Internet Governance Forum
The annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) serves to bring people together from various stakeholder groups as equals, in discussions on public policy issues relating to the internet.
The 2021 edition of the IGF, 16th annual event, will be hosted by the Government of Poland in Katowice, Poland from 6 to 10 December 2021 under the overarching theme of ‘Internet United’. More information will follow, but in the meantime look back over the 2020 edition below.
The 2020 edition, the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the IGF, was hosted online by the United Nations under the overarching theme of "Internet for human resilience and solidarity". In recognition of the extraordinary nature of 2020 and the increasing reliance of people to use the internet to stay connected with each other during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an inaugural motto for this edition of the IGF of "Virtually together".
IGF 2020 took place in two phases, with a programme developed around the four main thematic tracks of (1) Data, (2) Environment, (3) Inclusion and (4) Trust.
Phase 1 took place from 23 October - 6 November 2020, and included:
- - Introductory sessions to the four thematic tracks (data, environment, inclusion, trust)
- - Newcomers sessions
- - Dynamic Coalition sessions
- - Open Forums
- - NRI sessions
- - Day Zero events
Phase 2 took place from 9-17 November 2020, and included:
- - Opening and closing ceremonies
- - Main sessions
- - Workshops
- - High-level leaders track
- - Parliamentarians roundtable
As in previous years, an Insafe-INHOPE delegation was in attendance, albeit virtually, and hosted a pre-event, a workshop, and a virtual IGF Village Booth.
The pre-event took place on Tuesday, 3 November 2020 from 16.10 - 17.10 CET (15:10 – 16:10 UTC) with the title "The coronavirus pandemic: a global crisis is showing us how to live online".
We have always hoped that our digital tools would create connections, not conflict. In unprecedented times - such as during the global coronavirus pandemic – we are using the internet and online services more than perhaps ever before. Being online is providing a lifeline for everyone in society from the old to the young, workers and learners, and the vulnerable and curious.
While the ways in which we are substituting in-person interaction are not perfect, we are seeing an explosion of creativity (such as virtual yoga classes, church services or dinner parties) as people try to use technology as a bridge across physical distance. Equally, while the pandemic is teaching us to use the internet as it was always meant to be used: to connect with one another and share information and resources, it is also important to remind ourselves of a few key points to keep safe online.
During this day 0 event, participants together with experts from the Insafe-INHOPE network of Safer Internet Centres discussed issues such as:
- - Talking with children and young people about the pandemic.
- - Talking with vulnerable groups (e.g. minors, older people and people with disabilities) about their technology use.
- - Embracing the benefits of social media to help us get through difficult times.
- - Online learning.
- - Being mindful of online contacts and connections.
- - Keeping personal information private.
- - Choosing online tools carefully and thinking before sharing content.
- - Disinformation and scams.
The workshop took place on Wednesday, 11 November 2020 from 16.10 - 17.40 CET (15:10 – 16:40 UTC) with the title "The revolution won't be televised, but social mediatised?".
This session addressed relevant issues that fall under the IGF thematic track of Trust. More specifically, it discussed the way in which social media platforms have reshaped the way we interact online, express ourselves and possibly affect others. In line with this, others issue such as human rights, digital safety, child online safety, freedom of expression online and disinformation (fake news) were addressed during the discussion.
Furthermore, the session looked into how individuals (such as influencers/content creators) as well as civil society movements (such as Fridays for Future) use social media to shape and disseminate their achievements. What are the factors for their large-scale success? And what role do social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter play in this regard?
This workshop examined, on the one hand, opportunities to support freedom of speech and making sure that everyone's voice is heard while, on the other hand, it considered the measures which need to be taken to prevent challenges and risks such as disinformation, hate speech and similar.