sustainability should be kept in mind. In some lower income or developing countries, people might not feel the need to pay for Internet access (as a priority above other, more essential, services), or simply be unable to access the Internet in a meaningful and consistent way due to system inadequacies or a lack of infrastructure. Some simple but innovative examples of ways to address these issues are relevant and replicable. Feasibility is only one aspect of addressing Internet accessibility.
  • Governments have a key role in facilitating the adoption of new technologies like 5G, IoTs, AI for the improvement of its population´s accessibility and connectivity. Such technologies are expected to expand rapidly and improve connectivity and inclusivity for the benefit of consumers, innovators and business. Governments should therefore consider its role in allocating sufficient spectrum for mobile connectivity, especially at low bands and exploring network and spectrum sharing in rural areas.
  • Accessibility should be all-encompassing. There was a strong support for the view that IGF also has to live up to its commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). A number of accessibility problems were pointed out by DCAD (DC on Accessibility and Disability) members, including but not limited to: remote participation, website (schedule format, online registration), and physical accessibility.

Digital inclusion of vulnerable groups

  • Digital inclusion can also lead to exclusion. For instance, the introduction of digital literacy programmes will not benefit those who are currently unconnected.
  • A reminder on the prevalent global demographic trend of urbanization and smart cities is that cities should exist to serve the needs of society and all people, not the other way around. As an integral part of the population, the needs of persons with disabilities, older persons and other vulnerable groups should be part of thoughtful and integrated into the designs of cities. Likewise, urban slum conditions that need to be tackled with various policy measures, should include the use of relevant technologies. This could be done through incorporating tried and trusted criteria such as World Wide Web Consortium standards and Universal Design. New and innovative people-centric approaches are also encouraged.
  • Persons with disabilities – More often than not, a connected person has substantial advantages over a disconnected person. For people with disabilities, this societal division is often wider when access to internet and ICTs is unavailable or unaffordable, and where many Internet based applications and tools are not designed to meet the needs of those with a disability. The needs of persons with disabilities are not sufficiently reflected in the Internet development and design of technologies — and this calls for a radical change in embracing this aspect as well as conditions for other vulnerable groups. For instance, artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can assist people with disabilities and other marginalized groups to access technology and establish or improve their professional, educational and human connections.
  • Refugees and migrants – Digital inclusion is also particularly important for refugees, as the Internet serves as a critical medium for access to information and connecting to loved ones. In addition, technologies such as blockchains and AI have also been increasingly deployed in an effective manner to empower and deliver basic services to refugees and migrants.
  • Indigenous people – People living in indigenous reservations lack basic access to services like electricity and therefore to the Internet. As such reservations also occur within higher developed countries, it is important to adopt suitable regional or local approaches to ensure digital inclusion.

Community networks

  • Lessons drawn from over 100 case studies show that deliberate efforts are needed to bring together two communities at large: the practitioners who work on projects at the grassroots level, and the development policy and investor community, which has expertise in improving social outcomes through policy, regulation and financing.
  • The establishment of community networks has emerged as a concrete alternative to address the challenge of connecting the unconnected. Successful community networks rely on the active participation of local communities in the design, development, and management of network infrastructure as a common public resource. Community networks give rise to new infrastructures, new governance models, new business opportunities, and facilitate the free flow of information and knowledge, filling the lacunae left by the traditional Internet access-provision paradigm. Moreover, they offer a promising strategy allowing individuals to build connectivity. Policy and regulation could facilitate the development of last mile and rural connectivity initiatives.
  • One useful and tested output coming out of the IGF’s Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity is The Community Network Manual. The Manual provides useful guidance on how to build, organise, and deploy community networks through toolkits, guidelines, and instructions.
  • At times, community networks face problems in finding a regulatory framework which could be adapted to the needs – often because such frameworks have never been considered by policy makers (most likely due to a lack of awareness that the need exists). Regulators may, however, be receptive developing frameworks when they gain awareness – including through dialogue with people – of these needs.
  • Technological development increasingly provides new opportunities for libraries as cloud computing and the possibility to host digital content in safe servers while libraries in developing countries  would  only  need  and  internet  connection  and  computers. Community anchor institutions enable meaningful access and support economic empowerment. Libraries act as strategic players in forging partnerships and furthering Internet accessing goal.

