Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Chernyshenko welcomed RIGF 2022 participants and wished them fruitful work. He pointed out that in Eastern Europe, the RIGF is one of the largest events aimed at developing the global network and that this annual forum is important to the whole online community and forms part of the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF).
“This gives us the opportunity to discuss current digital trends at the RIGF and establish cooperation in the context of global agenda. The Internet is a global network whose operation should be maintained through our combined efforts. Today new international norms of responsible behavior in the digital environment should be established, and Russia is ready to participate as a responsible international partner in creating an open environment of trust online,” Mr. Chernyshenko said.
Head of the Presidential Directorate for the Development of Information and Communication Technology and Communication Infrastructure Tatyana Matveeva stressed that this edition of the forum is held in difficult times that present unprecedented challenges. “Despite high external pressure and massive cyberattacks, the domestic IT industry has proven highly competent and powerful. There is a growing awareness worldwide of the need to create universal rules. This is why we are closely following the way the UN Secretary-General’s initiative concerning the Global Digital Compact preparation is being implemented. I hope that RIGF participants will be able to contribute to this process as well as the development of international global network regulations,” she said.
Head of the UN Internet Governance Forum Secretariat Chengetai Masango also stressed that today many important topics will be discussed at the RIGF 2022, such as the Global Digital Compact, digital platform regulation, fight against destructive content, benefits of the safe use of artificial intelligence, and so forth. “During the pandemic, the Internet penetration rate grew significantly, however, this process happened unevenly, thus further widening the divide between developed and developing countries. There are some positives as well. The awareness of the need to ensure equal Internet access is growing. The Internet once again proves capable of fostering the development of all countries of the world. Living up to the potential, though, depends on each one of us, and we should continue both discussions and deliberations to create the Internet we need as a result. Such discussions will be held at the 17th Internet Governance Forum, which will take place in November in Addis Ababa, and I invite you to participate in this event,” Mr. Masango said.
In his speech, Director of the Center for Global IT-Cooperation Vadim Glushchenko covered in detail the Russian Internet Governance Forum’s youth track. He pointed out that today Russia organizes one of the 35 regional and national Internet governance forums that encourage discussion of youth-related issues. “This is the second year in a row that we have held the Youth RIGF, and the number of participants keeps growing. The Internet governance topic and all things digitalization are of great interest to young people. At the youth forum, we try to make sure young people don’t get bored, and based on our observations, the topic ‘delivers,’” he said. Mr. Glushchenko specifically pointed out that the Russian IGF cannot remain on the sidelines of the themes discussed at international level: this year, one of them is the Global Digital Compact, which the first RIGF 2022 work session is dedicated to. “We have a unique opportunity to contribute to the preparation of the Global Digital Compact,” he stressed.
Chairman of the Board of the Center for Global IT-Cooperation Roman Chukov added that the Global Digital Compact is first and foremost a matter of agency, and more importantly, justice for all parties. “My colleagues and I were pointing out five years ago that all kinds of space, that is, airspace and waters, are regulated, unlike the online environment. New technology generates new actors, and the traditional system of international relations is undergoing changes. A major private company can even refuse to provide services to certain countries, and liability regulations are needed for every possible case. This is precisely why I do not believe the Global Digital Compact can immediately put an end to the strife between actors and provide rules and standards everyone will follow. However, this document will have a future if it includes a statement of the need to create an international convention regulating all possible relations between all stakeholders.”
The concept of transparent relations between users and platforms is especially popular in current circumstances, when personal data are being exploited in the interests of digital platforms and the biggest app stores unilaterally delete thousands of software products that have nothing to do with politics, First Deputy General Director of ANO Dialogue Lenar Faizutdinov stressed. He cited App Store, which has deleted around 7000 Russian apps, including VK, 2GIS and Sberbank, since the beginning of this year. The Global Digital Compact, proposed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, should clearly and thoroughly specify the rights of ordinary users of the Internet and digital platforms.
“At the end of the day, the main question concerning the Global Digital Compact is whether it will place the interests of global corporations above ordinary users’ legitimate rights or vice versa. It’s important that the document determines the agency of an ordinary user. While preparing the compact, it should be specified that digital platforms switch their status from that of economic entities to that of political actors that have a direct effect on state policies and people’s lives,” the first deputy general director of ANO Dialogue said, outlining the main aspects of the future document and raising its key problem.
Yu Ping Chan, representative of the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, stressed the need for a thorough preparation of the document: “We’ve got two years to prepare the final text of the Global Digital Compact, as it should be adopted at the Summit of the Future in 2024. Therefore, our goal is to attract as many votes as possible, for the Digital Compact to be global and reflect every possible perspective.”
The forum takes place on September 28–29, 2022, in an online format and brings together over 500 experts, entrepreneurs, statesmen and public figures from 19 countries. It is organized by the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ and Center for Global IT-Cooperation with the support of the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation.