IGF 2023 WS #297 Digital Inclusion Through a Multilingual Internet

Monday, 9th October, 2023 (23:30 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (01:00 UTC)
WS 2 – Room A

Organizer 1: Susan Chalmers, NTIA
Organizer 2: Jennifer Chung, 🔒

Speaker 1: Inne Anne-Rachel, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 2: Edmon Chung, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Dawit Bekele, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 4: Alan Davidson, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Akinori MAEMURA, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 6: Theresa Swinehart, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 7Ram Mohan, Technical community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Susan Chalmers, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Jennifer Chung, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group


Susan Chalmers, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What are the barriers that are keeping people from using the Internet in their own language? 2. How can we surmount these barriers through technical and policy coordination? 3. In what ways does Internet multilingualism support the broader goal of digital inclusion?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants stand to gain different things from this session, according to their familiarity with and interest in the subject matter. We have designed the session to bring value to all attendees, from the total newcomer to the subject matter expert. • Participants with no background in multistakeholder policy discussions on digital inclusion or Internet multilingualism should gain a basic subject matter understanding of the issues at hand, including through illustrations of policy initiatives and programs where work on digital inclusion and multilingualism takes place; • Participants who have some background on this topic should benefit from the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and engage in discussion with the experts; • Participants who specialize in digital inclusion and multilingualism should enjoy connecting with their peers, brainstorming on possible, novel collaboration opportunities, and engaging with other participants in discussion on the topic.


Until late 2009, the Internet's Domain Name System was available only in Latin character languages. Progress has been made; today there are 91 generic Top Level Domains (TLDs) in non-ASCII scripts,* and 61 Internationalized Domain Name country code TLDs representing global communities online in native scripts (e.g., .ไทย, .中国, السعودية.) Meaningful connectivity, built upon a multilingual Internet, holds the promise of yet unimagined solutions to policy objectives, such as promoting sustainable development and building resilience against climate change. But, the Internet today is far from “multilingual.” While over 7,000 languages are spoken in the world, only a fraction of those are used on the Internet. Right now, we find ourselves at the beginning of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022 – 2032 (https://www.idil2022-2032.org). How can the IGF community work to promote languages yet unrealized on the Internet, today? This workshop will engage IGF attendees in dialogue on digital inclusion and Internet multilingualism, sparked by expert insights from a diverse set of speakers from the International Telecommunications Union, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, DotAsia, the Internet Society, the United States Department of Commerce, and the Japan Network Information Center. Each will contribute to the discussion by addressing the policy questions listed below. We hope this interactive session will bring people together and spur new collaboration supportive of digital inclusion. We also hope the session transcript, recording, and ultimate report will be useful for policymakers worldwide. *"Most of the text…on the Internet is in the Latin character set. This character set is included in the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII, or US-ASCII) character-encoding scheme. ASCII is an older encoding scheme and was based on the English language. For historical reasons, it became the standard character encoding scheme on the Internet." https://uasg.tech/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/[email protected]

Expected Outcomes

The primary outcome will be a comprehensive report to memorialize the discussion and key points, and to serve as a reference for researchers and policymakers working on this topic. The organizers will strive to have the report translated, at a minimum, into the official languages of the UN. Additionally, we hope that the session will provide fertile ground for new professional connections that eventually lead to the advancement of multilingualism on the Internet.

Hybrid Format: - The in-person and remote moderator will meet before the IGF2023 to rehearse their approach to facilitating interaction between speakers and attendees, both in-person and remote. - Assuming stable connectivity, the moderator will require speaker interventions, as well as attendee interventions, to alternate between “in-person” and “remote,” in order to promote a seamless hybrid environment for all participating. - The organizers will ensure that the remote and in-person moderators make full use of all features of whichever platform is provided by the IGF2023, to maximize participation and interaction during the session. At this stage, we do not anticipate using multiple tools and platforms, as doing so might actually dilute interaction during the session. However, we are open to suggestions from the MAG and/or IGF Secretariat in this regard.