We, the youth of Latin American and the Caribbean
We, who wrote and endorsed this declaration, are a group of young Latin Americans who have been absent from the discussions for a long time. This is why today we want to make our voice heard.
In that matter, we, members of the “2015 Youth@IGF program” that has trained more than one hundred young people between the ages of 18 and 25 years old about subjects related to Internet Governance (IG), are going to use our voice in this declaration to be presented at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held in João Pessoa, Brazil. We will present the principles that we, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, identified on the Internet for its future and development. This great tool is essential for knowledge shaping, empowerment and sustainable development in our region.
Governance is the result of teamwork of different sectors seeking the same goal: "a free internet, transparent and inclusive," but has forgotten the issue of the young people.
But, how can the youth be included in these discussions? The first thing to note is that, according to the Ibero-American Youth Organization in 2015, there are in Latin America and the Caribbean about 160 million young people. In generational terms, a quarter of the world population is made up of us, the young people who have taken advantage on the implementation of a growing Internet market in Latin America.
Putting into numbers, the rate of access to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) increased by 61 % between 2002 and 2011 compared to other countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), being the greatest levels of Internet usage among young people aged 15 to 24 and young adults between 25 and 34 years old.
However, the increasing usage of ICT does not imply that they are being used properly. Social networks remain the favorite applications among the youth; there are areas that do not have Internet access and young people who do not have access to computers.
For that reason, and aware of the needs existing in Latin America, the first declaration of a group of young Latin Americans reflects our ideas, thoughts and passions, but also what we think about our role in IG.
Therefore, we reiterate the need of foundation principles which we, the youth, consider essential in the ecosystem of IG.
As said by the ex UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression of the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, Frank La Rue, “access to Internet has become a basic human right”, so to fight for a more connected world in which each and every one has unlimited access for the use and framing of Internet should be a priority. These principles allow the existence of an open and diverse network, to ensure a space without privileges, space for everyone. Therefore, we consider it is necessary that principles are treated as International Human Rights standards. In addition, we require that states undertake to respect and include them in their legislation for the benefit of Internet users.
As principles, we understand those precepts that are widely accepted. Inside the Internet ecosystem, we identify the existence of many of them, although we want to mention those which are crucial for us:
- Universal Access
- Net neutrality
We emphas ize that the access to digital services, information and communication technologies should be universal, ensuring the inclusion of the vulnerable youth population through an unlimited, affordable and quality of access. The Internet must become an effective tool to for social and human development in the region.
We, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, call for the necessary actions to make digital services and Internet access universal; for the development and investments in Broadband Network so that unconnected areas can become connected; for the infrastructure building, reinforcement of the process of appropriation and training to allow young people to take advantage of these technologies.
We understand that the Internet is a tool that allows us to expand the boundaries of freedom, as well as meet and share knowledge, express ourselves without fear of censorship and change the reality around us. However, young people feel that these rights are not sufficiently promoted in our region, where in many countries they are subjected to persecution and harassment.
We, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, are called to build the future, but we are denied the space and the means to exercise our right to participate in the development of a free and open Internet where we can use search engines, receive and disclose information to allow the valid and necessary recognition and respect of our dissent. But above all, we demand our voices be heard and included in this dialogue to create a world and an Internet that can truly belong to us, once the youth is the power for progress and change, as well as development and technological innovation.
We understand diversity in the Network as the effective inclusion of historically excluded social groups; such as women, indigenous people, LGBTI communities and people with special needs, among others. They must have Internet access on equal terms.
We, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, demand the Internet allowing the promotion of real diversity.
We believe that the Internet should remain open and neutral, ensuring non-discriminatory treatment based on content, sites and platforms, allowing all types of communications. In that matter, it is necessary to ensure that traffic management must be guided only by technical and ethical criteria.
We, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, call for the principle of Net Neutrality to be respected, in order to prevent obstacles to the development and innovation of applications and digital and ICT services, So that we can fully exercise our right to freedom of speech and access to information without fear of any restrictions or traffic control.
