Internet Governance must ensure freedom of expression and universal access, UNESCO says
"The principles of freedom or expression and universal access must be safeguarded on the Internet and, consequently, in Internet Governance structures", said Abdul Waheed Khan, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information yesterday at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Hyderabad, India.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Forum, Abdul Waheed Khan said that the Internet, as it is inherently democratic and empowering, provides unparalleled opportunities to realize the dream of a global free flow of ideas and universal access to information and knowledge.
"We need clear and globally applicable principles based on human rights, and legal, ethical and technical standards to organize the Internet," stressed Khan. At the same time, "it is important to ensure that the technical structure of the Internet allows provision of access to content in all languages," he added.
During the three days of the IGF (3-6 December 2008), UNESCO provides a variety of platforms for discussions on freedom of expression and universal access.
As part of UNESCO's advocacy for free flow of information and freedom of expression in cyberspace, a workshop on Freedom of Expression in Cyberspace: Internet Filtering and Censorship explores the latest challenges to openness and freedom of expression on the Internet and identifies the implications of governmental and other Internet content regulation, particularly by direct implementation of filtering and content censorship.
A workshop on Access to Public Held Information with a Development Perspective addresses the issue of access to public held information, a core element of the right to freedom of information as a fundamental human right, particularly in the context of development.
The Internet Governance Forum that meets for the third time is a forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue to discuss public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance in order to foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development of the Internet. One of its main features is to facilitate discourse between bodies dealing with different cross-cutting international public policies regarding the Internet.
In the debates on Internet Governance over the last years, UNESCO has consistently advocated the key values of freedom of expression, cultural diversity and openness that must be safeguarded on the Internet.
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