Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke (pictured, centre) shared a stage with human rights groups to explore the most pressing issues in the digital age, emphasising there is a long way to go in safeguarding child safety and mitigating AI harms. 

During a keynote panel on the second day of MWC Barcelona 2024, Brekke said the goal of mobile operators and the broader telecoms industry is to empower societies and “actively contribute” to societal development through various initiatives. 

Brekke attended the session alongside Katarina Mellstrom of Global Child Forum, Lara Perdomo of UNICEF Spain (pictured, right) and Tayma Abdalhadi (pictured, left) at ITU’s Generation Connect. 

The Telenor executive particularly highlighted the work done around protecting child rights in the online world, referring to the company’s filtering system to prevent distribution of illegal content and programmes designed to provide education on online misinformation and cyber threats. 

Telenor has also collaborated with UNICEF and the Pakistani authorities to enrol local communities to educational institutions. 

Meanwhile, Mellstrom described operators including Telenor, Telia, Verizon and Vodafone as actors keen on partnering with non-governmental organisations to “initiate and run different projects”.

Mellstrom also highlighted the fact that 360 million people remain unconnected, despite children accounting for one-third of global internet users. “This might lead us to a situation where we have segregation,” she said. 

“AI is also already here, and Deepfake is another thing. “We need to make sure that young people can really be source-critical.”

The human rights advocate identified a need to educate young internet users to “really understand what’s fake and what’s not” as generative AI deployment increases.