Whilst walking down a street in London during Summer Camp, towards the restaurant where we intended to have lunch, Becca suddenly exclaimed:
“I know what our official YIGF song should be this year! Express yourself!”
And since that day in August, I haven’t been able to get that song out of my head. So when it came to writing this blog article, I thought about having the song playing in the background, partly in the hope that it would detract from my awful writing. But what exactly does this song have to do with the YIGF project this year? It’s surprisingly not that all the YIGF participants have a penchant for 80s American Hip Hop, but rather that, from our discussions in summer camp, we found that Freedom of expression was a theme which ran through our workshop and others which we will be participating in, when we reach Baku (cue The Pointer Sisters – I’m so excited).
Firstly, our own workshop, 94: Social Media, Young People and Freedom of Expression, will focus closely on exactly these themes. The lyrics of NWA’s song centre around ideas of free expression and the constraints placed on rappers by radio censorship. Should you, as they preach, “Express Yourself”? Or are there limits to how we should express ourselves online, and if so what are these? Who decides? How are we as young people meant to know where that line is drawn? We will be discussing with other young people, educators and Internet Service Providers to see if we can shed some light on these, and other questions.
Matthew and I (check out his great blog article), will also be sitting on the panel of Workshop 96: The Internet of Humans: Online Human Behaviour and IG Policy Impacts. This, in a similar way to our own workshop, will examine measures which can be taken to ensure Freedom of expression, access to knowledge and privacy. Here we will be offering a youth perspective. This workshop encompasses the topic of “Net Etiquette”; our roles, rights, and responsibilities on line. This is one way we can teach what is acceptable to express online and what isn’t. This is also a subject which will be discussed in Workshop 195: Citizenship in the digital era – meeting the challenges, empowering children. Becca and Matthew will be sitting on the panel for this one, as various stakeholders discuss, amongst other things, whose responsibility it is to teach children how to engage with the internet, and how to balance the roles of educators and internet service providers in this process.
Much of internet governance, from my perspective, seems to be about creating a balance; be that between the roles of stakeholders, or internet policy. In Workshop 146: Intellectual property rights and the freedom to share: are the two compatible? Becca and Jack will be on the panel discussing the tension between copyright and the online culture of sharing. Here we may see some of the legal implications surrounding Freedom of expression and sharing, especially in regards to how we, as young people, use internet services such as file sharing and social media. This begs the question, am I actually allowed to play “Express Yourself” as a backing track to this blog, or am unintentionally breaking the law by doing so? Please someone explain!
I myself will also be participating in Workshop 110: Freedom of Expression and freedom from hate online (Young People Combating Hate Speech Online). This workshop again brings up one of the important balances which must be maintained, in order for the internet to be a safe and enjoyable space. It’s all very well advocating total Freedom of expression online, but surely as internet users, we have a duty to ensure that we don’t infringe someone else’s right to freedom from hate? Again we can see a tension between these two freedoms, and this shall be explored during the course of the workshop.
So as you can see it’s going to be a pretty hectic week in Baku for the YIGF team. We’ll be discussing some key issues surrounding Freedom of expression, in varying contexts, not only in our own workshop, but also in others. Do feel free to drop by on us at our booth and say hello!
Hi, I'm Nicola and I am 17 years old and from Edinburgh.
I have been part of the Youth IGF Project team since 2011 and I am looking forward to attending the Internet Governance Forum in Baku and taking part in workshops 94, 110, 96 and 119.