Messages from Tampere

19 – 21 June 2023

Opening Plenary

Digital cooperation between African and European parliamentarians

Rapporteur: Andrijana Gavrilović, Geneva Internet Platform

  1. We need a better EU-African dialogue, especially on regulatory issues, to ensure that there is no imposing of ready-made ideas and that parliamentarians are empowered to participate in such discussions.
  2. Cooperation at the policy level and the technical level is needed. We also need capacity building, knowledge transfer and training to unlock further investments and engage big tech. Infrastructure development is needed through investments to secure and build resilience, connected networks are the foundation. We also need projects addressing the connected needs of the most underserved and hardest-to-reach rural populations to bring affordable, reliable, secure, and accessible connectivity. Developing the necessary digital skills for meaningful connectivity is required to develop Internet governance leaders.
  3. African parliamentarians need capacity building and opportunities for their voices to be heard in tech discussions. Recognition of parliamentarians in global processes is paramount, and their physical presence is also important for their learning process and for sharing their experiences. Parliamentarians are important stakeholders in realising implementation efforts and pushing for these different legislations within national parliaments.
  4. Europeans can offer an alternative to the Africans based on principles of openness, transparency, and democratic Internet governance.
  5. On the Global Digital Compact, an issue the European and African countries and parliamentarians can work together on is tackling the digital divide, which means ramping up both public and private investments in digital infrastructure and connectivity. After adopting the GDC, Europe and Africa can work together to coordinate its implementation regarding the standards and capacities.

Main Topics

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Workshop 1:
Models to support investment in the network infrastructure in Europe: what is the way forward?

Rapporteur: Francesco Vecchi, United Nations University – CRIS

  1. Interconnection:
    The EU aims at achieving universal connection to 5G by 2030 to support the consistent growth of content while ensuring competitive access through a structured regulatory system. Universal coverage and high-quality connectivity must be achieved to fight against discrimination and secure the digital transition, a process led by communication operators and publicly listed tech companies that are, respectively, investing in rural and remote areas and in data centers. However, laws of physics are not a social construct: 5G connectivity performances are bound by the speed of light and, at some point, the distance between devices will need to shrink. Finally, IoT traffic, connecting devices, e-Government services are paramount challenges and need new solutions, such as different investment models, more mergings, more competition in platform players, and a sustainable financial capacity.
  2. Neutrality:
    Neutrality is crucial in the EU regulatory framework. The Internet is based on permissionless innovation: as long as one speaks the Internet protocol, innovations can be proposed without any legal or public permission. Moreover, the Internet is not entirely public: peering transit, Internet exchanges and private Internet are all run by non-public players, and they all have their own data storage and other infrastructures. This is one of the causes of the Internet’s fragmentation, but redirecting traffic could lead to Internet quality problems.
  3. Price increase:
    In the latest period, revenues for Internet companies were raised because of a decrease in the cost of infrastructures. Even though an increase in individual customers’ prices might not be ideal in such a highly regulated market as the Internet, their overall impact may be positive since other services prices would be balanced.

Workshop 2:
Digital information literacy as a modern civic skill – a Finnish perspective

Rapporteur: Francesco Vecchi, United Nations University – CRIS

  1. Finnish CRITICAL Project
    In Finland, the CRITICAL project includes media literacy (i.e. digital literacy in education) for students and teachers in curricula from early childhood, as stated in the 2013-2016 Finnish Media Literacy National Policy Guidelines. However, though some organisations dealing with fact-checking and networking are playing a crucial role in fighting back the threats of disinformation and trolling (e.g. Faktabaari), the lack of critical literacy skills is still to be tackled since information literacy is essential for fair opportunities.
  2. Safeguard of Individual Autonomy in the Internet:
    Democracy is undermined by media and digital power monopolies, the threats of disinformation and polarisation, as well as the lack of transparency and accountability in data collection for economic purposes. This context requires safeguarding the concept of individual autonomy by enhancing citizens’ digital literacy and education, and by integrating digital competencies with ethical, social and cultural dimensions.
  3. Culture in Digital Information Literacy:
    To face the current multi-crisis world, it is paramount to provide universal epistemic rights and to secure trust at three levels: in basic societal functions and structures, in knowledge organisations, and between individuals. This aim can be achieved by improving culture’s role in Digital Information Literacy, to foster critical dialogue, empathy, and tolerance, while looking for a balance between innovation and regulation. Individual, social and political levels must be taken into account when shaping protection policies, as well as avoiding epistemic violence to pursue a pluralistic society.
Workshop 3:
Trustworthy AI: Large Language Models for Children and Education