Net Neutrality

  • The value of Internet access lies in the content itself and the ability to share content (notwithstanding harmful contents disinformation and misinformation). Neutral networks will allow equitable exchanges over the Internet.
  • Detecting violations in net neutrality is usually not an easy task. It is always challenged by new emerging technologies (e.g. 5G and slicing) and new practices such as zero-rating.
  • The empirical research producing the Zero Rating Map can be an invaluable resource to inform policymakers, regulators and other stakeholders on the evolving trends. One example of the use of this map was that it has been included in the French Telecoms Regulator (ARCEP) report on the State of the Internet.
  • Precisely for these challenges, the IGF ecosystem could do more to (i) articulate precisely what is net neutrality and the consideration of regulation; (ii) develop crowdsourcing models for feedback and buy-ins; (iii) encourage research and development on the measurement of net discrimination. Modalities should also be extended to detecting discrimination practices in devices or platforms that limit freedom of user choices and fair business competition.
  • Measuring net neutrality is also difficult because it depends on who is measuring and what is being measured. Notwithstanding that such measures could be biased, it is encouraged to share innovative or common practices that could emerge as best practices and possibly as eventual norms. The entire ecosystem should be supported by an enabling environment with awareness that variations in time and space are also affecting measures. Crowdsourcing can be an option to verify net neutrality, allowing users to collectively provide input when they are confronted with discrimination posed by non-neutral networks.

Online education and digital capacity development

  • Digital skills training programs complement traditional connectivity and improve economic outcomes for vulnerable communities. These include not only content development for users, but also technical know-how on ensuring sustainability of networks and community training for equipment maintenance, especially in underdeveloped communities.
  • In some countries, the fear of adoption of technology is related to the fear of losing jobs. As this weakens economic development and growth, the gains of automation and Internet development should be redistributed fairly to both innovators and legacy skills. Retraining workers and adapting public policies (in areas such as industry or workplace relations policy) offer possible solutions for this.
  • Digital literacy is important – but digital inclusion is about more than digital literacy. It goes beyond browsing the Internet and using computer applications, to understanding and leveraging the power of the Internet to bring social and economic change to the community — to bring decent work and employment, social inclusion and a means to bridging the gaps between rural and urban populations.
  • Without digital literacy training we can build all the networks we want but will not accomplish the goals we seek.
  • Even though the need for capacity building is stressed in various policy circles, supply and demand expectations do not always match. In this regard, the multistakeholder nature of Internet governance does not always match involvement of all stakeholder groups in capacity development programmes.

Given the prevailing trends, it is likely that a number of countries will not able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal Target 9c — to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet — by 2020 (notwithstanding that digital inclusion is more than the core of accessibility). Gaps in today’s digital inclusion will not be bridged by simply focusing on expanding broadband access. An inclusive society can only be realised if policymakers and stakeholders are aware of the root problems and are committed to solving them. Improved data systems, engagement and multistakeholder partnerships are needed, together with appropriate legal frameworks that are in line with relevant international conventions and recommendations that assert full digital inclusion.

Emerging Technologies

Overarching messages

  • The development and adoption of new technologies is taking place at a pace never seen before. Societies, policymakers, and businesses are confronted with the complex issues that come with these technologies. Artificial Intelligence, 5G, blockchain, and the Internet of Things have the potential to bring social, cultural, and economic benefits to all. But the same decentralized and autonomous independence features that enable such progress also create issues around the governance of such systems. For emerging technologies to be at the service of mankind and foster human-centered forms of digitalization, they must be guided by well-informed, sound, and sustainable policies.
  • As with many other technologies, emerging technologies will also rely heavily on connectivity. Having parts of the world that lack basic connectivity will hinder the ability of these technologies to grow and expand. A robust, far-reaching infrastructure can be achieved through strong investments, and is needed moving forward.
  • There are various concerns associated with the deployment of emerging technologies such as ethical issues, security and making new technologies citizen-centric. Taking artificial intelligence (AI) as an example, one starting point is to bring more transparency into AI systems, so that non-specialists can understand how they work and can participate in their development and deployment. There was agreement in the room to follow a global approach based on the universal declaration of human rights as globally accepted values and standards in the use of emerging technologies.
  • There is no way that we can preempt all externalities that will come with the advent of new technologies. Individual choices will be relevant in the adoption of new technologies. Some people will prefer to use old technologies regardless of how new technologies will improve our lives. However, in the long run, societies will move into the same direction and adopt emerging technologies. The rapid advancement of emerging technologies also presents issues regarding regulation. The technology is outpacing the capacity of governments to create policies to adapt to the new technological ecosystem. Furthermore, on a global scale, multinational ICT corporations that are too big to be regulated within a single jurisdictional framework necessitate questions regarding leadership: Who gets to define the rules?
  • Education, training, and capacity-building can play an important role in promoting new and better use of emerging technologies. Similarly, they can help address some of the fear about emerging technologies. Capacity-building can help develop technical skills and improve policy- making, especially in emerging economies.

