Plenary 2

Open youth spot: Digital Activism and Privacy – quick fix or long term involvement?

Organising team / focal point:

  • Focal point: Nadine Karbach, IJAB e.V. // IGF-D Youth forum
  • Lorena Jaume-Palasi, Ludwig Maximilians University // IGF-D Youth forum

Key participants:

  • Anya Orlova, Network of European Digital Youth
  • Katitza Rodriguez, Director Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
  • Paula Roth, New Media Summer School
  • Rabea Willers, Youth Representative, Directorate for Democratic Governance, Council of Europe

Moderator:Marianne Franklin, IRP Coalition (IGF)/Goldsmiths University of London

Reporter:  Lorena Jaume-Palasi, Ludwig Maximilians University // IGF-D Youth forum

Remote participation moderator: Narine Khachatryan, Media Educatin Center Armenia

Description / key focus: There is a need for stronger multi-stakeholder participation in the political processes of Internet Governance concerning privacy-related issues. However is digital activism really creating these opportunities? Digital activism can be defined as the use of ICTs for a range of forms of activism to facilitate communication among citizens and raise awareness for political issues. Recent debate on new EU Data protection reform showed the need to rethink and adapt. Carried out through a closed community of experts in a non-transparent process these important topic elude the average user, which it affects. Digital activism is one of the ways privacy issues are approached and addressed to date. However today’s representation of actors and agents of digital activism is very imbalanced, regionally disproportional and creating a gender gap. Moreover participation of civil society on the web in IG, its work and methods are questionable, not institutionalised and often uncoordinated. Hence,the democratic quality of digital activism, characterized by its level of legitimacy, representativeness, accountability, and inclusiveness, needs to be assessed and problems associated in this context, such as the digital divide and a lack of institutionalization should be discussed. Questions to be addressed:

  • What is the added value of digital activism for the young people?
  • Can problems of youth participation in IG be addressed through similar innovative processes of participation, or does it just relieve young people’s need to express themselves whilst the decisions are made elsewhere.
  • Can digital activism bridge the gap between classic particiaption and technical community?
  • What is the impact of digital youth activism on the lives of young people, taking into account that the net keeps record on everything?
  • What is the value of anonymous activism?

This panel will look into how digital activism influences privacy issues. Whether it is really working as an instrument to change digital policy debate. What are the mechanisms of digital activism and how relevant is that for young people? Moreover is it an effective way to go to influence European politics on Internet Governance?


Links: …find out more on the WIKI here


Plenary 2 was focusing on the nexus of digital activism its relation to mass surveillance in the age of whistle blowers/truth tellers. It was solely conceptualised and organised by young people and featured an all-female plenary, to raise the discussion on gender representation at the IGF. The key points of the debate included:

  1. Activism as a way of meaningful participation can be ensured through privacy. In particular in authoritative regimes privacy is of the essence to allow resistance to government policy. Therefore the application of privacy tools by the citizens in itself can be already understood as an act of activism. At the same time activism needs to speak up against mass surveillance in order to ensure Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly and keep privacy on the agenda!
  2. Petitions are a popular way to showing support for societal issues. Many of these are collecting much more data than necessary. It needs to be clearly made distinguishable what data needs to be known and which is requested additionally. Paula Roth: “Just because you want change doesn’t mean that you have to be a public person or should become a public person.“
  3. There have been first successful steps for crowd-sourcing of legislation in Finland. This process can have an empowering effect and increase participation and legitimacy of policy. Additionally there are various digital tools to keep records of voting and contributions of policy makers, which increases transparency.
  4. Digital activism can greatly enhance the outreach and involve many more people in a more direct way. Media literacy needs to be considered to ensure equal participation opportunities. This overlaps with open source discussions, as these tools allow diversity and openness but often cannot compete with proprietary tools, in particular in regards to social networks.

Read the transcript here!