Rapporteur: Francesco Vecchi, United Nations University – CRIS

  1. Large Language Models (LLMs):
    Large Language Models like ChatGPT4 have a revolutionary potential for customer services, translation, and human-machine communication, but they do not produce knowledge. Actually, they simply map statistical relationships between linguistic tokens by identifying patterns and finding correlations. AI-generated texts are always fictional, and the result of an easily biased statistical equation. Regulation to protect the most fragile users is certainly needed, but it must be gradual and focused on core principles rather than on quickly out-of-date technologies.
  2. Italian Data Protection Authority:
    The Italian Data Protection Authority stopped the use of ChatGPT in Italy since they believe that the technology is not mature enough, that the current AI market is dangerously monopolistic, and that it is rising faster than the regulation (e.g. EU regulation on AI is going in the right direction, but it will not be implemented before 2025). Finally, children need special protection, and should be considered as legally unable to enter in any kind of personal-data and digital-service contract.
  3. LLMs in education:
    LLMs can remarkably improve reading, writing, analytical skills and the production of educational content while providing more personalised learning options. Nevertheless, children are less able to distinguish reality from AI-generated content; LLMs can cause overexposure to biases and disinformation; relational drawbacks such as depression, addiction, and anxiety can take place; and plagiarism, truth, and information quality remain serious issues. Therefore, regulation must be focused on putting children’s rights at the center, by spreading digital literacy among children, parents, and teachers, and entailing legal responsibility for the design, the outcome, and the oversight of the system.
Workshop 4:
Building cross-stakeholder awareness and understanding of the direct and indirect environmental impacts of digital/Internet technologies and how to mitigate them

Rapporteur: Francesco Vecchi, United Nations University – CRIS

  1. Nexus between digital transition and environmental impact:
    The Council of Europe has recognised the nexus between digital transition and environmental impact, and its connections with human rights, child abuse, and exploitation. The most effective critical paradigm to unpack this nexus is composed of direct (e.g. energy consumption, mining of rare minerals and raw materials, etc.) and indirect environmental effects (e.g. results of the implementation of digital innovation in industries, etc.). However, a standard measure to analyse these outcomes still needs universal acceptance.
  2. Environmental impact of hardware infrastructures:
    Though many think AI is software and ephemeral, it is actually rooted in concrete infrastructures, as well as cloud services that are operated through huge factories and data centres filled with computers and storage devices. Moreover, quantum Internet is far from being sustainable. So, to decrease the environmental impact of the Internet, it is first crucial to determine the green metrics for measuring it.
  3. Decision-making process:
    The current decision-making process lacks knowledge regarding the environmental cost of each decision and of new digital technologies, and struggles to concretely implement sustainable technology by design. Therefore, regulation should take a consultative and iterative approach, starting from improving measurement, standards and collaboration on data collection, then looking at the complete life cycle impact.
Workshop 5:
Proposal for a regulation laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse

Rapporteur: Org Team

  1. In regard of the EU Commission Proposal for a Regulation to Prevent and Combat Child Sexual Abuse, the panel, composed of different stakeholders, agreed that something needs to be done to better protect children online due to data showing that 59% of the CSAM removed from the Internet is hosted in the EU, with the severity and proliferation of these images and videos growing year on year.
  2. Risk assessment and mitigation are crucial! Digital service providers have a responsibility to create and provide safe and reliable services for all users. To protect children, regulation should make detection and removal of communications and depictions on the Internet compulsory. Diverse views were shared on how Safety by Design can be harnessed, including encryption as a way to offer children safe online services. Concerns were also raised on how companies could be doing more to detect CSAM within End-to-End Encrypted Environments were raised. In addition, media literacy education for children and parents is recommended.
  3. Privacy concerns should be taken seriously. More research and development of reliable technologies to avoid large numbers of false positives are required. And care must also be taken to avoid technologies being repurposed for means other than their intended use – to detect child sexual abuse – by less democratic regimes. For these purposes a strong and independent EU Centre is also recommended.
Workshop 6:
When Universal acceptance meets Digital inclusion

Rapporteur: Francesco Vecchi, United Nations University – CRIS

  1. Multilingualism in cyberspace:
    Multilingualism is a key issue for universal acceptance and digital inclusion. According to statistics, English is the Internet default language as it is embedded in the foundational blocks of databases and programming and it represents the absolute majority of content, while between 15 and 35% of the world population are left out of the digital dialogue. Preservation, promotion, and revitalisation of indigenous languages worldwide must then be fostered to let marginalised communities preserve their cultural heritage while fully participating in the digital age.
  2. Inclusion of indigenous languages
    Finland has made huge efforts to provide digital content in Sami indigenous languages, covering information, media communication, digital learning, welfare bureaucracy, and soft public services. Moreover, internationalised domain names or IDNs have proliferated in recent times, but South Asia and the Sub Saharan region remain the least connected to the Internet. All in all, content is key to achieve Internet multilingualism and universal acceptance: having content in specific languages builds a market and represents a convincing reason for users to want to go in that specific domain.
  3. Solutions
    First, to achieve universal acceptance it is necessary to adapt devices, keyboards, screens, tools and programming languages, as well as applications and contents to a real multilingual context. Second, huge investments are needed in intertranslatability and in promoting consumer choice and inclusivity by ensuring that domain names and email addresses work in all software applications. This process must be performed for and by the indigenous communities and its feasibility is linked to the current heterogeneity in connectivity, though a general overview is what is really missing.