Artificial Intelligence

  • There is a need for a multi-stakeholder, inclusive, and open mechanism to address some key issues surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI and other emerging technologies need to be developed in ways that are individual-centric and considerate in regard to human rights issues. It is necessary to harness the development of AI technologies in a way that it contributes to the achievement of democracy, peace and the Sustainable Development Goals, avoids exacerbating existing inequalities and increasing the technical and digital divides.
  • The advancement of machine learning is dependent on the amount of the dataset it utilizes. Machine learning is only as good as the data set that is completed. As such, limiting the availability of anonymized data is ultimately detrimental to the progress of AI and to society at large which can lead to bias and discrimination.
  • AI has the potential to moderate harmful content on the Internet. For instance, due to AI’s ability to process vast amounts of data at high speed, it can be used to fact-check news articles, identify disinformation, and eliminate it before it spreads. However, the idea of combating content regarding hate speech and extremist ideologies has been met with opposition due to the fact that, even for humans, defining these terms is a contentious issue. This could lead to labeling opposition voices as hate speech and eradicating their platform, leading to corruption.

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

  • Blockchain is seen as a technology that can eliminate the cyber-physical barriers. For example, with the availability of cryptocurrencies, small scale businesses can be empowered with cryptolending instead of making actual trips to financial institutions.
  • Blockchain can help solve the problems of the most vulnerable people in the world: refugees; migrants; children; and victims of human trafficking. It also has the potential to speed up processes in favor of humanitarian activity such as the diversion of funds collected to mitigate the humanitarian crisis; the delivery of benefits; avoiding duplicity; and Internet access, among others. There are applications used to provide identity documents to refugees and asylees, advance financial inclusion, and support efforts to respond to climate change, among others. Many such projects have received significant attention and funding.
  • Governments play a critical role in the administration of cryptocurrencies. There is a tendency for developing countries to have limited support for cryptocurrencies, leading to a hindrance in its prevalence. Some countries’ support for Blockchain technologies, while still banning cryptocurrencies, means that the technology is not able to function at its potential. In connection, the community should be careful not to introduce new divides between north-south in blockchain.
  • Blockchain can be used to further government transparency and accountability due to its public and permanent nature. There was broad support for the idea that blockchain can be used to track government transactions to eradicate corrupt practices. However, it was also pointed out that current blockchain systems are still heavily moderated, and don’t have the transparency yet that the technology promises.

Ethical issues

  • The discussion on the impact of artificial intelligence and ethical considerations triggers reflections on the relationship between law and ethics. Ethics is usually at the basis of law; some ethical rules are in fact codified into law. However, ethics goes much beyond law in organising a wide range of family and community relations. Further, ethics is not a substitute for law. This complex interplay between law and ethics has implications for many issues related to AI technology.
  • Transparency is only one tool, and is not a value in itself. What is implied behind transparency may not be clear to all involved. Transparency is the very first step towards a more complex set of rules and norms that will make AI more easily understood and efficient.
  • Ethics differ across cultures and geographies, but if we build technologies with a global approach, developers may need a single form of guidance. In that regard, new technologies need to be trusted and be “trustworthy”. Building trust requires various steps such as protecting privacy and personal data, enhancing cybersecurity, being transparent about problems, respecting human rights, giving users alternatives if they find one service or application unsatisfactory, design for safety, and design for diversity.
  • Open data and open government policies contribute to more transparent governance. One example of increased transparency is making algorithms more open and public. A growing number of algorithms are taking decisions or making pivotal recommendations in our daily lives. People who develop these algorithms need guidance as well. There is a need to ensure that these algorithms can be held accountable by making them more transparent, fair and inclusive. For instance, speech recognition systems need to work equally well across different language, age, and gender groups.
  • People are the ones who actually make decisions in the algorithms of new technologies. Ethics cannot be enshrined in software code. The code is an approximation of perceived reality of the coder. We should be looking at the people to make sure that they are the responsible and accountable parties. Unlike a human judge applying a legal rule, machines cannot contextualise issues.

