IEEE joined global leaders at the WSIS Forum 2016

By Justin Caso, J.D.

The annual World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum brings together the largest gathering of the Information and Communications Technologies community that focuses on making the information society accessible to all. The WSIS Forum is a multistakeholder event that provides an opportunity for multistakeholder cooperation in development. Importantly, the WSIS Forum 2016 incorporated the recently adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as an important factor in the discussions. The WSIS Forum 2016 took place from 2 to 6 May in Geneva, Switzerland

IEEE joined more than 1,800 global leaders from over 150 countries, representing government ministries, civil society, industry, academia and the technical community to discuss and help advance solutions so that all citizens of the world have meaningful access to the information society. IEEE’s engagement at WSIS complemented its existing open, global and collaborative work in Internet Governance, security and privacy, including:IEEE Internet Initiative, IEEE Big Data Initiative,IEEE Computer Society, IEEE Cybersecurity Initiative,IEEE Internet of Things Initiative, IEEE Smart Cities, and theIEEE Standards Association Industry Connections program for Ethical Considerations in the Design of Autonomous Systems.

IEEE hosted a thematic workshop on “Internet Governance, Security, Privacy and the Ethical Dimensions of ICTs in 2030” that explored the social consequences of emerging technologies and the aspects that need to be addressed now to ensure a beneficial and productive interconnected world in 2030. The panelists were Oleg Logvinov, President and CEO, IoTecha Corporation, Dr. M.G. Michael, Ph.D., Honorary Associate Professor, School of Computing and Information Technology at the University of Wollongon, Christine Runnegar, Director, Security and Privacy Policy, Internet Society, and Dr. Greg Shannon, Ph.D., Chief Scientist for the CERT Division, Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Key outcomes identified during the session included:

  • The discussion should be about a collaborative approach to discuss a balance of privacy and security rather than privacy versus security.
  • There is the possibility to augment our lives through electronic devices but the challenge is how to find an optimal balance because information is both a power and a threat.
  • Ethics should be part of the Research and Development process.
  • The perspective of different societies should be considered because societies have different perceptions of risk.

IEEE, in conjunction with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), hosted an interactive lunch session on the “WSIS Action Lines and SDGs – eHealth Data Policy.” The session began with an introduction and overview of the WSIS Actions Lines and the SDGs by ITU Deputy Secretary General Malcolm Johnson and was followed by a technical presentation of personal healthcare device interoperability by Dr. Malcolm Clarke, Department of Computer Science, Brunel University, London, UK. The remainder of the session followed a World Café format where the attendees worked in small groups on three questions regarding e-Health data policy:

Question 1: If you could compile data from patients and studies to potentially cure deadly diseases, what policies should be put in place to protect an individual’s personal data? Output of the discussions included:

  • Encryption of data is important to protect an individual’s privacy
  • The information should belong to the patient and there should be standardized methods of capturing and storing the data.
  • In order to solve the world’s deadly disease challenges, aggregation of data is important but it is vital to ensure that an individual’s data remains anonymous.
  • There is a need for cross-national standardization to gain the maximum effectiveness of sharing data to treat disease.
  • The use of digital object identifiers is important.

Question 2: What policies should be put in place to allow for effective remote care and telemedicine treatments? Output of the discussions included:

  • Best practices should be adopted for the transfer of data in a secure manner in emergency situations where the transfer of data is time sensitive and vital for a patient’s health.
  • Standards for the collection, storage and analysis of the data to maximize the performance of the e-Health system are necessary.

Question 3: What policy, trust and ethical considerations should be incorporated into the design of the app? Output of the discussions included:

  • From an ethical perspective, there should be a policy on distribution of data, restriction of the use of data, traceability of the data, and access control.
  • There is a need for regulatory processes to ensure that the data is owned by the individual, rather than the organization that is collecting the data.
  • An app should be able to used offline as well as online.
  • In order to allow access to the greatest number of individuals possible, the app should utilize an SMS interface.
  • Authentication is necessary in any app, perhaps through biometrics.
  • In order to create complete trust, users must exercise due diligence when accessing and utilizing this technology.

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