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The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) firmly believes that the internet is an enabler of human rights, development and justice, including social, gender and environmental justice.
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was the foundation of digital society global policy. It articulated key values that, still today, are key for the discussion of digital cooperation, including freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, shared responsibility, and respect for nature. The Global Digital Compact (GDC), along with the WSIS+20 process, is an opportunity to reinterpret the WSIS vision to respond to the constantly changing digital society that we live in today. There are unquestionably challenges that persist since WSIS, while many more have emerged that expose the profound vulnerability of people and groups who have been historically discriminated against and excluded because of intersecting and multiple forms of systemic and structural inequality and injustice.
To overcome digital inclusion and achieve social justice, we must broaden the focus beyond access to connectivity infrastructure and enable political, regulatory, technical, technological and financial conditions to increase individual and collective autonomy, agency and choice in how people connect to digital technology and spaces, as well as how they use, shape, inform or create them once they are connected. There is no social justice without gender and environmental justice. Our digital future should be one in which women and people of diverse sexualities and genders are able to access and enjoy a free and open internet to exercise agency and autonomy, build collective power, strengthen movements, and transform power relations. Human rights need to be at the centre of the development, deployment, utilisation and regulation of the internet and digital technologies. The accelerated digitalisation of all aspects of life cannot be dissociated from the need to use the internet and digital technologies to adapt to and combat climate change. For this to be possible, the internet must be recognised and governed as a global public good in an inclusive, transparent, democratic and accountable manner.
The GDC could play a key role in ensuring that the lessons learned from years of multistakeholder cooperation feed into future processes of internet policy, internet governance and global digital cooperation and in setting parameters for safeguarding multistakeholderism, transparency, inclusivity, dialogue and accountability.
We believe that the GDC could help strengthen the mandate of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), operationalise global digital cooperation and bridge the gap between deliberative spaces and decision-making processes. It can also contribute to identifying the global and specific responses that differential contexts require in order to avoid perpetuating structural disadvantages, while acknowledging that the challenges we face today affect people in many different ways.
The GDC should also recall and reaffirm the human rights standards that already apply to the digital context and which offer a clear and binding framework for digital cooperation and internet governance.
In this context, APC is pleased to make a contribution to the consultation on the Global Digital Compact.
Download the submission here.