Public good, freedom of expression, removal of barriers, cultural diversity, digital citizenship, local level. social innovation, digital and social inclusion, the public stake in ICT use, community, multilingualism, spam, security, energy loss in internet use, transparent dialogue and participation by all stakeholders, common rules, elimination of poverty and under-development – these are the words that continually recurred during the opening session of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
International organisations, civil society, business associations, ISOC, the European Union, the private sector, government representatives or officials, linguists, consultants – everyone had the same language for internet governance as a public good, which would enable access for thousands of millions of people without access to this network of networks so as to acquire knowledge, communicate, and especially create wealth to better fight against poverty.
The environment, which was very informal and culturally rich (with the presence of Gilberto Gil, a major Brazilian musician and the Brazilian Minister of Culture), again allowed various countries to come together and reflect on the way in which the www should be managed for the development of all nations and for an inclusive information society.
Access, openness, diversity and security, the four themes of this forum, fully reflect the challenges linked to internet governance.
Communication is of capital importance for the information society, and even my great-uncle living in Lambaye in the furthest reaches of Senegal should have the same opportunity to be able to speak to me when I’m in Rio, send me a message and, why not, receive the financial contribution I send him every month.
Why should a blind person pay more for an interface to be able to connect and talk with the world? All these issues need to be looked at during this week. The speech of the Association for Progressive communications (APC) heads in this direction, and will certainly be well heeded.
However, we should always keep an eye out for problems related to security, which is an important point in internet management. We should think more about adopting effective and global rules to manage this space which is increasingly appropriated by criminals, pornographers or paedophiles, rather than attacking the technology itself. “If you don’t use it, you lose it” says a proverb used by the South African Minister of Communications. With regard to the internet, Africa doesn’t even have it!
Secure, affordable access to the internet for all may no longer be just a dream! In any event, that was my dream today!