GuideStar International's Blog

July 19, 2011

Don’t Be Fooled by Abstract Jargon: Internet Governance and ICT Policy Affect All of Us

Filed under: ICT for Development,internet governance — guidestarinternational @ 14:01
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by Keisha C Taylor

Most civil society organisations (CSOs) and citizens don’t use high-level jargon such as “Internet governance” and “ICT policy.” For them, it’s about having reliable and fast Internet access; accessing health care services via mobile in rural areas; voicing views online without fear of persecution, not having useful services blocked by Internet service providers (ISPs), not being exposed to cyberbullying, or fearing to become a victim of online fraud.

The Internet, and technology as a whole, is so intertwined with day-to-day life that the decisions made by governments and corporations directly impact how we use the Internet and how CSOs work — now and in the future.

International Economic and Policy Stakeholders Recognize the Internet’s Increasing Role

Trends in mobile phones, social media, cloud computing, open data, e-government and e-governance, new applications, and open and developing Internet standards have increased the importance of ICT to multiple actors, which include CSOs. However, with Internet use also come problems such as cybercrime, lack of data privacy, and data security. Influential international economic players have also realised this, and the importance of the Internet to the economy, and have organized several meetings on these issues:

Not convinced yet? Here’s more evidence

The importance of the Internet is recognised in such forums and should not be ignored by the wider civil society that has helped to drive its development so far.

CSOs and Internet Users Need to Get Involved

It is difficult to predict how the Internet will evolve as new services are introduced and more individuals and institutions from remote areas and developing countries come online.

However, as we continue to rely on the Internet for socio-economic development, increasingly for routine tasks, and in some cases survival, it becomes more important for all to improve digital literacy, help others learn how to use technology effectively and better educate ourselves about such policy issues. We also have to engage with other CSOs and other stakeholders on these issues.

Civil society organisations and users should assume a bigger role in ensuring that they inform and influence decisions being made nationally and internationally, and the Internet and related technology can be used to ensure that they do.

April 12, 2010

EU involves civil society through ‘European Citizens Initiative’

The EU recently launched a ‘European citizens initiative’ to give civil society a greater voice in decision making at the EU level. This “direct democracy experiment” allows citizens to influence the EU agenda by gathering 1 million signatures from people that support any particular proposal for new legislation at the European Commission level. It is hoped that this will increase the public’s involvement and interaction with the EU’s institutions. They can collect signatures on the street, through social networking sites or by any other means they like, but for the proposal to be considered each country should have a minimum number of signatures. Although there are critics, some of whom are campaigners, many civil society organisations support the initiatives. Its introduction may prove useful not only in encouraging civil society participation in EU activities but may also encourage greater co-operation between citizen philanthropists and CSOs across the EU. Read the Time Magazine article, which discusses this.

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