The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a United Nations (UN) global multi-stakeholder forum designed to promote discussion and consensus on public policy issues relating to the Internet. The IGF is an outcome of the United Nations-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2005. Its initial 10-year mandate was renewed by UN Resolution A/RES/70/125 in 2015.
The Barbados IGF, which was first held in 2017, provides Barbadians from all sectors of society with a platform to discuss how they use the internet and digital technologies, and the most pertinent issues affecting them. The Internet Society, and by extension the Chapter, believes that “the internet is for everyone” and one of the goals of the IGF is to ensure that the discussions are relevant to all participants regardless of technical background.
The 2019 Barbados IGF is unique in that, as part of a larger national symposium, it has a critical mandate. As it is free to the public, it provides a platform for citizens, who may not be able to attend the paid components of Smart Barbados Week. This year the IGF is highly focused on issues of development, inclusion and protection of the citizens who will ultimately decide the success of any national transformation initiative.
Before citizens are willing to support any Smart Barbados transformation initiative, the government needs their trust. In order to gain that trust, it needs to demonstrate that it has the technical capabilities and legal and ethical frameworks to ensure that the data it collects cannot be lost, stolen, corrupted or misused. This discussion seeks to understand the level of trust that citizens have in the government in relation to the implementation of advanced technologies. It also seeks to give the government a platform to address citizens’ concerns related to issues such as:
In an age where information and misinformation is pervasive, is it time for Barbados to move beyond its traditional definition of literacy as being able to read and write? The internet enables the rapid dissemination of information without regard to its accuracy. This places the burden of separating fact from fiction on the user. We pose the questions:
While passing the Data Protection Act is a step in the right direction, the Act alone cannot guarantee the safety and security of citizens’ data. The discussion centers around:
Digital technologies have radically transformed education around the world. The rise of online learning platforms like Khan Academy and Massively Open Online Courseware (MOOC) providers like edX and Coursera have made it easier than ever to gain access to knowledge. As Barbados seeks to build a smart nation, we need to ensure that our people are being prepared to contribute to the digital economy. With that in mind we ask the questions:
The Data Protection Act has been passed into law, yet many citizens and businesses still do not understand the implications of the law for them. The goal is to discuss the implications of the Act, especially as it relates to:
According to the Nielsen Normal Group “Digital products are competing for users’ limited attention. The modern economy increasingly revolves around the human attention span and how products capture that attention.” Is the race to capture and monetize greater amounts of attention in an increasingly competitive marketplace giving rise to addictive platforms either actively or inadvertently? This discussion attempts to explain the workings of the attention economy, internet addiction and how they might be related. It also seeks to understand if internet addiction is becoming prevalent in Barbados and to understand how we might go about controlling our use of our devices so that they do not control us.
As more government and private sector services go digital-first, how do we ensure that persons who are traditionally “digitally disadvantaged” (older persons, the less fortunate, the differently able, and others) have access to these services? Questions to be discussed include:
Like those that went before it, the 4th Industrial Revolution is producing a seismic shift in the world of work. By some estimates 40% or more of the jobs currently being carried out today will not exist in 20 years, as advances in automation and artificial intelligence (AI) enable machines and computers to carry out many of the functions that currently require a human being. Conversely, it is also estimated that as many as half of the children now entering school will graduate and be employed in jobs that do not currently exist. Against this backdrop we understand how the government, private sector, and the labor movement are grappling with these issues.