Welcome 2022

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21 June 2022 | 10:00-10:30 CEST | SISSA Main Auditorium | Video recording | Transcript
Consolidated programme 2022 overview / Day 1

Welcome 2022

  • Prof. Atish Dabholkar, Director, International Centre for Theoretical Physics (video)
  • Roberto Viola, Director General, DG CONNECT, European Commission (video)
  • Thomas Schneider, President, EuroDIG Support Association
  • Sandra Hoferichter, Secretary, General EuroDIG Support Association

Video record



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>> NADIA TJAHJA: Good morning, and welcome to the European Dialogue on Internet Governance, or for those in the know, EuroDIG.

I’m the host today. I’m Nadia Tjahja. I welcome you here in the main auditorium at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics. I would like to take the opportunity to introduce you to our first speaker, Professor Atish Dabholkar, Director of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics.

>> ATISH DABHOLKAR: It’s a pleasure to welcome all of you present here today in person, I understand more than 200 participants, after two years of online editions of the European Dialogue on Internet Governance, EuroDIG. I regret not being able to be present today because of some institutional commitments. I’m sending my recorded message. I would like to send my greetings, many thanks to our sister organization for their support in the main auditorium.

I welcome many of the prominent speakers that are here, Vint Cerf, he’s attended the previous two editions organized, although not giving a talk but interacting with participants, the father of the Internet. Welcome to all of you, speakers and participants.

I don’t need to emphasize that ICTP is fully committed to open science. In fact, it is really fundamental to our mission. We have been working for the past more than half a century now making this principle a reality. An efficient Internet infrastructure is now all the more important, and it is the basis for open science in the future and this has been brought home even more starkly during the COVID emergencies.

Addressing connectivity for a third of the world that’s not connected with meaningful broadband is most important goal to break the knowledge divide because otherwise information is not available. There is so much to be done. Open Internet is a big condition and ambitious principle and it is important to make sure that this kind of connectivity with neutrality, with open and easy access to everybody can be sustained with good governance, should be sustained with good governance and EuroDIG therefore has become even more important and relevant today. ICTP believes not only do we need open access to information, but also open access to resources including competition resources. I’m sure all of these issues will be discussed. We continue to support the national research and education network worldwide to make sure our freedom of research and expression is guaranteed.

Last week we received a message from a scientist in Nepal, to give an example, who had been receiving scientific papers through the electronic general delivery system. It is an old system that was put in place many years ago, via email. He was emphasizing that network is even today very particular for the research needs of the scientific community in Nepal. We were very happy to learn this, which also shows that the Internet protocols and standards are still very important and it is something – it is of paramount importance to discuss the policies.

Finally, on a lighter note, as I understand this year’s EuroDIG team is Set the Sails Right, this is a city of science and also the city of the largest sailing regatta of the Adriatic Sea with over 2,000 sailing boats participating every year in October. I think that Set the Sails Right, it is good at the end of the pandemic and a new start for all of us.

I take this opportunity to wish you all and the organizers of this year’s 2022 EuroDIG a very successful event. I hope that the deliberations here, I’m sure they will have an impact on how we organize the Internet. I hope to see you again in the future.

Thank you.

>> NADIA TJAHJA: Our host on site is Marko and I invite him on to the podium for a small intervention.

Thank you very much.

>> Thank you very much, Nadia. I received this ball on Zoom and getting the real ball is much better!

>> NADIA TJAHJA: Thank you very much. This ball has traveled long and finally after a long time it managed to come back here to receive it for EuroDIG and I turn your attention back to the screen, to the next speaker, Roberto Viola, from the European Commission.

>> ROBERTO VIOLA: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m very pleased to join you today at the 15th European dialogue on Internet Governance. It is remarkable that the European Internet Governance community has kept a very high degree of engagement despite the pandemic.

I have seen in the programme that many of the sessions take stock of the most legislative initiatives from the European Commission, some which are already a reality and some are coming. This gives me the opportunity to offer you a reflection at the start of the conference on the overall role that Europe can play on how we can shape a Digital Transformation which is at the disposal of human being. It is a gift to human being and it is for the people, not against the people. Sometimes this is called the process effect. We think that the European model based on human-centric Internet where failures are respected, where everyone is included is the way to go for the rest of the world. That’s our joint task, the stakeholder community in Europe and European institutions.

