Building upon the success and legacy of the Digital Freedom Summit 2022, the Digital Freedom Coalition is thrilled to announce the highly anticipated second edition of the summit: Digital Freedom Summit 2023. Set to take place on 8th to 9th December in Kathmandu, this year’s summit aims to further explore the evolving landscape of digital freedom in Nepal addressing the panel discussions, workshop and capacity building  over critical issues surrounding digital freedom. This annual event serves as a catalyst for in-depth discussions, knowledge sharing, and collaboration, with the ultimate goal of democratizing Nepal’s digital transformation.

Program Agenda

Keynote Speaker: Professor Dr. Kilnam Chon, Professor Emeritus, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

Prof. Dr. Kilnam Chon (Born 3 January 1943), Professor Emeritus, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), is a South Korean computer scientist. As a result of his contributions, South Korea became the second country in the world to have the IPv4 network (the Internet), after the United States. He graduated from Osaka University with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1965, and then a Ph.D. in systems engineering from UCLA in 1974. He worked as a computer system designer at Rockwell International and a member of technical staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory until 1979. After returning to South Korea at the age of 36 in 1979, he worked as a researcher at the Korea Institute of Electronics Technology, which became Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute later. From 1982 to 2008, he was a professor of computer science at KAIST

Professor Chon contributed to the Internet’s growth in Asia through his extensive work in advancing Internet initiatives, research, and development. He developed the first Internet in Asia, called SDN in 1982, and his pioneering work inspired many others to promote the Internet’s further growth in the region. Chon has worked on networking systems, including the Internet, since the early 1980s. 

He founded various regional Internet organizations such as Asia Pacific Networking Group (APNG), Asia Pacific Advanced Network (APAN), and Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Name Forum (APTLD) and Asia Pacific School on Internet Governance. He was also the co-chair of the Coordination Committee of Intercontinental Research Networking (CCIRN).

In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, the need for a discussion on the regulation of cyberspace, particularly in a context like Nepal, is important. With the increasing reliance on technology for communication, commerce, and governance, ensuring a secure and well-regulated cyberspace is paramount. Nepal, like many other nations, faces unique challenges in crafting effective cyber regulations that safeguard digital freedoms while addressing security concerns and promoting innovation. As the digital realm transcends borders, understanding international best practices in cyber regulation becomes pivotal for Nepal. This discussion provides an opportunity to learn from successful models globally, adapt them to the local context, and explore tailored regulatory approaches that balance the preservation of fundamental rights and the necessary oversight for a safe and thriving digital environment. Addressing these considerations at the Digital Freedom Summit will enable stakeholders to shape policies that not only protect users but also foster an environment conducive to technological advancement and economic growth.

  1. Objective of the Session: To understand international best practices in regulating cyberspace and apply relevant lessons to the context of Nepal.
  2. Scope of the Session:
  • Overview of global and regional cyber regulations and their impact
  • Case studies highlighting successful cyber regulatory frameworks from various countries
  • Analysis of challenges and opportunities for implementing effective cyber regulations in Nepal
  • Potential regulatory approaches that align with Nepal’s socio-political context
  1. Speakers: 
  • Moderator: Laxman Dutt Pant, President, Media Action Nepal
  • Panelists: 
  • Hon. Jeevan Pariyaar, MP, House of Representatives
  • Mr. Netra Prasad Subedi, Joint Secretary, MoCIT
  • Mr. Samiran Gupta, Vice President, Government and IGO Engagement APAC & Stakeholder Engagement South Asia, ICANN
  • Prof. Dr. Rohan Samarajiva, Chair, LIRNEasia, Sri Lanka
  • Ms. Victoria Hyde, Asia Internet Coalition, Singapore

Mr. laxman

Mr. laxman

Mr. laxman

Mr. laxman

The session “Freedom to Digital Infrastructure: How to Ensure an Inclusive Internet” holds immense significance in addressing the fundamental need for an all-encompassing and accessible internet landscape within Nepal. By examining and pinpointing the barriers to internet access and adoption specific to Nepal, the session aims to shed light on policies and initiatives crucial for promoting digital inclusion. In doing so, the focus will be on addressing infrastructure gaps and technological barriers, particularly in remote or marginalized areas, ensuring that no community is left behind in the digital revolution. This session will deliberate on striking a balance between fostering digital freedoms and enacting responsible regulations to ensure inclusivity in digital access, recognizing that a truly inclusive internet is not only a matter of technological accessibility but also one of socio-economic and regulatory equality. 

