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IGF 2017 highlights need for greater dialogue



Recently I participated remotely in my first Internet Governance Forum — IGF 2017 — which was held at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland from 18 to 21 December.

From the comfort of our offices and homes, I (along with 1,660 other remote participants) was able to listen to and participate in a range of multistakeholder discussions surrounding emerging technologies and Internet governance-related issues on the theme of Shape Your Digital Future!

Gaps between technical communities and policy makers

Dialogue is an important component of the multistakeholder model — multiple parties come together to contextualize a problem and resolve it through information exchange. That said, it is difficult for different groups to let go of preconceptions.

In some sessions, there were participants that were solely of the opinion that policy is the first priority, and that technical problems can’t be stated in the policy or explained to people.

These people need to think widely; they also need to have the ability to translate what people want in policies and adjust them accordingly. That said, it is difficult to translate opinions from technical communities to policy makers, which only strengthens the need for clear communication and dialogue.

Gaps between developed and developing economies

The Internet has become a commonplace utility for many. In my home, Taiwan, Internet penetration is among the highest and most affordable in the world. However, for many people the Internet is still a luxury.

I found from participating at the IGF that this gap, between developed and developing economies, brings with it varying priorities:
  • Developed economies talked about trust, cybersecurity, governance and policies, surveillance, ethical issues, and emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things and Blockchain.
  • Developing economies talked about infrastructure, rights to access the Internet, affordable Internet, quality education, as well as human rights and safety issues.
Needless to say, the discussion about the Internet has evolved from the haves and have-nots, which is why such multistakeholder mechanisms like the IGF are important for planning for the future development of the Internet. Different stakeholders sit together to discuss and find the solution, and people can learn from each other and consider other people’s perspectives, needs and experiences.

Language may be the largest barrier

More than 2,000 participants from 142 economies, representing all stakeholder groups and regions, attended IGF 2017 in person.

The IGF provides translation services to allow attendees — in person and remotely — to understand speakers so long as they speak in any of the six UN official languages: English, Chinese, French, Arabic, Spanish and Russian — most sessions were in English.

Although this allows a large majority of people to easily share and understand each other’s views, it does impact the experience of those whom such language is a second or third language, particularly those from Asia Pacific economies. Some topics are difficult enough to explain in your own language let alone trying to interpret their meaning for another language.

Obviously, it would be great to get more people adding to the dialogue in their native language, but how can we make it more convenient?

Besides inclusion of language, respect for religion, culture and customs is also important to encourage people to share their opinions.

I learned how to work on the Internet

IGF 2017 wasn’t all about listening to discussions. I was able to participate in working groups, including the NRIs working group. It was a great experience to collaborate with people (whom I’ve never met in different economies and time zones) on working documents, and discuss issues on mailing lists and in online meetings.


Wish for more people to join IGF

It is difficult for young people in Asian economies, particularly students, to sit with government officials and talk about Internet or government policies — it can be overwhelming and they may feel they do not have enough experience to share.

At the closing plenary, Jianne Soriano said, “Being young is not a disadvantage, it is a strength.” It’s great that the IGF understands the need to include the opinions and ideas of younger people in discussions that are ultimately shaping their future.

This message is something that I’m looking forward to taking back to and implementing at the Taiwan IGF, and to hopefully encourage more younger participants to IGF 2018.


This article is published on APNIC Blog. Robert Mitchell, the editor has edited it.

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這個網誌中的熱門文章

對台灣即將更換的數位身分識別證的幾個疑問

在 2017 年時,台灣政府相關部會就不斷用各種藉口,要將現行的卡式身分證更換為結合更多功能的數位身分識別證,例如:多卡合一可以讓民眾的皮夾薄一點、許多國家都換成數位身份證,所以也要換。台灣的人權團體不斷的提出疑慮,提醒民眾若是實施數位身分識別可能會面臨的風險,試圖喚醒民眾的警覺心。

吵吵鬧鬧至今,只要是反對數位身分證的人,就不會收到內政部或是其他相關活動的訊息,就如同當初資安法一樣,反對的人就讓他們不知道訊息一樣,甚至是在社群媒體上對提問也是封閉、選擇性的回答。

今天看了三篇文章:
台灣人權促進會 (台權會):晶片身分證:為誰造橋鋪路? (2019/08/22)中央社:數位身分證明年10月換發 未來結合手機免攜卡 (2019/08/22)中央社:徐國勇:不換新身分證無罰則 恐無法投票 (2019/05/16) 看起來數位身份證是勢在必行了,但報導中的內容則讓我覺得這些都無法構成說服民眾 (我) 更換數位身分證的理由。

TWIGF 2019 的會後感想

離 TWIGF 2019 舉辦的日子有點時間了,而且多數時間在準備 APrIGF 2019 和參與網路治理的線上課程,加上兩年下來已經有自己偏好的議題,有些議題在台灣有技術性質的場次討論,但技術專家也較少參與討論性質偏重的網路治理論壇,所以今年沒有在 TWIGF 提案,但參與了兩個議程,當然也在其他的議程有發言,不過也沒有太多想法。

今年參與的兩個議程:
How to make the multistakeholder model work: case study on the Philippine National ICT Ecosystem Framework女性在ICT領域的就業機會和未來 (TechGirls) 以下只分享我個人的心得,不代表其他參與者或這個議題的內容,也不代表 TWIGF 。

參與 APrIGF 2019 的會後感想

從Vladivostok回來後,花了一些時間完成了我的出國報告。

感謝 TWNIC 讓讓我以國際事務委員的身份參與 APrIGF 2019 ,等到他們把報告公開在網站上後,才能公開發表自己的心得。

如果想要了解這次的會議裡談論了哪些主題、我個人參與了哪些討論會,可以參考大會的網站和我的出國報告,我會在文章之後附上連結。

這一篇其實是我個人與會的心得,很多事因為已寫在公開的出國報告裡,所以不再重複。