India’s Civil 20 working group on Technology, Security and Transparency (TST) organised its inauguration on 22 January 2023, with a webinar on “Technology & Civil Society: Vision & Agenda for Civil 20 2023”. The discussions centred on seven key sub-themes, namely data security, cyber security, fake news/misinformation, financial security, affordable access to security, ethics and privacy in AI, and transparency.
The event saw the participation of 85 international and national Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from 12 countries sharing their work and policy recommendations to align with the G20 priorities. The countries represented included Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Japan, Nigeria, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States.
Leading the discourse, Shri Vijay K. Nambiar, Sherpa of the C20 charter, who was formerly UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor and Deputy National Security Advisor to the Government of India, graced the inception event as the chief guest. He provided an insightful overview of the Civil 20 process and its overarching objectives to be the voice of civil society for addressing the G20 priorities, and this most definitely includes the rapid expansion of technology in our daily lives.
“Today’s digital technologies have the potential to transform organisational capacity and stakeholder engagement in and with civil society institutions, yet CSOs are rarely included in indices seeking to measure digital progress in society,” said Shri Nambiar.
“Their role must be examined both in terms of how technology can be leveraged to improve the quality of human lives across the spectrum and not just to selected sections of the population, on the one hand. And on the other, how some of the more deleterious side effects that the use of technology can have in the lives of people must be understood and resolved now.”
Dr. Krishnashree Achuthan and Dr. Nava Subramaniam, Principal Coordinators of TST, presided over the deliberations. Dr. Achuthan said: “The primary objective of these types of gatherings is to foster discussions to pinpoint policy changes and devise recommendations. Our discourse is centred on the perspective of not only being technologists, but also as members of civil society and how we can utilise this to not only support India, but also disseminate key considerations to the attention of G20 nations on a global scale”.
The distinguished speakers of the webinar included Ms. Gauri Kumar, Chairman of the Wheels Global Foundation; Mr. Satish Babu, Chairman of the Asia-Pacific School of Internet Governance and a representative of the civil society in ICANN; Ms. Savitri Singh, Deputy Chief Executive of the National Corporate Union of India; Mr. Naavi Vijaya Shankar, founder of Naavi.org; Ms. Madhura Dasgupta Sinha, Founder and CEO of Aspire for Her; and Dr. Sundaram Seshadri, Secretary & Advisor of the Indigenous and Frontier Technology Research Centre.