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Internet in troubled times – threat or opportunity?

Published on 9.5.2023
Tampere University
Photo: Paul Voorham
In 2023 we are all in one way or another connected to the Internet – whether we like it or not. What are the threats in 2023 concerning the Internet? How can they be prevented, and what factors give hope? The EuroDIG conference, for the first time in Finland, will focus on these questions and welcomes everyone interested in the Internet to Tampere from 19 to 26 June 2023. Research Director at Tampere University Jarmo Viteli and Yrjö Länsipuro from the Finnish Internet Association say, that even though the Internet currently has a significant impact on everything in our lives, its presence in the future is not self-evident.

The free and open to all EuroDIG conference will be held as a hybrid event at Tampere University on the theme Internet in troubled times: risk, resistance and hope. The event provides its participants with the latest research information on the Internet.

Among the speakers and performers are experts in the field and social influencer from around the world. Among the already confirmed keynote speakers is Merja Ylä-Anttila, CEO of the Finnish broadcasting company Yle, whose speech will prepare the ground for a discussion on social media and the platforms of technological giants. The President and CEO of the Internet Society Andrew Sullivan will start a discussion on Internet fragmentation.

The event also offers workshops on topical and interesting themes at a practical level. The workshop Digital information literacy as a modern civic skill, for example, will familiarise its participants with digital civic skills from a Finnish perspective. The workshop AI and Trust will focus on the control and reliability of AI, such as ChatGPT.

Jarmo Viteli has been actively organising the event:

“EuroDIG enables a unique opportunity for people and organisations to have a profound and international view of how the Internet and the challenges it faces affect the lives of many people,” he says.

It also provides an opportunity for international networking and a genuine and face-to-face encounter with people.

“The event comes close to people’s everyday lives and different actors. In my view, EuroDIG is a great opportunity for all locals at Tampere region to experience something that has never been arranged in Finland before,” Viteli points out.

In addition to the actual conference, EuroDIG includes preliminary events such as the national Finnish Internet Forum and the YOUthDIG aimed to foster active participation of young people (ages 18–30). Among the interviewees, for example, is the former Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka, who will be on site to report on the data economy and the current data capitalism. At YOUthDIG, young participants will be able to share ideas and discuss topics related to the EuroDIG’s themes.

Risks, resilience and hope as the event’s themes

The theme of EuroDIG reflects the current emerging issues and challenges concerning the Internet in a difficult world situation, but also highlights the possibility of Internet survival and hope. The main themes of the event are the effects of the ongoing war in Ukraine, the fragmentation of the Internet and the problems of platforms and social media that have risen to power.

Yrjö Länsipuro has played a key role in enabling EuroDIG to be organised in Tampere. He emphasises that the event can give a new perspective also to experts in the field.

“The geopolitical situation in the world has affected, for example, the breakup of ties and the restriction of different applications within certain countries. However, for the time being, Internet mechanics and the deepest layers make transport everywhere possible. Still, the question inevitably arises as to how long the Internet situation will remain so neutral,” Länsipuro mentions.

Both Länsipuro and Viteli emphasise the importance of people’s awareness and knowledge in guaranteeing the existence of the Internet. In their view, participation in EuroDIG is one way of learning about an instrument that has become a central part of our lives:

“We should all be genuinely interested in Internet threats and how to prevent them. What is essential is how we can develop the resilience of the Internet by our own means and ensure that the Internet remains accessible to all,” Länsipuro and Viteli say.

More information

A link to registration
The website of the event
Check out the event programme (will be updated with specifications)
You can also participate in the event online.

European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) is the European regional Internet forum based on the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2005. It set up the Global Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which has launched a great deal of initiatives at regional and national level.