The principle of privacy on the Internet consists of the protection and respect of communications, information and every data generated, published and accessed by people through new Technologies of Information and Communication. The right to privacy is enshrined in all Latin American’s constitutional texts, although it was designed to be implemented in the analog world, privacy extends to the digital domain, and therefore, must be respected by our region’s Governments.
The right to anonymity, protection of personal data, protection against massive surveillance and data retention on the Internet are fundamental rights, and for that must be guaranteed for all Internet users. They are vital for young people to develop freely on the Internet, and this means that we must have access to information without any restrictions or fear of further reprisals.
We, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, demand the respect of our rights to express anonymously, within that may no government or organizations force us to identify ourselves.
As young people, we access the Internet frequently. It’s a place in which we develop and express freely, to this end, we support the development of technology that can protect our rights on the network.
On the other hand, we demand from governments and developers of hardware and software corporations the non-use of tools of massive surveillance and data collection performance without judicial orders and only with strong and valid motivation. We reject the excessive use of coercion, including the use of malware and spyware to intercept illegally our communications, data and metadata.
We, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, call to make the Internet a safe and free place.
These are the principles that we consider vital to empower youth in Internet. However, we also understand that it is not only from the principles that we must address our demands, but also from our own experiences. These give us living examples of how these principles delineate our participation in the IG.
YOUTH EXPERIENCE BEHIND THIS DECLARATION
Into the IGFs
As young people we have been active in the Internet ecosystem from different roles, we noticed little continuity in youth about Internet Governance issues. We believe that this happened for various reasons, among which we highlight the lack of information that goes to the young communities about the events of the Internet. That's why we want to build on our commitment and future generations through education and disseminating the concepts of governance and at the same time foster discussion among young people.
We have experienced that the main problem to active participation in young people are the language limitations and the economic element. Consequently, we are challenged to create more opportunities to break this barrier and bring more young local, regional and international IGFs participation. For this, we want to support, create and apply more opportunities and actively participate in scholarship initiatives to address governance forums, so the young voice will be present.
Additionally, we intend to break current paradigms and help shape and evolve the future of Internet. To achieve this, we recognize that youth participation in different branches of Internet Governance is key within the IGFs. We believe that the multidisciplinary element should prevail to create a perspective of young people who do not just repeat pre-established models.
The Youth@IGF experience
The Yout@hIGF 2015 program began with a call that motivated the Latin American and the Caribbean youngsters, from 18 to 25 years to participate in a course through which they could obtain a scholarship to attend the IGF 2015 held in João Pessoa. This course comprised of hundred and twenty young people selected to participate throughout the region.
The program consisted on a four week online course, tutored and provided by the Internet Society (ISOC) and the Internet Steering Committee of Brazil (CGI.BR). There were not only theoretical classes but also strong interaction between the class members through weekly chat sessions and discussions forums by each group. We were able to develop our knowledge of Internet Governance not only by the course materials but also hearing from different persons about the different topics. Finally, we had the opportunity to attend online meetings with specialists on issues such as privacy, security, IG, etc.
After a four week process that tested our time, aptitude to interact with young people from different parts of the world, the ability shown to study issues relating to IG and our capacity to reflect and analyze these issues the course was over. Seventy three young men and women were then selected to attend the IGF in João Pessoa, Brazil.
The work in ICT, outside IG forums
Through our participation, we found that there are few local spaces where youth could participate in discussions of IG. While there are working groups and other tools worldwide, usually at the local level we have a substantial lack of these kind of initiatives.
Moreover, discussions of governance do not take place in one of the most important places for youths: educational institutions. Therefore, we understand that a diffusion of these issues in high school and post high school and to involve young students in the development of it is required, fostering a multidisciplinary approach.
Finally, it is important to recognize that the local work should involve multi-stakeholder perspectives; young people to be included within the scope of local jobs must belong to different contexts, proposing various different perspectives for discussions of key issues.
