If ever there was a time for governments to get their communications right, it is now. Governments everywhere are under scrutiny for what they say, how accurately they report facts, and what actions they are proposing. COVID-19 is spreading faster than press offices can get their messages out. Thanks to the Internet, the media and members of the public are posting stories which may not show governments in their best light. People need to know will they get sick, will they receive the treatments they need, and will they lose their jobs, their homes, their lives.
COVID-19 has stirred global diplomacy in a new direction. The European Council was the first major organisation to hold a video conferencing summit, in which they discussed how to co-ordinate the European response to the current crisis. The EU has also moved to e-mail voting, and, for the first time ever, the 15 member states of the UN Security Council unanimously adopted four resolutions via email.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has impacted all areas of digital policy this month. These developments were covered during March’s just-in-time briefing on Internet governance – our monthly appointment on the last Tuesday of every month – which took place on 31 March 2020. They will also be summarised in the Issue 48 of the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP) Digital Watch newsletter. The briefing was led by DiploFoundation’s Director of Cybersecurity and E-diplomacy Programmes Vladimir Radunović.
Violations of human rights in the context of the response to COVID-19 are increasingly making the headlines. The right to access information, right to privacy, freedom of movement and assembly, and freedom of expression are some of the basic rights that are being affected by nationwide lockdowns and emergency measures.
The coronavirus has been credited with catalysing a shift from a self-centred ‘I’ society to another-centred ‘we’ society. The focus on individual well-being and material wealth that has shaped many people’s identity and aspirations for the last half century or more has now turned into a concern for morality and the benefits of caring, sharing, and community building.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a broad term that encompasses high-end technologies capable of ‘performing human-like cognitive processes such as learning, understanding, reasoning and interacting’, according to Szczepanski. Nowadays, societies are exposed to AI through smartphones, virtual assistants, surveillance cameras able of recognising individuals, personalised advertising, and automated cars, to name but a few examples.