IGF 2019 Themes

Listed below are the three major themes for the IGF 2019 programme. It is important for session proposers to note that associated tags, SDGs, and policy questions are illustrative only and many others may be relevant.


The Data Governance track will provide for discussions on the fundamental challenge of ensuring the benefits of the data revolution to contribute to inclusive economic development while protecting the rights of people. 

The global nature of the Internet and the transfer of digital information across borders brings an international dimension to discussions around data. The generation, collection, storage, transfer and processing of data (including personally identifiable data) have enabled new social, cultural, and economic opportunities than ever previously imagined. At the same time, the massive collection, transfer  and processing of data (in particular through the application of algorithms/AI/machine learning) by public as well as private entities pose challenges around privacy, freedom of expression and the exercise of other human rights.

The Data Governance track will contribute to identifying best approaches to ensure the development of human-centric data governance frameworks at national, regional and international levels. It will enable an exchange of views on how to support and operationalize the exercise of human rights and the empowerment of individuals in their digital identity in current uses and development of data-driven technologies. And it will consider how to create the conditions needed to facilitate data-driven innovation, to ensure competition, and to foster trust in the development of services and new technologies, including through the use of inclusive data and the fulfillment of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Associated Tags/Issues: Accountability; Algorithms/Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning; Big Data; Cross-border Data; Data-driven Economy; Data Fairness; Data Privacy & Protection; Data Services; Data Sovereignty; Digital Identity; Digital Sovereignty; Economic Development; Human Rights; Internet Ethics; Internet Ethics & Regulations; Innovation; Surveillance Capitalism              

Associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 16

Illustrative Policy Questions:

Users rights and responsibilities: What are/should be the rights and responsibilities for individuals in determining the use of their personal data, and what right do individuals have to determine their own digital identity?

Ethical, legal and regulatory dimensions for new technologies: What is the relationship between ethical considerations and legal and regulatory frameworks in data driven technologies? And which is the better approach for approaching and resolving issues related to the use of  data in emerging technologies?  What societal and economic benefits are enabled by the trustworthy use of data to develop new technologies, e.g. through machine learning and the development of AI? How should these benefits be weighed against the need to protect fundamental rights? To what extent can the development of international norms and principles facilitate common approaches and interoperability of data protection frameworks, and also facilitate international trade and cooperation?

Algorithms and accountability: To what extent, and how, should accountability, fairness, explainability, suitability and representativity  apply to the use of data and and algorithms,  and how can governance frameworks address these issues in a way that enhances increases inclusion?

Transborder data flows: What policy considerations and legal frameworks should be developed for data transfers across national borders for various purposes, including but not limited to the legitimate need to access digital evidence, use cloud services and other technologies, and to carry out digital commerce, always ensuring the protection of fundamental rights? How the proposed regulatory framework hold accountable the different stakeholders (e.g. governments, users, private sector both large and small businesses) in the transnational use of data

Consequences of Data Concentration: What are the competitive, developmental, ethical, legal and technical issues raised by increasing concentration of data and how can we ensure equitable access to data?



Digital Inclusion is a term that encompasses a broad sector of key Internet governance issues. IGF 2019’s Digital Inclusion track aims to provide a framework for assessing and considering the various elements and policies which can improve access to equitable opportunities in a digital age. Digital Inclusion is about both identifying those with less or no access to the Internet (e.g. underserved communities, marginalized groups, the minorities, people with disabilities or people lacking digital literacy) and it is about activities related to the achievement of an inclusive information society.

Inclusion also means bringing everyone to the discussion table and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard and treated equally in the decision-making processes. Digital inclusion is about having the right access, skills, motivation and trust to confidently go online. Furthermore, fostering digital inclusion contributes to a stronger economy and enhanced economic development through shared wealth, shared employment, and equal opportunity for all.

Associated Tags/Issues: Access; Accessibility; Affordability; Infrastructure; Internet Security; Digital Literacy; Digital Divide; Outreach; Poverty Eradication; Economic Development; Emerging Technologies; Social Inclusion; Multilingual; Meaningful Connectivity; Design for Inclusion; Community Networks

Associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16

Illustrative Policy Questions:

What factors should be considered when seeking to understand and tackle affordability issues, and how might improvements be made?

How can we better utilize primary and secondary schools and tertiary educational facilities to promote and to deliver on digital literacy to their communities and should digital literacy be a fourth pillar of education, alongside reading, writing and maths?

How do we ensure that Internet governance processes are truly inclusive? What needs to be done to enhance the capacity of different actors (and especially those in developing and least-developed countries) to actively contribute to such processed and whose responsibility is it?

What tools could be developed to promote (better) Internet access for women and girls, older people, people living with disabilities, refugees and other disadvantaged groups?

How do we best equip the workforce of the 21st century with the necessary skills to take advantage of the new employment opportunities that will result from digital transformation?  How do we ensure that these skills and employment opportunities are equitable to all and that the global south is equipment to participate on an equal footing?



Security and Safety are prerequisites to economic growth and a healthy digital environment beneficial to all. While security, stability, and resilience refer to the systems, the infrastructure, and the devices; safety and resilience of the users are also of paramount relevance.

Under this theme potential risks to security and safety will be discussed from various angles with due consideration to how stability and resilience can be achieved. Strategies for protection of both systems and users will be addressed, taking into account a multidisciplinary perspective to potential solutions and the importance of stakeholder collaboration for responding to the growing range of threats to the global Internet and its users.

Associated Tags/Issues: Internet Ethics; Human Rights; Cyber Security Best Practice; Child Online Safety; CSAM; Cyber Attacks; Domain Name System; Internet Protocols; Trust and Accountability; Internet Resources; Cyber Crime; Encryption; Fake News; Freedom of Expression Online; Deep Fake Videos; Hate Speech

Associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 16

Illustrative Policy Questions:

Co-operation and collaboration in Cybersecurity / Response to Cyberattacks: How can cooperation and collaboration on national, regional and global levels help to increase cybersecurity? What should govern the response of different stakeholders to state-sponsored cyber attacks? What legal regulations are already in place but potentially need to be enforced and what new legal regulations should be created to address upcoming threats? What role do Internet protocols play in the fight against cyber attacks? What role can institutional arrangements such as CERTs etc. play? What role should different stakeholders play in cybersecurity capacity building approaches?

Regulatory and technical approaches for safety: How can risks of contact and content (including violence against women, children and all vulnerable groups be addressed successfully by legal and regulatory approaches as well as by technical instruments and how can digital civility be increased? How can children’s rights to participation, access to information, and freedom of speech be preserved and balanced with their right to be protected from violence, exploitation and sexual abuse in the online environment? How can their resilience be increased by means of capacity building, media literacy, support and guidance in the digital environment? How can all forms of inappropriate sexualisation of childhood in digital areas be addressed by effective means? Which technical and regulatory instruments can reinforce the fight against CSAM? What are adequate techniques or technologies to fight all forms of online harassment including sexual harassment?

Trust and Accountability: How can trust and accountability be restored? What role should Internet platforms play in defining the standards for acceptable content in light of freedom of speech? How can globally accepted standards be developed? What kind of collaboration could be created among Internet platforms and media outlets to fight disinformation and fake news? Where is the middle ground between increasing demands for proactive content policing by digital platforms and the necessary neutrality and legal certainty for platforms?

Safety, data protection, and consumer rights: What role can the implementation of the principles of safety by design, privacy by design and by default as a principle play to secure human rights and achieve increased safety? How can consumer rights and their capacity to protect themselves and their data be reinforced?