Of course, we have to start from the fact that the cyberspace has to be secure. Secure means that the state threat actors should be sufficiently kept away from our day-to-day life and should not be able to interfere. Unfortunately, this is the case. That’s why the fight to secure the cyberspace and the Internet is a continuing fight which we won’t win day by day. First of all, by strengthening our legislation, secondly by having much more cooperation at European level with our like-minded partner. Thirdly, by using technology such as AI, Big Data, supercomputing to understand, manage the threat.

That’s our proposition for cybersecurity. We have reached an agreement in Europe to the new fundamental law for cybersecurity which is called the NIS2 directive which will strengthen the resilience of the Internet, in particular, the critical infrastructure, communication systems and DNSs. We think that securing the system, it is very important, it is very important to combat the abuse of domain names, it is important to diversify the current resolution processes and that’s why we’re investing on a public resolve, DNS for you as a secure alternative to Internet access for citizens, businesses and public services.

Increasing the level of cybersecurity by promoting and facilitating cybersecurity standards, it is really what we need to do, we want to do. We also want to increase the level of cooperation, as I said, that means – in the protection of critical infrastructure we need to work with every single organization private to public, we have to have a network of information about what’s going on that can be shared. We are very much believers that open intelligence is a very important source of ways of protecting the cyberspace and we foster it and we really encourage also disclosure, vulnerability of product, which is also a very transparent, important way to keep the Internet safe.

In this we actually want to work and are working with like-minded partners around the world.

As I said also we are working on this set of rules for the digital space which you will discuss during the conference. Basically we try to say if you are large in the Internet, if you control a platform, you should not control the Internet. The Internet should remain a place where everyone can express their feelings and opinions and also everyone can do business. That’s the essence of the Digital Service Act and Digital Market Act. They look at society, DSA, market, the DMA. The idea, it is to have a solid legal framework where there are clear obligation for online platforms and proportionate because responsibility goes with size.

When you look at the DSA, it is very important that we actually tell the actors – especially the very large platforms, you have to master the algorithms. We don’t believe any more that the algorithms are kind of entities that do things without human intervention, that’s, of course, a business proposition behind which is not contested. I mean, the algorithm complication of the fake news, the algorithm amplification of illegal material is not the way. There should be responsibility. That’s the core of the independent audit on algorithm decisions as part of this and that’s the idea behind the know your business customer for marketplaces. That’s the idea behind the Rights of the users to ask removable of material that they think should not be there. It is the responsibility of the platform to act or not to act, explaining why they take one or another decision.

With a Digital Market Act, we are going in the direction that every business should have a first chance to be in the Internet and it cannot be walled gardens, it must be the possibility for everyone to offer products, service, ingenuity and content and in a fairway.

We also have proposed the data act, the data act is about sharing the data, utilizing the data, if you buy an object these day, this object is a physical object and also a virtual object. That’s why the data act is there and this is the reason why we’re proposing legislation that the user of this object, the owner of this object must also have access to the data, must have access to the utilization data, the repair data to make its own choices. It is important to protect smaller businesses when they do the sharing agreement. It is also important that every company, every user can choose the cloud provider, so portability of the cloud service, other services, it is very important. This is part of the new model of Internet Governance because there’s no open governance with the Internet ecosystem if you’re locked in with a particular provider.

Moreover, the European Commission has proposed the first part of legal framework on artificial intelligence, and the idea, it is clearly the one that man being should be at the centre of displacing, which is artificial intelligence. The regulation, it is not how not to use artificial intelligence; on the contrary, it is about having confidence in using artificial intelligence. That’s why the regulation concentrates only on the risks and high-risks and leaves most of the application of the artificial intelligence not regulated because there is no need to regulate the nice enhanced system, it is simply nice.

Of course, if the artificial intelligence is used in a car so putting a risk, a life, a human being but also protecting, then there should be regulation. If artificial intelligence is used to select people for a job, it should be a high principal and the algorithm, same thing for providing a loan or a house. When the activities of the – I would say society, it is a state, a moment when the algorithmic algorithm is looked through regulation.

