Since 2018, We, the Internet dialogues have brought together thousands of people around the world to discuss the future of the Internet and to help decision-makers at all levels make smart and legitimate choices.
Problems and Purpose
Recent technological developments and the COVID-19 public health crisis have shown the need for individuals, governments, civil society, and industries to re-think their relationship to internet.
Background History and Context
The COVID-19 crisis has an impact not only on our health but also on the quality and importance of our digital world. In a broader frame, the fourth industrial revolution continues to transform our daily lives: It has shaken the foundations of our world stage from the Silicon Valley to Shanghai. Digital technologies collapse borders, making time and distance almost disappear, but they’ve also sparked or amplified some of our world’s most significant divisions and inequalities. What should a healthy digital public sphere look like? More precisely, what should we do to fight disinformation? How should we collectively handle the data we are producing? How should artificial intelligence be governed? And how should we make decisions on all these topics? What is a relevant and legitimate architecture for the future of digital cooperation?
Because it is vital to understand how the general public views these topics, a unique process at the global and local level engaged hundreds of stakeholders and - more importantly - thousands of citizens from all walks of life in an informed and structured discussion on our shared digital evolution.
The key findings from the process are to be found on the We the Internet website here.
The results provide information and insights to inform policymakers, actors from the technical field, academics, and private sector actors whose products and services are part of our emerging digital world.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
In his “Common Agenda” from September 2021, Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General proposed to agree upon a “Global Digital Compact (GDC)” on shared principles for the digital future, highlighting issues such as internet fragmentation, accountability criteria for discrimination, data protection, and the regulation of AI.
The UN invites governments, civil society and the private sector to join a multi-stakeholder digital technology track in preparation for the Summit of the Future, during which the Global Digital Compact will be agreed upon.
We, the Internet will answer this call by implementing a global dialogue on the run up to the Summit of the Future.
Get involved by contacting us at [email protected]
Methods and Tools Used
the quantitative dataset is based on a group ranging from 3,513 to 4,503 answers. Unique respondents are 5,708. Concerning the qualitative data and the group works, the dataset is based on a sample of 3,123 group discussions. This is the most relevant unit of count as it reflects the results of collective discussion, judgment, and assessment of options. At a general level, the real power of the process is to combine the quantitative and qualitative approach to strengthens the results and the analysis and get what people think as individuals and what they think as a group.
To have fruitful discussions with legitimate results, it was crucial to bring together people with different viewpoints and from different social backgrounds: The aim was to assemble groups of citizens that would reflect the respective country’s diversity with a particular focus on reaching minorities and non-connected citizens. Therefore, general criteria like Age, Gender, Education, Occupation, Geographical Spread, and Connectedness were defined. Each partner organization was free to extend them through “criteria of national relevance” such as ethnic or religious groups. All national partners then had to apply the criteria to their countries’ and submit a “Recruitment Strategy” in which they explained how they would try to fulfill them. Most partners used a mix of methods: They reached out to networks, used their social media coverage, and distributed invitation letters randomly. Some cooperated with telecommunication companies to provide data connection for the online participation of non-connected citizens. Others sent out recruiters on the street. The strategies were reviewed by Missions Publiques and served as the basis for the recruitment. At least 600 participants represent each regional group of the UN. The ratio of women and men is quite balanced, and there is a wide range of different age-groups. 38% were students or pupils, and the most common occupation-groups were white-collar jobs and self-employed people.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The topics at the agenda for the Citizens' Dialogue in October 2020 were: “Internet and me,” “Building a strong digital identity,” “Creating an inclusive digital public sphere,” and “Governing artificial intelligence.”
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Full report: https://wetheinternet.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/WTI-final-results-report-v1h.pdf