My name is Adela Goberna. I am a 23-year-old lawyer. Like many people my age, I grew up on the Internet. Growing up “always connected,” I’m used to communicating in multiple ways using the Internet. Like previous communications media from telegrams to landline phones to email, each generation has their preferred mode of communication. Messaging services are how my generation regularly communicates with each other. It’s secure and allows us to keep in touch with friends all over the world for free.
But with every technological advance, there has been one fundamental truth for each generation – they needed to trust the communications medium in order to use it. And that is why it is so important we continue this tradition by building trust in the Internet and its future iterations.
In some ways, we’re already creating an Internet based on trust. My generation has already built a culture of online profiles and user reviews of both products and services alike. This is why we use apps to get a ride, to book rental properties or eat at a particular restaurant – because we trust the reviews of others brought to our fingertips through community review apps and websites made up of people who trust each other. That is what we want the future Internet to be. A crowd-sourced, crowd-checked, crowd-improved world. As young people, we not only need to be present as the Internet develops around us, we need to help lead the way with an Internet built upon trust.
People under 25 are already shaping the Internet as we speak. We’re building apps, we’re changing the way the world socializes, and how we organize socially and politically. And yet, when it comes to official discussions on the future of the Internet from global policymakers, we are rarely, if ever, invited or heard from. This gap between the generation that is leading the future of the Internet and the policymakers, who are crafting the rules for it, needs to be fixed.
This is why I am calling for a prominent seat at the table for my generation when decisions impacting the future of the global Internet are made, like at this month’s World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva, Switzerland. Not only for the sake of the young people who are shaping the Internet today, but for those who are yet to be connected.
If millennials had a voice in discussions regarding the future of the Internet, our #DreamInternet would focus on extending the Internet to still-unconnected communities around the world to unlock the very real community-wide improvements in health care, education, employment and even, yes, entertainment. Our vision for the next Internet will be of inclusion, improvements and innovation. But we can only get there if we have an Internet we can trust. An Internet that is open and available to all.
Adela Goberna is a lawyer living in Buenos Aires and a member of the Internet Society. She is a founder of its Youth Observatory group which aims to bring young voices to Internet governance discussions.