Of course, we’re in the middle of this journey, we’re very much working also with our like-minded partner, for instance, in the trade and technology Council, we have a Working Group with the United States looking at artificial intelligence, we have signed digital partnership agreement with Japan looking at the artificial intelligence. We look forward to work with India on this subject and the list is long.

Of course, also with the international organization, including the UN organization such as UNESCO. Our aim is to make sure that not only – that the world can use human centred artificial intelligence where the risk is known and as much as possible controlled.

Europe has to live through the transformation, the digital and green transformation, the two, they go together. The whole idea, it is that also in these very difficult times to look at the society which is better, it is greener, it is more digital, looking at what we want, we have summarized it in four points and I’m speaking in Trieste, one of the most important ports in the world where navigation, it is really the art, using this cardinal points. We have to navigate to the next decade when it comes to digital and they’re skills, infrastructure, digitalization of businesses and public services, and this policy, we will put people at the centre of the vision and to do that, also we want to make sure that Europe works on the basis of clear principle of rights when it comes to the Internet. That’s why we have proposed three institutions of Europe, scientist declaration, which is very clear commitment towards the people of what are their rights.

Of course, he had should not be empty words. That’s why below the declaration you have all of the activities which is financing innovation, capacity building, new networks, new Internet of change and at the same time securing withdraws that everyone can have the same chance.

As I said at the global level, more and more, the E.U., it is a player of reference when it comes to the digital governance of the world. Let me stress that we live with the responsibility in this role. First of all, in our partnership with developing countries, where we aim at addressing the digital divide and promoting the open Internet. I think in developing countries there’s really the chance, the hope that the sustainable digital strategy that’s also founded on democracy and openness, there’s no shortcuts to this. I think developed countries such as Europe should do more and we want to do more, again, in partnership, with the United States and other like-minded partner, but also developing countries should not take recruits that put at risk democracy.

In the long-term, it doesn’t payoff. We believe that the only way to have Sustainable Development in digital, it is always to keep in good sight democracy, openness which are the fundamental principles of an open Internet. On this, I’m sure we’ll count on the support of the overall community in Europe. I’m looking forward to hear from the debates you have on this point during the conference.

The other point is how to work with the international organizations, any particular – I mean, how to work with the United Nation organizations. In general, again, we would like that the voice of like-minded partners is well heard. That’s why with the United States we have promoted the declaration on the future of the Internet which has been endorsed by 60 countries around the world which advocates for an open, free global interoperable, reliable and secure Internet. We commit together with others with respecting Human Rights online across the Digital World. That’s the message we bring to international organization, we bring to the G20, we bring to the United Nations.

We want to continue work within the framework of IGF. We look forward to working with UNESCO as I said, we look forward with working with the ITU and we look forward of contributing to the idea of a digital compact. We come at this distinctive angle. And our voice should be, must be heard also in that context.

We know that not all the members of multilateral organizations think alike, like us. That’s why our voices are loud, has to build. In this respect, I close from where I started, Europe responsible, it is high and with the facts, with the community that you represent, we are showing that we can live up to this responsibility, we will not give up to pass the message about openness, human–centric development of digital and we’ll do it with facts.

I hope that you’ll have a very good conference and I hope that myself, my team will be inspired from the work that you will be doing in those two days. Thank you very much for your attention.

>> NADIA TJAHJA: I would like now to take the opportunity to direct you to the stage to the President of the EuroDIG Association, Mr. Thomas Schneider.


>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Excellencies, Presidents, dictators, hacker, activists, ordinary people, welcome to Trieste! It is great to finally physically meet here! (Speaking language other than English).

It is great to be here in Italy for the first time at EuroDIG at ICTP. It is also actually great to be in the UN premise for the first time as EuroDIG because ICTP is affiliated, this is the first time we’re in the UN building. Thank you foregoing through the last three intense, not easy years and finally making this possible, I thank Sandra, everybody at the Secretariat, all of the subject matter experts, everybody that’s been working very hard to make this possible, also in substance, of course, all of you that are there.

