UNESCO presents Internet Universality Indicators at 2018 International Privacy Conference

UNESCO presented the final draft of its Internet Universality Indicators (IUIs) at a side event organized in UNESCO’s Brussels Office in the framework of the 2018 International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC).

“UNESCO aims to engage with the ICDPPC community including Privacy and Data Protection authorities and Information Commissioners to reflect on how to use these 303 Internet Universality Indicators, including a dozen indicators focused on privacy issues, to assess the Internet policy landscape at a country level, and to address the interplay between the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression in the digital age” said Xianhong Hu (UNESCO) in her opening remarks.

A total of 24 participants joined the side event, including Data Protection Authorities, information commissioners, privacy experts, media representatives and stakeholders as well as academics and policymakers whom engaged actively in providing inputs regarding the future implementation of the Internet Universality Indicators. The discussion focused on the measurement of privacy and data protection policy at the national level and on the relationship between privacy, data protection and freedom of expression. Among the issues addressed: the declining of freedom of expression, the challenge of fake news and misinformation, limits and opportunities of a multi-stakeholder approach, the matter of operationalization and the establishment of independent assessment authorities on privacy and data protection policy.

Participants called upon UNESCO to take a proactive approach not only to conduct national assessment of Internet Universality indicators but also to identify challenges and gaps and foster policy changes at national level. It was also noted that a number of other organizations developed Internet and ICTs related indicators, so it is important not to confuse governments and data protection authorities by facilitating dialogues and coordination among organizations. Participants stressed a need to have safeguards of freedom of expression in the national cyber security measures and personal data protection mechanism. 

After a global consultation phase with more than 2000 experts, UNESCO has eventually reached the final stage of developing the Internet Universality Indicators. Those will be presented at the upcoming session of the 31st session of the intergovernmental Council of IPDC (UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication) on 21 and 22 November 2018.  


40th edition of ICDPPC in Brussels, Belgium, October 2018. © ICDPPC

The ICDPPC is a high-level annual meeting that seeks to provide leadership at international level in data protection and privacy by connecting the efforts of 119 privacy and data protection authorities from across the globe. Its 40th edition took place in Brussels, Belgium, from 22 to 26 October 2018, with additional privacy events in Sofia. UNESCO was officially accredited as an Observer to the Conference on 22 October 2018.

This year’s theme, “Debating Ethics: Dignity and Respect in Data Driven Life”, was meant to explore how data and those controlling that data are influencing our values. Giovanni Buttarelli, European Data Protection Supervisor who hosted the event stressed in its opening remarks that “ethics is our most pressing strategic challenge. Compliance with the law is not enough. Ethics informs how laws are interpreted. It fills the gap.”

The conference was concluded with the adoption of a declaration on Ethics and Data Protection in Artificial Intelligence focused around 6 principles: the fairness principle in designing, developing and using AI, the need for continued attention and vigilance, the need to improve systems transparency and intelligibility, the principles of both privacy by default and privacy by design of AI, the need to empower every individual and the mitigation of unlawful biases or discriminations that may result from the use of data in artificial intelligence.