Confronting the digital divide (2) – Refugees, human rights and Internet access – WS 10 2016

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10 June 2016 | 14:30-16:00
Programme overview 2016

Session teaser

In light of discussions in Workshop 2, if human rights indeed should apply online as they do offline (UNHRC 2014) then what sort of techno-legal and sociocultural challenges arise in order to enable, and protect the rights of migrants, refugees and newcomers to Europe to access the internet and, once online, to be able to participate fully in the online environment?

Session description

For some commentators a striking feature of the current refugee and migrant crisis is how central a role mobile phones and internet access play in providing information, and contact with family back home as they seek refuge from war and conflict. Keeping these devices working, and being able to use various sorts of social media, is a vital lifeline for displaced persons on the road. They also play an integral role in being able to start a new life as newcomers in another part of the world.

But providing internet and mobile phone access to these communities raises a number of questions for policy makers and service providers, be it for physical access and online service provision for people on their way to safety, whilst awaiting the outcome of their applications throughout the world, or for their needs such as education and information on public services once resettled. This flash panel brings together a range of views and expertise on the legal and technical challenges that arise when providing internet access and mobile phone provisions to refugees.


This workshop is in tandem with workshop 2. Themes discussed will draw on the following submissions to the EuroDIG program: ID 11; 55; 60; 90; 30; 33; 41; 132


refugeerights, internetaccess, netrights, humanrights, refugeesandminorities, digitaldivide, digitalinclusion, disabilityrights, publicaccess


Roundtable Discussion with key participants, and invited audience members; Proposed output to be up to 6 recommendations to the European Parliament, EC and Council of Europe.

Further reading

Links to relevant websites, declarations, books, documents.


  • Focal Point: Marianne Franklin, Internet Rights and Principles Coalition/Goldsmiths (University of London, UK)
  • Key participants
    • Kiamars Baghbani, IFLA (Finland)
    • Marianne Franklin, Goldsmiths/Internet Rights and Principles Coalition; Academic
    • David Krystof, Freifunk Rhein-Main; Civil Society
    • Fatuma Musa Afrah; Civil society
  • Moderator: Julia Reda, MEP (European Pirate Party)
Co-moderator: Sebastian Raible
  • Remote moderator: Ruth Hennell (Youth, UK)
  • Org team
    • Charles McCathie-Nevile, Yandex
    • Andreas Palmqvist, Civil Society (Sweden)
    • Didier van der Meeren, Le Monde des Possibles ASBL
    • Dixie Hawtin, Minority Rights Group International
    • Frederick Donck, Internet Society (ISOC)
    • Hanane Boujemi, Hivos/IRP Coalition)
    • Julia Brungs, International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA)
    • Julia Reda, MEP
    • Justus Roemeth, European Parliament
    • Karmen Turk, TRINITI Estonia
    • Maarit Palovirta, ISOC
    • Marianne Franklin, IRP Coalition/Goldsmiths
    • Mattias Bjarnemalm, European Parliament
    • Olivier Crepin-Leblond, GIH
    • Ruth Hennell, Youth/University of Cardiff
    • Sebastian Raible, European Parliament
    • Stephen Wyber, IFLA
    • Stuart Hamilton, IFLA
    • Valentina Pellizzer, One World Platform
    • Wolf Ludwig, EuroDIG Programme Director
    • Yuliya Morenets, TaC International
  • Reporter: Valentina Pellizzer (One World Platform)

Current discussion

See the discussion tab on the upper left side of this page.

Conference call. Schedules and minutes

Both Workshop 2 and 10 have emerged out of an interactive drafting and conferral process online

Supplementary discussions via the email list.

Mailing list



  • Acts of terrorism being used to justify excessive forms of control and denial of full access for refugees/newcomers in atmosphere of racism and xenophobia
  • Now that internet is crucial for right to information, education, health services, employment, and well-being need to denounce curtailment of full internet access in detention centers that deprives refugees legal assistance and communication with families and thereby their human rights.
  • Public authorities and intermediaries cannot continue to delegate access provisions of key services to volunteers from civil society.
  • One size does not fit all e.g. need to recognize specific needs such as safe and equitable access for women, and young girls, safe spaces online and offline, to sustain learning, confidence, and mental health.
  • All service providers and governments have a duty of care towards providing realistic access for these vulnerable communities. This includes not subjecting them to privacy intrusions, disproportionate monitoring of uses, or restricting access to social media tools.
  • Need to generate alternative narratives to enable offline and online rights for refugees i.e. to combat cultural stereotypes, racist assumptions about needs at local and national level.
  • Outcome was initiation of an inventory of positive initiatives responding to the actual communication and information needs of refugees in Europe. Link to pad on 1 and 2

Video record

See the video record in our youtube channel


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This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

(No audio provided)

>> MODERATOR: She’s representative of the Internet Academic Governance Network. And we have Fatuma Musa Afrah, she’s born in Somalia, now lives in Germany, spent time living and working in a refugee camp in Kenya. Now she’s a community organizers in refugee camps in Germany and she’s there organizing get togethers and also working as an independent consultant. She has also brought some information that you can collect on the importance of Internet access to newcomers. If you want new information on that, we have printouts.

We have Kiamars Baghbani that is representing the International Library Associations of Finland. Developing library services that are useful, especially for people that are coming newly to our country and also writer, translator and has worked as a journalist and also himself came to Europe as a refugee.

Finally, David Krystof who is working with the NGO in Germany. This NGO is helping local communities that are providing free and open public Internet access to everybody and the NGO helps them connect to the Internet in a legal and safe way. And he’s a member of the City Council of Gogh, Germany. I will hand it over to Marianne. And I would like you to keep your interventions to about five minutes, to keep time for everybody.

