How to manage this 21st century digital landscape

The Internet, cybersecurity and human rights are on the agenda at the UN next week beginning on Monday, when the Twelfth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) starts its exploration on the evolving digital landscape.

Another issue to be discussed at the meeting will be how this 21st century’s digital landscape should be managed.

The event takes place amid what organizers have called a “profound transformation, even disruption” of everyday life caused by increasing digitalization.

Daniel Johnson United Nations

Image shows Daniel Johnson (right)

Daniel Johnson, a veteran radio at United Nations, has more on the issue.

If the possibilities of the internet seem limitless, then so too are the potential problems. In May, the so-called WannaCry ransomware attack disrupted more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries. Not just personal computers either – in the UK, hospital operations had to be cancelled after their servers were targeted – an indication of how much the internet affects our everyday lives.

How to manage this 21st century digital landscape is the goal of the Internet Governance Forum in Geneva. It brings together more than 2,000 participants from government, civil society, academia and industry – including major players from Silicon Valley.

This open-house policy is the forum’s strength, says Switzerland’s Ambassador Thomas Schneider, Vice-Director of the Federal Office of Communications: “Not being controlled by a central body is for us something that we think is the appropriate way to discuss digital policy in the 21st century, where you need all stakeholders to share the same vision … so that in the end technology does not remain a goal in itself, but it actually serves the people no matter where they come from or what their particular circumstances and needs may be.”

In addition to cybersecurity, other issues up for discussion include artificial intelligence, virtual reality and fake news – and more importantly, their impact on democracy, people’s rights and freedoms.

The Internet Governance Forum is not designed to culminate with concrete pledges, but organizers say that its strength is in the discussions that will be taking place and the way they shape policy in the public and private sectorDaniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.