They took a seat at the table. What did they think?

Tashi is an Indian Buddhist monastic, Human rights and interfaith activist, Fatima is a Moroccan student in computer science and Ariel is a 14-year-old Argentinian boy . At first sight, one might be under the misconception that they have little in common, but they all played a key role in developing Internet Governance. In October, they participated in the Global Citizens’ Dialogue on the Future of Internet in their own countries and today they share with us their feelings, from worries to great expectations.
“Misinformation is a monster we are all feeding.”
–Tashi Choedup – Buddhist monastic, Human rights and interfaith activist, India
Tashi Choedup – Buddhist monastic, Human rights and interfaith activist, India

Look at the world! It is not the same, we all live on the Internet whether for our zoom sessions, our work, our relationships our money transactions, our travel… A major part of the world literally lives on the Internet.

If we don’t talk about what kind of space we are living in, it’s like living in a city and not knowing its plan and not knowing what direction leads to where and so on. It’s like not knowing where we start and where we’re going, where left and right lead to. That ignorance is dangerous, it’s as simple as “if someone is on the road and doesn’t know how their vehicle works, they will have accidents. The same applies here: if we don’t understand the space we are living in, this will lead to fatal incidents. I’m sure this is happening across the globe in various ways already I think.”

As a developed nation, we have more cellphones than ever before in India. Everyone I know uses money apps. The digital landscape in India is scary. I’m not sure of privacy laws and protocols we have, people are unaware of this digital space. Everyone in this Internet food chain is somehow taking advantage of the rest of common citizens, and that is scary. No one thinks about it. Internet is an unknown entity, it’s such a scary territory.

Misinformation is a monster we are all feeding, and it’s already haunting us. If we stop feeding it, this misinformation has the potential to damage every single good thing humanity has made in these last few years. India is no exception. This monster is going to damage the very notion of society in which we live in.

So I was thrilled to see these discussions and including others in this conversation, which is significantly important for everyone I think.

I feel I’m grateful towards the organisers to have an active conscience about our Internet space. These informed conversations are needed, essential and I thank you all for doing it.

“I feel more aware and informed now.”
–Suzanne – 62 years old, Human resources, Ireland
Suzanne – 62 years old, Human resources, Ireland

I heard about the Citizens’ Dialogue on LinkedIn and thought it was a great idea to get the opinions of “normal people” – not experts – people who don’t know each other – sharing their views on such an important topic.  The idea that the results would be presented to the UN Forum meant it was well worthwhile participating. The speeches from the decision-makers at the beginning of the dialogue were very honest, very transparent, spoke the language of the people rather than an expert. So I felt comfortable with starting a discussion with people I didn’t know.

There were some topics that I had never really thought about before – such as digital identity, who should control the internet and how and more about cybersecurity which I was aware of but not expert on. I came away with so much more information which has changed my views on the way I use social media for example. I feel more aware and informed now.

In Ireland, we did an online dialogue because of the covid-related restrictions. I think everyone should put on their video – but it didn’t really matter – as some may not have been in a position to share their home or their surroundings or wanted to remain private. For me, being able to see the other person speak is important.

There was great buzz on social media all day long and I felt that I was part of something important, something bigger and very powerful. We saw live footages of other countries having the same dialogue, and photos from African countries, Asian countries… What an exciting day it must have been for the organisers!

I look forward to hearing the next steps and the actions that will come out of the Voice of the people around the world about their Internet and its future.

“Sometimes, I feel the Internet knows more about me than my friends and family.”
–Fatima Ezzahra Saik – 20 years old, student, Morocco
Fatima Ezzahra Saik – 20 years old, student, Morocco

A was so impressed by the title “We The Internet” because I often think that we are the ones who make the Internet hence  we have the right to decide what is good for our online activities. So I immediately thought I had to attend to make my opinion known.

As a student in computer programming, I never really thought about the way users could trust me in giving me their personal data. So it was very interesting for me to see what the Internet can take from people, so I’ve learned a lesson! I’ve learned that we can’t truly say we are safe online or that we can be worry-free about our data privacy. I feel exposed all the time, even when I sleep I am exposed because my data is still being collected and used. Sometimes, I feel the Internet knows more about me than my friends and family. Anyone can find my address, my number…

Here in Morocco, children have no idea about the Internet! In a few years, robots might take over and our children will live in a world that looks nothing like today. How can they be expected to live in this world without understanding it? Without having the basic knowledge about the technology that makes it function. They don’t even know how people can manipulate them online. They need an educational system that will give them the tools to understand who they are talking to online, why and what is dangerous. Public bodies must make them understand the basic notions about their own future on the Internet.

“We discussed how to protect ourselves with important techniques and tricks.”
–Abdessamad – 21 years old, student in law, Morocco
Abdessamad – 21 years old, student in law, Morocco

What surprised me most during this dialogue is the time that the majority of Moroccans spend on social networks. It really shocked me, you can sleep for 6 hours and then the rest of the day is spent in front of the phone zapping on Facebook.

The part on the protection of personal data interested me the most, as many people don’t yet know the danger of accepting cookies… As a result, first of all through awareness raising people are becoming more and more aware of the use of the Internet in general and this will certainly end up restricting its use. I liked the fact that we discussed how to protect ourselves with important techniques and tricks, and also the role that the CNDP plays in Morocco for the protection of personal data. This subject more specifically needs debate and exchange, not like in Europe where there is the RGDP with strict enforcement. We need more regulation like this.

“If I were to describe my feelings during the day in three words, I would say: happiness, encouragement, and company.”
–Ariel Abad, 14 years old, Argentina
Ariel Abad – 14 years old, Argentina

I think it was a very good day. My only problem was my wifi connection, but there’s nothing to do about it. If I were to describe my feelings during the day in three words, I would say: happiness, encouragement, and company.

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