We’re meeting in challenging times. We’re more or less hopefully coping and over with the pandemic. We have an invasion from one country to another country, that’s something that we have not thought would be possible any more in Europe. It question as number of things we took for granted. We have a geopolitical situation that’s more difficult than – at least for the last decades. Sometimes I ask myself , do we actually still share the fundamental values that all our international institutions are built on and that make the system work.

We don’t even have to look to the east or the southeast from here, but actually in all our own countries we have forces that try to undermine democracy, rule of law, Human Rights so that we all that care about the principle, the fundamental rights have to work together and fight to strengthen and reinvent The Rights and also in the digital environment, we have powerful tools that we can use for good or for less good purposes.

In this context, also given that we’re here at the centre of the theoretical physics, I’m thankful to my friend from the Swiss IGF that because he reminded me of the free laws of robotics, Isaac Asimov, a famous scientist, also sci-fi writer, and this law, it basically says that first a robot may not injure or cause harm to mankind or to human being or through inaction allow human being to come to harm.

The second law says that a robot must obey orders given to it by human being, except where such orders would conflict with the first law. The third law say, a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with first and second law.

In addition, he believed that science and fact based reasoning must always prevail over manipulation based on religion, ideology or whatever kind of propaganda. I think this, although these things are 80 years old, is more important than ever to think about the basic principles. In this sense, let us use our presence here at the ICTP and of course online and discuss and formulate messages about what needs to be done so that digital tools are used to make our world more peaceful, fair, our way of living more sustainable and also lets remind us this goes in line with the plans of the UN and the Secretary-General to develop a Global Digital Compact by end of next year and let’s use EuroDIG and the IGF as a process to feed in as many voices from all stakeholders from Europe and beyond into the UN process so that it is not just governments that have a say but actually all of us.

Let’s work altogether here to send a strong message of respect for peace, Human Rights, democracy and rule of law to all governments in the UN, including and in particular our own so that the Global Digital Compact becomes a vision that will guide us to a digital future for all.

Thank you very much.

>> NADIA TJAHJA: Thank you very much, Thomas.

I would like to direct your attention now once more to the podium for the Secretary-General of the EuroDIG association, Ms. Sandra Hoferichter.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Thank you, Nadia.

I warm welcome to the 15th EuroDIG Edition, 15 years of bottom-up multistakeholder discussion in Europe. After two years of virtual only meetings I’m very happy to be here finally in the wonderful city of Trieste.

When I look back, I discover that there seems to be something like a five years rhythm in the EuroDIG development. We started in 2008 in Strasbourg, with no budget, but a lot of enthusiasm. In 2012, five years later, we founded the EuroDIG Support Association in Stockholm, we had a bank account and EuroDIG was not only established as recognized annual event but also as an institution that actively participates in global Internet Governance processes. In 2016, in our tenth anniversary, we truly reached another highlight with three Heads of States participating in person at a meeting and a peek number of participants being onsite. Now, again, five years later, I have the feeling that we are at a turning point again for obvious reasons. We should use this occasion and think about in which direction we would like to develop.

After two years of coming together in a virtual studio, it is really good to be with you here in person. Of course, I would like to also send a warm welcome to our participants online. Still I feel that we have not yet fully overcome the pandemic, and are only starting to realize how it has changed our behavior and participating in conferences, debates, multistakeholder processes. Many of us have used to participate in multiple events in parallel and we all have reached another level of multitasking. While this gives new opportunities, I get the impression that some of us are also a little exhausted. Not only from joining online meetings and doing everything just in time, but also from the consequences that the pandemic has caused to all our personnel lives.

In addition, we are shocked about the war in Ukraine. With one country in invading another, causing immense pain and sorrow it feels like we’re falling back in a dark past in times we thought we had overcome. Sometimes for me the past month, years have felt like a car on a test, the engine is on full speed but we’re still not getting anywhere. I think we have to be innovative, creative once more and find new ways to enable progress, not only with our sustainable goals, but to develop a digital space that allows us to live together in peace and prosperity.

