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Annan stresses value of ensuring free and open content in new technologies

Annan stresses value of ensuring free and open content in new technologies

If the communications revolution is to open doors rather than close them, policy-makers must support the providers of content so that they are guaranteed freedom of expression, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told an Asian media summit in Kuala Lumpur today.

In a message delivered on his behalf by Shashi Tharoor, the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Mr. Annan said the development of new technologies is making information more widely available than ever, and introducing new voices into debates.

But he said the new information and communication technologies should never be considered as ends in themselves.

"Ultimately, 'what' is communicated is far more important than 'how' something is communicated," he said. The three-day summit in Kuala Lumpur concluded today.

Stressing the dramatic impact being wrought by new technologies, including the Internet, Mr. Annan's message emphasized the importance of ensuring that those technologies are used to promote tolerance instead of division.

"None of this will come about by accident…freedom is not only a human right; it is also an indispensable condition for economic and social progress."

Mr. Annan urged policy-makers attending the Asian media summit to play an active role in the debate ahead of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, which is scheduled to take place in Tunisia next year.