/ The next generation of Internet Governance: "Young people's opinions are not being heard"

Mar 30

/ nic.at News - 30.03.2020 11:44
The next generation of Internet Governance: "Young people's opinions are not being heard"

Elisabeth Schauermann campaigns on behalf of the largest demographic group among Internet users: young people. At Domain pulse, she discussed the topic of Internet Governance in a top-class round table.

Elisabeth Schauermann has travelled a lot: internships in Russia and Lithuania, and a semester abroad in Georgia, awakened her interest in internet governance. "In 2012 I was an intern at the radio station 'Voice of Russia' for the summer. At the same time the Pussy Riot trial was happening. On the day of the sentencing I was not able to visit non-Russian news sites at work. In any case, this experience of political internet censorship influenced my work on network policy and internet regulation."

The 28-year-old from Nußbach in Upper Austria now works at the Office of Information Technology in Berlin as an expert on artificial intelligence and the internet. She sees herself as a representative of a young generation that is entitled to "appropriate participation in political processes and decisions". All too often, she says, this is not the case with internet governance. "Young people play a decisive role in shaping the internet, yet their opinions are not sufficiently heard. They need more participation," says Schauermann.

Expert in Artificial Intelligence
The AI expert studied Transcultural Communication in Graz, followed by a Master's degree in Global Studies. "In 2015 I participated in my first internet governance forum in Georgia." In order to deepen her knowledge in this area, she attended the European Summer School on Internet Governance, participated in the Internet Governance Forum 2016 and has since been involved in the European Dialogue on Internet Governance - an annual pan-European discussion platform. "The topic is often discussed too abstractly for young people," says Schauermann. There are significant barriers to addressing the issues and forming an opinion. In order to encourage people to become more enthusiastic about the topic, these have to be broken down a bit. Schauermann also notices this phenomenon among friends from her field who have never dealt with these topics before. "I often try to describe the problems in a way that even a non-expert can understand. Unfortunately, that doesn't always succeed." But it is important to approach the topic slowly and develop a basic understanding. "Once you get deeper into it, the expertise will come," says Schauermann. She is convinced of one thing: "Young people can - as you can also see with Fridays for Future - get involved in socio-political issues in an objective and informed way."

Promote participation of young people
To this end, the 28-year-old organised the Youth Internet Governance Forum (YIGF) project as part of her work at the Office of Information Technology in Berlin, and this was implemented in 2019 with support from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi). It aims to promote the participation of young people worldwide. There are also country-specific differences: "My subjective experience was that in the Netherlands, for example, it is 'more normal' to involve young people in decision-making processes. I also see more youth activities in Brazil. But I cannot say whether more activity translates into more involvement." However, Schauermann sees major differences in terms of institutions. "The Council of Europe has long had the principle of co-governance, where an advisory board of young people works together with political decision makers. In some countries there are youth parliaments, which are also increasingly concerned with digital issues and are issuing demands to governments".

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