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Mr. Norbert. KLEIN’s keynote speech on the Youth Internet Governance Forum (yIGF) 2023

Cambodia Youth IGF! Welcome everybody!

Let me clarify at the beginning of my Keynote Speech what these words “Youth IGF” mean what is the purpose that brought us here together.

And let me also say that I am almost 90 years old – I was born in 1934, long before there was something like the Internet. I feel empowered standing now here in front of you- young people who nowadays order your purchases of food, or your haircut, or your wedding rings, with your mobile phones on the go. Really a different time!

The task seems to be simple today: I just put IGF into my Google search engine, and we have the answer already:

The IGF is a global multistakeholder platform that facilitates the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the Internet

Now is everything clear? Maybe not so we should check word-by-word.

And our meeting is special: it starts with the word “YOUTH”. We do not have to define it, because in the original announcement for this meeting this was done already: it said “youth” means “persons from 18 to 35 years of age”.

But what about the next: “IGF”? Let’s start with the “I”, and take the “GF” later. “I” stands for Internet.

Nowadays, we all have an idea about the Internet-we use it every day, we use it on our mobile phones or on out computers to communicate.

But I would like to remind us that this is a fairly recent situation. When I came to Cambodia in 1990, there was no Internet – in Cambodia not yet. Before I came to Cambodia, I was one of the fairly early users of the Internet in Germany where I came from. But after arriving (to work at the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture) I felt bad because of the inability to communicate like before- and so I started the first Internet access in Cambodia at the end of the year 1994. I was encouraged to describe the start a bit here – I think nowadays hardly anybody can imagine how difficult it was.

After a visit to Europe, I had received some software. But in Phnom Penh – there was no regulate electricity: almost every day, the electricity went off for some hours. To have regular electricity for my laptop computer, bought a Japanese 24 Volt truck battery, I charged it (when there was electricity) with a Thai charger, an American friend imported an inverter – to charge the 24 Volt DC (direct current) into AC (alternate current)- but it was 110 Volts, as it was a US inverter, so I got a Vietnamese transformer to change the 110 Volts into 220 Volts.

That was the hardware side. But there was also the software side; and then the use of the Khmer script.

Software: first the military of the USA had developed a method for computer-based communication. Then people at different US universities became also interested – that was the beginning of the Internet. They had to develop an address system, and later there were also people in other countries involved. Jon Postel, a professor at a California university, developed an address system which everybody had to use to be able to communicate: on top two-letter country codes (like “kh” for Cambodia). and a hierarchy below, like “com” “edu” “gov” etc. I had to contact Prof. Jon Postel, and he assigned me the Cambodian country code “kh” and the instruction how to give addresses to people and organizations in Cambodia. Years later, I handed these things to the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication.

But people wanted to use also the Khmer script on computers. I found that 8 people in Cambodia and abroad, in France, Australia, the USA, Canada and Germany-had created Khmer font systems. But you could only communicate, when both the sender and the receiver used the same system. Later I found that there were actually 23 different Khmer font systems in use a big mess really hindering wide communication. Then a – friend, Prof. TAN Tin Wee at the National University of Singapore, suggested we should use Unicode. Unicode? – an international arrangement to create computer usable letters for all scripts of the world. But the Khmer script was not yet defined. With one Japanese professor and two Cambodia people living in Japan, the Khmer script started to be defined in Unicode. But some of those who had already defined their own Khmer fonds used in Cambodia, opposed the use of Unicode – with their own economic interests, partly also supported by persons with political power. Fortunately, under the Senior Minister Sok An a working group on Khmer fonts was set up, and the Khmer Unicode fonts became the official fonts for writing in Khmer.

So finally, it was possible to computer communicate in and from Cambodia – but for some years only by e-mail- the World Wide Web with graphics/pictures, and quite elaborate and complex content, came only some years later.

But the development of the Internet and the many new possibilities happened world wide-bringing fundamental changes in many societies, because of the availability of huge amounts of information and the possibility to share it, again worldwide.

It was as if a new epoch of history had started with hopes, but also with concerns. To find some clarity in these chaotic developments, the Organization of the United Nations took the initiative to create a platform to discuss this situation.

It took the form of not one, but of two large conferences: the “World Summit on the Information Society” meetings in 2003 in Geneva in Switzerland, and in 2005 in Tunis, in the capital city of Tunisia.

These “World Summits on the Information Society” – abbreviated also referred to as “WSIS” – were, a two-phase United Nations sponsored summit on information, communication and, in broad terms, on the information society itself. One of the Summit’s chief aims was to bridge the global digital divide, separating rich countries from economically poorer countries by increasing the accessibility to the Internet in the developing world.

