Tackling privacy, Internet access and protection of children online

With over 3,500 participants, many of them directly tuning in online, the Ninth Annual Meeting of the United Nations-backed Internet Governance Forum (IGF) concluded in Istanbul today after tackling key issues that “may determine the evolution of the Internet.”

“We have worked together to contribute to fostering a trustworthy cyberspace that promotes peace and security, enables economic and social development and respects human rights,” said Vyacheslav Cherkasov, Senior Governance and Public Administration Officer at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA).

In a statement, Mr. Cherkasov pointed out that the Forum “is more relevant and important than ever before.” Moving forward, policy discussions would require more, not less, multi-stakeholder interaction.

This year’s theme was just that: ‘Connecting Continents for Enhanced Multi-stakeholder Internet Governance,’ with participants from the technological community, civil society, private sector, media, Governments and academia from all regions of the world.

The Forum, which opened on Tuesday, was the most popular in the 10-year history of the event. On Twitter, for example, #IGF2014 was tweeted more than 32,000 in the last two days, and so far reached more than 19 million Twitter users.

“The Internet Governance Forum allows everyone to come together in an open setting on equal footing to exchange ideas and have an open dialogue,” said Janis Karklins, Chair of the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group of the IGF.

During the Forum, many workshops focused on human rights, with privacy, surveillance, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and economic, cultural and social rights emerging as main themes.

The last day featured discussions on online freedoms and access to information, Internet users’ rights, and online child protection. For instance, a roundtable today focused on enhancing digital trust, and on how to get the UN Human Rights Council involved on the topic of online privacy.

In addition, the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today released new rules that protect children online. The Guidelines for Industry on Child Online Protection advises on ways to advance children’s rights and facilitate responsible digital citizenship.

By the end of 2014, there will be nearly 3 billion Internet users, two-thirds of them from developing countries. However, this means that more than 4 billion people still do not have access to the Internet, and most people without Internet access live in developing countries. In Africa, only 20 per cent of the population is expected to be online by the end of 2014.

Source: UN News Centre

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