UNCTAD Policy Brief: Making Digital Platforms Work for Development

20 Mar 2019

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published a new policy brief that pinpoints the opportunities and challenges of digital platforms for development. the report notes that digital platforms can enhance efficiency through reducing transaction costs, decreasing customer prices, improving market access, ameliorating the use of underutilised resources, boosting flexibility for services provision, and promoting competition. Yet, the market power of certain digital platforms represents a challenge, let alone the pertinent ramifications on competition and consumer protection, data protection and privacy, taxation, and employment and working conditions. The report suggests that to capitalise on digital platforms and to address their social, political, and economic knock-on effects, such challenges should be tackled through sound policies and regulations. Further discussion on digital platforms for development is planned to take place during the global eCommerce Week 2019, 1-5 April at Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.

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Privacy and data protection are two interrelated Internet governance issues. Data protection is a legal mechanism that ensures privacy. Privacy is usually defined as the right of any citizen to control their own personal information and to decide about it (to disclose information or not). Privacy is a fundamental human right. It is recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in many other international and regional human rights conventions. The July 2015 appointment of the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age reflects the rising importance of privacy in global digital policy, and the recognition of the need to address privacy rights issues the the global, as well as national levels.

The impact of the Internet on businesses and the global economy has been crucial in shaping new economic models, and at the same time, raising new concerns.

The Internet is one of the primary drivers of economic growth, which is visible in many countries that have placed the development of ICT as one of the primary tools for boosting the economy.

The need for people to gain access to ICT resources and narrow the digital divide is crucial, and is especially relevant now in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also important to understand how access to the Internet affects the level of economic and social development in a country.

 

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