UNESCO advocates Internet Universality indicators and online freedoms at BILETA conference


States and stakeholders are in need of a comprehensive tool to assess Internet development was UNESCO’s key message to the Annual Conference of BILETA (British and Irish Law Education and Technology Association). The event was hosted by the Law School of the University of Minho in Braga, Portugal, 20-21 April 2017

“Internet policy improvements need to be based on evidence and consensus so as to foster online human rights and sustainable development”, said UNESCO representative Xianhong Hu in her presentation on UNESCO’s ongoing project on defining Internet Universality indicators at the Annual Conference of BILETA.

In line with the Conference theme “International perspectives on emerging challenges in Law, Technology and Education”, she presented the key objectives of the project Defining Internet Universality indicators and engaged with legal experts and the law community for their inputs and partnerships. The indicators will be developed in five categories along with the Internet Universality R.O.A.M principles and will include Human Rights-based indicators, Openness indicators, Accessibility indicators, Multi-stakeholder indicators and Crosscutting indicators. She also used the opportunity to announce that the Organization had commissioned APC (Association of Progressive Communication) and its consortium to conduct the elaboration of these indicators.

“State actors invest more efforts in updating laws and regulations to align with international legal standards and empowering individuals to protect their personal data”, stated Professor Joe Cannataci, the leading author of UNESCO publication Privacy, Free Expression and Transparency.

Contributing to the elaboration and implementation of Internet Universality indicators, professor Cannataci stressed that states should encourage the use of encryption amongst citizens, improving transparency in e-governance and e-democracy and protecting online expression of journalists and social media producers.

For private sector, Professor Cannataci recommended that they foster awareness and know-how on privacy protection, take more transparency measures and conduct human rights impact assessments.

“International society need to have more co-operation at the regional and national levels in sharing good practices and preventing cyber-attacks that can violate privacy or paralyze free expression” said prof. Cannataci. He also called upon international organizations to foster digital literacy as a life skill within media and Information Literacy.

As a core implementation methodology for elaborating these indicators, UNESCO is encouraging interested entities and individuals to engage with its ongoing global consultation process, which includes a series of physical consultation events and online consultations via email (internetstudy@unesco.org) and on a dedicated website to be launched at WSIS forum in June 2017.  The project is supported by Sweden and Internet Society and the elaboration of the indicators will be finalized by June 2018.