>> MARIANNE: I want to thank you for being so collaborative and creative. We had a great discussion. I will speak now as an academic and engaged person in the situations. Julia asked what is accessed information needed for. It is for our well being, our ability to take part in our communities, our ability to pay taxes, assuming we do. For our ability to be able to even register for any simple public services. One needs the information on how to do it, where to go, and who to address. It is almost a no brainer, as we say about that. Of course, it is a hidden sort of gate and obstacles that confront anyone who arrives anywhere for the first time and doesn’t have the necessary qualifications to be accepted into the systems as we’ll hear.

Employment officers, social welfare officers, doctors, dentists, hospitals, schools, all of this new requires a digi I.D. of some sort. Is it an existing right? I’m not a lawyer, so lawyers correct me if I’m wrong. The initiative I have been involved in, and fortunate to witness and advocate for is the Charter of Human Rights for the Internet. This is the treaties and language to make it relevant to challenges facing us. In other words, whilst the laws and norms exist, it isn’t always clear how they relate to the online challenges. The issue about access was a huge debate as this charter was being devised, developed, and conferred about.

Access is not a right. Young people assume it to be a right, there are the digital natives, the BBC, the Pugh Institute has done a survey. It is assumed that getting online and having access into an account is a fundamental right. Where do we put access? At the end? In the middle? You know, are we creating new rights? You can imagine for lawyers and human rights advocates how that was a problematic idea. We resolved it this way. This is not my first language. Everyone has right to access to and make use of the Internet. Clause 1, right to access of the Internet. This right underpins all other rights in this charter. Access to and use of Internet is increasingly indispensable for the full enjoyment to human rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of education, right to assembly and association right to take part in the government of country and right to work and rest and leisure. And right to access and make use of the Internet arise from the human rights. It goes on. It says all other things are consistent. This right to access has to be consistent logically with other rights recognized in this present charter which is an articulation of existing treaties.

We have an implicit right to access. That is the long answer. I hope when I read out the existing rights written into international law, the European rights and national law, I hope that relates specifically to refugee and newcomers. Absolutely integral. The more they want to connect the next set of billion people particularly in the global south, the more imperative it is that access is accessible. That’s it.

I will leave it to my expert colleagues to talk about specific initiatives. This initiative predates the current crisis, as it’s called in the media. I have been looking at it more closely, wondering, you know, did we think of refugees and migrants and newcomers? Implicitly yes. But the work still has to be done to embed these aspirations into things like a library card, being able to access a doctor, being able to go online and find out how to enroll in a community education program. I have a lot to say about what the E.U. can do about it. Can I finish up on that point?

I’m an academic, a scholar, and an educator. I’m deeply concerned, some of our Council of Europe and European representatives are saying this in this meeting. There is an atmosphere of hate, religious intolerance, and atmosphere of outright racism. It is whipped up by media and popular politicians and being condoned by the middle of the road politicians. It is being encased in newspaper headlines that talk about refugees, migrants, terrorists in the same sentence. These are subtle ways of framing the debate in such a way that it becomes an either or.

My job as an educator is to ask my students, colleagues and myself difficult questions. The larger context in which we’re working is a shift toward intolerance, exclusion, shift toward profit first, people last. It sounds like ideology, nothing to do with Internet practice, it is a mind set how policymakers, librarians, understand, people who do not fit their norm their norm people that don’t speak the language as they expect to hear it, people that don’t know what logging on might mean or don’t understand they need a particular piece of I.D. before they can acquire a service. People who might be under stress and people that might have to live on the streets.

So what can the E.U. can do about it? They can stop framing refugees as criminals. They need to have a moratorium of all forms of online border controls and obstructions, a moratorium, if it was my dream world, on physical borders erected at the moment. If rights exist online, which is recognized by the U.N. itself and if they’re covering all of us, then what they have to do is stop the hate because hate speech is being promulgated by politicians, not just terrorists. If you read the headlines, and how we understand hate speech, it is hate speech. We need an increase in funding, not cutting of funding. We need training and support so all the places our newcomers get to, given what they’ve been through, that they’re allowed proper access without filters and without being told that access is everything but Facebook and WhatsApp. Guidelines have to be thrown into the waste paper basket and rethought.

This is my final point. A political issue first! The technical solutions will follow if the political will is there. And it is not at the moment. Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Marianne. Lots of homework for us politicians. A good way to start the discussion. Let’s give the floor to Fatuma.

>> FATIMA: Thank you for having me here and thanks for your input. It is really incredible. I can talk about political issues regarding Internet access. I think even in the Civil Society health, there is not much attention in dealing with the situation of Internet access, freedom of Internet access. A lot of people talk about Internet in general, but forget about the minorities who are really also human beings just like anyone else.

Can you imagine being in a refugee camp without your family, without your friends, blocked out of the world, yet you are expected to move on with your life as a normal human being? Absolutely, it is ridiculous. Internet is part of fundamental needs, I think, personally, the way you need a cup of tea, glass of water is how you need that as well. My family is a part of my life. I need to communication, for example, with my family. If I don’t have that in me, I’m not complete. There is a huge part of me missing. For me, I always try to understand.

You are given 300 euro. You have been isolated in a big refugee camp where there is no neighbors at all close to you. Then you are expected, the point of integration, which I don’t understand. You are told you have to get integrated. You have no information access, you don’t understand what they’re talking about you, especially for us who migrated to different countries that are different from where we come from, in terms of long way, culture, academic, professional, everything, we have to start from zero. Now we’re struggling, where can we fit in? How can we move on with our lives? And then the politicians very strong out there, saying, integration, you need to understand everything all by yourself. How do we do that, yet we don’t have help from them?

They have millions of shillings, especially talking about in a developed country like Europe, which is very much rich let us go straight to the point and they are the mothers and fathers of human rights. Who is human rights for? Is it for a specific group or for everything regardless of nationality and color? We generalize the helping of everybody, or is it for specific people? I’m surprised when you see panel discussions in conferences when they are trying to decide issues regarding newcomers I don’t like “refugee.” That is only meant for office reasons, not a social environment because we don’t want to feel down there. We’re normal people like anyone else. That is a take away information I would like to share.

