The Stockholm Internet Forum 2023 (SIF23) recently concluded in Stockholm, bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders from Sida partners, civil society organizations, policymakers, companies, and academia. With the overarching theme of “The Role of the Internet and ICT during Crises, Conflicts, and Disasters,” SIF23 provided an exceptional platform to exchange knowledge, foster collaboration, and explore strategies to harness the power of technology to address pressing challenges. The forum not only facilitated insightful discussions but also allowed participants to establish valuable connections and engage in meaningful conversations that can shape the future of technology and its role in times of crisis.
One of the key topics that received significant attention during SIF23 was the importance of robust tech infrastructures, empowering individuals with agency, ensuring security, and enhancing resilience in times of crises. By participating in SIF23, we had the privilege to engage in enlightening conversations regarding bridging the digital divide, ensuring equitable access to connectivity, and strengthening the resilience of technological systems. Collaborating with stakeholders from various sectors, we explored innovative approaches to overcome barriers and create an inclusive digital environment that can better withstand crises.
These discussions underscored the necessity of investing in tech infrastructures and fostering partnerships to build resilient communities capable of effectively responding to emergencies.
Another critical aspect that emerged from the forum was the need to prioritize accessibility, connectivity, and digital inclusion before crises occur. By investing in digital infrastructure, providing affordable internet access, and promoting digital literacy, we can create a foundation that allows communities to thrive even in the face of adversity. SIF23 offered an invaluable platform for sharing experiences, exchanging best practices, and learning from others. Through these interactions, we identified practical solutions to enhance digital inclusion and connectivity in vulnerable areas, laying the groundwork for stronger, more resilient societies.
Content governance and platform accountability in times of crisis emerged as a pressing concern at SIF23. As digital platforms continue to grow, the question of how tech companies can protect users and uphold human rights during crises gained prominence. Engaging in insightful discussions, we explored the development of responsible policies, guidelines, and frameworks that promote user safety and safeguard fundamental rights in the digital sphere. By actively collaborating with policymakers, civil society organizations, and technology companies, we worked towards the establishment of accountable practices that address the challenges arising from crises and ensure the protection of individuals in the online world.
The discussion on preparing for times of crises highlighted the necessity of comprehensive safeguards to protect human rights in digital spaces. By sharing best practices and experiences, participants emphasized the importance of uninterrupted access to the internet, user privacy protection, and combating misinformation during emergencies as well as fostering partnerships and sharing knowledge. This collaborative approach ensures that individuals can rely on the internet as a tool for empowerment and resilience during crises.
Lastly, SIF23 emphasized the importance of normative frameworks in times of crisis. By discussing legal and ethical standards, the forum aimed to create a common understanding among stakeholders and promote responsible behavior in the digital realm through the establishment of norms that uphold human rights, enhance cybersecurity, and govern the use of technology during crises. By adhering to these frameworks, we can navigate the challenges of crises and ethical approach, ensuring the protection of individuals and their rights.
To conclude, our attendance at the Stockholm Internet Forum 2023 proved to be an enriching experience that allowed us to engage with diverse stakeholders and actively contribute to discussions on the role of the internet and ICT during crises, conflicts, and disasters. The forum provided a fertile ground for exchanging knowledge, fostering collaboration, and formulating strategies that leverage technology for the greater good. Moving forward, we are committed to turning the valuable insights gained at SIF23 into tangible actions that promote access, resilience, and human rights in the digital era. By continuing to collaborate with partners, policymakers, and civil society organizations, we strive to create a future where technology plays a transformative role in addressing the challenges of crises and building a more resilient society.
Authored by Ayaan Khalif, Co-founder and Program Manager of Digital Shelter, You can find her on Twitter https://twitter.com/KhalifAyaan