International experts will be gathering in Riga to discuss the ethical dimensions of the information society from 16 to 17 October 2013. The meeting will focus on sharing global experiences and responding to the opportunities and ethical challenges of the information society. The event is expected to attract around 100 participants from all over the world.
The event is organized in the framework of UNESCO’s intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP), in cooperation with the Government of Latvia through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, and the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO. Other stakeholders from civil society, academia, the private sector as well as other intergovernmental organizations have also made important contributions to the preparation of the event.
For several years, UNESCO in concert with partners has been raising awareness, conducting research as well as building global understanding and consensus around the societal and ethical challenges related to the use and application of information and communication technologies (ICT). The Riga event reflects this on-going effort and also builds on the conclusions of other international debates on this topic organized in 2013 by UNESCO. These include:
- The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Action Line C10 Meeting “Ethical Dimensions of the Information society”, and the “IFAP Special Event: Information and Knowledge for All, Emerging Trends and Challenges”, which were both organized during the UNESCO WSIS+10 Review Event.
- 8th Session of the World Commission on the Ethics of Science, Technology and Knowledge (COMEST), held in May in Slovakia, and
- IFAP’s Sakhalin Conference on “Internet and Socio-Cultural Transformations in Information Society”, held in September in the Russian Federation.
The Riga meeting will further consolidate the global experiences captured with a view to producing a set of guidelines that could frame practical national responses. As part of this effort, experts will be also requested to review the draft Handbook on Information Ethics. Development of the handbook began shortly after the WSIS+10 Review Event and seeks to respond to the growing need expressed by policy-makers. The handbook provides case studies and analytical frameworks that will support policy-makers to respond in a more timely and informed manner to technological innovations and their accompanying societal effects.
UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, Mr Janis Karklins, highlighted another of the meeting’s expected contribution to global policy efforts underway by “...providing inputs to the discussion paper currently under preparation by the UNESCO Secretariat on a wide range of issues such as freedom of expression, privacy, access to information and knowledge and ethical considerations. This discussion paper will inform the debate by Member States during the upcoming 37th session of the General Conference on the complexities surrounding the use of the Internet”.
Conference papers, practical information, related videos as well as live streaming of the event can be found at the event website.
The intergovernmental Information for All Programme was established in 2001 to provide a platform for international policy discussions and guidelines for action in the area of access to information and knowledge, and to support Member States in the development of national information policies and strategy frameworks.