Evolution of Internet Governance

Overarching messages

Newly emerging technologies have brought new challenges to society and their impacts on people have deepened. With regard to the unregulated online domain, some national and regional responses related to Internet governance have been implemented, as well as some instruments applicable to the Internet public policy. There is a need for the global community to come up with a set of universal values and standards and with that with a globally recognized framework that will support the harmonization of these individualistic national approaches. It is an imperative for the community that the Internet stays free, open and safe for everyone.

Given the complexity of these issues and of the Internet itself, involvement from all sectors is critical for finding effective solutions. This is why the multistakeholder model is essential for discussing Internet governance. The IGF is seen as a unique forum under the auspices of the United Nations, that makes possible for various people and groups to discuss Internet governance matters within a bottom up, open, inclusive, non-commercial and multistakeholder framework. However, the IGF should keep pace with technological innovations in order to stay relevant. This is why the IGF community must continue to work on improving its processes, by strengthening multistakeholder communities at the national level and establishing cooperation among these on a global level.

Global Internet penetration has rapidly increased in the last five years period. At the same time, the digital divide has deepened, especially between developing and developed countries. The small island developing states (SIDS) are facing unique challenges in terms of achieving meaningful access. In parallel, newly emerging technologies are posing concerns regarding online safety, protection of personal data and respect for human rights online. How should the community respond to these and many more challenges? Is the multistakeholder model effective and, if so, is it globally accepted? What is the role of the IGF in the present moment and in the future?

Broadening stakeholder participation in Internet governance

  • There is a need for a standardized set of principles applicable to Internet governance for advancing human rights and achieving sustainable development.
  • The evolution of how providers and operators of Internet services function may affect Internet governance and its core principles. There should be some forms of mechanism for raising awareness of such trends. In this regard, stakeholders being accountable to agreed values and principles could preserve the public and distributed nature of the Internet.
  • The term ‘Internet governance’ is seen as unattractive and difficult to be meaningfully translated into some languages. Stakeholder engagement requires the core organizing groups to explain the terminology and bring it down to specific topics.
  • Different stakeholders have different stakes in the Internet. For increasing stakeholder engagement, it is important to explain to different stakeholders that the nature of the Internet requires all disciplines to be involved, and how they will benefit from developing good Internet policies.
  • Stakeholder engagement processes need to be widely spread on national, regional and global levels, to achieve the inclusion of everyone.
  • Capacity building can be done through the Schools on Internet Governance, which have been shown to be effective and already have global presence.
  • The multistakeholder model has to be inclusive of all voices, taking into account the rapid growth of the Internet population where it is estimated that two-thirds of the future users will come from developing countries. These users must be engaged in existing processes, as they connect online.
  • Effective tools need to be used and developed to facilitate the online interactions of stakeholders and broaden their participation in Internet governance.
  • The development of digital technologies has brought new substantive challenges. Net neutrality raises many concerns, as there are a variety of views on how to approach this subject. Some countries normatively regulate net neutrality, while others currently operate openly without any specific regulation. Enhanced dialogue and cooperation among relevant stakeholders is necessary to discuss net neutrality on a global scale.
  • Internet Governance matters reflect human rights. However, with the evolution of Internet Governance, certain sections of the intersection of IG and human rights evolved as well. Presently, the online freedom of speech and right to be informed in dominated by the term fake news, that relates to disinformation, misinformation, propaganda. There should be harmonized set of solutions for combating this practice, rather than sporadic measures.
  • National laws on the Internet are proliferating. These must be enacted by those that understand the technology and policy aspects. Recognized international framework and a set of agreed principles should be developed to avoid inconsistent practices.

IGF’s organization and role

  • The IGF is seen as a unique forum, with a place in the UN system, that allows various people and groups to discuss Internet governance matters within a bottom up and multistakeholder framework. For a free, open and accessible Internet for all, its existence is seen as essential.
  • The IGF community must continue to work on improving its processes, to strengthening multistakeholder communities at the national level and establishing cooperation among these on a global level.
  • Improvements of the IGF processes, on national, regional and global levels, are dependent on sustainable funding.
  • It was proposed that the community take concrete steps to improve its work and profile, including, (i) using new/different terminology to describe the IGF (i.e., to clarify the meaning of ‘governance’ and to fully capture the scope of the issues that it considers, such as cybercrime, AI, etc); (ii) improved targeted branding and communications strategies (to make the IGF more recognizable at local, regional and global levels; and, (iii) broadening the scope of emerging technology topics that the IGF considers.
  • The IGF process should engage voices that have not traditionally been involved in the Internet governance space.
  • Collaboration among the national, regional and Youth IGFs should be enhanced by sharing best practices and coordinating the timing of their annual events, so that they can follow each other processes.


