IGF 2019 WS #420 Digital Security at the Grassroots: Emerging needs and chall

Organizer 1: Smita Vanniyar, Point of View
Organizer 2: Datta Bishakha, Point of View

Speaker 1: Datta Bishakha, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: valentina pellizzer, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 3: Gilberto Cutrupi, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

What role should different stakeholders play in cybersecurity capacity building approaches?
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?

Relevance to Theme: This session foregrounds the experience of addressing digital security in grassroots communities in Asia, and is based on their lived realities, holistic security needs, and technical challenges. It aims to push the conversation on technology-enabled violence and digital security beyond online violence, and look at ways to address threats which are digital but not necessarily online.

Out of the 5.1 billion mobile phone users in the world, an estimated 2.5-3 billion are smartphone users. The difference is much wider in global south economies like India where three out of four mobile phone users use a basic phone. The conventional digital security curricula does not address the violence faced by the basic mobile phone users, a lot of whom are teenagers, women, trans and queer persons who cannot afford smart phones.

However, like everyone else who uses digital devices, women and young people in these grassroots communities are aware of the need for digital security - security that is holistic, based on their lived realities and tailored to the digital devices they use.
This session aims to bring in pertinent issues which are of relevance in developing countries in relation to security, safety, stability and resilience, taking into account a multidisciplinary perspective which includes diverse stakeholders who will otherwise be left out of this dialogue.

Relevance to Internet Governance: This session contributes to the mandate of broadening and including issues related to technology and internet governance that are of relevance in global south economies. It is essential for digital security to address the needs of all users, and not just of those working in technology or digital rights, or those with access to more advanced technologies.
For internet governance and internet governance spaces to be truly inclusive of all users of digital technology, and to work towards increasing access and space for those who are not from a privileged country, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ability, or caste, this session under the theme of security, safety, stability, and resilience will be an important step. It will allow us to reflect on who is missing and why, and what do we need to do next. Moreover, without feeding this knowledge into internet governance discussion and spaces, we will not be able to develop better governance principles and mechanisms that are internationally valid. This global regulatory action is one of the things which can improve our internet experiences, as said by Vint Cerf.


Round Table - Circle - 90 Min

Description: What do we talk about when we talk about digital security and safety? And what do we not talk about when we talk about digital security and safety?
Conversations on technology-enabled violence and digital security tends to be about online violence, or violence on the internet, including but not limited to verbal abuse, rape threats, non-consensual sharing of images etc. Another part which is thought and talked about much less is violence which goes beyond online to digital. That which may not be online but is digital.
One of the first steps one takes to protect their device, a mobile phone or the computer, is to use a password to lock the device. But what if you’re a 19 year old college student living with her parents in India and they ask you unlock your phone? What if you are woman who has no choice but to share your password with a family member, husband or partner? How do rural journalists who are harassed by incessant phone calls from strange men protect themselves? What do trans persons who receive demands of sex on social media do to address this? What are some digital security threats faced by LGBTQI persons in countries which have homophobic and transphobic legislations and norms?

These are some of the questions which we will be discussing and trying to answer during this session. Without taking digital security to the grassroots, and meeting them where they are, the purview of current digital security curricula will leave out a large demographic, focussing only on part of the problem.
This session will be in the form of a panel discussion with speakers working on digital security with diverse demographics presenting their challenges and learnings from this work. The main aim of this session is knowledge-sharing which will help bring together digital security, usability, and grassroot users. One of the speakers will also be a digital security trainer who will input from a technical perspective, which will help in closing the gap between digital security requirements and existing knowledge.

Expected Outcomes: This session will have speakers from different regions working on a range of issues who will be sharing their work around ensuring digital rights, human rights, and privacy at the grassroot level. Best practices which can be adapted and implemented in other spaces will be pulled out and collated. This will be a direct capacity building outcome. This session will also actively contribute to increasing diversity of participants as well as of conversations around digital security, technology-enabled violence, privacy, and safety.

Onsite Moderator: 

Smita Vanniyar, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator: 

Smita Vanniyar, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Smita Vanniyar, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Discussion Facilitation: 

There will be a question and answer, and input round after the speakers present. A mic will be passed around in the room for taking inputs and questions from the onsite participants. Smita Vanniyar will be reading out the questions and inputs from the remote participants to the whole room so that they are a part of the discussion and not isolated from it.

Online Participation: 

We are planning to have at least one speaker who will be joining in remotely. The Official Online Participation tool will be very beneficial in this process. Apart from this, we want to use this tool to increase engagement with others working on similar issues who may not be present onsite at the IGF as this will directly contribute to the outcome of the session which is knowledge sharing.

Proposed Additional Tools: We will be live tweeting the whole session to ensure that the conversation does not just stay inside the room, or just at the IGF. This will also include provisions to take questions from the online participants via social media as well as from those participating remotely on the IGF platform.
We will also set up a Sli.do page which will be promoted before and during the session to allow for more continuous inputs and questions from the participants, both onsite and remote.


GOAL 5: Gender Equality