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Joint declaration on Cultural Diversity and the Digital Space by the Government of Canada and the Government of the French Republic

The Government of Canada and the Government of the French Republic issued a ‘Joint Declaration on Cultural Diversity and the Digital Space’. The Declaration reaffirms the sovereign right of States to adopt policies and measures to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions in the digital space, recalls protection and promotion of cultural diversity as inseparable from human rights and fundamental freedoms, confirms support for the principle of neutrality and universality of the Internet and for the multi stakeholder governance of the Internet, and emphasizes the will to support French language cultural content in the digital space. In the spirit of multistakeholder model it affirms that the States, digital platforms, and civil society must pursue common goals to support and promote diversity of cultural expressions online, to contribute to the economic sustainability of content creators and respect for copyright, to promote quality and transparent information and the implementation of algorithms with respect to ranking, recommendations, and access to local content. In addition, the States decided to:

’ - Pursue collaboration between Canada and France on implementing the operational guidelines on the implementation of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity Of Cultural Expressions in the digital environment;

- Promote direct and open dialogue between partner States, the private sector, notably digital platforms, and civil society, on their responsibilities in connection with the protection and promotion of cultural diversity in the digital space.’

The Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CDCE) welcomed the Statement. The CDCE's co-president, Bill Skolnik, stated: ‘the signal sent by Canada and France is very important; at a time where platforms and their recommendation tools do not promote a real diversity of cultural expressions. We are pleased to see that the French and Canadian governments have heard the main concerns of the cultural community. We are eager to find out more about the impact of this statement.’

IDNs represent 3% of the world's domains

According to the recently released World Report on Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) by EURid and UNESCO, IDNs now comprise 3% of the world's domains, with a total number of 8.7 million IDNs registered as of December 2016 (with a growth rate of 28% compared to the previous year). The number includes IDNs registered both in generic top-level domains and country code top-level domains, both at first and second levels. Most IDNs are registered in the Asia and Pacific region. The report concludes that IDNs help to enhance linguistic diversity in cyberspace, and that IDN scripts are an accurate predictor of the language of web content. But it also notes that there is a slow progress in addressing some of the major challenges to the mass uptake of IDNs, such as their poor usability in email, online user identifiers, and in browsers, applications, and devices.

Canada and Netflix strike a deal to promote local content

The Canadian government made a deal with Netflix, which has agreed to invest 500 million Canadian dollars to create Canadian content. The company will establish a 'permanent production presence' in Canada, which will be the first time it has done so outside of the USA. Netflix has received criticism, as people fear that local content will disappear in the face of what some consider to be unfair competition. Yet there are concerns that the Canada-Netflix deal will not solve these issues, as 'the company has not had to abide by the same regulatory rules as Canadian broadcasters'. In addition, Quebec's Minister of Culture and Communications said he felt 'angry' and 'speechless' that the deal did not define the proportion of the money that would be dedicated to original French-language content. The government did not decide to impose special taxes on Netflix, as was suggested in January.

Internet governance glossaries in Arabic, Spanish and English

UNESCO has announced the publication of its Internet governance glossary in Arabic, an important tool for policymakers, academics, and Internet governance experts. Multilingual support is an important priority of many organisations, with this glossary joining other resources from ICANN (Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, French, and English), as well as DiploFoundation's An Introduction to Internet Governance (2017 edition in Spanish and English,  2016 edition in French and Thai, and earlier editions in seven other languages) and its Internet Governance Acronym Glossary (Spanish and English). 

Turkey plans launching domestic Internet services compatible with national culture

Turkey's Minister of Communication announced in a television interview that the country is creating a domestic search engine and e-mail service 'compatible with national culture and values'. The measures would be taken in response to the 'need to store user data within Turkey's borders and ensure that communications could be fully analysed domestically'. However, activists fear Turkey's complete isolation from the international community, as several global Internet companies (e.g. PayPal, Amazon, and eBay) have already been blocked in Turkey, and others (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) are often temporarily blocked in response to political incidents and attacks.

UNESCO’s Committee adopts draft Operational Guidelines on the implementation of the Convention in the digital environment

From 12-15 December 2016 UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Expression held its tenth ordinary session. During the session, Committee’s selection of six projects recipients of the International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) in the framework of the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions were announced. The Committee adopted the preliminary draft Operational Guidelines on the implementation of the Convention in the digital environment. The draft document requires states to update their respective laws “to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions in the digital environment.” The Guidelines recognize the need to address issues such as the digital divide between developed and less developed countries when it comes to the flow of cultural goods and services, digital literacy and access to local cultural content.

The state of IDNs in 2015: 9% increase compared to 2014

The recently launched IDN World Report, produced by EURid, with support from UNESCO and Verisign, looks at the state of Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) in 2015, and notes that IDNs ‘help to enhance linguistic diversity in cyberspace’. According to the report, there were approximately 6.8 million IDNs in December 2015 (a 9% increase compared to December 2014), representing 2% of the world’s domain names. Of them, 4.5 million are country code top level domains (ccTLDs), while 2.3 are generic top level domains (gTLDS). In addition to statistical data, the report also looks at issues such as: universal acceptance for IDNs, industry opinions, regional overviews, and country case studies.

African countries' use of mobile applications examined in new report

Internet company Opera published a new report entitled State of the Mobile Web Africa 2016. The report examines the opportunities and challenges related to the use of mobile applications in Africa. Among the opportunities are the increase in data usage; more, cheaper smartphones; growing appetite for media-rich websites and applications; and more local, relevant content. On the other end of the spectrum, challenges to the use of mobile applications are the high data costs; background 'data theft'; limited network capacity; and the increase in page sizes. South Africa heads the list of mobile app usage, followed by Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda.

Commission proposes new copyright rules

The European Commission has published a set of proposals to modernise copyright rules. They aim to increase cultural diversity and content available online, while bringing clearer rules for all online players. The proposals, announced on the occasion of President Jean-Claude Juncker's 2016 State of the Union address, have three main priorities: to offer better choice and access to content online and across borders; to improve copyright rules on research, education and inclusion of disable people; and to create a fairer and sustainable marketplace for creators and press. However, the rules may have an impact on the way online services, such as video-on-demand and news aggregators, handle copyrighted material.

GSMA launches Mobile Connectivity Index

GSMA has published the Mobile Connectivity Index, which measures measures the performance of 134 countries in enabling mobile Internet adoption, along four dimensions: infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness and relevant content. The index is headed by Australia, followed by the Netherlands and Denmark. The corresponding report furthermore explores the ways in which mobile can help towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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