YOUthDIG Messages

Topic 1: Creating a brighter future with artificial intelligence: safety and prosperity for all

  1. The European Union (EU) should assume a leadership role in promoting global collaboration in artificial intelligence (AI) research and development, with a particular focus on ensuring the safety and ethical use of AI technologies.
  2. To mitigate the risks of AI for society:
    1. the EU should invest and support AI alignment and AI development research equally.
    2. governmental bodies must ensure that high-risk AI systems are supplemented by human involvement in order to prevent single points of failure.
  3. To improve the EU AI Act:
    1. legislators must implement explicit regulations on using high-risk AI systems for research purposes, to ensure that the AI Act does not hinder ongoing and future research on AI
    2. legislators should include stipulations so that AI providers must consider the impact of applications on both the individual and societal level.
    3. legislators need to explicitly and unambiguously define what constitutes “subliminal techniques” of manipulation.
    4. legislators need to introduce better distinction and regulation of “foundational model” and “general purpose AI” systems.
  4. Call for the teaching of AI, namely its potential usages, limitations and ethical implications, both in formal and in life-long learning education across Europe to counteract the lack of comprehensive understanding of the potential applications and limitations of AI.
  5. Governmental bodies and civil society need to advocate for AI to be regarded as a common good, emphasizing the importance of inclusive access, fairness, and societal benefit in the development and deployment of AI systems.

Topic 2: Bridging the Divides: Building a Conscientious Digital Ecosystem
  1. Call on the European states to reduce mining of critical raw materials by shifting tomaterials recovery and e-waste recycling to prevent ecosystem degradation and human rights violations.
  2. Call for enhancing the digital skills of children by strengthening the sytematic education of caregivers and educators so:
    1. Children can take advantage of digital tools
    2. Risks involved are mitigated
  3. Urge all relevant stakeholders to collaboratively prioritize the inclusion of marginalized voices in the decision-making process with the aim to create an inclusive digital landscape in Europe.
  4. An urgent appeal to governments to increase investment in rural regions’ Internet infrastructure with the objective to reduce Internet fragmentation and the lack of potential work opportunities it creates.
  5. Establish a set of cohesive standards towards increased interoperability in order to avoid vendor lock-in in commercial applications and discourage excessive market concentration.
Topic 3: Current Challenges of Data Governance
  1. Protecting data of people on the move:
    1. NGOs need access to and training on safe-by-design data warehouses to safeguard the data of migrants.
    2. The EU Parliament should reduce the four-year period granted by the EU Parliament for the EU large-scale migration database to align with the safeguards in the EU AI Act.
  2. Data privacy in healthcare:
    1. EU Member States must collaborate with European institutions to protect individuals’ rights and obligations regarding the collection and handling of personal/health data under GDPR.
    2. The European Union must ensure consistency and uniformity when accepting proposals for the European Health Data Space to ensure cross-border access to efficient healthcare.
  3. Private company data governance:
    1. Governmental bodies should provide small companies with affordable and accessible mechanisms for data governance capacity-building.
    2. Private companies should adhere to internal regulatory frameworks and improve codes of conduct to enhance accountability, transparency, and compliance with European data protection regulations.
  4. Consensus on digital rights:
    1. National governments must integrate the European Declaration of Digital Rights and Principles into regulations at the EU national level.
    2. Legislative bodies across the European Union should participate in multistakeholder initiatives within and between member states to foster credibility and respect for digital rights.
Topic 4: No backdoors in the future of IG: towards a cooperative and evidence-based Internet governance!
  1. Call on the international community to create enforcement mechanisms to hold governments to account for their commitments contained in the Declaration for the Future of the Internet.
  2. All stakeholders involved in regulation or development of the Internet should conduct thorough impact assessments to identify the effects of their activities on the Internet and the user experience in order to protect security and privacy and avoid fragmentation.
  3. Call on states and the EU to systematically engage the technical community with regards to cybersecurity considerations throughout the policy-making cycle.
    1. Do not break encryption!
    2. No backdoors – no vulnerability management but vulnerability disclosure and patching processes!
  4. Call on governments to create a framework for acceptable online activism.
  5. EuroDIG must ensure that all past and future youth messages are addressed by their respective stakeholders and ensure that the youth are systematically involved throughout decision-making processes.

Find the Messages from previous years in our archive.

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