I think the most important thing here is: Information is power. Internet helps us to translate some of the procedures. It is complicated. I come from Dutchland. It is bureaucratic and difficult. And so in other countries, everywhere it is similar. The government is spending a lot of money on translators, yet the Google Translator itself has documents translated in different languages. What they need to do is very easy to me. They have to improve what’s available and it can be a direct conversation between the person and the translator, which maybe we need witness for, but the proper way to manage this, that is the way to go forward.

We need community inclusiveness. We’re blocked out of the world. We don’t have voice, we’re left out, absolutely out. And thank you so much to every one of you. You are trying to find a solution to help us out, which is amazing, and bringing me here and others, as well. But is that enough? Absolutely not. We need a lot of political action to demand for our rights, whether you are L.G.B.T., Muslim, Christian, whether you are a nonbeliever, whoever you are, the point in the end comes to the conclusion we are human beings.

The only way to go forward, respect each other, love each other, find solutions to the existing problems and how to go forward is between us, it is how we agree that’s on.

And the last second point I would like to say that if it comes to democratic issues my English is going zero. If it comes to dealing with the issue of democracy, the Internet, I’m a political activist. I usually try to ask information for help. You see in the refugee camps, people spitting on you, describing you with ugly names. They don’t know what you are about. They woke up from a nice bed, beautiful life, and ate breakfast, and you didn’t eat. You have 300 euro and then you have to buy Internet and through that you try to advocate for your right, demand for your right, demand for the change.

I used to think you will read in the leaflets that I give, I used to spend 50 euro every month. I get only 300. And I would go around in refugee camp, people are fighting, drinking, terrible stress. It is not their fault. It is the situation we are put in. Nobody wants to be in an isolated world. I used walk. I want my life normal. Every one of us.

Today’s discussion, I hope will be the big question, how can we try to provide Internet access in refugee camps and talk to the politicians to reduce the theoretical parts and blah, blah, blah and put it in real action to be inclusive in the society for the point of human right, for the point of equality, for the point of accountability, because they’re accountable for us, because we’re human beings, we can do everything ourself. I hope that is the homework for all of us, wherever we come from, and try to help us so we can help ourself. We’re helpless right now. We need your help to help us and be part of you. Thank you.


>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Kiamars, please.

>> KIAMARS: Actually, after Fatuma, I cannot say anything else, I think. It was enough. However, I’m refugee, refugee forever. I’m out of my country almost 36 years. And during this time, I was living in 10 different countries, I’m telling you, with the languages, try to learn Arabic, then English and Finnish. You know how easy that is? As my grandfather says (speaking foreign language) a refugee is meant someone who lost lot of thing, lost lot of opportunities.

Well, when I was 25 years old, I had my family, two children, my own homes, new car, and enough money. But after six months it was 1981. After six months, I lost everything. My family and all that I had. I had no choice but run away from the country, because while I used to be journalist and teacher in the school. Because those who are, however religious people, they like to export their ideology to the different countries. I find myself in the box of autonomy.

I go to another site. I try to work as a dishwasher. I try to make life again, but is never coming back, all those I lost it. After 11 years, I could find my children. And bring them I’m sorry to Finland. And try to, however, help them, alas, my family my son and my daughter coming to Finland, both of them are studying and while educated, both of them are working.

But it is good, as I’m a refugee, our thanks to all European country. They order to Finland, accept refugee and British people that help us and give us opportunities. But as I say, I’m refugee forever, because even after 36 years, when every moment I’m following the news what’s going on there. Physically, I’m here, but mentally I’m there.

It is somehow okay Internet is very important. Through the Internet, I can have contact, I can have information. I can wrote article in different name and send it to those who like to read. At home, my life, after I came out, I was working with refugee. And right now, I’m working on (indiscernible).

And when, just a few weeks during last few weeks, I had contact with a lot of refugee. I ask them three important things they had with them all traveling time. Amount of money, some identification card, something, passport, or something. And a smartphone. And the smartphone, mostly because of GPS. How to find the way to go from this border to another. And also contact with the family in Iraq, Afghanistan, anywhere else in Africa.

The Internet is very I try to just answer all together. Because I mix it up. (Chuckling). Internet is the gate to the information and free world, and for this reason and the authoritarian system, Internet is forbidden, censored or very slow, because they don’t like people to know and to find out what’s going on there. Fortunately, I’m living in Finland, and Finland is the first country in the world to make that broadband a legal right for every citizen. In that case, I’m very lucky that we are in Finland. I am in Finland.

About myself, as a refugee, during before I came to Finland, I was living in Pakistan, I publish magazine in Persian language. I bought about asylum and about different countries. I didn’t know I’m going to Finland. But I (audio skipping) wrote it with hand, and cut it. And copy it in hand and send it around the world. When I came to Finland, end of ’90, I find out without Internet and without computer, there is no life. Bank, Internet, phone, all the same.

I got amount of money. When U.N. send refugee to any country, the local authorities give some amount of money for something that is necessary. Warm clothes, something like that. But I prefer to take all the money as a prepayment, give it to some it was a university and Macintosh. It was the first time I touched computer. Before that, I never was near. But, yeah, at University of Tehran, we had it, but it was behind the windows. And after that, I try to work with that, I go through one course for 11 month and I got the driving or something like that for computer.

So yes, read of this one almost impossible for right now. For that reason is necessity of life. In the modern world, Internet is a basic human need. In daily life and make it better than before. Any event, coming from society are usually the industry if it is agrarian society. There is the computer and telecommunication. They need to learn more about this technology. When they’re coming to Europe, those that are working with them, they don’t know their culture and language. And it is a big problem. I have contact with them in different country place. I think the best things somebody can do is activate the NGO. And because NGOs usually they are from different cultures together, multicultural NGO and they know both culture, they can be as a bridge between the newcomers in Europe and the society. Because those who are coming here, they have no knowledge about the society, about the role not online, not offline, not at all. It is necessary to do something in that case.

