Technology must be grounded in compassion

The use of technology and creation of policies surrounding it must focus on a human-centric approach that does not infringe on fundamental human rights. 

The Civil 20 (C20) Summit on Technology and Security for One World concluded at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore Campus with 52 Indian and international experts shedding light on various aspects of technology and security.  

The five plenary sessions and ten policy breakouts across two days led to ideas and a roadmap that will directly impact the policy recommendations to be launched at India’s C20 Summit in July. The event was hosted by the C20 working group for Technology, Security & Transparency (TST). 

Sri Abhay Thakur, Additional Secretary (G20) with India’s Ministry of External Affairs and Sous-Sherpa, G20 India Ambassador, was the Chief Guest at the valedictory session. He made a strong pitch for treating technology as a public good and turning India’s digital public goods into freely available global assets. 

“The world needs a completely non-commercial, public-service approach to technological advancement, and India can take a lead in facilitating the use of digital technology as a global public good which is free and easily accessible to all. The country is among the fastest digitising economies in the world and is expected to add USD 1 trillion of economic value from its digital economy in the next two years,” said Sri Thakur.  

“India today is in an exclusive position to help other countries build their digital public infrastructure. We need to transform our national digital public goods like UPI, Aadhar, and DigiLocker into global digital public assets. If universalised, these carry immense potential to contribute to global economic development and ease of living. A key priority of India’s G20 Presidency is to share its model of digital public infrastructure across the world as open, inter-operable, inclusive, secure, and market-friendly public digital platforms.” 

Dr Krishnashree Achuthan is an India Coordinator with TST and Dean, Post Graduate Programs and Director, Centre for Cyber Security Systems & Networks, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. She expressed that with the TST Summit, a very successful first step towards technology and security policy changes has been made.  

“The use of technology and creation of policies surrounding it must be grounded in compassion for civil society. This summit has come up with several recommendations. First, to bridge the digital divide, we must create incentives for investment in under-served communities and fund community technology centres, while ensuring that government services are accessible online. We must also re-skill and upskill people to rethink the future of work and become capable of working jobs that utilise AI,” she said in her address.  

Recounting the recommendations of experts, she added: “For safe internet practices, we must organise digital literacy campaigns to educate citizens on safe use of technology. Multi-language models will help promote equitable access to technology. Countries need to lobby for the right to repair and use refurbished technology while strengthening technical skills of youth and workers.  

“Policy makers must take a human-centric approach to design cybersecurity policies so that they don’t infringe on fundamental human rights. Regulations should be drafted to assign liability for harm arising from AI tools. We also need to establish global regulations on how social media platforms should identify and regulate disinformation while safeguarding freedom of speech.” 

The valedictory session also saw the presence of Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, Vice Chairman, Mata Amritanandamayi Math and Troika Member C20. Yigal Unna, Former Director General of Israel National Cyber Directorate, and Alessandra Nilo, C20 Troika member, addressed the delegates virtually. 

Three significant initiatives for technology and security were announced at the Summit. The Global Internet Governance, Digital Empowerment and Security Alliance (GLIDES), a grouping of civil society organisations, was formally launched to enable inclusive, open, non-discriminatory, and fair digital societies. It is intended as a launching pad for evolving multi stakeholder policy-making processes for security and internet governance and other pressing issues like digital access, safe harbour, net neutrality, data privacy, fake news, multilingual Internet, and digital rights. 

The Technology Advancement & Capacity Building Initiative (TACTICS) for CSOs, the second initiative, is a step towards enhancing the cybersecurity posture of civil society. It is a cyber-awareness training programme created to educate its members about common cyber threats and attack techniques. It provides information about best practices for securing personal and professional data and the safe use of social media and email.  

The third initiative, a collaboration between TST and How Women Lead (USA), has been started by women for women. It is led by top executives for the digital empowerment of other women through personal leadership, investment, and philanthropy. 

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