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Day one of the Cambodia Youth Internet Governance Forum 2023 is a success

On 23 September 2023, Open Development Cambodia (ODC) is pleased to host the first ever Youth Internet Governance Forum (YIGF) 2023 in Cambodia at the Cambodia Academy of Digital and Technology (CADT). The event is co-organized by CADT with the support from the Youth Internet Governance Forum Committee, Sec.Dev foundation, Chumrum Digital, APNIC, ICT4D​ Cambodia​ Network, and ICANN. The theme of the event is “Digital Empowerment: Ensuring Access, Safety, and Opportunities for All”. Approximately 250 participants from diverse backgrounds and across the country joined the events. 35 honorable guest speakers are rigorously selected based on their digital and technological knowledge, experience, and expertise, locally and internationally such as Japan, Nepal, India, Indonesia, India, Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. 

Ms. Ros Chanvoleak, representing the Organizing Committee of the YIGF, kickstarted the YIGF 2023 by welcoming remarks. She began by expressing her gratitude toward the YIGF committees, Open Development Cambodia (ODC), and volunteers for their contribution to making YIGF 2023 happen. She has also briefly discussed the themes and agenda of the event. 

Then, Ms. Ngoun Somaly, Director General, the Digital Governance Institute of the Digital Technology Academy of Cambodia (CADT)continued with her remark on Cambodia’s Digital landscape and the importance of the Internet to society. Mrs. Somaly mentioned the structure and function of CADT and its institutions to the audience and provided an insightful speech on the role of Internet Governance. To conclude, she hopes the forum will give the space for participants and professionals to address internet governance, especially for youth to discuss policies regarding the internet, and digital governance, and give youth the chance to address their concerns on accountability of the internet ecosystem.

Executive director of Open Development Cambodia (ODC), Mr. Thy Try gave his remark. He started by welcoming all of the honorable guest speakers and participants to the YIGF 2023. He highlighted one of the important sessions of the event which is the Discussion on the Draft law on personal data protection policies​​, and encouraged all relevant stakeholders and participants to share their ideas and provide input to the draft law. He also thanked all the organizing teams and the event’s honorable guest speakers His Excellency Sun Rapid, Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, CADT for their continuous support and collaboration to bring technology and digital-related events to Cambodia.

His Excellency, Sun Rapid, undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, took the stage and spoke to conclude the opening remark.  The topic of digital governance is aligned with the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication agenda on digital development which can be found in policies such as The Pentagonal Strategy Phase 1, Digital Government Policy 2022-2035 and Digital Economy and Society 2021-2030, he added. The Internet has a broad definition that can be found in every aspect of life making the term complex and abstract, he continued. It is necessary for policymakers and users to fully understand their roles and utilize the benefits of the Internet to the fullest through the practice of Internet governance. He has also touched upon the risks, challenges and vulnerabilities of the internet such as online scams, cyber security and cyberbullying and urged youth to learn and understand the principle of internet governance in order to tackle the above-mentioned issues.

Following the opening remarks, there are 5 keynote speeches by the event’s honorable guest speakers presenting consequential internet-related issues. Firstly, Mr. Norbert KLEIN,  one of ODC’s original advisory board members, gave his keynote speech about the history of the internet in Cambodia. He is a part of the team to brought the first internet connection to the country during the 1990s. Speaking in front of 129 audiences, he said that the difficulty of reaching out and communicating in Cambodia was the inspiration to bring internet connection to the kingdom. During that time, Cambodia lacked the resources and infrastructure to establish an internet connection. After the internet connection was successfully established, other initiatives also emerged such as the creation of Khmer font on computers and the Cambodian country code “KH”.

Then, the floor was given to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) team to present the topic “What is Internet Governance Forum?”  It was a pre-recorded session from Ms. Anja Gengo, Internet Governance Associate Programme Expert and United Nations Secretariat for the Internet Governance Forum. Due to the upsurge in the use of the internet, risks and challenges are also rising. The majority of users have limited knowledge of their role and privacy in the internet sphere. Internet Governance Forum aims to bridge those gaps and enrich users with practical knowledge of online data protection and management.

After that, another keynote speech was presented by Bouy Lina on Introduction to AI. It was indeed an interactive session. Though the session is highly technical, the audience looks focused and carefully listens to the speaker’s in-depth presentation. Dixon Siu, a Japanese software engineer – Fujitsu Limited and representative of the CamIDF Advisory gave his keynote speech on Digital Rights and Online Responsibility. His session was very beneficial as he provided a practical framework for users to surf the internet and online platforms safely.  