What Fatima say about the politician, I start to be active in politics and I was four years in one city in Finland. Little by little, I find out this is not a good way for me to act in society. It is better to be free, better to act as a free man. Not belong to this or that party. Because when I was not belong to any party, I could for example, get help from (indiscernible) from church, for example, to make it a camp for children. And in the same time I could go with the young communist groups and get something for them for refugee. When I was a part of this party I couldn’t continue. For that reason, I forgot that one.

I hope one day the European politician understand that the world is a little bit bigger than Europe. When they’re talking here about okay, Internet, the laws and securities, I am such a country that police use the program and the program is sold by some companies from Europe. With the program, they can find out when is demonstration, they can find out who is it there. They can find them and next day they’re under the torture. Some time, somewhere in this world, I.T. and the Internet is like a weapon against Civil Societies. They need to think about this one, too.

Thank you, I’m ready to answer the question because (chuckling) I articulate.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Let’s give the floor to David and then start the discussion with everybody.

>> DAVID: Yeah, thank you for having me here. I’m honored to represent and tell you about the movement which we have in Germany. Let me start and give you some background information. So Freifunk is a movement that is giving free Internet. The NGO in Germany are little bit connected, very different, but one same aim to give people the Internet. By building a bit of the Internet itself, building on free infrastructure.

We have the Freifunk and now we have over 300 members. And when we did, we did it mainly because it was and it still is Germany’s problem to give more access to Wi Fi and to everyone because you have problems of a third person that does something illegal because you as the person in control or who bought the Internet service from a provider is responsible for everything what is happen at your Wi Fi.

Normally, people are intelligent and don’t open their Wi Fi. Otherwise, they have to pay money and responsible for and should. People wanted free Wi Fi. It was possible, but there were a lot of risks. For this we thought there was a better solution. What we did was use existing technology, existing routers and route the traffic to Sweden, through the Netherlands so people could do it, and it was not their problem any more.

Some people said it is not legal, but that is just how the Internet works. That was 2012, and it was fine, but then more and more people were hearing about it and we had to think about infrastructure and then became a provider and becoming with a backbone and our own Internet. But then this way it is safe for the people, because we as a provider don’t have the legal problem with being responsible for what those persons do.

Yeah, we have now in Germany over 53 solvent routers, public accessible Wi Fi networks. That is only those that are on the map, maybe there are more. We have we have a special status in the community. Not everybody can go to the authority and say we want to be a provider. You have to deal with legal issues, do paperwork and a lot of costs. We are thinking it is a good thing to be shared. That is why we connect everyone that wants to be connected and give legal way to Internet access.

Okay. What else can I say? Yeah, why we are doing it. That’s a question people ask you when you go somewhere, bring the router set it up, solve problems. You spend your free time, you don’t get money, you do it because you think it is right. That is what most are doing is thinking and doing.

One side, the general problem that is nearly no public free Wi Fi in Germany. You go to holiday in another country and see it. That is a demon, you think why is it there? This is stupid, why do we have the bad policy that avoids public policy in Germany? There are a lot of people that have also political reason to do it because I think there are privileged groups that need access to the Internet, but those have been there also before we had arrival of refugees. We had people which couldn’t afford Internet, people who had problems of changing from one provider to another, and there were 30 days without Internet access.

There was also an a need for I said “refugees,” damn it, I wanted to stay with “newcomer.” I really like that concept. We have seen the demons, and local centers and telling us we need the Wi Fi. The newcomers are demanding for it. Most people say they see it is right. We need something; otherwise, the people are doing stupid things. Others said we need to connect the people to communicate with families and have the ability to educate themselves and to communicate and to learn the language, of course. That is why a lot of people did it, went there, helped the people get access through the Internet.

That’s what we have done. I think, since September 2015, mainly, our focus really switched from bringing free Wi Fi to cafes to bring it to someone that needs it and the growth of let’s say hot spot that is not the correct term. To the access points, because we are not like other public hot spots, you don’t have to have terms. You connect to the net called Freifunk. I have said a lot. If there are questions, I will keep it to the debate.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. It is time to open the questions, if you have questions to the speaker or share your own experience. That also replies to the remote participation where you can ask questions. Raise your hand if you would like to say something. I will go around and give you the mic.

>> CELLIA: I’m Cellia, I’m a lawyer and online rights activist. I want to ask, you know, in Turkey, we have newcomers, new newcomers, I wanted to learn like I am asking Freifunk can we establish the community that you did in Germany? If it’s the case, how we can do it? How we can collaborate? Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Would you like to answer right away or should we collect two or three comments?

>> FABBIA: My name is Fabbia, I am with Young Pirates. We have something we’re fighting for called the code bus. The idea is that in many places where you actually need to educate people with, like tech stuff, coding, how to use computers and everything like that, they usually don’t have computers. It is very difficult to get out there and teach about this. So we came up with the idea of why don’t we have a mobile room with computers so we can go there with this. And this could be applied to like going to refugee camps or going to schools or like anything like that. So feel free to keep that idea.

>> FATIMA: Just to add on it, I actually did similar. I used to do I just came up with the small idea. It was called mobile computer network for women. The idea was like, I asked my friends, I had my friends come around with me in the refugee camps. I didn’t have financial support. I was depending on my friends. I couldn’t walk. It was part of my free time, refugee. And a lot of women, they come along, it didn’t work we needed funding, I needed level of commitment. I was doing a lot of things, my friends were going to school. And it was (indiscernible) is that the right English? She said yeah, that is a beautiful idea. I didn’t take it far, I have a lot of things going on, myself. I literally forgot myself.

I think people need to be started with computer education. How do you provide Internet if you don’t know how to use the computer itself? Smartphone is there. A lot of people have experience in smartphone. I literally don’t know how to use it. Rather I’m comfortable with this. So keep the good work. I think it is amazing. And everyone else can apply as well. Thank you.