It was in this context – my involvement to create the first connection to the Internet from Cambodia- that the FRANCOPHONIE – the association of former French colonies and French speaking countries-sponsored me to be one of the several thousand participants invited to both meetings in Geneva and in Tunis.

It is no surprise that there were sharp differences of opinion – especially about the control over the Internet – even to have the conferences ending as a failure became possible. However, finally, it was agreed to leave the control of the Internet addresses- the country names like “kh” for Cambodia – and the sub-structures of Internet addresses- like “com”: “edu”-“gov” in the hands of the United States-based organization ICANN – “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers”, for the time being, to avoiding a major breakdown. As a compromise there was also an agreement to set up an international “Internet Governance Forum” – IGF with a purely consultative, not controlling, role.

The summit itself was partly disturbed by criticizing the government of Tunisia for allowing attacks on journalists and human rights defenders that happened during the days leading up to the event. The Tunisian government tried to prevent one of the scheduled sessions with the heading “Expression Under Repression”, from happening. A French reporter, Robert Ménard, the president of “Reporters Without Border” was refused admission to Tunisia for phase two of the Summit. A French journalist for the newspaper “Libération” was stabbed and beaten by unidentified men after he reported on local human rights protesters. A Belgian television crew was forced to hand over footage of Tunisian dissidents. Local human rights defenders were prevented from organizing a meeting with international civil society groups. But still WSIS Tunis came to a positive end.

The establishment of the IGF was officially announced by the United Nations Secretary-General in 2006. It was first convened in late 2006 and then has held annual meetings.

How to describe the most important concept developed in the Tunis meeting? It is the multistakeholder structure of the Internet Governance Forum.

It is a “tripartite” model as a result of the “World Summit on the Information Society”. It says in Paragraph 35 of the Tunis results:

“We reaffirm that the management of the Internet encompasses both technical and public policy issues and should involve all stakeholders and relevant intergovernmental and international organizations. In this respect it is recognized that:

“Policy authority for Internet-related public policy issues is the Sovereign right of States. They have rights and responsibilities for international Internet-related public policy issues.

“The private sector (that means here especially the technology companies) has had, and should continue to have, an important role in the development of the Internet, both in the technical and economic fields.

“Civil society has also played an important role on Internet matters, especially at community level, and should continue to play such a role.”

This official document recognizes States, the Private Sector, and Civil Society and calls it the “stakeholder” groups. In this tri-partite structure, here are also some additional explanations:

We recognize the valuable contribution by the academic and technical communities within those stakeholder groups mentioned in Paragraph 35 to the evolution, functioning and development of the Internet.

So as a result of the Tunis meeting, the IGF was created. It is a “Forum” – but what is a Forum?

A forum is a meeting where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged. – “we hope these pages act as a forum for debate”. A Forum does not define results it is not the solution, but it describes the way towards it where the three stakeholders present their – maybe different- interests, to regularly continue to work towards developing common next steps.

So please – take your role, as the Cambodian Youth among the Internet Governance Forum.

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My point of view of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2023