  • With the Internet being unique in both its transnational nature and rapid evolution, there is a need for new structures and ways of discussion which are more inclusive than a purely governmental process. However, there is also a broad recognition that in order to stay relevant, or even survive, the multistakeholder model needs to evolve, and quickly. The interrelationship between the UN structures and the IGF is one aspect of that, but more could be done to highlight and promote examples of successes and to highlight its relevance in concrete terms. Better continuity ‘bridging’ from year to year was felt to be desirable, together with reporting of more directed and specific policy recommendations. Although it is still very fresh there was interest in the recent suggestions made by the French government for the evolution of the IGF.
  • Implementation of the multistakeholder model for discussing matters pertaining to Internet governance is not unified on national levels. For this reason, national practices have to be compared, especially among developing and developed countries to understand various challenges, and for exchanging best practices and recommending improvements.
  • The multistakeholder approach is seen as an effective method for Governments to overcome the challenges of jurisdiction and legislation that the cross-territorial nature of the Internet has brought.
  • While the National, Regional and Youth IGFs (NRIs) each take a different approach to influencing policy, there are some commonalities. Some NRIs aims to influence policy directly, while others aim to facilitate multistakeholder discussions alongside governments without any direct policy objective. Despite these differences, they all share the objective of elevating the voice of all stakeholders. Additionally, they provide an example of the multistakeholder model that extends beyond the confines of the IGF and the NRIs.
  • Difficulties in the application of the multistakeholder model also occur on national, regional and global levels. Resourcing is a challenge, with funding most commonly mentioned as an issue, in addition to securing locations meetings and events. Difficulties with engagement and participation were also referenced multiple times, ranging from low youth participation rates to a lack of government engagement. The multistakeholder model struggles for relevance in some parts of the world, where history and culture create an expectation that problems are solved in a more hierarchical (rather than multistakeholder) manner.
  • A lack of awareness about the work of the IGF in many parts of the world, whether at a global level or national or regional levels, was also noted as a related issue.

Human Rights, Gender, and Youth

Overarching messages

The theme of “Human Rights, Gender, and Youth” at the IGF 2018 saw sessions moving beyond the gender binary and focusing not only on women — as has traditionally been the case in past editions of IGF and also other fora — but also on gender non-binary and queer persons. Gender needs to be viewed as a cross-cutting theme, and gender inequality must be located at the intersection of other inequalities such as class (income/education), location (urban/rural), race and ethnicity, among others. It is crucial to examine emerging issues and technologies such as dataveillance and biases in artificial intelligence algorithms through the lens of gender and sexuality perspectives, particularly while analyzing policies and strategies to address them.

Approaches to combating child and youth online safety include strengthening efforts to raise awareness and sensitizing diverse stakeholders on these issues of urgency. Mental health and ability cannot be de-linked from similar challenges associated with Internet misuse. While Internet access plays a pivotal role in helping refugees stay connected, challenges remain in accessing digital networks and infrastructure such as unaffordable connectivity and restrictions to ensure full and meaningful online participation.

Advocacy for digital rights at the local levels produces momentum for local realization of human rights in the digital environment. Decentralization of agency through proliferation of localized discourse around digital rights is an observed trend that also raises contestations relating to how digital rights should be protected.

Gender Equality

  • Gender needs to be viewed as a cross-cutting theme requiring multi-stakeholder cooperation for addressing challenges. Similarly, gender inequality must be located at the intersection of other inequalities such as class (income/education), race, location (urban/rural), etc.
    • Efforts need to be made to move beyond the gender binary and focus not only on women (as has traditionally been the case in the past) but also gender non-binary persons.
    • Gender analysis must be an integral part of planning efforts of initiatives that support Internet access, rather than an “add-on” task.
    • Since many Internet access initiatives tend to be gender-blind, targeted policy recommendations are required to develop specific initiatives that focus on women and gender non-binary persons.
    • There is a need to deepen understanding of emerging issues such as dataveillance, and algorithmic decision-making, and their influence in cyberspace through a gender and sexuality lens, along with strategies to address them.
    • Many local access projects use ICTs to secure the rights of underrepresented populations of women, with a focus on the Global South.
  • Relevant gender issues in the context of emerging technologies include biases in artificial intelligence algorithms, regressive regulatory practices, and commercially driven technology design – with a disproportionate and undesirable impact on the inclusion of and participation by women and politically marginalised groups and communities.

