UNESCO consults with participants of the Internet Governance Forum 2017 on the Internet Universality indicators

10 January 2018

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© UNESCO/Zhaocan Li

As part of the second phase of its project to define Internet Universality indicators, UNESCO presented the first draft Internet indicators during a consultation session held on 20 December, 2017 at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Guy Berger, UNESCO's Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, opened the roundtable mentioning that this project “aims to identify constructive ways to improve national Internet environments and promote an Internet that is based on human Rights, that it is Open and Accessible to all and that is nurtured by Multistakeholder participation”. Based on the concept of Internet Universality and the related R-O-A-M principles adopted in 2015 by UNESCO Member States, the indicators’ project is a “step forward to support governments and other stakeholders assess and improve their national Internet environments”, he added.

David Souter, representing the Consortium led by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), then presented the project and released the first draft Internet Universality indicators. This framework includes qualitative, quantitative and institutional indicators. “The draft indicators were developed through an extensive programme of desk research and consultation. The online consultation platform attracted more than 165 participants and 25 face-to-face consultations were also held in 22 countries”. Anriette Esterhuysen (APC) added that “we are trying to encourage the practice of always gathering data around the Internet and making sure this data is aggregated”.

Different contributors to the project – among whom Prof Xue Hong (China Normal University), Stephen Wyber (IFLA), Dorothy Gordon (UNESCO IFAP Chair on Information Literacy), Jasmina Byrne (UNICEF) and Raul Echeberria (ISOC) – then took the floor and discussed the five categories of indicators (Rights, Openness, Accessibility, Multistakeholder participation and crosscutting issues).

Stephen Wyber from IFLA talked about Accessibility indicators, referring to “information poverty, culture, people with disabilities, local content and services”. Jasmina Byrne from UNICEF proposed to develop indicators that would distinguish children from the youth as “there rights are distinctly guaranteed by different conventions and as they engage differently on the Internet”.

Participants were then consulted on the draft indicators and discussed about “the challenges to collect data in some countries”, the formulation of a “common and open methodology to implement the indicators” and the relevance of adding more indicators about people with disabilities.

Guy Berger closed the session saying that this draft framework of indicators will be improved after the second phase of the consultation in March 2018. The indicators will then be pre-tested and pilots will be done in different countries before being submitting to UNESCO Member States in November 2018.

In this second consultation, stakeholders are invited to review the first draft indicators document by 15 March 2018. All submissions should be sent via email (internetstudy@unesco.org), and/or through an online submission platform to be available in the six UN official languages in late December 2017.

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is leading the work on the project for UNESCO and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Internet Society (ISOC) are supporting the project.