If people ask me about my Kyoto trip, I will tell them about the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2023. It was such an eye-opening experience for me. Let’s get to know IGF 2023 a bit, what is it? The IGF 2023 is the 18th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum which was hosted by the Government of Japan in Kyoto from 8 to 12 October 2023. The Forum’s theme was: The Internet We Want – Empowering All People. The following sub-themes are: AI & Emerging Technologies, Avoiding Internet Fragmentation, Cybersecurity, Cybercrime & Online Safety, Data Governance & Trust, Digital Divides & Inclusion, Global Digital Governance & Cooperation, Human Rights & Freedoms, and Sustainability & Environment. Let’s continue reading to see how my point of view of the forum is! HIGHTLIGHT OF THE PROGRAM The five-day forum was full of different program and sessions and was hosted in a hybrid format as well which some speakers gave a presentation via online. I couldn’t join all the sessions and had to schedule only selected interesting sessions. Its program was such a new experience I witnessed, involving participants from all stakeholders ranking from high-ranking level to youths. Over 355 sessions were featured in the forum with over 80 booths to share their work missions with the participants. The opening ceremony was conducted on the second day and to my surprise, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also gave a speech representing the country host of the IGF 2023. H.E. Mr. Fumio Kishida said in his speech, “Generative AI not only improves operational efficiency, but also, to accelerate innovation in various fields such as drug discovery and development of new treatment, thereby bringing about dramatic changes in the world”. The United Nations Secretary General, H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres also paid a virtual visit to the forum by recording a video. In his speech, H.E. Mr. Antonio said, “I look to the gathering in Kyoto to provide critical input to advance our collective efforts. Together we can realize the ambition spelled out in the theme of your forum and the internet to empower all people”. In the evening of the second day, buffet was served with the music night as well as the welcoming firework outside of the conference building. INTERESTING SESSIONS As there were over 355 sessions, I couldn’t join all of sessions; therefore, I scheduled sessions I wanted to join. Below are sessions I found very interesting to share in this blog. EVOLVING TRENDS IN MIS- & DIS-INFORMATION Digital platform and social media are greatly beneficial to communication and information; however, it is also a concerning when it comes to the spread of inaccurate and falsified content as well as the information that causes harm. So, misinformation is intentionally and disinformation is not. Disinformation spreads through the action of both malicious actors and also mainstream media and social media platforms that are up for engaging ordinary users. What was so interesting about this session is that different stakeholders came together discussing on the issue and raising different perspective. One of the panelists, Ms. Maria Ressa who is the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, stressed on the risk of advancement of the technology, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI) which could easily be used to spread false narrative. She called on all stakeholders to be cautious as AI is moving ahead of human right now. An interesting question for all panelists was, what can we do to protect and empower women and girls, refugees, ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ people and what tools can they use to protect themselves? It is given the situation that these communities usually bear the brunt of harm caused by online disinformation and misinformation intended to target them. Ms. Vera Jourova, European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency, stated that the mantra in the EU treated what illegal offline the same as online as well. She also raised an issue that some big techs are running an attention economy which is the same as dirty business. It’s when those who runs the algorithms were making big money on hatred, alarming news, and dangerous information. The EU also discussed the issue with the big tech and tried to stop them with the legally binding digital services Act. Tatsuhiko Yamamoto, Professor of Law and Deputy Director of Global Research Institute of the Keio University, responded to the question that attention economy become more serious in the online world than in the real physical world; containing hate speech, disinformation and misinformation. Combining these harmful acts together could become a very impregnable force; therefore, a speedy moderation would be the solution to the problem. Ms. Maria expressed that EU’s laws that are coming out is the race of the turtles while the technology is coming out every two weeks; therefore, it’s an agile development which human need to move faster and shouldn’t rely on the tech companies alone because their motive is profit. Nic Suzor, Professor at the Law School at Queensland University of Technology, responded that what lost in this debate is the acknowledgment, that it matters. It’s very difficult for tech companies to know who the online target is. When classifying hateful content, there are only high-level figures. He proposed that we need to be more proactively to ensure that the systems that we are building are built with historical inequality in mind. If we focus on what tools people use, it would be another burden on the people who are already marginalized. EDUCATION, INCLUSION, LITERACY: MUSTS FOR POSITIVE AI FUTURE This session focuses on artificial intelligence in higher education. The foundational principles for higher education were initiated globally to promote new literacies. Six principles include: (1) People, not technology must be at the center of our work, (2) We should promote digital inclusion within and beyond our institutions, (3) Digital and information literacy is an essential part of a core education, (4) AI tools should enhance teaching and learning, (5) Learning about technologies is an experiential, lifelong process, and (6) AI research and development must be done responsibly. CONTRIBUTING TO THE INTERNET GOVERNANCE IN CAMBODIA In January 2022, Cambodia’s approach to internet governance involves a mix of regulatory frameworks and policies to manage and control various aspects of the internets. The development in Cambodia’s approach to internet governance includes Regulatory Frameworks, Internet Infrastructure, Digital Economy Policy, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Cybersecurity, Online Freedom, Social Media and Online Platforms, Data Protection and Privacy, and International Collaboration. After participating in the IGF 2023, I will continue to contribute to the internet governance in Cambodia by engaging with stakeholders; attend conferences, workshops, and events to build relationships and understand different perspectives. Another contribution would be advocating and raising awareness; promote an open and accessible internet and raise awareness about the importance of digital rights, freedom of expression, and the role of the internet in economic and social development. Lastly, I will join or collaborate with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that focus on digital rights, internet freedom, and technology policy. KYOTO, JAPAN Japan Government chose just the right and best place to host its conference as Kyoto is renowned for its historical and cultural significance. Visiting Kyoto, I find moments of peace and reflection while exploring the serene temples and scenic spots. It has well-maintained gardens, bamboo groves, and traditional landscapes contribute to a tranquil atmosphere. My overall feeling after visiting the city is a combination of admiration for its cultural richness, a sense of tranquility, and a deep connection to Japan’s historical legacy. SPECIAL THANKS All the way to IGF 2023 in Kyoto of Japan wouldn’t have been happened for me without a generous support from the Open Development Cambodia Organization (ODC). The support from the ODC not only provided the necessary resources but has also served as a source of motivation and encouragement for youths who advocate internet governance in Cambodia. The impact of the support goes beyond the financial aspect; it is a testament to the power of community.