  1. Objective of the Session: Explore strategies to guarantee an inclusive and accessible internet for all individuals within Nepal. 
  2. Scope of the Session:
    • Explore strategies to guarantee an inclusive and accessible internet for all individuals within Nepal.
    • Identifying barriers to Internet access and adoption within Nepal
    • Policies and initiatives promoting digital inclusion
    • Addressing infrastructure gaps and technological barriers in remote or marginalized areas
    • Balancing freedom with responsible regulation to ensure inclusivity in digital access
  3. Speakers/Panelists:
    • Moderator: Er. Ananda Raj Khanal, Former Senior Director, Nepal Telecommunications Authority
  • Panelists
    • Hon. Prakash Panth, Member of Parliament, National Assembly, Nepal
    • Er. Min Prasad Aryal, Director, Nepal Telecommunications Authority
    • Mr. Bishnu Dhakal, Advocate and Central Committee Member, DLA Nepal (TBC)
    • Dr. Bimal Acharya, Manager, Nepal Telecom (TBC)
    • Ms. Susmeera Aryal, Co-founder/Executive Director, Women’s Group for Disability Rights

The government of Nepal has adopted the National Cyber Security Policy, a significant step aimed at fortifying the country’s cyber defense mechanisms. This policy signifies the government’s recognition of the escalating importance of cybersecurity in the face of evolving digital threats and the need to safeguard critical infrastructure, sensitive data, and citizens’ online activities. Additionally, the proposal for a National Internet Gateway (NIG) in Nepal has been a subject of discussion and consideration. 

A National Internet Gateway can serve as a centralized point through which internet traffic is routed, offering a means for the government to monitor, regulate, and secure online activities more effectively. However, the implementation of a National Internet Gateway raises several concerns regarding digital freedom and privacy. While the intention behind this initiative might be to enhance cybersecurity and manage internet traffic more efficiently, it also poses risks of potential surveillance and censorship. Centralizing internet traffic through a single gateway could grant authorities greater control over online content, potentially leading to increased surveillance and restrictions on free expression and privacy. Such a setup could potentially limit citizens’ access to unrestricted information and infringe upon their digital rights.

Balancing cybersecurity needs with the preservation of digital freedom and individual privacy is a complex challenge. It’s crucial to ensure that the implementation of a National Internet Gateway in Nepal aligns with international best practices and upholds fundamental rights, avoiding disproportionate control or censorship, thus allowing citizens to continue enjoying a free and open digital space. This development necessitates a careful and transparent approach, involving stakeholder consultations and considerations to mitigate any adverse effects on digital freedom while strengthening cybersecurity measures in Nepal.

  1. Objective of the Session: To discuss the implications of surveillance, data privacy, and the concept of a national internet gateway on internet fragmentation in Nepal.
  2. Scope of the Session:
    • Examination of national internet gateway models and their impact on internet freedom
    • Privacy concerns are associated with increased digital surveillance.
    • Balancing security needs with citizen privacy rights
    • Analysis of potential fragmentation risks and their socio-political implications for Nepal’s internet landscape
  3. Speakers/Panelists:
    1. Moderator: Mr. Madhu Acharya, Co-founder, Sharcast Initiatives,
    2. Panelists
      • Mr. Bijay Kumar Roy, Director, Nepal Telecommunications Authority
      • Mr. Santosh Sigdel, Executive Director, Digital Rights Nepal
      • Mr. Bikram Shrestha, President, Nepal Internet Foundation
      • Mr. Abhijeet Anturker, Advocate, Bombay High Court, India
      • Mr. Adrian Won, Internet Society, APAC (TBC)

The session “Disarming Misinformation: Legal and Ethical Discourse,” holds immense significance in the Nepali context, given the increasing challenges posed by misinformation and disinformation. The session’s primary objective is to engage in a comprehensive exploration of legal and ethical strategies to effectively combat the dissemination of false information. It will focus on examining existing legal frameworks tailored to address misinformation, emphasizing the need for precise and balanced regulations. 

Moreover, the session will highlight the pivotal role of media literacy and education in equipping individuals with the tools to discern and counteract the impact of misinformation in Nepal. It aims to navigate the delicate balance between upholding freedom of speech and the necessity to prevent the spread of false information, recognizing the complexities in regulating information without impeding free expression. The inclusion of case studies and ethical considerations specific to Nepal is crucial, providing insights into the unique challenges and cultural aspects influencing the handling of misinformation within the country. This discussion is paramount for devising contextually relevant approaches that empower the populace with critical thinking skills and ensure responsible and ethical practices in information dissemination, essential for fostering a more informed and resilient society in Nepal.