We also need to be innovative again in the ways we organize dialogue processes like the IGF or EuroDIG under these new circumstances. We need to find ways to combine the best of both worlds, the physical and virtual one so that we do not lose ourselves in multiple parallel processes and can concentrate on the developing of new ideas, irrespectively of who is here physically or virtually.

At EuroDIG, enabling an active remote participation has always been a key issue, for this meeting, we focused even more on equal footing online participation. While we have learned in the past two years that it can be very convenient and resource saving to participate online, we should recall while meeting physically is still indispensable. We know that it is easy to exchange views and to work on agenda items in a virtual setting. Physical gatherings, however, they’re not only necessary for networking in a narrow sense, but make it much easier to be innovative and creative. Being able to feel each other when speaking and listening makes it easier to spark and create spontaneous moments when new ideas and solutions are born.

In the current situation in the world, in particular in Europe, we definitely need new ideas and solutions to make us move forward and not backwards. In order to create space for such creative moments we see shorter sessions, longer breaks in this year’s EuroDIG programme. Despite the very tight budget for this year we decided to organize a social evening here in Trieste, I hope that many of you will be able to be with us tonight..

Another encouraging sign, we see a lot of enthusiasm and energy among our young participants. EuroDIG has a strong focus on youth participation. This year, which is by the way, the official year of the youth, we again invited 30 EuroDIGers to come to EuroDIG. They have been meeting online regularly since April and prepared for their participation. In the past three days they had extensive workshops here in Trieste and from what I saw, they had a lot of fun. Where are you guys? Please send up?


We will hear more from you in this meeting and in particular when you present the messages that you have prepared for European policymakers.

Let me say a few words about YOUthDIG, why it is unique. YOUthDIG sessions are prepared by former and by current participants. At YOUthDIG we don’t set the topics where we ask participants to just research and answer questions that are set top-down, YOUthDIG participants focus on bringing their local issues, challenges, backgrounds and solutions to the attention at the European level. This is especially notable through the youth messages that will be presented tomorrow. Through YOUthDIG, we do not only focus on content but also on building skills. The academy includes effective networking, public speaking, session planning, advocacy, lobbying and other skills. We do these through sessions and also through social events.

This year we have also introduced some innovation in the programme structure as well as in the format of the EuroDIG outcomes. In the past, we used to agree on separate messages for every session, but in order to try to make our outcome more tangible we will produce messages for each of the focus areas. We have four focus areas so we will see four messages. At the end of each day, 30 minutes will be dedicated to you to agree on the messages. Therefore, I recommend to you to be in the room when this process is taking place. The message also be formulated instantly after the end of each day and what follows will only be a fact checking process in order to avoid mistakes and oversights. In this respect, I would also like to thank the reporters from the Geneva Internet platform who will, like in previous year, take notes on all the issues and will present messages for you to agree on.

I also would like to invite you to join us tonight for the social evening at the marvelous coast. It will be a unique setting and unique venue. Unfortunately, we do not have the budget to invite you for dinner, but the first drink will be on us. You have been handed out vouchers for this upon registration. Please come with us, join us, don’t have dinner elsewhere, have it with us in this unique place. Beside the seat on the beach, this place also offers a nice, a simple local cuisine. You should definitely not miss the first show of the jams, the global equal multistakeholder band at EuroDIG. They will play Jaromir Novak at the beginning, if you play an instrument, a passionate singer, get in contact with the band, it is truly open to everyone. I’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun..

One more thing, I would like to thank our donors, many have supported since early days. Many industries participating in conferences, it’s not free of charge, we appreciate that their contribution helped EuroDIG to evolve. Also a big thanks to those who supported us with a private donation. Your contribution keeps us moving.

To close, EuroDIG’s motto this year is Set the Sails right. When we chose this motto a month ago, we didn’t know what stormy winds would have blown in our way this year. As a good sailing team, we at EuroDIG will brave these difficulty winds and not lose sight on the goals to use the Digital Transformation for a peaceful, prosperous future in EuroDIG and beyond. I would look forward embarking on this challenge but exciting journey with all of you.

Have a good meeting and back to you, Nadia.

>> NADIA TJAHJA: Thank you very much, Sandra.