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The Global Digital Compact provides an opportunity to agree on common principles oriented to make the internet and its governance more inclusive, human rights-based and supportive of sustainable development.
To be inclusive, internet governance needs to confront systemic inequality and structural exclusion based on class, age, sex, disability, race and gender identity, acknowledging that digitalisation affects people in different ways.
To be human rights-based, internet governance has to ensure participation, must be aligned with existing human rights frameworks, and must address discrimination, accountability and transparency on the part of states and corporations.
To support sustainable development, internet governance has to adapt to a constantly changing context, embrace the Sustainable Development Goals, confront climate change, and care for the environment.
Going forward, APC proposes that we need less of some things and more of others.
We need less "closing" of the open and unfragmented internet by governments who want to control how and by whom it is used, and by companies whose business models are rooted in surveillance and exploitation of people and their data.
We need fewer simplistic notions of what a multistakeholder process means.
We need to stop blaming the internet and technology for societal problems that are rooted in the offline world, and believing we can fix these by regulating the internet . Most internet-related problems are rooted in inequality, the abuse of power and insufficient collaboration. Regulation should not focus on the technology itself, but rather the behaviour of those who abuse it. Consolidating cooperation between stakeholders and adapting existing regulations is necessary to fill specific gaps and problems. The GDC can provide common principles in the evolving landscape of digital governance, while the IGF can build ownership and support for their application.
We need less reinventing of the wheel by creating new forums when so many exist already. We do not need new structures to monitor the outcomes of the GDC.
We need more recognition of the internet and information as a commons or a public good that should be governed and managed as such.
We need more meaningful multistakeholder participation where all those who are affected by digitalisation, particularly historically marginalised groups, must have a say in internet governance at all levels so they can advocate for their social, gender and environmental justice concerns.
We need more accountability and transparency across the entire internet governance ecosystem, particularly by governments and global internet companies.
We need more collaboration. Between states and within states. With and among all stakeholder groups, parliaments, law enforcement agencies, governments, industry bodies and social movements and within the UN system. We need more collaboration with technical internet coordination bodies. Their participation in public internet policy spaces is vital.
APC believes that the IGF remains at the heart of the internet governance ecosystem – there is no equivalent space for enabling public participation, shared learning, monitoring of progress in achieving inclusive, human rights-based, people-centred internet and digital governance, and discussing the positive and negative impacts of the internet and internet policies in a multidisciplinary and multistakeholder setting.
This is an opportunity to create not just a common vision, but also a framework for holding states and companies accountable for digital development and for governance to contribute to address structural inequalities, strengthen democracy, reinforce the enjoyment of human rights and mitigate the impact of the environmental crisis.