IGF 2018 WS #444 Cybersecurity and Participation:ICTs for democracy and sec

Format: 

Panel - 90 Min

Organizer 1: Nardine Alnemr, University of Canberra
Organizer 2: ,

Speaker 1: Nardine Alnemr, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Bassant Hassib, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Keith Mc, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Ioanna Ferra, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Relevance: 

The main address of this session is to address the problems with cybersecurity measures manifest in Cybercrime legislation and other cyberpolicy e.g. Media Regulation Laws in the Middle Eastern and African countries, tentatively: Egypt, Zimbabwe, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. This is done by drawing on a comparison between cyberpolicy in the North.

The main problem with scaling hard-core national security policy and mindset into formulation of cyberpolicy and cybersecurity measures is 1) depletion of public resources– from investment into ICTs for development and inclusion to mass surveillance and state-sponsored malware technologies; 2) strengthening antagonizing discourse on digital rights and freedoms; 3) increasing hostility and skepticism of new digital applications e.g. cryptocurrency; and 4) decreasing social trust among society members and trust in the government.

Session Content: 

The question of ICTs and a viable internet infrastructure has been constrained in the global South by the narrative of “limitations and challenges”. These limitations are vastly attributed to a number of typologies that have been in currency since the inception of WSIS and the Tunis Agenda. In essence, these limitations fall within the spectrum beginning with limited public resources to promote connectivity, socioeconomic constraints of poverty and illiterate demographics whose alienation has aggravated by the “digital divide”, and the problem of cyberpolicy that is either lacking or in fact in excess. Though the discussion does not escape these typologies, it is important to highlight that cybersecurity (as the crux of cyberpolicy at the present moment) does not capture the implications on democracy, participation and integration.

We intent to survey important incidents in which cyberpolicy was devised o restrict online freedoms of expression and opinion, its implications on social capital and trust and examples of netizens’ circumvent to engage in the ongoing debates and evade state-sponsored censorship. One example is the media platforms that are citizen-centric which escaped censorship using Facebook pages and masking IP addresses. The use of pseudonyms for storytelling. Such is in order to evaluate and draw on proposals to reform cyberpolicy to embed the values of participation, digital rights and accountability and propagate for the use of technologies that allow participation in restrictive environments. One the question of trust, we are alarmed by the increased intolerance to different opinions and criticsm of government by netizens themselves. Manifest in the form of slander, cyberbullying or more severely, reporting to state authorities to prosecute the accused individuals. Under the cover of protecting social cohesion, public morality and national security and economy, these cybersecurity measures decrease the levels of social trust and trust in the government. In turn, not only public resources are geared to purchase of mass surveillance technologies but also the room for government to adhere to transparency, accountability and reflect on citizen voices necessary for development and progress is blocked.

There are three main problems in these typologies. First, it fails to explains the inability of societies richer societies with higher internet penetration rates to effectively utilize ICTs deliberation in decisions. Second, it does not capture the implications of these restrictive measures on introducing future technologies e.g. mining cryptocurrency in Egypt landed a number of individual to prison. Third, it does not capture the new face of North-South dependency, which is North exploitation of autocracy to export surveillance technologies used against citizens in the South.

Interventions: 

Each speaker will discuss and evaluate the following in their allocated time (15 minutes) reflecting on their respective cases studies:
1) depletion of public resources– from investment into ICTs for development and inclusion to mass surveillance and state-sponsored malware technologies; 2) strengthening antagonizing discourse on digital rights and freedoms; 3) increasing hostility and skepticism of new digital applications e.g. cryptocurrency; and 4) decreasing social trust among society members and trust in the government.

Speaker 1 reflects on Greece, Speaker 2 on Egypt, Speaker 3 on Zimbabwe and Speaker 4 on UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Diversity: 

Three of the participants are females, two of which are from a developing countries. The three female panelists have not participated in the IGF before and working on research related to cyberpolicy. There is also a factor of geography where two speakers are from Africa, another from Western Europe and the last is from North America. The speakers come from different research disciplines and applications from academia to industry.

Online Participation: 

Panel speakers will be engaged beforehand in promoting the content and key questions of their panel on Twitter and Facebook among their circles and to the public. For each question taken from the room, we take another that is fielded online in turn and confirm that the moderator has responded and a dialogue is on-going (even if not on the online discussion link only). Accordingly, this engagement before the panel will allow us to interact before the panel and during the panel we will engage in comments and questions fielded through Twitter, Facebook and the online participation link. We will confirm our online moderate as soon as they are settled with the decision to make it to Paris.

Discussion Facilitation: 

Each speaker will present a brief narrative on every country’s experience on the interaction between cyberpolicy and social implications in response to an issue e.g. media freedom in Egypt or Greece crisis. After this introduction, each speaker will respond to the three identified problems highlighting policy reform. Towards the end, a comparison and conclusion is drawn on policy reform for increasing trust and promoting cybersecurity measures that respect rights. Q&A is the last part of the panel to allow for more concerted effort toward tangible outcomes.

Q&A dedicated allows time for questions fielded online evenly. We will also ask participants to tweet the content and add highlights leaving links for fielding questions.

Onsite Moderator: 

Bassant Hassib

Online Moderator: 

Nardine Alnemr

Rapporteur: 

Nardine Alnemr (tenatively)

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678