>> Let me say a few words to your comment. I think Freifunk can be a good first step, because those are things that you need if you don’t have that Internet access before. We do cooperate with similar entities to build on it. To Freifunk in Turkey I don’t know the laws but we want to connect external communities not in Germany, but maybe would be even better to do a technology transfer and help you set up a similar infrastructure in Turkey. But also I can’t give you a definite answer without knowing the law situation in your country. But we can stay in contact.

>> MODERATOR: Okay. We have a remark back there.

>> I have two comments to make. Or things to share and to hear your opinions on this. One is more contributing to the discussion of how I.T. can help young refugee, which is what I work most with. The young guy in Hungary to help many refugee get jobs. Many ICT are run from back offices in English. You don’t need to speak Hungarian to get startup jobs. Some of the opportunities created for young people that are opportunity to use these tools can get into the labor market by providing services that are not bond to the local context. You don’t need to be in touch to Hungarians. It is an interesting example.

But from the same work I have done with the young refugees, there are other questions I would want to raise. It is related to safety and access to information. I noted a lot of young people are looking for information on how is the asylum procedures in X, Y, Z. There is a lot of missing information, which leads them to make the wrong choices. Family unification, haven’t started the asylum procedure, turn 18 and don’t benefit from the children’s right convention. There are all kinds of shitty things going on there, which I think we really need to discuss how to support proper information that is correct and updated and problems that every country has a bloody different system. There needs to be thought in here.

Our NGO that are doing this. We need to support them, get them more visibility, because we believe they are trustable services. Young refugees that come here have no clue where to find the right information they need.

Linked to that, I also want to flag my concerns I have seen of young girls ending up in I don’t know what else, sexual exploitation, young unaccompanied minors that come to camp and end up in illegal prostitution. This went through the Internet pages. We need to see how to address these things. Another case that I heard in France, young unaccompanied minors here and still in touch with family members in their home country get on the top of the list for family reunification, meaning they’re sent back because the French attitude is that the young should go back home and all the work they’ve done is for something.

Here is the issue of how do you create security that people contract when you touch with your family. Even though it is bloody I can’t find words to express the fact that you as young kids can’t be in touch with your family back home. I find that outrageous. This all relates to possibilities.

I’m curious to what others have as tools or ideas to communicate the risk to the youth, unaccompanied minors, mostly.

>> (Indiscernible).

>> MENO: Sorry, yeah, totally. I’m Meno Atima, I work for rights and campaign against hate speech online, and we deal with hate issues. We believe the polarized discussion at the moment is not helping proper discussions about integration and challenges that there are in Europe, with the hate speech is challenging. A campaign 20th of June, European wide against hate speech. Join us on the campaign day.

>> MODERATOR: It is an important access to the debate. If there is access to the Internet, is it safe access in that there is no surveillance, and it can be used privately. Kiamars.

>> KIAMARS: In my opinion, it is not easy to find job for newcomer before they got answer from police and the system. They have no right to do anything. So I don’t know how it is possible.

>> I want to say something quickly. I think when you

access information on the Internet, everyone is at risk. Once you are trying to explore an opportunity or explore something, always there’s a risk in it. The only thing is because we’re more vulnerable, so many questions come up. I think it is a political game to keep us out of the world. Just to deny our freedom is how I will be precise about it.

>> MODERATOR: I think we have a comment from the online discussion, we will have that first, and then we will continue.

>> Yeah. So I have a comment, again, bringing up issues of the law being different in different countries. Gulcan says there is a law that there is open. According to the convention, they can open the border. They don’t have access to integration programs or Internet. He said he thinks Internet is out of the question in Turkey. I wanted to add something from my own experience in the U.K.

The home office made a rule that people in immigration detention centers cannot access instant media, chat rooms, and uploading and downloading files. People don’t have access to the smartphones in detention centers. One thing to bear in mind is the policies are intentionally making it more difficult.

When we volunteer our team, it is a refugee hack day. I’m trying to cocreate with people with technical skills and refugee. Volunteers here, we’re trying to do stuff. Fighting against policies.

>> HUDDA: Hi, my name is Hudda. How do you reconcile the risk of stigmatizing or singling out or searching grids in society?

For example, what comes to my mind is when Cameron announced and talked about the English language policy for the integration of Muslim woman within the United Kingdom and didn’t address all migrants within the United Kingdom. That is my question.

>> MARIANNE: Let’s address the elephant in the room, I do not condole: People that are not white, they are not wanted. The whole mind set in the political frame I hate to say this is to make it difficult so they will leave. There is a paradox. A conflict. It is down to DIY community efforts and volunteers to provide fundamental access, food, and support. Is absolutely scandalous.

When Cameron said provide English language and singles out one particular group, he’s a part of the mind set problem. He doesn’t hear what he’s saying. There is a paternalism that is linked to the idea that we will now decide that is Ruth’s point in the guidelines in the detention centers. We will decide what you can look up online.

Would any ordinary E.U., say, be good with someone saying you can look at this, you can’t look at that? You have to consider how to approach your local politician, your mayor, your town hall, your management. You have to work at a very slow and intense pace. While all this incredible work is being done, we have an enormous mind set issue in Europe. It isn’t just the Prime Minister and president. It goes down to your local politician.

Look at electoral platforms when you vote. This is something we can’t let go on. The racialization and criminalization for who have another skin color, I we have to face this. Until we do it is to local groups, DIY and do something that our government is charged to do under international law they’re not doing.

Where are our Internet service providers? Where are they? I would like to ask, apart from the wonderful community level Internet service providers, if there are any in the room, I would love them to address this issue practically. Thank you.

>> I wanted to say that right now the Internet is so much talking about terrorism and nobody can really define what terrorism is all about. What is it about? The word? A lot of people, because of political interest and their own power, they try to fix it on a religion, race, something that are stupid, which doesn’t have anything to do with religion or something like that. And death is death. Wherever that thing is happening, the only thing is going to the developed world because they don’t see others running away from the problem. We don’t give Internet access because we are concerned for state security and this and that. Everything was going on before us. Everything has been there, nothing is new.

