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The role of the “Internet as an engine for growth and sustainable development” and “human rights, freedom of expression and free flow of information on the Internet” were featured as main topics of discussion during the focus sessions of the third day of IGF 2013.

Participants shared experiences on how Internet and Internet governance have contributed to improving development practices and it was underlined that there is a need to strengthen the links between ICTs use and the expected targets of the post-2015 development agenda. The universalization of the Internet, the role of the technical community in global Internet governance and the importance of the multistakeholder model of governance were some of the topics addressed during the workshops of the day.

Digital rights protection was another topic analysed, with special attention being paid to the existing human rights legal frameworks and the question of whether top-down approaches are sufficient for protecting human rights online. It was also noted that users’ trust in the Internet needs to be rebuilt, as they have to be reassured that they can enjoy the benefits of a secure and reliable Internet, while at the same time exercising their fundamental freedom rights. One of the most frequently mentioned rights was freedom of expression and it was mentioned that this right can be effectively protected through ensuring anonymity at least on some online services. Among the challenges and concerns that were raised by participants, some related to copyright protection issues and their effect on access to knowledge and restrictions that defeat the purposes of the Internet. With regards to the gender issues on the Internet, the protection of women and their rights to sexual expression in the realm of freedom of expression was discussed.

Net neutrality as the necessary component of free flow of information was emphasized upon, and this principle was recognized by some as essential for keeping the Internet neutral and impartial.

In line with the human rights discussions, the importance of the reconciliation of child rights and child protection on the Internet was highlighted. Youth was also included in the discussion on public policy issues related to the Internet and the priorities listed included online safety, openness to content from the Internet and an Internet design for the benefit of future generations.

For more information, please refer to the media releases.