Council of Europe at the Internet Governance Forum 2021 – Council of Europe

The Council of Europe will participate in the debates of the 16th UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to be hosted by the government of Poland in a hybrid format in Katowice from 6 to 10 December, focusing its contribution in particular on the new challenges to the protection of human rights online, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Held under the theme of “Internet United”, the IGF will bring together policymakers, representatives of business, academia and non-governmental organisations from all over the world to discuss the opportunities and challenges of the internet and the public policies to address them.

In addition to taking part in the general discussions, the Council of Europe’s delegation will organise three open forums related to its most recent work on internet governance, artificial intelligence and the protection of fundamental human rights in the online environment.

  • 7 December (5.30 to 6.30 p.m. CET) Open forum on the impact of digital technologies on freedom of expression and the Council of Europe’s standard-setting work in this field, including a draft recommendation to be considered by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers in the near future. Other issues on the agenda are the transparency of regulatory measures and the impact of major digital platforms’ policies on vulnerable groups.
  • 9 December (4.50 to 5.50 p.m. CET) – Open forum to present the online platform Globalpolicy.ai, dedicated to cooperation between intergovernmental organisations with complementary mandates on AI, co-organised with the European Commission, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights and the United Nations. The platform aims to help policymakers and the public navigate the international AI governance landscape and equip them with the necessary tools, data, and best practices to develop AI policies.
  • 10 December (9.30 to 10.30 a .m. CET) – Open forum on the regulation of emerging technologies in a post-pandemic context, co-organised with UNESCO. The forum will examine the efforts of governments and other actors to stop the Covid-19 pandemic prompting to use new emerging technologies, such as mobile applications, for storing and providing health-related data on disease. The use of these hastily developed digital tools has often led to restrictions of human rights and data protection breaches, raising questions about their future regulation.

In addition, on 9 December (9.30 to 11.00 a.m. CET) the Council of Europe delegation will participate in a workshop on human rights impact assessments throughout the AI lifecycle aimed at contributing to the negotiations of European Commission’s regulatory proposal on AI.

On 6 December (3.15 to 4.15 p.m. CET), Jan Kleijssen, Director of Information Society and Action against Crime of the Council of Europe, will speak at a high-level panel on “How to promote inclusive and diverse innovation, investment opportunities and corporate social responsibility in digital technologies?” and on 9 December (9.30 to 11.00 a.m. CET) at a session on UNESCO’s internet Universality ROAM Indicators. 

On 9 December, Patrick Penninckx, Head of the Information Society Department, will participate in the workshop “Clash of Digital Civilizations: Governments and Tech Giants” (1.50 to 2.50 p.m. CET) and in a discussion of the IGF Coalition for Platform Responsibility about interoperability and responsibility of online platforms (3.05 to 4.35 p.m. CET). 

The Council of Europe will also present its work at an online booth in the IGF village, where participants in the IGF can display or distribute relevant information about their internet governance-related activities.

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