  1. Objective of the Session: To delve into legal and ethical strategies to combat misinformation and disinformation.
  2. Scope of the Session:
    • Exploring the legal frameworks for addressing misinformation
    • The role of media literacy and education in mitigating the impact of misinformation
    • Balancing freedom of speech with the need to prevent the spread of false information
    • Case studies and ethical considerations in handling misinformation in Nepal
  3. Speakers: 
    • Moderator: Bhakta Bishwakarma 
    • Panelists: 
      • Mr. Prakash Rayamajhi, IT Expert of Hon. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda)
      • Ms. Nirjana Sharma, Head, Communications, UNESCO Kathmandu Office
      • Mr. Narayan Amrit, Chief Editor, NepalClicks.Com
      • Mr. Madhav Basnet, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Nepal
      • Ms. Victoria Hyde, Asia Internet Coalition, Singapore/London
      • Mr. Bijay Kumar Roy, Director, Nepal Telecommunications Authority

“Regulation of Artificial Intelligence: Digital Freedom Perspectives” emerges as a crucial and timely discussion within the Nepali context. The proliferation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies presents both significant opportunities and challenges, making it imperative to assess the need for AI regulation while upholding digital freedom. In recent years, AI has been making inroads into various sectors, from healthcare to education, and beyond. However, it also raises ethical concerns about data privacy, bias, and potential infringements on individual rights. Therefore, it is essential to strike a delicate balance between harnessing the innovation potential of AI and ensuring that these technologies respect and preserve the digital freedoms of Nepali citizens.

This session’s objectives center around examining the ethical implications of AI in the context of digital freedom and crafting frameworks for AI regulation that foster innovation while safeguarding fundamental rights. Ensuring transparency and accountability in AI systems is a crucial aspect, with the aim of instilling trust in these technologies. Policymakers must grapple with the challenge of formulating policies that encourage AI development while protecting individual rights in Nepal. The discussion in this session is vital, as it not only recognizes the significance of AI in Nepal’s digital future but also acknowledges the imperative need to establish regulations that serve as a guiding compass for responsible AI use. By addressing these considerations within the Nepali context, this session seeks to empower stakeholders with the knowledge and strategies necessary to shape an AI landscape that harmonizes technological advancements with the preservation of digital freedom and individual rights.

  1. Objective of the Session: To examine the need for AI regulation while ensuring digital freedom in the Nepalese context
  2. Scope of the Session:
    • The ethical implications of AI in digital freedom
    • Frameworks for AI regulation while fostering innovation
    • Ensuring transparency and accountability in AI systems
    • Policies that balance AI development with individual rights in Nepal
  3. Speakers
    • Moderator: Babu Ram Aryal, Chair, Digital Freedom Coalition
    • Panelists: Hon. Dr. CK Raut, Member of Parliament, Janamat Party (TBC)
      • Prof. Dr. Kilnam Chon, KAIST, South Korea
      • Prof. Dr. Durgambni Patel, Dean, NNMIS Deemed University, Mumbai, India
      • Mr. Taranath Dahal, Chief Executive, Freedom Forum Nepal (TBC)

Digital Freedom Summit is a multi-stakeholder platform organized annually by the Digital Freedom Coalition where stakeholders come across to discuss various issues related to Digital Freedom in Nepal. The Digital Freedom Summit is one of the signature events of the Coalition that focuses on recent digital technology trends and discoveries, as well as their impact on digital freedom law, policy and practices. The summit which is both exclusive and influential aims to support the digital transformation in Nepal.

The Digital Freedom Coalition held its first Digital Freedom Summit on December 9th, 2022, with the theme “Promoting Democracy in the Digital Age”. The Freedom Summit was attended by more than 200 participants and the discussions covered a range of topics related to digital freedom, including the challenges of misinformation, disinformation, and fake news, the importance of safeguarding freedom of expression, and issues of digital literacy and access to digital services in rural areas. The panelists also discussed the challenges faced by the banking and e-commerce sectors and highlighted the need for regulatory mechanisms and policies to promote and protect individual privacy and data security.

Who We Are

Digital Freedom Coalition is a consortium of organizations working in the area of digital freedom, cybersecurity, digital resilience and Internet governance in Nepal. Coalition works closely together to coordinate their efforts on ensuring privacy online, meaningful access to technology, cybersecurity, Internet governance, freedom of expression online and a resilient digital ecosystem in Nepal.

Collaborating Partner