Outcomes of "DIGital futures: promises and pitfalls": Insafe at EuroDIG 2017

The 2017 edition of EuroDIG (the pan-European dialogue on internet governance) was a milestone event in the field, particularly as it celebrated its 10th anniversary and brought together an impressive number of stakeholders committed to fostering dialogue on the digital future. "The 10th EuroDIG is history. From 6-7 June around 600 participants have been warmly welcomed in Tallinn by the digital citizens of Estonia" stated the EuroDIG secretariat one week after the conference came to an end.

Hosted in Estonia, EuroDIG gave the opportunity to the country's e-Estonia programme to be in the spotlight not just as a keyword in this country, but also as a best practice for growth and a democratic economy at the international level. Another keyword prevalent at EuroDIG was youth. Right from the outset in the open mic session on the first day, youth and children's rights were brought to the public's attention by representatives of YouthDIG and Copyfighters, along with UNICEF and the co-organisers of flash sessions on children's rights and online networking competencies for millennials.

Internet in the "post-truth" era, a thought-provoking session on fake news, was held on the second day of EuroDIG. It started by stating that fake news is not new: what is new is how people are evaluating truth. The search for authentic content instead of veridical has changed the way people look at information, making the need to often check the profile of the creator and make an analysis of the online communities sharing that news. The discussion distinguished between propaganda and fake news, and between misleading information and an illegal act when it becomes defamation. When asked if a regulation is needed to stop the production and dissemination of fake news, the audience answered 74.2 per cent "No", 24.1 per cent "Yes" and 3.1 per cent "Don't know". While the best solution seems to be education (fostering critical thinking and media literacy skills), working in a multistakeholder model was flagged as an important path to move forward.

As indicated in a previous article on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal, a delegation from the Insafe network of Safer Internet Centres (SICs) in Europe was present at EuroDIG facilitating both a workshop and flash session on the second day of the event.

The Digital citizenship, integration and participation workshop gathered various panellists and experts willing to contribute to the discussion around the rights and responsibilities of digital citizens. Marianne Franklin (PhD), Professor of Global Media and Politics, Goldsmiths University of London (UK), Raed Yacoub (PhD), Lecturer in Computer and Digital Literacy at the Greenwich School of Management, and Louise Bennett, Chair of the Security Community of Expertise at the British Computer Society (BCS), debated the status of refugees and migrants, granting the status of (digital) citizenship, and the accessibility benefits of digitalisation in a world where digital citizenship goes across borders.

Alex Wellman, Head of Marketing for Estonia's e-Residency programme, presented the e-Estonia success story of democratising entrepreneurship, transforming Estonia in the largest country with e-residency. Sandra Särav, Counsellor for EU Digital Affairs in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, complemented the Estonian references by mentioning that there are other e-residency (Azerbaijan, The Netherlands and Lithuania) and eID initiatives around the world, aside from Estonia. Clara Sommier, Public Policy Analyst, Google, highlighted that Google is working to support internet access for everyone, specifically to preserve an open and accessible internet, with initiatives such as www.google.org and Creators for Change (the latter discussed also in a recent BIK article).

From the Insafe network, Haris Krystis, youth panellist from the Greek Safer Internet Centre, contributed to discussions from a youth perspective, providing concrete examples of challenges in his country such as the need for e-voting cost efficiency or digital skills programmes. Oliana Sula, workshop rapporteur, summarised the discussion stating that the Estonian success story can serve as example, and stressing the fact that when defining digital citizenship, particularly in the current interoperable digital environment, the discussion is definitely open for more input and best practice sharing.

At the Children's rights and protection on the internet flash session, Jutta Croll introduced the Kinderrechte.digital project. The project supports the Council of Europe's activities for the implementation of the Sofia Strategy and collaborates with international committees at the EU- and UN-level in the sector of internet governance as well as ICANN and other institutions. Jutta Croll reminded attendees that one in three internet users is a minor, which should in itself be a clear indication for the legislative landscape on children's rights and protection online.

Representatives from the Insafe Coordination Team complemented this introduction with an overview of Better Internet for Kids (BIK) best practices, including the activity lines of Safer Internet Centres in Europe, the global Safer Internet Day campaign and the upcoming Positive Online Content campaign. Representatives of the Estonian and Portuguese Safer Internet Centres were also in the audience as key participants, together with youth panellists from the Greek and Estonian Safer Internet Centres. You can read the two youth panellists, Haris and Dalia's post-EuroDIG articles on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Portal here and here.

The presentations opened the floor to vivid discussions with comments from the audience referring to the Council of Europe (CoE) internet standards, BIK international outreach, minors' data protection and the age of consent for online services.

The Insafe Coordination Team invited attendees:

  • To follow the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal for upcoming information on the Positive Online Content campaign, targeting children up to 12 years old, as it is especially important to guarantee that children have a good online experience from an early age in order to become good and responsible digital citizens. The campaign will include an awareness week during 25-29 September 2017, but the sharing of positive online content is always welcome.
  • To join the Safer Internet Day (SID) celebrations for 2018 by first checking the list of country-based SID committees at www.saferinternetday.org, and the corresponding list of SID supporters also. On the SID website, they can learn how to join and support the celebrations, whether as an individual or organisation, in advance of the next Safer Internet Day which takes place on Tuesday, 6 February 2018.

If you missed the EuroDIG sessions, take a look at the videos, pictures and the EuroDIG website, or see the recent Twitter posts from @Insafenetwork and @safeinternetday.

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EuroDIG, the annual internet governance conference, starts tomorrow!

How often do Europeans engage in discussions on public policy issues relating to the internet, namely on internet governance? And how many young Europeans are aware of the intrinsic importance of this topic or the ways in which they can actively contribute?