"We must tackle cyberbullying and child protection on Internet"

One month away from the Global Citizens’ Dialogue on the Future of the Internet, we continue our world tour of national partners to show you how they are living “We the Internet” experience. Meet Alexandra Peca, Missions Publiques’ Romanian partner from GEYC (Group of the European Youth for Change), who implements the Citizens’ Dialogue on the future of Internet in Romania. If the COVID-19 pandemic raises several challenges, Alexandra’s team is moving mountains in order to bring citizens into the global deliberation!

Missions Publiques: Could you tell us about the implementation of the dialogue in Romania? And most importantly, how are you dealing with COVID 19? 

Alexandra PECA : The dialogue will be implemented by GEYC – Group of the European Youth for Change in Romania under the brand of EDYS – European Digital Youth Summit (edys.eu), an event which we have been organizing every two years since 2014.

Apart from the workshops which will gather more than 100 Romanian participants and will take place in 2 consecutive days, we will have an opening panel with international attendance. The panel aims to involve representatives of different Internet governance actors: – governments, intergovernmental organisations, the private sector, the technical community and civil society in a moderated discussion, with the participation of a wide international audience.

The concept of ‘Internet governance’ remains open and prone to different interpretations, so the aim of this panel is to portray a wide range of experiences and practices related to the concept, share visions, identify key difficulties and questions, that are to be solved in a near future or further down the road. The opening panel will be live streamed on Facebook.

Apart from general participants, we will also have people in charge of sharing live updates on social media channels (communicators) using the hashtags #WeTheInternet and #EDYS20, as well as people who will present at the end the main findings of the opening panel (rapporteurs).

After monitoring the COVID-19 situation in our country, we have decided to implement the dialogue in an online format; this certainly comes with a few challenges, most importantly,  ensuring the inclusion of people who do not have access to a device connected to internet, but we are confident that we will make it work. We will involve several partners from across the country, who will help us not only to recruit participants, but also to offer them spaces with computers that they can use. We choose to see this situation as an opportunity to reach more people!

 

2- Can you tell us about your recruitment strategy for citizens? (both connected and non-connected)

The strategy that has worked so far in our past projects combines open calls for participants with direct invitations to people that we’ve worked with in the past for various occasions who can further disseminate the information, as well as advertising the call through our channels (website, Facebook page, Instagram page, Whatsapp newsletter). We coordinate a Community of over 4000 young people from Romania, as well as a network of over 130 schools and high schools and 100 teachers, who can all become promoters of the call. We will use paid advertising as well, in order to make sure that we reach as many people as possible.

We are now in the process of researching and reaching out to different organizations and associations that we can partner with and which can help us recruit participants; also, we aim to involve the Europe Direct network in Romania not only as promoters of the call, but also as “hubs” where people who don’t have a device can go and use a computer in order to take part in the workshops.

 

3- Each partner will have a dedicated national session, in line with their country’s political, social and economic situation. What subject have you decided to bring to Romanian citizens?  

For our national session, we have decided to tackle the subject of Countering Cyberbullying and the state of Child Protection in the digital context in Romania. Cyberbullying is still a topic that is new and difficult to understand for some people; only last year, the government passed an anti-bullying and cyberbullying law: a much needed regulation, but which, in my opinion, should have been implemented a long time ago.

Digital child protection and safety is also a topic that we feel like is not  talked about as much as it should be. Crimes against children, including sexual abuse and child pornography exploitation, are often facilitated by the very technologies that are meant to offer benefits to the communities and many parents need to be educated about the risks their children may face online. We feel like it’s necessary to discuss these topics with citizens and to gather their views, in order to understand how they are perceived and what the relevant stakeholders must do.

I’m happy to have the opportunity to coordinate this project and I’m confident that my team and I will manage to bring together more than 100 Romanian citizens to discuss the future of Internet.

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