To conclude, Mr. Nget Moses, gave his keynote speech on Cyber security and Data privacy in Cambodia. He addressed one of the common cyber security problems in Cambodia which is hacking and cyber attacks on social media platforms such as Facebook and Telegram. He also put a strong emphasis on data protection as it is a valuable aspect amidst the digital age. He added that the government recognized the potential harm of security risk and has established various laws and policies to address the issues. 

Besides the keynote speech, there is also a panel discussion on the Personal Data Protection Draft Law. There are three panelists from CSOs and the private sector. It was indeed one of the most fruitful and interactive sessions of the event. The panel discussion addresses the advantages and disadvantages of various articles in the draft law in the realms of privacy and personal data protection.

After lunch, participants are divided into three breakout rooms where guest speakers present different topics based on three themes: Cybersecurity and data security, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Digital Rights and Online Responsibilities. In room 1, Mr. Heng Soklay, Researcher at CADT presented “AI in Education”. “Lessons in the Fight for Digital Privacy from India”  by our international speaker Mr, Gyan Prakash Tripathi, “AI in the present world: Current Impact and Trends” by Mr. IM Chantola, “How to prevent being a victim of social engineering” by Mr. Oum Oudom, “Cyber Security” by Mr. Edmon Chung. In room 2, Chumrum Digital Team shared an interesting session on “Phishing Attacks vs Prevention”, “Why Data Ethics Are Important for AI/ML Solutions?” and Why Personal Data Empowerment is the Future and overview of the “My Data Operator Ecosystem?” by Dixon Siu. In room 3, Mr. Na Sambathchatovong presents a session on “Cyber Security”, Mr, Samarn Mardy on “Open Data and Privacy”, another “Cyber Security” session by DigitalHub101, “IUI Internal Universal” by Mr. Phan Daro and “Digital Skill Adaptation in 21st Century” by Mr. Cheang Thornsopanha. The first day ended with a fruitful exchange in which participants learned new insight in the realm of Internet Governance.

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Imagine a place where the ancient meets the cutting edge, where culture dances with technology—a place like Kyoto, Japan. Now, picture being part of a global gathering of minds, all driven by a shared passion for shaping the digital world. That\'s precisely where I found myself at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2023, and let me tell you, it was nothing short of an exhilarating experience!Being a Youth RepresentativeOne of the most memorable moments in my journey was the opportunity to serve as a panelist for Session #133, titled \"Accelerating an Inclusive Energy Transition.\" This session was a significant part of the broader discussions on Digital Technologies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals. The session was expertly organized by several key entities, including the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the NLIGF, Electronic Commerce Platform Netherlands (ECP), and WEOG. As I stepped onto the stage, I carried with me not just the perspectives of Cambodia but also the dynamic ASEAN youth community. It was a moment of immense honor and responsibility to raise the my voice. The session’s mission was clear: to energize our collective efforts toward an energy future that truly leaves no one behind.In my presentation titled \"Unlocking ASEAN\'s Green Energy Future Through Youth,\" I delved into the pivotal role of youth in spearheading green energy transformation in the ASEAN region. I began by emphasizing the critical importance of green energy, not only for environmental sustainability but also for our collective future. I then highlighted the significant challenges that ASEAN faces in transitioning to green energy, including surging energy demands and issues of affordability and accessibility. I also showcased the immense potential for youth to contribute to this development. Through the adoption of green technologies, the creation of green jobs, and the initiation of green initiatives, we can use the successful model of the Cambodia Internet Governance Forum as an example, in which the forum plays a paramount role in driving the transition towards a sustainable and green energy future in ASEAN.Keynote from other significant sessions:My thoughts were not only mine; I did take some aspirations and knowledge from other experts from the other sessions I joined before my panel sessions. I will list three sessions that genuinely inspired me below:\"Transforming Technology Frameworks for the Planet\" IGF 2023 was like a digital oasis, teeming with knowledge and inspiration. This session had me envisioning a tech-powered green utopia. It was a reminder that the digital realm could be a force for planetary good as well if we were to include the environment in the framework-building process.\"High-Level Panel on Artificial Intelligence\"Artificial Intelligence, or AI, wasn\'t just a buzzword—it was the show\'s star! This session was the most inspiring for me as it showed us how AI can be an accelerator in its own right, speeding us towards a greener, more sustainable world. But wait, there are matters that we need to consider here! AI needs a moral compass, and that\'s where governance comes in.\"Without facts, you can\'t have truth, and without truth, you cannot have trust.\"Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa at IGF2023. Three suggestions were raised for approaching generative AI where it can be hijacked easily for emotional influences and often false content: \"Stop surveillance for profit. Stop coded bias against women, LGBTQI, and other minorities and use journalism as an antidote to tyranny.\"\"Youth for Digital Inclusion & Environmental Sustainability\"This session was like a rallying cry for young digital warriors to start taking action. It hammered the message that we, the youth, are not just the future; we are the drivers of change today!Nadia Owusu, Civil Society, African Group representative, emphasized the role of youth in this critical time when we need to accelerate the green digital environment. I take so much inspiration from her work and statements from the session that they shape my panel discussion as well.The Return JourneyLeaving Kyoto was bittersweet, but I carried back more than just memories. I brought back a suitcase filled with inspiration, wisdom, and a heart bursting with a determination to continue endorsing digital rights, environmental sustainability, and youth empowerment.I will use my knowledge to light up our digital world, one pixel at a time. Special ThanksA heartfelt thank you to my admiring team, the Cambodia Youth Internet Governance Forum Organizing Committee, our Board of Advisory Committee, and Open Development Cambodia for making this incredible opportunity possible. Your support and dedication have fueled my journey towards a more inclusive and sustainable digital world.

