08.11.2007 -

UNESCO workshops on Freedom of Expression and Multilingualism at the Internet Governance Forum

The second meeting on Internet governance in Rio de Janeiro later this month will bring together participants from around the world to discuss issues ranging from freedom of expression and security to open standards and linguistic diversity.

UNESCO's workshop on "Freedom of Expression as a Security Issue" will explore security and security protection mechanisms as variables that influence freedom of expression on the Internet. The workshop seeks to identify the implications of governmental Internet content regulation by means of legally mandated or directly implemented filtering and content blocking.

 

Highlighting the fact that multilingualism on the Internet is essential to ensure freedom of expression and the free flow of information, ideas and knowledge in cyberspace, the second UNESCO organized workshop entitled "Towards International Standards for a Truly Multilingual Global Internet" aims at fostering international cooperation in establishing standards for a multilingual global Internet.

 

The Forum organizers seek to assemble a key group of multi-stakeholders around the theme of "standardization" for various aspects underlying multilingualism in cyberspace. Such a group will include the strategic players related to IDNs, operating system developers, makers of content development tools and governmental agencies in charge of related issues at the respective national levels.

 

Speaking to the press in Geneva ahead of the second Internet Governance Forum meeting, to be held from 12 to 15 November, Markus Kummer, Executive Coordinator of the Forum Secretariat, said more than 1,500 participants had registered 10 days before the event was set to begin.

 

This turnout is a demonstration of the "richness and wealth" of the meeting, which would gather representatives of government, the private sector, civil society and the Internet community to address a wide range of issues concerning the Internet.

 

The issue of security had attracted most attention, Mr Kummer said, with 19 out of 70 parallel events devoted to it, many of them focusing exclusively on child protection and the fight against child pornography.

 

He stressed that international cooperation was the key, citing the example of a British-run watchdog programme on Internet child pornography which resulted in the establishment of a self-regulation mechanism where consumers could alert the watchdog of any illicit content.

 

In close cooperation with the Internet industry, the watchdog in turn alerted Internet service providers and the police, and removed the content from the Internet. As a result, the United Kingdom had reduced locally-originated child pornography to zero.

 

The Forum is more than a talking shop. It is a gathering of interested people who care about the Internet and who can give direction and prepare the decisions that will be taken into consideration by other organizations that do have the decision-making power.




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