The new thing to invest in is how to reduce discrimination and hate so hate can have no power and can be reduced very strongly. The more you attack somebody and tell them you don’t have the freedom to have Internet access, the more I will ask myself why. Why am I neglected out and left out and pushes me in things maybe I don’t want to do? What brings in there? If there is not equal justice, if I cannot be a part of the decision mechanism.

Look at the sue procedure. Am I allowed to get in there and say please think this way? No. Who decides everything? It is up there. Internet plays a big role. The only thing we should always preach for is peace, love, and unity. Not only story and blah, blah but with a very critical message and political activism.

Like she said, work on your local political level. We have to face this politician, power, text, wrong. Everything is interest. Kindly, listen to our voices. Find a way to help us. We deserve what you deserve. We are under one umbrella. I believe that always.

>> Shells, I’m from Australia. We can tell you everything not to do about abusing people and mistreating people. You know Australia is horrible. Following on from what Marianne said, there are a couple of things that are useful. At one level, the legal statement, the sort of high level that access to the Internet, you know, the ability to communicate is actually, you know, a necessary condition to exercise fundamental rights, provides an avenue at a very high, legal level to challenge some of the things that governments do. Working on that level is very slow, very specialized work, but it is worth supporting. At a far more local level, everyone knows that basically refugees come to places, immigrants come (audio skipping) places that understand that locally, and the more you make that policy at a local level and the more places that have that as a local policy they keep saying and putting up against the kind of crap the Australian national government does, the harder it is for higher level governments to actually argue against that.

You build a momentum for saying, these people people, they are, yes, they have rights just because they’re people. B, to put it really crudely, we can exploit them, right? We get value out of them being here. That is actually something we should do.

Looking at the question of how do you provide safety on the Internet, how do people people in a vulnerable situation, apparently, they’re like a target. People who are vulnerable already, there are a lot of bad people going out and attacking them on purpose. I think one of the things we do need to do is say, look, part of the duty of care is that the kind of stuff you make available to every kid in primary school and your nice white bred families is actually twice as important and twice as hard or 10 times as important or 10 times as critical to make available for people in refugee camps, concentration camps in Australia. Concentration camps that we outsourced. (Chuckling).

It is important to say that is the fundamental duty of care. That is something we do. That is something we do in the inner circle of citizens. It is something we should be providing because it is a right to protection. It is basically the right to safety. We should be providing that actively, providing those resources to the people who really need it, because they are more vulnerable, and they are more targeted.

>> JUSTUS: Yeah, hi. My name is Justus, I work here at the university here in Brussels, continuation university studies for people that are fleeing or just flat in their incomes. I wanted to bring a different aspect into the debate on matters. That some I think one problem here, like of the situation, Europe is for example, ANSIP talks about access to Internet. Probably he doesn’t have the situation in Germany in mind where there are far fewer open Internets in Astonia than Sweden or Denmark.

So I think that is something we need to keep in mind as well, different countries and the infrastructure. And that maybe we should also first have more knowledge about that. Because in the end, it has to be precautions of how expensive data is on the prepaid plan. If it is five euros, that is enough. 20 euros, that is a big chunk for someone on the budget.

>> I want to speak about Kiron University. I was working with them, I wanted to start my masters, so I withdraw. Kiron, we struggle, it is an online platform to promote education for the newcomers, wherever they are in the world, not only Dutchland. The biggest challenge is Internet access. In many camps, people want to study and continue with their life, regardless of the difficulties they’re going through. The big question comes in, if people cannot go to normal physical universities because we’re very much disadvantaged, how can we access Internet to just do the good thing? On one thing, we say the bad thing, in security, blah, blah, blah. We want to be good. How can we do this without support to Internet?

I wrote that here. That issue is women empowerment issues. A lot of women are left out there. They want to continue their education but also there is issues to do with cultural differences. There are cafes trying to address the issues. The cafes cannot say men out, only women. Because there is only one cafe in a refugee camp of 500 people and everybody is desperate for Internet. We should find a special way to support women and Internet. That is something we have to put into consideration, wherever we come from, find a way to educate women and have friendship technology. I don’t have much, it is about trial. Thank you.

>> UMITA: My name is Umita, I am the organizer of the Mediterranean Resource Network. I would like to highlight the importance of Internet access and online access for refugee communities. We have a good practice. It is effective in the U.K. and also becomes effective in other countries where there are direct. If it is blocked or restricted, there are indirect ways to access to our initiative. It is an online radio, it is euro radio network. It is not for profit initiative, entirely run by volunteers. Instead of following the conventional way, we thought it could be done by refugee communities for themselves.

Instead of doing something for them, giving them a voice. It started six years ago. It is some very good outcomes. One is eradicating the stereotypes of refugee and migrant communities. Some people were shocked to hear, yes, they have a deep history of singing in Albania. They thought like in James Bond movies, they’re all criminals, drug traffickers, wife beaters, all of the stereotypes. The same applies to people from other parts of northern Africa and eastern Mediterranean, Middle East that we monitor. Some people are surprised to see that, there was a romantic play from the Kurdish mountains. They thought they were just freedom fighters.

So it really helps them to change the mind set of the local communities, the emotional public opinion. Because it is unknown, there is a fear of the unknown, stereotypes, any of the 50, 60 countries that we monitor in other countries. People give up their stereotypes and they reduce, sometimes eradicate, and cannot find ground to be angry, suspicious, xenophobic in these communities.

We gave a pause hiatus, and not only is it in English, but Italian and French and other languages. It is to educate French speaking people about the British. It helps them to have a quick training with us. They don’t need to attend formal radio training. Everything is makeshift and information. After a quick training, they’re able to introduce their cultural heritage. Not just music, or fashion or art history, I’m talking about all of them, it helps them to have an opportunity to introduce it without any mediator, but by themselves. It really makes a change.

