Sida will host the eighth Stockholm Internet Forum in Stockholm, 30-31 May 2023 under the overall theme of “Risks and opportunities? – Role of the internet and ICTs during crises, conflicts, and disasters”.
Digital technologies offer unprecedented opportunities and challenges. They have the potential for positive transformation, but, when “improperly or maliciously used, they can fuel divisions within and between countries, increase insecurity, undermine human rights, and exacerbate inequality 1. Given that so many people around the world are currently living in contexts of crisis, conflict or disaster, it is vital to examine the role played by Internet and ICT infrastructure and data management systems, the frameworks and policies that govern them, and how and by whom the resulting transformations are leveraged. It is in this context that the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) will host the eighth Stockholm Internet Forum in under the overall theme of “The Role of the Internet and ICTs during Crises, Conflicts and Disasters”. Cross-cutting themes are gender equality, minority rights and meaningful participation of youth.
The forum will include opening and closing sessions, high-level keynote speakers, around three (3) broader thematic sessions in plenary and nine (9) parallel sessions as well as side activities. The main sessions will be broadcast online.
Sida will also host the so-called “pre-SIF” one-day gathering 29 May 2023 at Sida’s offices in Rissne (Sundbyberg), for development partners focussing on aspects of ICT, digitalisation and safety and security.
I. TECH INFRASTRUCTURES AND SYSTEMS: ACCESS, AGENCY, SECURITY AND RESILIENCE
This subtheme will look at the Internet and ICTs as infrastructure and services that connect people and places in times of crisis and that can build agency and resilience over time. They provide meaningful and affordable access to key services, such as access to finance; critical, timely information; support for facilitating community organising; and opportunities for young people. But infrastructure is never only about the technology; it is also about the human infrastructure that underpins and overlays it.
II. Information, data and media
This subtheme will delve into the domain of the media, information, and data, their potential and risks and how to manage these in a manner that protects the rights of people affected by crisis, conflict and disaster. Inaccurate information can fuel conflict and crisis. Misinformation and disinformation distributed via social media can escalate or even incite conflict and crises. Public access to data can also aid crisis response. Collection, processing, and use of often sensitive data is invaluable in humanitarian work. Strong safeguards, tools and data management infrastructures are critical to ensure protection of the rights of those who are already vulnerable due to on-going crises. Data governance frameworks are needed to treat some data and information as public goods, for example data, on food security and nutrition. Also necessary is a global legal framework that allows for the broadest possible circulation of relevant information, while preserving the rights of the people to whom the data ultimately belongs. The private sector plays a significant role in this ecosystem – and is a key stakeholder in either enabling, or preventing online threats and harms, especially amongst the most vulnerable. Media actors play an indispensable role in gathering and sharing stories and news, but they are also at risk. Many journalists, as well as artists and scientists, are injured, hurt, or targeted by repressive forces in crisis contexts.
III. Normative frameworks: Ensuring rights and upholding responsibilities in difficult times
The third subtheme will explore governance, rights and responsibilities, and the role of normative frameworks in respecting and promoting human rights online and offline. Securing a free open and secure Internet and freedom of expression online in times of conflict can mean the difference between life and death. Governments – including local government – are essential for sustaining response and building resilience. Policy frameworks are needed to promote and protect the creation of digital public infrastructures and digital public goods. Engaging government is essential to ensure positive and sustained impact. Private sector actors have responsibilities too and regulatory frameworks are needed to ensure these companies understand their responsibilities, and meet them.
1 Human Development Report 2021-22 | Human Development Reports (undp.org)
To participate in the conference, you will need an invitation.
More information can be found here.
Browse open sessions from past SIF events here.