Bridging the Digital Divide: What IGF2023 Teach Me

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IGF 2023: The Future of the Internet Is at Stake, and We All Have a Role to Play

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) stands as the world\'s premier annual gathering of stakeholders from diverse sectors, converging to discuss and influence the trajectory of the internet\'s future. The 2023 IGF, hosted in Kyoto, Japan, from October 8-12, marked a pivotal moment. At this juncture, the internet confronts numerous challenges, elevating the significance of this event in shaping its future.Reflecting on my personal experience at IGF 2023, it was nothing short of enriching. The multitude of workshops and the community\'s eagerness to engage in spontaneous discussions left me in awe. However, amidst the vibrant exchange of ideas, a notable observation was the often marginal role played by the youth in discussions, with many assuming passive roles.The Challenges of a New Era for the InternetForemost among the challenges discussed was the looming threat of internet fragmentation. Governments and private entities are increasingly vying to control distinct sections of the internet, heightening the risk of a fractured and siloed digital landscape. The repercussions of such fragmentation include restricted access to information and services, as well as a potential stifling of innovation.Another critical challenge that emerged is the ascendancy of AI and other emerging technologies. While these technologies hold the potential to revolutionize various aspects of our lives, they also bring forth risks, such as job displacement and the potential misuse of data. Navigating this landscape requires a concerted effort to ensure the responsible and ethical development and application of these transformative technologies.In addition to these challenges, the internet grapples with the spread of misinformation and disinformation, the surge in cybercrime, and the erosion of online privacy.The bright spot amid these challenges is the IGF 2023\'s success in bringing together a diverse array of stakeholders from across the globe. The forum\'s overarching theme, \"The Internet We Want – Empowering All People,\" served as a reminder that the internet is a global resource that should be accessible and beneficial to everyone.What I Learned from the World\'s Leading Internet Experts:The internet is a global resource, and it needs to be governed accordingly. The current system of internet governance is fragmented and siloed, which makes it difficult to address global challenges. We need a more inclusive and participatory system of internet governance that reflects the global nature of the internet.We need to invest in digital literacy and education. Many people around the world do not have the skills and knowledge they need to use the internet safely and effectively. We need to invest in programs that teach people about digital literacy and online safety.We need to protect our online privacy and security. The internet has become a breeding ground for cybercrime and data breaches. We need to take steps to protect our online privacy and security, both as individuals and as societies.We need to ensure that the internet is accessible to everyone. The internet is still a luxury for many people around the world. We need to work to make the internet more affordable and accessible to everyone, regardless of their income or location.We need to promote diversity and inclusion on the internet. The internet should be a place where everyone feels welcome and respected. We need to work to promote diversity and inclusion on the internet, both in terms of the content that is available and the people who are participating in online communities.These are just a few of the many things that I learned from the world\'s leading internet experts at IGF 2023. It was an inspiring event, and it gave me hope for the future of the internet. I believe that if we work together, we can create a more open, inclusive, and equitable internet for everyone.What can we all do to help? From youth role perspective:Now, moving from reflection to action, the question arises: What can we all do to contribute, especially from the perspective of the youth?Active Youth Participation:   A resounding call at IGF 2023 was for increased and active youth participation. It became clear that for internet governance to be truly inclusive and effective, the youth must step forward, engage in discussions, and challenge existing norms. 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Staying informed about potential risks and benefits positions us to contribute to shaping policies that balance innovation and societal well-being.Combatting Misinformation:   Misinformation emerged as a significant threat. The youth can play a pivotal role in combatting misinformation by promoting media literacy, fact-checking, and responsible information sharing.IGF 2023 underscored that the future of the internet is a shared responsibility. The active involvement of the youth is not just encouraged but essential. By embracing our role as catalysts for positive change, we can collectively work towards shaping an internet that truly empowers and benefits all. The discussions and collaborations fostered at IGF 2023 serve as a catalyst for a more inclusive, secure, and innovative digital future.