I don’t know, if the number of we can check it in local elections as well. Like the extra specific problems of members of the Algerian communities who have the minority backgrounds. They have more problems, more challenges because of the country of origin, because of the existing migrant community in the U.K.

They share the problems of the L.G.B.T. communities across the U.K. and they have their own problems like stigma within their own community. The same applies to people who belong to some certain ethnic minorities.

We had one country where they have conflict historical conflict. Sometimes it is not possible to apply or export the same model into other countries because of the Internet legislation, broadband speed, everything is different. It is always possible to find the shortcut way or indirect way for access. And we are developing a training package that will be comparable to Europe and Mediterranean.

If you want a future cooperation with us, we have flyers at the information desk and free posters of our radio station, the fist with the heart. You are more than welcome to speak to us. Thank you very much.

>> MODERATOR: I have Kiamars and then several remote comments and soon we will have to wrap up the discussion, please.

>> KIAMARS: Language is very important thing because most of the newcomers, they don’t just speak English or other language, for example, in Europe. That is good if all the official pages, for example, in local governments, they can translate it partly or completely to different languages that the newcomer can read in their own language and knows about the roles and the things in society. Another is good, and can develop more and more this translating system in the Internet that is working better than known.

Well, maybe between this European or Latin alphabet languages, it is no good. But when we’re talking about Arabic or Persian or oral, it is really, it is very bad, it is not enough right now. Maybe, that case, maybe European Union can develop this idea to make better.

>> MODERATOR: It is actually a funny side effect of the European Union that the Google Translate for European languages is better because there is a lot of source material that has been translated to all the languages. I don’t know if we can work on that specifically, I think it is interesting to see. We have questions remotely?

>> Yeah, first of all, I have a comment from the U.K., just repeating what people are saying about needing free access to the Internet. It says we asylum seekers need free access because we’re not allowed to work by the rules in U.K. and a comment from Kate Coya, responding to Marianne’s question about where are the Teleco, the ISP. She said in Hungary.

T Mobile, Hungarian announced they will provide free Wi Fi at the train stations for the refugee, which would be easy to do at the heart of the city center. It is clear they backed off because of not wishes to run afoul of the government here and their policies.

She’s from the European Union in Budapest and trying to provide and get free access to Wi Fi at the border. And a comment from an American student based in North Carolina but is at the moment in Paraguay. He said a fellow researcher visited the jungle in the Kalie (phonetic), and the authorities are blocking cell phone and Internet coverage. He’s asking a question to people in the room if anyone has worked in official or unofficial camps and how widespread that practice is? And is there any way of proving if that is in fact the case?

>> Yeah, I just wanted to tie into the remark that the refugee crisis has sparked and I agree there is a level of racism that is being expressed that is unheard of and should be addressed. The political gain is a concern. There is an address to this, but we’re developing a handbook to counter the narrative of hate speech. The alternative narrative.

This is a narrative being promoted. By liking a sexist joke, you are promoting patriarchal system. If you like a joke about the refugees having a job, you are promoting the narratives we don’t agree with. If not, we need to make sure young people do not agree with discrimination. The manual is coming and then will be in French and English in October. I think we need to reclaim the Internet with a different narrative than a discriminating narrative.

>> PHILLES: Hello. I’m Philles from Vienna, a director of a community driven open space in the center of the city. We provide infrastructure for learning, experimenting, studying, and we have a couple of mailing lists and very connected through all of Vienna, and Australia. We had many getting in touch with us to connect to the Internet. And others wanting to connect to the Internet. And we have Internet service providers in Austria. They’re all connected there. Our community is connected with them. I’m sure if people talk with them, they might find ideas about how to find Internet for refugee.

I know there is one mobile phone Teleco company who will also have cheaper prices for refugee to get Internet. We also had a program of free SIM cards with 20 megabytes. (Audio skipping) use this every day. I think it is, like, very great message.

My question is: Is there anybody that is part of some ISP or is there anybody who knows someone who is part of an ISP? That’s very sad. That’s really sad. We’re talking about connecting through Internet, and this is missing. I know that these people are very cooperative. We should also invite them to join this whole discourse. So thank you.

>> MODERATOR: I have two more comments in the back, but I want to contribute that besides Freifunk in Germany, the wireless in Australia, maybe if there is any way that the initiatives work together or you in the specific countries want to contact them, maybe refer to this session. We have been organizing the panel.

>> MARIANNE: It is a shame that neither government representatives or major service providers have been able to make this panel. We’re competing with the intermediaries liability plenary. We did manage not to be programmed at the same time as the next plenary. I won’t quote who it was, apparently human rights in the Internet is, quote/unquote, boring.

>> MODERATOR: Okay. We will have to slowly wrap up. We have another comment to what was just said. So let’s take two more questions back there, and then I’ll try to summarize and give you all the chance to comment on what was said.

>> I wanted to add to what the two here said about the narrative that we create as a society about the refugee and the migrants and I believe in myself. And for the example of the Turkish kids, the day after, all the social media, the refugee will come and then the attacks in Brussels and then it will be the refugee will come and then the end terrorism. It doesn’t stay in the virtual world, it goes to offline also. How to counter the hate speech online.

>> MODERATOR: You back there and then over here.

>> I think it is just by acting offline. Because the behavior of people online and offline is the same. The fact they do something online doesn’t mean they do it only online. >> So I’m not sure that’s the case. There is a certain amount of behavior online because people can be anonymous. Things they wouldn’t do in front of other people, they will do online. There are backlashes. Sometimes, instead of a remote comment about T Mobile in Hungary backing off having announced they would do something. If they hadn’t announced it, they could have just done it, and it would have happened. Sometimes it is better just to shut up and do things than tell a big story about it.

