IGF 2023 WS #64 Decolonise Digital Rights: For a Globally Inclusive Future

Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (06:45 UTC) - Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (08:15 UTC)
WS 3 – Annex Hall 2

Human Rights & Freedoms
Non-discrimination in the Digital Space
Rights to Access and Information
Technology in International Human Rights Law

Organizer 1: Ananya Singh, USAID Digital Youth Council
Organizer 2: Vallarie Wendy Yiega, 🔒
Organizer 3: Man Hei Connie Siu, 🔒International Telecommunication Union
Organizer 4: Keolebogile Rantsetse, 🔒
Organizer 5: Neli Odishvili, CEO of Internet Development Initiative

Speaker 1: Ananya Singh, Government, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Shalini Joshi, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Pedro de Perdigão Lana, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4: Tevin Gitongo, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 5: Mark Graham, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Additional Speakers

Dr. Jonas Valente*, University of Oxford

(*The aforementioned speaker is here to stand in for his colleague, Mark Graham from the University of Oxford, who had to tend to an urgent professional commitment.)


Man Hei Connie Siu, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Neli Odishvili, Civil Society, Eastern European Group


Keolebogile Rantsetse, Technical Community, African Group


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What are some colonial manifestations of technology (for example, in terms of language, gender, media, AI, etc) emerging on the internet?

2. How do we address the colonial legacies that shape what the internet has become and the ongoing colonialism that determines what it will become and what should decolonising digital rights look like?

3. What role should different stakeholders play in the process of decolonising the internet, technology, and digital arena, and how can we better include marginalised communities in such discussions?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Attendees will be introduced into the context of decolonisation with reference to the internet, that is, how the internet is being built on the expropriation of labour, resources, and culture from colonised spaces and subjects. Participants will be able to spot the ways that bias is built into our technology and understand that it is not truly neutral. Attendees will discover how algorithms are merely opinions written in codes and how contemporary technological designs draw data from actors, beliefs, and systems that are ableist, sexist, racist, and classist, and hence, perpetuate stereotypes and historical prejudices. They will discover how the internet as a medium of communication and social interconnection can be improved to prevent the reproduction of historical biases. They will comprehend how technology could be made ‘truly’ neutral and an equalising, enabling force.


The internet has long been seen as a forum where everyone is equal and traditional hierarchies are non-existent. But as privileged groups continue to dominate the creation of technology, technology perpetuates historical bias. Tech design reflects off-balance power dynamics and the internet promotes digital colonialism. The entire Global South continues to consume digital content and platforms produced in the Global North. As a result, non-English content removal is slower, regardless of the magnitude of hate or harm. Facebook’s ‘Safety Check’ feature was swiftly activated after the attacks in France yet bombings in Lebanon could not even trigger a response from Facebook. Twitter and Facebook introduce fact-checking for US elections while disinformation remains a problem in Myanmar. Less than 1,000 of 70,000 Wikipedia authors are from Africa. UNESCO has highlighted how voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, reinforce gender biases, normalise sexual harassment & conventional behaviour patterns imposed on women and girls, and put women at errors’ forefront. Hate speech targeting marginalized communities continues to rage online. People from the Global South and/or marginalised communities have the right to feel and be safe online, and to be able to have the same autonomy that users in the Global North do. This workshop will contextualise decolonisation in reference to the internet, technology, and human rights & freedoms online. The panelists will unpack evidence of gender stereotypes, linguistic bias, and racial injustice coded into technology and will explain how apps fit the creators' opinions of ‘what the average user should or should not prefer’. The panelists will recommend how online knowledge can be decentralised and what ideological influences need to be delinked from the digital arena. They will suggest practices and processes that can help to decolonise the internet and make it a truly one, global, interoperable space.

Expected Outcomes


1. As the internet is the default distributor of ideas and opinions, and the default gatekeeper of knowledge in modern society, it is important that it does not start replicating historical patterns of oppressions and retraumatize maginalised communities.

2. This workshop will Debunk the idea that technology is neutral and impartial; acknowledge that colonial ideologies, ideas, and impressions continue to influence technology and reinforce stereotypes.

3. Enable people to recognise patterns of coloniality on the internet and in the technology products.

4. Start a conversation on how technology and digital space can be decolonised.


1. The session’s highlights and key takeaways will be published in a blog series on the NetMission.Asia website

2. The session discussions will inspire the creation of a learning document that may be shared with wider audiences including but not limited to international donors, media, civil society, private sector, government, and end users.

Hybrid Format: As the session begins, both onsite and remote participants will be encouraged to scan the mentimeter QR code to express their expectations from the session. Equal time will be given to online/onsite speakers. In case of slow internet connection, the online moderator will first turn off the speaker's video and if the issue still exists, the speaker may use Zoom's dial-in tool. The rapporteur will track the flow of online chat and include relevant points in the session report. Once the audience Q&A begins, online participants will be encouraged to use Zoom's Q&A feature and onsite attendees will be given microphones to ask questions. The onsite and online moderators will coordinate to ensure an alternating pattern of Q&A between onsite and remote participants/speakers. At the session’s end, the audience may provide feedback for the session by scanning the mentimeter QR code.