Our intention is to initiate the participation of the youth of our region, searching to resignify the Internet as a plural space and tool, oriented to the empowerment and participation, where the diversity of voices that characterize our region are present. We understand, from our reality and together with the experience of Youth@IGF program, the essential value of connecting the possibilities delivered from the Internet with the present challenges in the Latin American reality. These challenges will not be overcome only with more network connection or the presence in social networks, but by the protagonist of the Latin American society and, as its youth, we have the key role to seek a better world.
This statement comes essentially from the recognition of this role. From our perspective of young Latin Americans, we can conclude that the Internet is not a neutral tool: on one hand, it can expand and strengthen communicative spheres and promote the dissemination of knowledge and the development of a sustainable global society, but also can be an instrument of control and surveillance. This was demonstrated by the experiences of 2013, where conditions of asymmetries between each country's’ ability to protect from abuses are clearly stated.
We recognize a democratic breach on the Governance spaces , as well as, we reiterate the importance of a universal Internet, where the commitment of strengthening the robustness and security of the network against these abuses, is related with a set of demands, which are not exclusive of this Latin American youth. The importance of deepening the discussion on how to practice and how IG is build, considering the participation gap in the ecosystem of IG and which kind of multistakeholderism suites better the conditions, are key points to strengthen the Internet against abuse. The Internet is an important tool of empowerment, which is governed by principles. These principles must be adapted to the diversity of realities, such as: being able to use the language itself fully in the different areas of governance.
We reaffirm the vital role of youth and their organizations, as it was expressed in paragraph 11 of the Declaration of Principles of the World Summit on the Information Society, which reads "(...) we recognize that young people are the future workforce and leading creators and earliest adopters of ICTs. They must therefore be empowered as learners, developers, contributors, entrepreneurs and decision-makers. We must focus especially on young people who have not yet been able to benefit fully from the opportunities provided by ICTs (...)". Therefore, the role of young people has also been highlighted by the World Program of Action for Youth, where it identifies the ICT as one of the fifteen major areas. These can give the youth the opportunities to overcome obstacles, like distance and socioeconomic inequalities. In addition, the World’s Youth Summit of the International Telecommunication Union, signed in 2013, said that the youth is a force for progress in the decision-making process, to improve democracy and that if this group can achieve access to information we can enhance innovation worldwide (Declaration of the World Summit Youth BYND, 2015). Consequently, we have gained some progress but more and better efforts are needed to ensure the realization of these programs and statements.
The group formed from this declaration, arises from the exchange and learning of the participants of the Youth@IGF program, where we understood the need to expand and share with other young people everything we achieve. In this sense, we built the Youth Observatory, whose mission is to encourage the youth of Latin America and the Caribbean to become actors of their own truth within the construction of the IG. Encouraging active participation in discussions and creating content, having, as a result, the construction of a more democratic and accessible to all Internet.
Thought of as a way for young people to stay active and participatory, we also propose the creation of a platform, which will have discussion forums, and on which research papers will be published; access to information will be deepened throughout the availability of content. In this way, we will contribute to building an increasingly solid understanding, which will involve all stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem. Consequently, we will have a place where the young people can be empowered and enhance their voices, becoming the protagonists.
We could not end this statement without thanking all those who contributed to making our participation in the IGF in João Pessoa possible.
To the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.Br) and to the Brazilian Network Information Centre (NIC.Br) especially its Director, Thiago Tavares, who supported the participation of young people as actors for building IG. We appreciate the trust in us. To the Internet Society (ISOC), especially to Raquel Gatto, our mentors Marilia Monteiro, Natalia Enciso, Sheba Mohammid, Rodrigo Nejm and Rodrigo Afonso, for all the knowledge learned and support to our development. Teaching is the noblest way to build people that wish to ensure a better future.
We would also like to salute Google, Intel and Verizon, for their support in this kind of initiative, which aims to train young people on issues regarding IG.Finally, we would like to invite each and every young participant, remote or in person, of the IGF 2015, to join the process of updating this Declaration. After the close of IGF in João Pessoa, this Declaration will be open to the Internet so the youth, either individually or through the organization to which they belong, can collaborate in the drafting. Thus, we will have a document that really shows the diversity of the youth for the next IGF.