Government, business and civil society representatives convened today at United Nations Headquarters in New York to examine issues surrounding the regulation of the Internet, with Secretary-General Kofi Annan urging participants to ensure that the benefits of this revolutionary medium are made available to everyone around the world.
In remarks to the opening session of the Global Forum on Internet Governance, the Secretary-General noted how in only a few years, the Internet has revolutionized trade, health, education and "the very fabric of human communication and exchange."
Nevertheless, the issues surrounding Internet governance are numerous and complex, and the world has a common interest in ensuring the security and dependability of this new medium, the Secretary-General said.
He also stressed the need to foster inclusive and participatory models of governance. "The medium must be made accessible and responsive to the needs of all the world's people," he said. "At present, its reach is highly uneven, and the vast majority of people have yet to benefit from it, or even to be touched by it at all."
Organized by the UN Information and Communication Technologies Task Force (ICTF), the two-day Global Forum is intended to contribute to preparations for a Working Group on Internet Governance to be established by the Secretary-General, one of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held last December in Geneva. The Secretary-General appointed Markus Kummer of Switzerland today as the head of a secretariat to assist him in setting up the Working Group.
During today's session, the Global Forum will seek to reach agreement on different areas of Internet governance, as well as to identify areas that merit further discussion, including Internet infrastructure, electronic commerce, intellectual property, privacy issues, spam, and cultural and linguistic diversity.