PN Meaningful Access: From policy to implementation: lessons and good practices to advance meaningful access
1 Dec 2022 12:15h - 13:45h
Meaningful access to the internet represents the concept that users are not merely connected but could also benefit from it. Meaning that access to infrastructure is inclusive, sustainable, and affordable for users across the globe. Topics such as inclusivity, multilingualism, capacity development, and enhancement of technical skills were the main areas of discussion during the session. The aim was to enhance international cooperation and include multistakeholders from different fields and contribute to the enhancement of meaningful access.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was one of the multistakeholders that worked for years to develop a digital platform that identified digital infrastructure gaps and possible solutions. Regulatory trackwork is one of the possible solutions to enabling meaningful access. At the same, it is identified that regulators and policymakers are also faced with several issues regarding connectivity access and value creation. When talking about access it is important to create a governmental, economic, and technological environment that enables users to connect to anything they need. Therefore, the practices of development regulations need to be agile and flexible, while also being cooperative, innovative, and open-minded.
At the same time, it is learned that many communities do not find value in the commercial internet either because they cannot afford access or because of the language barrier. Therefore, the threats that the commercial internet brings against such communities is a matter that needs to be tackled.
Additionally, the inclusivity of women in the digital space is also something that needs to be addressed. Affordability, as well as safety and environmental issues, are among many reasons that have prevented women from being online. This could be improved by including women’s policy consultation processes that would enable them to safely access the internet and benefit from it.
From the perspective of the press, it is identified that local media is being cut off from the digital space. This has resulted in the loss of access to quality journalism and culturally relevant information, while also hindering the right of readers to be informed.
The last aspect that was covered was the dimension link for connectivity related to data divides. Essentially, this indicated the risk of the digital divide for developing countries, which is also identified in the Digital Economy Report 2021 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Considering that developing states are at risk of becoming mere providers of raw data for global platforms, this also raises concerns about digital access becoming a model related to the Gig economy. It is thus imperative to prevent any similar situation that would lead to digital colonialism.
Therefore, in achieving meaningful access to the internet, gender equality, multilingualism, and affordability shall be considered, while policymakers and regulators are encouraged to look outside the traditional regulatory frameworks to avoid the exclusion of marginalised groups.
By Bojana Kovac
The session in keywords
Internet Governance Forum 2022
28 Nov 2022 - 2 Dec 2022
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and online