An Eyes-Opening Experience of The World: Advancement of Internet and Technology at Internet Governance Forum 2023

The 18th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2023, hosted by the Government of Japan at Kyoto for five days alongside the support of the United Nations, 12 Cambodian Youth Internet Governance Committees had their first chance to join in the world class forum. It was an eye-opening experience which strengthened interest to foster the internet topics in their home country. More than 170 countries joined the forum to discuss and raise challenges and opportunities surrounding the topic of the internet. The global multistakeholder forum for dialogue on internet governance issues was held under the theme, ‘The Internet We Want–Empowering All People’, with the aim of gathering various international stakeholders. Cambodia delegates were also included alongside with the support from the United Nations (UN). It made our dream come true to have a chance to visit and join the international conference at Kyoto, Japan for five days, from 8th to 12th October 2023. As part of the Cambodian Youth Internet Governance Committee 2023, I am enthusiastic to share what I have learnt and perspectives from the IGF 2023 at Japan for all of you, especially for those who would love to know more about this forum and internet governance topics. The program featured more than 300 sessions that span over eight sub themes. These were AI & Emerging Technologies; Avoiding Internet Fragmentation; Cybersecurity, Cybercrime & Online Safety; Data Governance & Trust; Digital Divides & Inclusion; Global Digital Governance & Cooperation; Human Rights & Freedoms; and Sustainability & Environment. I would like to share some interesting topics that I have joined during the IGF 2023 below. Cultural Showcase For the first day of the event in the evening, there was an opening ceremony which takes place at the Kyoto International Conference Center with fireworks, introducing Japanese traditional drums performance and wearing Khmer traditional clothes. It’s like exchanging cultural tradition together, I got to know the taste of Japanese culture through their art performance. The next day marked an official opening day of IGF 2023, with the opening remark from the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, stating about the significant role of the internet in society. While the advancement of the internet is important, the PM of Japan also raised concerns over issues surrounding the internet, such as unlawful and harmful information including disinformation cyberattacks, which are intimidating the safe space for socioeconomic development. Hopefully the IGF 2023 will help to improve and address those problems through the discussion in this forum, aimed at strengthening the regulation of AI and cybersecurity to make the internet a safe space for all. The present United Nations’ Secretary-General, António Guterres stated that digital technologies can be used to achieve the UN’s SDGs, such as tackling climate issues and building a sustainable world. After that there was an opportunity to dress in traditional Japanese clothes (kimono) and many  nationalities around the world came to try and capture the moments of wearing Japanese traditional clothes. I felt comfortable with the vibrant pink color of their clothes and smooth textile and it doesn’t take long to dress up. I hope I can have a Kimono set. Then we enjoy visiting the stalls coming from different organizations, private companies that were showcasing their new technology, discoveries and introduced us to their companies’ mission to help tackle issues in the digital era. AI Advancement As a person who works in media, I was fascinated by Multilingual Translation Technologies that have the ability to translate multiple languages to subtitles at the same time through one language voice, using AI simultaneous interpretation technology that is currently being developed by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) of Japan. Committee members and I also joined the ‘Talking with Metaverse residents– a new identity and diversity’ workshop session during the event. It has shown the advancing technology of AI in the metaverse is moving forwards to help solving gender gaps and allowing youth to express their true identity that belong to who they are without fear of judgement or social norms in transgenders. It helps them to become any gender or appearance or dressing styles in whatever they wish by generating identity avatars and doing any activities people dream to do freely in the world of metaverse. The other workshop, ‘Involving Schools of Internet Governance in achieving SDGs’ , has shown me that there are many issues from different countries regarding education and there is a good sharing from developed countries to ensure the internet is safe to use in school and improving the knowledge of SDGs. Cambodia\'s representative also delivered key research of AI in education as well. Mr. Heng Soklay, from the Cambodian Youth Internet Committee, presented his research, ‘AI-Driving Learning Revolution in Cambodian Higher Education’. It demonstrated that AI usage likeChatGPT is controversial between students and teachers in Cambodia and we don’t have the regulations or rules yet. However, the participants from different countries also raised concerns about this matter as well, and some countries shared that it has both positive and negative sides for students’ studying and their ability to conduct research. After joining the Internet Governance Forum 2023 with Cambodian Youth Internet Governance Committee, we have seen global challenges and many perspectives from different countries in AI, internet and cybersecurity usage. We see that they are moving faster than Cambodia in terms of cybersecurity protection laws, AI usage rule, and the world is gaining higher potential of the benefits from the internet usage to develop their economy, cutting down the gender gaps and solving many issues in their countries. I hope Cambodia can improve internet safety and be able to absorb the advantages from the internet in this digital era like other countries do. As a Cambodian YIGF committee member, I am curious and optimistic regarding the future of the internet. The YIGF can serve as a community safe space regarding the internet, and advocate for all Cambodians by raising awareness, sharing concerns and facilitating multi-stakeholder discussion with  public, private sectors and public to achieve digital economic success for more people.