It is important to as I said, it is important to keep on providing a positive narrative. Providing a positive environment. You just keep on speaking the truth, right? So you say what is acceptable, what is reasonable. You have to keep on doing it. There will be backlashes, again, again, and again. If people know all refugees, A, it turns out some are not very nice like some of all the rest of the world. B, it doesn’t matter what happens, they will just keep on hating people. That’s a reality that we will have to deal with.

The challenge is to keep on being positive, to keep on trying to actually achieve the things we’re achieving and knowing that, you know, yeah, it goes backwards and forwards. But we need to do a lot of work to keep things going forward.

>> MODERATOR: I will take one more back here because I forgot you?

I wanted to say what I take away from a lot of the things that you have said is that there is no shortage of initiatives to try to improve the situation, the technology is there, but really, we are facing a problem of institutionalized racism. I wanted to contribute one example of that in Germany I have come across, in connection with the Freifunk community, where there is money allocated to people with asylum status based on the money they need for food, for communication.

And in Bavaria, in one community, when Freifunk the government decided to cut the money for communication. They said you have communication so we don’t have to pay for it any more. Of course this brings a community to a situation where they will decide whether they are helping or hurting. I think it discourages actually an interaction between people who have arrived in the country and people that are already there. I think it is deliberately counterproductive. And it is something that we definitely need to address.

Okay. Even if we have the best intentions in trying to come up with solutions, how do we change the political majorities and the mind sets to make sure the initiatives that are there are actually supported and not hindered in their work? Yes, we will have a final round of all of you, but I think you also wanted to make a comment?

>> I feel happy as a minority white man in this room, which is a bad and the government people, I’m from the interrelations association. On a personal basis, there are refugee that are there, and it is relatively positive. There is unlimited Wi Fi in camps, the trains don’t have a pass or anything to get on. That is reasonably well set up. There are a few examples.

On the more official side, libraries are increasingly one of the rare examples of a public service that remains in the community. I think it is really important, and we talked about going out and lobbying local government and so on. Go and talk to your local libraries. And obviously they have to work within the law, pity. But they have this public service role. The public service role is to treat all the people in the community the same way.

So if you think you feel uneasy in public space, if you come from Syria, why should you trust the government? It doesn’t make sense. People are looking for ways to adapt. Kiamars said about spending time to adapt services, to provide what people need and feel comfortable with. Talk with your local government, your newspapers, and talk to your local libraries. Show them what they can do. And good luck.

>> MODERATOR: Some final words?

>> Yeah. Well, the good thing that is in my mind, when I was (indiscernible) while living in Finland, one question is why is library important for you? Most of them answer because of Internet, free Internet, access to Internet, and other facilities, computer. It is true. We have free Internet for all the people who have library cards, and those who have not library card.

For example, there are tourists, if they show some identification card, something, passport, we can give them a code to use the computer and Internet. And also, for the newcomers, who are now in the camp and they are not registered in Finland, they have a card from the police. So with that card, also, we give library card for them after one year, they have the number, and then have real card. It is one of very important service that we are giving to them. And all, in library, we arrange so called language cafe and with them, even building them. Sometimes I go with the cards and I bring them to the library to show them the library and explain them and see them or hear the British language and talk with others to learn.

>> MODERATOR: I’m sorry to interrupt. We have to keep it short. So everybody have same some

>> Yeah, just one minute. (Laughter)

>> MODERATOR: Okay. 30 seconds.

>> Okay. 30 seconds. They have no money to come from the camp to the library. What we did, with us in the language cafe, we can signature the paper and social office give them money for the traveling. Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.

>> I would like to ask anybody if there is a way to start creating a monitoring tool on the sorts of abuses of access? The denials of access? Obstructions of access when promised? A way to keep a list to help the counternarratives. I don’t know, I learned a lot today. Thank you, everybody.

>> Basically, I just wanted to add a roundup of what is discussed in the remote participation and Twitter. It is essentially discussions, a lot of people talking about projects that they’re involved in, which is what we’re getting in the room as well. And a comment about wanting to feel safe on Facebook and social media, wanting to know how to use real names, wanting to have the option to not have to give I.D. and information and about what the government is enforcing.

>> MODERATOR: Perhaps as a way of collecting information, what I can do is put up a way of contacting each other on my website. And that would be out there, so we can put a place to collect each other’s information about the projects mentioned in the discussion and then perhaps Marianne, you can also come up with a possibility of how to collect the different abuses that we’ve heard about. Let’s continue with the final.

>> Yeah, briefly, Internet provides solution to a lot of problem. And issue to work in the labor market. They want to find jobs even though not allowed to work. It can find internship or mentorship programs. Projects like the cafe or give something back to Berlin. There are a lot of projects trying to work on this. This is about connecting network. Internet is a solution to accommodation right now. In our country, Dutchland, there is a problem with housing. A lot of people like place for refugee, they post information in the Internet to ask for people, we have a family, we need this and that. And can you provide support? People are responding. My hope is there will be flexibility in the different political policies in dealing with the law and order issues so people have freedom of Internet access to solve all of the issues.

It was really lovely to be here. Thank you again for inviting me. Hopefully we’ll take something home, all of us. And have safe trip back home.

>> David.

>> I’m sorry.

>> DAVID: Yeah, to conclude, for me, it is a fact, Internet access is a fundamental human right because Internet access is, today, information to education, connection, exchange, empowerment, nevertheless let’s say but one thing has to be clear. It is still the responsibility of government, for government and politics to guarantee human rights. If you get as a newcomer, access to Internet or free Wi Fi. That has to be a task and responsibility of local authorities, and it’s good that we have such an active community in Germany and other places in Europe. I said it already. But we can’t be everywhere. So let’s stay there. Let’s just do (audio skipping) that we like to help, but politics should support us. Not like in Bavaria, hinder us in our activities by is doing stupid things.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, everybody.

(Audio skipping) We’ll just put it as a blog post with EuroDIG. Good discussions from here on.


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