Child and Youth Online Safety

  • Children face various online risks such as online child sexual exploitation. To combat this threat public-private sector models based on hashing and similar technologies need to be deployed.
    • The increasing call for responses to online youth radicalization and violent extremism highlight the need for the international community to cooperate and strengthen efforts to raise awareness and sensitize diverse stakeholders on these issues of urgency. These responses include the responsibility of Governments to implement violence prevention measures through national policies or dedicated action plans. International, regional and national stakeholders must also play an active role through consistent counter narratives to extremist ideas and education.
    • There are clear interlinkages between Internet misuse and mental health. Proactive multi- stakeholder approaches to preventing suicide and minimizing detrimental mental health impacts of internet-related technologies must be sought.
    • Children’s rights to be protected and to be empowered to exercise their rights to freedom of information, peaceful participation and assembly need to be fulfilled in the digital environment.
    • To achieve digital inclusion and gender diversity on the Internet, online safety is a basic need. Especially political participation of women and gender non-binary persons is prevented by hate speech and online harassment. “Human Impact Assessments” should be adopted to measure how hate speech affects women and gender non-binary persons (LGBTQIA+).

Democracy and Digital Citizenship

  • Methods of designing and implementing automated decision-making by digital platforms must be analyzed along with their potential benefits and risks. A positive example is the recent proposal of AI-based proactive detection and removal of abusive content.
    • In the context of increased pressure on Internet platforms to act as proxy law enforcement, policymakers must keep in mind that online communities can build effective systems of self-governance, potentially an important enabler of freedom of expression and democratic processes online. Provisions could be made to allow for such models of self- governance and content moderation by Internet users, which promote the right to participation based on the cultural context.
    • Digital rights declarations and other documents written to advocate for human rights protection in the digital age (“digital constitutionalism”) are proliferating locally and on the level of the nation-state. This moves agency and discourse in this field away from international and global fora of Internet governance (like IGF) toward more decentralised arenas of public policy – which is an encouraging trend.
    • The development of decentralised cryptographically organized infrastructure through blockchains raises new contestations relating to self-enforcing smart contracts, and considerations on which and how digital rights should be protected online (e.g., the issuance of automated fines if data is leaked by a data collector).
    • Advocacy for digital rights at the local levels produces momentum for local realization of human rights in the digital environment, while blockchain-based smart contracts have the potential to permeate (national) borders and entrench certain norms transnationally, which may not take into consideration what political communities have decided locally/nationally.
  • Drawing from other disciplines such as media, the effectiveness of self-regulation to assess complaints of hate speech online must be analyzed for the entire Internet landscape. Self-regulation should address the needs of a democratic society by providing for effective protection of those targeted, quick procedures, and a clear understanding of the reasons for the takedown or non-takedown for users.


  • Internet access and mobile phones play a pivotal role in providing vital information to refugees, helping families to stay connected and giving newcomers the necessary tools for being able to start a new life in another part of the world.
    • Despite the empowering potential of ICTs for refugees, challenges remain in accessing digital networks and infrastructure such as unaffordable connectivity and restrictions to full participation online. These challenges are also related to rights to privacy and data protection.
    • In the age of Artificial Intelligence, the relevance of the current legal framework for refugees must be assessed. A legal framework on refugees’ digital rights needs to be adopted.
    • Efforts are being made by international organisations, civil society, private sector and members of the technical community to collect refugees’ data to help respond to the daily needs of the growing community. These include developing digital tools such as blockchain technologies, biometric records, etc.

Youth Inclusion

  • Factors that impact the participation of youth in the digital economy include inequities in terms of Internet access, gaps in levels of connectivity, socioeconomic status, quality of education and degree of digital literacy skills, and the degree of Internet freedom in a particular region, among others. These, in turn, affect the visibility of youth engaging in online economic activities.
    • Youth inclusion can be facilitated by increasing the recruitment for IGF attendance in schools and universities, and designing best practices to implement these through setting up suitable education networks.
    • The education system, especially in the STEM domains, should become more welcoming for women, young girls, and LGBTQIA+ persons. Schools that enable low-income girls and minorities to access education in the field of new technologies, coding and engineering should be encouraged and should experience innovative pedagogies.