My Internet Governance Journey

Hello! My name is Soklay. With a strong interest in internet governance, I serve as a program committee of the very first Cambodia Youth Internet Governance Forum. My commitment in this role has fueled my passion for shaping the digital landscape in the Asia Pacific region; therefore, I was selected as a fellow for the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF). In this blog, I will share my experience involving internet governance from local level to regional level and my expectations for the global level.Cambodia Youth Internet Governance ForumMy journey began with a growing concern about the increasing number of digital threats and emerging technology like artificial intelligence. Individuals, particularly those in rural areas with limited awareness or understanding of these issues, are more vulnerable to becoming victims. At the same time, there was an absence of a dedicated platform in Cambodia for discussing and addressing these challenges. Recognizing this gap, Open Development Cambodia took the initiative to establish the first Internet Governance Forum in Cambodia, a youth-led endeavor aimed at sharing knowledge and fostering dialogue around internet-related issues. We successfully hosted the first Cambodia Youth Internet Governance Forum with approximately 170 participants. The event brought together a diverse group of experts from various sectors, including industry professionals, researchers, government representatives, and both local and international speakers. This dynamic assembly provided a rich platform for discussing and sharing knowledge on mitigating the pressing issues related to internet governance.Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum 2023I am privileged to have been chosen as a fellow for the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF), which took place in Brisbane, Australia, from August 29 to 31, 2023. The conference brings together a diverse group of people sharing different backgrounds, including youths, researchers, policymakers, and others, to collaborate and discuss Internet issues happening in the Asia Pacific region. Various interesting topics were discussed, such as data privacy and protection, AI ethics, cybersecurity, human rights, online child protection, digital inclusion and connectivity, policies and regulations, and many others. Additionally, I participated in the APAC Youth Leaders Dialogue organized by yIGF, a truly enlightening experience that shed light on the significant role youth can play in Internet governance dialogues and the initiation of local Internet governance initiatives in their respective countries. My active participation in the regional internet governance forum has been a significant step forward, preparing me for engagement at the global level in internet governance discussions and initiatives.Internet Governance Forum 2023As a Cambodia Youth Internet Governance program committee, I am truly grateful for being selected by Open Development Cambodia to receive a travel support grant to join the 18th United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2023 in Kyoto, Japan, from October 8th to 12th.The overarching theme for this year’s forum is  “The Internet We Want – Empowering All People” with an emphasis on sub-themes including AI & Emerging Technologies, Avoiding Internet Fragmentation, Cybersecurity, Cybercrime & Online Safety, Data Governance & Trust, Digital Divides & Inclusion, Global Digital Governance & Cooperation, Human Rights & Freedoms, and Sustainability & Environment. By engaging in global internet governance, I expect to meet a diverse group of people coming all round the world. This will be a platform to discuss, learn, and exchange ideas, aiming to raise concerns and identify best practices that can be applied in our respective countries and to foster a stable and safe digital space for everyone.I am particularly passionate about attending the High-Level Panel V session at the IGF 2023, focused on the topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This session, scheduled for October 9th from 11:00 to 13:00 JST, presents a vital opportunity to delve into the complexities and rapid advancements of generative AI technology. The discussion will explore the profound impacts of AI on society and how AI should be governed to foster innovation without amplifying risks. Moreover, the session will include discussions from the Hiroshima AI process under the Japanese G7 Presidency, offering insights into the future direction of AI governance. This aligns with my belief in the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach to international AI governance, a principle that the UN IGF exemplifies.In conclusion, I extend my deepest appreciation to Open Development Cambodia (ODC) for their generous financial support, which has made it possible for me to participate in the Internet Governance Forum 2023. I am enthusiastically looking forward to being an active participant in this enlightening forum, both contributing to and gaining valuable insights from the many vital discussions on internet governance.