The global Information Society is evolving at breakneck speed. The accelerating convergence between telecommunications, broadcasting multimedia and information and communication technologies (ICTs) is driving new products and services, as well as ways of conducting business and commerce. At the same time, commercial, social and professional opportunities are exploding as new markets open to competition and foreign investment and participation.
The modern world is undergoing a fundamental transformation as the Industrial Society that marked the 20th century rapidly gives way to the Information Society of the 21st century. This dynamic process promises a fundamental change in all aspects of our lives, including knowledge dissemination, social interaction, economic and business practices, political engagement, media, education, health, leisure and entertainment. We are indeed in the midst of a revolution, perhaps the greatest that humanity has ever experienced. To benefit the world community, the successful and continued growth of this new dynamic requires global discussion and harmonization in appropriate areas.
ICTs are powerful tools to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for alleviation of poverty, hunger and disease provided that
- Access to communications is universal and affordable
- Access to communications is protected as a fundamental right
- A policy framework is in place that is transparent, predictable and encourages competition
- Human resources are trained and available
To provide a global economic stimulus, world leaders must recognize the need for an appropriate framework for the Information Society and for cyberspace that
- Reduces existing barriers to global transactions
- Respects the needs of developing countries
- Ensures broad participation in decision-making
- Adapts existing policies to the online environment
Accelerated deployment of ICT infrastructure can benefit developing countries, provided that leaders encourage actions now to
- Recognize infrastructure development as a priority and as part of national e-strategies
- Deploy the most appropriate technologies, building on success stories
- Provide financing to assist countries in need to develop their national infrastructure
Global Leaders must take steps to ensure that the Information Society is built on a secure foundation, including:
- Necessary agreements to promote and safeguard security of networks
- Addressing citizen concerns on privacy, authenticity and linguistic diversity in the online world
- Curbing criminal and fraudulent use of networks
The road from Geneva to Tunis
Laying the foundations of the Information Society covers a wide range of complex issues and is not a simple task. Intense negotiations culminated in a Declaration of Principles and Action Plan that were agreed at the meeting of global leaders during the Geneva Summit. The road to Tunis entails a process of monitoring and evaluation of the progress of doable actions laid out in the Geneva Plan and a concrete set of deliverables that must be achieved by the time the Summit meets again in Tunis in November 2005. Working groups set up to find solutions to the issues of Internet Governance, financing and other issues related to the Information Society will provide inputs through the ensuing preparatory process of WSIS. Also, measures will be taken to the bridge the digital divide and hasten the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals with the help of ICTs.