Parliaments Shaping the Information Society

ICT Training (UNESCAP)

The Third Parliamentary Forum on Shaping the Information Society, which took place from 3-5 May in Geneva, addressed the theme “ICT and the Global Economic Crisis: Current Situation and Future Perspectives”.

This third meeting of members of parliament focused on the role that ICT can play in confronting the global economic crisis and facilitating economic and social recovery.

It discussed key issues relevant to the recovery from the economic crisis, such as investments in high-speed Internet networks, e-government and competitiveness, and the social and economic costs of cybercrime. It also discussed the liberalization of the telecommunications and ICT markets, and the promotion of competition and national responses to the challenges of regulation.

Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, speaking in the inaugural session, underscored the need “to identify good parliamentary practices for strengthening ICT policies and programmes during this time of economic crisis.”

Mr. Sha praised the ways in which information technology has contributed to the advancement of business, communications, economy and governance. ICT for public service delivery, for example, “has forever changed the ways in which citizens interact with their governments”, he said.

The current economic crisis has prompted governments to further utilize information technology for administrative and operational purposes. “We have all felt the need to work more efficiently and effectively due to scarce resources and looming uncertainty about the future”, said Mr. Sha.

There is an alarming increase in cybercrime and fraudulent practices related to technology, the Internet and ICT in general. “Governments and the international community, therefore, need to plan cohesive, effective strategies for protecting citizens against those who abuse technology”, Mr. Sha recommended.

He acknowledged that such abuse of technology can sometimes result from “lax regulations and policies that govern the fast-paced, ever-changing technology spheres at the national and international levels.”

There is an ever-larger role for parliaments to play in developing sound policies that benefit governments and the international community.

The third Parliamentary Forum helped governments and all-concerned to better understand the political role and responsibilities of parliaments in their legislative and oversight functions on the above issues. It also tried to identify good parliamentary practices and to draw recommendations for action by legislatures.

The forum was co-organized by DESA, the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the International Telecommunication Union through the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament. The Global Centre for ICT in Parliament facilitates collaboration among all relevant actors – parliaments, donors, international organizations and civil society organizations and conducts surveys of national assemblies and their ICT capacities.

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