Creating sustainable value and inclusive society — the role of digital platforms
Major digital platforms are present in all of our lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They know everything about us by analyzing our online behaviour, the content that we consume and the products that we buy. Since digital companies possess huge amounts of our data and thus generate billions of revenues, the question needs to be asked: can Big Tech do more than just sell ads? What should be their social responsibility?
The European Union is at the forefront in advocating for the regulation of internet platforms. Legislative proposals such as the Digital Services Act and the Data Markets Act have been a major step forward in this direction. Mr. Roberto Viola, Director General of DG CONNECT at the European Commission, spoke at the IGF 2021 about the recently proposed Data Governance Act. European initiatives aimed at holding platforms liable are a good solution that can be implemented in countries outside the EU.
However, it will take a while until we can see the real outcomes. Other countries could take Europe’s path, but it is crucial to consider local specificities. Good data governance requires a certain level of cybersecurity preparedness.
Some states are simply not yet ready to ensure the implementation of these regulations.
This is the case of Uganda, said Youth IGF Partner Christine Kabazira during a live commentary session from IGF 2021 organized by the Youth IGF.
There is growing public and government concern around the misuse of artificial intelligence (AI), which can generate harmful content online, and the role of digital platforms in reducing it. This point was underlined by Mr. Tawfik Jelassi, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information at UNESCO, speaking at the IGF 2021 in Katowice. The question is how exactly AI technology is using data. Since artificial intelligence requires huge amounts of data, we must ensure that users are first aware that their data is processed and analyzed, and only then give their permission to do so.
For this purpose, comprehensive regulation of AI is needed. But we are still far from the solution, says Dunsin Fatuase, a Youth IGF Partner from Nigeria.
Another point to take into account is the environmental impact of data used by AI. Digital platforms rely on data centres and large volumes of computing power, meaning that they consume considerable amounts of energy. Big Tech companies should be responsible for promoting sustainable business models, says Tim Unwin, Professor of Royal Holloway University of London.
Youth IGF at IGF 2021 Live commentary from parliamentary session on legislative approaches. Day 1. Hosted by Yuliya Morenets. With Prof Tim Unwin, Dunsin Fatuase, Christine Kabazira.
Social media have become a catalyst for misinformation. The proliferation of misinformation and harmful content online is partly the result of the free speech on digital platforms.
Commenting on what Nighat Dad from Facebook’s oversight board said about the regulation of content on Facebook and Instagram, Youth IGF leaders stated that the effectiveness of the procedure of removing harmful content is crucial.
At the same time, users themselves should be ready to face risks on digital platforms they use. People have to be prepared to do their own research and fact-checking so not to fall victim of misinformation.
During a podcast briefing from Day 1 of the IGF 2021 in Katowice, Tomas Lamanauskas, Candidate for Deputy Secretary General of the ITU, called for the creation of a balanced system, making digital platforms a place where digital services are created, investments continue to grow, and citizens can exercise their rights as consumers and users. This is not about war with digital platforms, but cooperation.
“We do not have to act against Big Tech, but rather work together with them for a better future,” said Yuliya Morenets, a Youth IGF Founder.
Young people have a role to play as well. As active citizens and consumers, they are responsible for the way they use digital technologies and can serve a good cause by helping to create a sustainable and inclusive society.