IGF Day 4: Signing Off

Leaving Geneva

Leaving Geneva

 

The final day of the IGF offered an opportunity to wrap up debates for 2017, and reflect on how to make use of the coming months.

 

IFLA attended sessions focusing on ‘publicness’ – the degree to which the Internet is redrawing the boundaries between the public and private – given both trends towards greater sharing of personal information, and the fact that information remains accessible for longer.

 

IFLA has previously engaged on the right to be forgotten, cautioning against making it too easy to hide legally published information from view. Indeed, in a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression on the same day, we highlighted concerns with too sweeping an implementation of this possibility.

 

We also listened in on the session of the Dynamic Coalition on Connecting the Unconnected, who we mentioned yesterday. The initiatives presented went from using radio-masts in Vanuatu to provide remote healthcare, to digital literacy efforts in the United States. There’s a lot to learn from the work the 1 World Connected project, which lies at the heart of this work, and we’ll be looking to share in the coming months.

 

In terms of where we go next, the need to set out a positive, but realistic agenda for the Internet, seems clear. For governments and firms, it’s clear that action is needed to ensure that activities that are illegal offline are also prosecuted online. However, smart solutions – ironically often involving human involvement, rather than blunt technological tools – will be needed to avoid taking down or blocking legitimate activities and content.

 

The need for libraries, both in order to help people get online in the first place, but also in order to support efforts to turn those who are already connected into proactive, confident users, remains clear. It was gratifying to hear many others at the conference spontaneously underlining how natural it was for libraries to take forwards this agenda. We look forward to doing this in 2018!

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