Media and Content

Overarching message

The intersection of media with the Internet and technology has revolutionized the sharing of knowledge — impacting cultures, economies, political systems, and various social aspects of everyday life. In recent years, varied content channeled through different media increasingly influenced people’s opinions, decisions and nature of engagement with society. However, in today’s digital context, with its rapid changes, wide-spread implications and capacity to increase power divides, it is ever more important to consider and address the negative impacts of media and changing digital content.

Media culture and power

  • The Internet and technology has changed the ways in which we distribute and consume media. This has led to, and has potential for further, ambiguous impacts which should be evaluated vis- à-vis medias’ relationships to power sources.
  • These impacts need to be addressed by governments, businesses and media organisations collectively (for reasons of probity, effectiveness and to contribute towards global peace and security) and include: content versus propaganda; ‘fake news’ versus truth; media freedoms versus limits on freedom of expression (to stop ‘fake news’); and the ability of social media platforms to distribute misinformation versus their role as a tool for human engagement.
  • Regulation is called for in some cases, while rejected in others, as possible ‘slippery path’ for inappropriate control over the media and related digital systems. However, it was noted that there exist two ‘extremes’ in the world: one a completely ‘hands off’ approach by governments that leaves private provider accountable for the appropriate administration of media products; the other a purely State-run system that oversees and investigates ‘fake news’. Comments related to these comparisons were in the context of finding a ‘balance’ between the two systems.

Information disorders

  • Terminology for discussing the Internet, media and culture is increasingly important. ‘Fake news’ is a potent but inherently political and, in itself, potentially misleading term – it is often used as a response to discredit accurate information.
  • Breaking down the various ‘types’ of non-truthful information is an essential starting point for considering how to address the issue – because different kinds of misleading information, or “information disorders” (e.g., misinformation, disinformation, malinformation), will require different tactical responses.
  • Precise terminology can also properly address the scope of what the ‘fake’ information can be or cause, given that the range can be as broad as rumor or propaganda to cyber hybrid threats; or radicalization, extremism and hate-speech to other forms of intimidation.
  • Some journalist and media organisations are taking steps to mitigate the spread of misinformation. One example from NGO field is Reporters Without Borders (RWB) which advocates for standard-setting in sectors related to the sharing of journalistic-style information, but stresses that this needs to be in relation to processes (which concern the quality of the product) rather than content (which is a subjective, potentially political matter). Process examples include requirements to identify the source producing the content. The application of such standards could be voluntary, and thus avoid potential pitfalls and issues related to legislation. RWB is also calling for methods for applying the ethics and codes of conduct to processes related to new forms of media, just as they are for traditional journalistic mediums. Algorithms that aggregate content should also operate under such standards, rather than purely interest-based / financial-incentive driven systems.
  • Constant monitoring of “information disorder” trends is needed, and responses could be recalibrated accordingly. New smart initiatives, driven by multi-stakeholder collaborations, are encourged, especially those that avoid disengagement of the State in policing but minimize regulatory intervention and keep the private sector accountable.
  • Governments, media and social media enterprises as well as individuals have to think about and learn how to live in what some call “the post-truth era”. Other initiatives involve building networks and online communities, strengthening digital citizenship via Media and Information literacies, and digital debates. The latter will have the role in mitigating the distortions and asymmetries revealed by information disorders.

‘Fake news’

  • ‘Fake news’ is a broad term with varied views on its definition, but civilian awareness is growing in response to it, at global, regional and local levels.
  • It is often equated with the concept of ‘post-truth politics’ and is most easily understandable through the spread of false information in a political context. These political falsehoods are often in-line with pejorative narratives that feed into broader discontent, or forms of misanthropy.
  • Digital literacy advancement can help audiences become more discerning with respect to the information that they receive through social media and messaging applications.
  • ‘Big data’ and the use of data needs to be monitored, and potentially regulated, with respect to its ability to feed into and be used for the dissemination of ‘fake news’.
  • As noted above, discourses around ‘fake news’ also need to consider the rights and responsibilities of various actors (e.g., journalists, politicians) and the mediums themselves (e.g., should the source or platform be accountable for a minor untruth or joke that gains an unintended momentum through social media?)
  • Governments are exploring or implementing different methods to control ‘fake news’, including self-regulatory processes, legislative measures, possible criminalization, producing guidelines to avoid engaging in the spreading of false information, partnering with stakeholders to tackle particular issues, implementing digital literacy programmes, and raising public awareness.
  • Private sector representatives also described product solutions and policies that are used to address issues related to ‘fake news’. These can include policies on hate speech and offensive content removal, providing more information to users about how content is managed, using independent fact-checkers to quickly check suspect content, the withholding of advertising revenue from websites that engage in ‘contentious’ behavior, and the use of algorithms that prioritise authoritativeness and authenticity in content (over relevance).
  • Civil society representatives cautioned against inappropriate implementation of ‘fake news’ legislation, as it could be used to monitor or stifle other forms of public debate or speech for political purposes.
  • The importance of strengthening media institutions is important for combatting ‘fake news’. This should include effective and clear policies on freedom of information, freedom of expression, and data protection, and as well as supporting journalists’ work and personal safety.

