The Internet Governance Forum opened on 12 November at UNESCO with a call to ensure an Internet of Trust. UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay inaugurated the opening session alongside President Emmanuel Macron of France and UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
In her remarks, Director-General Azoulay emphasized that UNESCO advocates an open, transparent and inclusive approach to internet governance, guaranteeing universal access and respect for human rights and ethical principles, including online freedom of expression, and respect for privacy, as well as cultural and linguistic diversity. She also underlined the need for international reflection on the ethics of new and emerging technologies. “UNESCO, the universal forum with ethics at the heart of its mandate, will launch a global dialogue on the ethical principles of artificial intelligence, based on the normative frameworks established at UNESCO on the ethics of biotechnology,” Ms. Azoulay said.
Secretary-General Guterres commended UNESCO for its efforts in addressing the challenges posed by these new technologies. “This quest for wisdom and innovation brings us today to UNESCO, which has kindly invited us, and within its walls resonate each day debates on ethics, artificial intelligence and digital knowledge.” The Secretary-General also spoke to the higher aspirations for technology in the service of the promotion of fundamental human values. “New pathways of opportunity have opened,” he said. “Digital solutions are transforming lives and can turbocharge our work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
President Macron took advantage of the occasion to call for trust and security in cyberspace. “We want a free, open and safe and secure internet. We want everyone to have access, but we also want our values to be upheld by the Internet,” the President stressed.
Through 15 November, the Forum will examine ways to build an internet of trust that contributes to sustainable development and the building of inclusive knowledge societies, free of campaigns that spread hate and divisiveness. More than 3,000 participants are expected to debate the latest developments in the field of Internet governance in more than 150 sessions.
Specific topics on the agenda for IGF 2018 include the digital divide, gender equality, the impact of artificial intelligence and frontier technologies, as well as issues concerning cyber security, countering hate speech and violent extremism.
The Internet Governance Forum promotes dialogue and encourages an exchange of ideas to improve the way the internet is governed and to protect human dignity and foster trust.