ATHENS, Greece, 01 November 2006
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC), a network of civil society organisations working with ICTs and the internet for social justice and sustainable development thinks that the IGF is a valuable space for policy dialogue.
As stated in APC’s Internet Rights charter, all people have the right to have access to the internet. For this to happen, it requires government leadership, market engagement, and most importantly, citizen and civil society participation. The IGF succeeded in being a platform where diverse groups could interact and debate.
As the first Internet Governance Forum (IGF) that took place Athens in early November 2006 draws to a close, APC would like to insist on two issues be given priority:
Firstly, APC believes that the problem of affordable access to communication infrastructure and services need urgent attention. People in developing countries spend up to 15% of their disposable income on communication services, such as mobile telephony, while those in the developed world spend around 3%.
Secondly, APC asserts that capacity building is of prime importance to ensure participation in internet development, governance and policy. For example, policy that relates to access for people with disabilities, freedom of expression, technical standards and multi-lingualism.
APC appreciated the fact that access to the internet was considered by governments, the private sector and civil society as a priority for the future development of the internet. But more is needed.
There has to be a specific focus on building internet backbone infrastructure in the poorest and least connected regions of the world.
The internet is an essential public infrastructure. It can help people make phone calls, share information, run businesses, keep governments accountable, and express cultural richness and diversity. The participation of all stakeholders in the actual development, implementation and use of the internet can thereby only be secured by heavy investment into broadband infrastructure.
APC recommends that IGF II organisers make this one of two priorities in its agenda, the second being capacity building.
APC believes that capacity building, which was a crosscutting theme in IGF I, needs even greater focus in IGF II.
Capacity building is not just about training workshops, or knowledge transfer; it is about sustainable skills development.
It requires building a common knowledge base; providing accessible information resources; dialogue between people with different experiences and skills, and participation in national, regional and global policy forums. It requires building networks and communities of expertise working on internet development and policy.
The Association for Progressive Communications expresses its commitment to human rights on the internet by joining a dynamic coalition that will explore issues such as digital identities, the link between protection of privacy and development, and the importance of privacy and anonymity for freedom of expression.
APC also reaffirms its commitment to environmental sustainability by proposing that the internet governance forum explores the important emerging issue of the impact of internet development on human health, safety and the environment.
APC’s Internet Rights charter: http://rights.apc.org/charter.shtml
APC open access issue paper: http://rights.apc.org/documents/open_access_EN.pdf
Information coordinator, APC
+49 163 6655 405
frederic [at] apc [dot] org