» Internet Universality assessed in Salerno, Italy
25.11.2016 - Communication & Information Sector

Internet Universality assessed in Salerno, Italy

Guy Berger and Mauro Santaniello. © UNESCO

UNESCO’s concept of Internet Universality was featured prominently during a conference at the University of Salerno, Italy on 10 and 11 November. Titled “Internet Governance: theories, models and research perspectives”, the event drew prominent Internet scholars, including Mauro Santaniello, Laura DeNardis, Jeannette Hoffman, Claudia Padovani and Meryem Marzouki.

Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO, Guy Berger, spoke on the evolution and significance of “Internet Universality”. The concept was adopted as part of the endorsement of the Outcome Document of the UNESCO Connecting the Dots conference by the 38th General Conference of the Organization in December 2015.

“Internet Universality pinpoints four key principles that are essential for the Internet to play an optimum role in sustainable development,” said Berger.  These are human Rights, Openness, Accessibility and Multistakeholder participation – abridged as ROAM.

He used the analogy of the Internet as a table with the legs representing infrastructure, the table top as internet protocols, and a table cloth as online cultures such as sharing or commercialization. The plates and cutlery could be considered as online applications, and the food as the content.

“It is important to shine the spotlights of ROAM on these horizontal layers of the Internet if we are to illuminate the concerns within UNESCO’s mandate,” Berger proposed.

He elaborated further how the ROAM framework could assist in balancing human rights at different layers of the internet. Utilised as a method, the ROAM principles can be used to balance considerations of openness and accessibility, as well as to highlight the value of multi-stakeholder engagement in related policy-making.

The event discussed Santaniello’s concept of “digital constitutionalism” as a potentially advanced form of multistakeholder participation, as well as research needs and future issues on the internet.  

Berger also offered participants an opportunity to view the documentary “In their press vests” about the war in Syria, sponsored by Finland, using a virtual reality viewer device.

Among the participants who took a turn in exploring the immersive journalism was Professor of Political Communication and of E-democracy and E-Government Policies at the University of Salerno, Francesco Amoretti.  Noting the power of this virtual experience, he foresaw the possibility of live-streamed 3D coverage of news events in the future.

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