IGF 2021 Main Session: The good, the bad and the ugly of the Internet in times of crises

Friday, 10th December, 2021 (12:50 UTC) - Friday, 10th December, 2021 (14:20 UTC)
Plenary Room

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost all spheres of life. It is just one in addition to many crisis humanity has faced. Certainly, the impact differs from country to country. This session will bring perspectives of communities gathered around the national, regional and youth IGF processes (NIRs) on roles the Internet has in times of crisis. Delegated representatives of the NRIs will provide concrete cases of existing practices, challenges and already implemented or under implementation action plans and activities in the areas agreed by the NRIs. It is expected that the session will illustrate existing challenges across developed and developing countries, as well as vulnerable groups through concrete cases of practices.

Policy Questions

The session will focus on addressing local specificities related to the following digital policy areas:

  • The Internet in times of crisis: lessons learned and policy imperatives for enhancing access, resiliency and inclusion
  • Ways forward: from what should the Internet recover and how? (possible aspects to bring in: security online; connectivity and access, digital rights and freedoms etc.).
Inclusive Internet Governance Ecosystems and Digital Cooperation
Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)
Whatever the country, the reality is almost the same during a pandemic.
Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)
At the end of this session, the NRIs shared their experience and wished that their work would be more taken into consideration.
Session Report (* deadline Monday 20 December) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

The discussion focused on the good, the bad, and the ugly internet experiences of various communities during COVID-19 via NRIs experiences. 

For the good, in most countries, the NRIs testified that during this period, many innovations appeared: 

  • solutions for e-commerce
  • end-user privacy awareness
  • Increasing of e-learning platforms
  •  digitization of several public services
  • the increase of users' online presence
  • e-health solutions
  • cooperation on ID for vaccinated people, open source efforts, national countries, track illness and great achievement

For the bad, several challenges have emerged: 

  • unequal access to the Internet
  • poor connectivity in some countries
  • the marginalization of rural and marginalized communities
  • limited access in some rural areas resulting in low economic indices 

The ugly side of the Internet in this times 

  • Scam incrase 
  • censorship
  • surveillance of citizens
  • violation of human rights
  • Technological pressure on developing countries
  • youth suicide 
  • growing power of governments and Big Tech
  • lack of transparency in community guidelines of social media content moderation
  • increase in internet addiction
  • lack of local content, and inadequate legislation for protecting the rights and safety of citizens.
6. Estimated Participation

It is estimated that over 300 stakeholders attended in person while over 300 also joined online. 

7. Reflection to Gender Issues

The session also reflected on digital inclusion, which includes women and girls, among other vulnerable groups.