Elections and political processes

  • The ability of ‘fake news’ to affect electoral or democratic processes is an issue that needs to be addressed, just as any other risk to the probity of these processes would or should be.
  • ‘Fake news’ and misinformation is just one concern with respect to elections and political processes. Others include the misuse of personal data, such as using personal information to identify individual political leanings and targeting them accordingly with bespoke/misleading information; an inability to identify the sources of information; and, a lack of regulation/checking around the use of electronic voting systems.
  • Issues around the use of information during election campaigns or political processes can be particularly potent – for example, the leaking of accurate or partially accurate information at certain times can have misleading impacts, or not leave time for appropriate fact-checking before elections or other events.
  • People in vulnerable or underserved communities often only access the Internet through mobile devices. This can result in disproportionate targeting of those groups through social media messaging that is designed to be more easily received on mobile devices, and with less capacity to search for counter-narratives.

Local content and multilingualism

  • The production of local content has the potential to build trust in the media. Its smaller scale and focus can result in more immediate and accurate judgments of the content and its validity, and its audience more likely to be responsive.
  • Multilingualism is an integral feature of local media content, and a way of protecting local communities’ discourses. For instance, much of the media disseminated throughout parts of Africa is only in European rather than local languages, limiting the ability of many to fully understand the content.
  • Local content in local languages is viewed as a way to promote and strengthen global South regions which, as yet, have not benefitted as much from the Internet and technology’s media capacity as the Global North.
  • Global and regional multilateral organisations are well-placed to engage in activities to strengthen local content production through fiscal, regulatory or treaty-based avenues.

Technical and Operational Topics

Overarching messages

Technical and Operational Topics deal with the infrastructure, routing and protocols of the Internet. These provide the underlying base that the application layer of the Internet sits upon. Internationalized domain names help in increasing meaningful access to people whose language is not written in the Latin script. Legislative actions with good intentions, such as the blocking of illegal sites, may have severe unintended consequences on this underlying infrastructure.

Domain Name Systems Internet Routing & Protocols

  • Non-conversion of IPv4 addresses to IPV6 addresses causes the degradation of network traffic.

Content Blocking and Filtering

  • Understanding the architecture of the Internet and how it works, and the relevance of adhering to standards and appropriate use of Internet protocols is a cornerstone of any discussion around the stability and growth of the Internet.
  • Rapid or hasty approaches to deal with harmful/unwanted content on the Internet can have unintended consequences and negative impacts on its operations. The best ways forward to tackle the challenges posed by harmful/unwanted content require dialogue, collaboration and due process.
  • A multistakeholder approach to Internet regulation that involves legislatures, law enforcement, experts from the technical community and users is critical for maintaining a stable and secure Internet.
  • Should applications be built in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the Global Network Initiative (GNI) Principles, in order to limit the potential human rights impacts of the disruption of networks?
  • Should multistakeholder communities, such as those at IGF, help set and promote norms around preventing Internet disruptions?

Net Neutrality

  • Net neutrality is regarded by many as a set of fundamental principles guaranteeing access to a non-discriminatory Internet. However, others hold the view that it is an unnecessary form of regulation, noting that open and unfiltered Internet access currently exists in a number of countries without specific net neutrality requirements.
  • Supporters of net neutrality regulation noted that:
    • Monitoring, measuring, collecting data, enforcing rules and coordinating at local, regional or global levels is required.
  • National frameworks on net neutrality (notably on traffic management practices and differential pricing practices) vary, but all reinforce the idea that networks should be conceived and deployed as open.
    • Assessing how net neutrality applies to 5G in some concrete use cases is a way of ensuring the sound development of this new technology. This debate should be the starting point of an ongoing dialogue between operators, regulators, civil society and academia.