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World Telecommunication and Information
Society Day ceremony honours three laureates
Three Major announcements made to curb cybercrime, connect Africa
and connect the young
Geneva, 17 May 2007 — As part
of its mandate given by the World Summit on the Information Society to build
confidence in the use of ICT, ITU announces an ambitious two-year plan to
curb cybercrime. The announcement was made by ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun
Touré at a ceremony to present the 2007 ITU World Information Society Award.
Cybercrime takes several forms, from breaching network security, financial
fraud, invasion of privacy and identity theft to virus attacks, spam or online
child pornography. With schools, hospitals, and government organizations
increasingly dependant on online services, the vulnerability of the system and
everyone connected to it becomes frighteningly apparent. As we are only as
secure as the weakest link, a global concerted response is needed to ensure
there are no safe havens for cybercriminals.
Cybersecurity Agenda launched
Against this background, ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré set out a
comprehensive Global Cybersecurity Agenda to tackle the issue within a
framework of international cooperation. "With more than one billion Internet
users in the world today, not only is the number of crimes committed in
cyberspace increasing at an alarming rate, but the sophistication in the way
these crimes are committed keeps evolving," Dr Touré said.
The goal of the Agenda is to foster a common understanding of the importance
of cybersecurity and bring together all relevant stakeholders (governments,
intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, and civil society) to work
on concrete solutions to deal with cybercrime. This is all the more important as
criminals use weaknesses wherever they can be found and leverage them
internationally. While there are a number of existing frameworks, they are
enforceable only within geographical boundaries, either national or regional,
thus leaving room for criminals to use loopholes to their advantage and in
almost total impunity as they shift their operations to countries where
appropriate and enforceable laws are not yet in place. It is vital to work on
bringing together these initiatives within a framework of international
cooperation and focus on solutions that leverage the broad range of existing
expertise and initiatives in order to avoid duplication and make real progress
in building confidence and security in the use of ICT.
"Today, the loss is estimated to run into several billion dollars, both from
fraud on the Internet and from costs related to fixing networks that have
suffered cyberattacks. But with children, students, and senior citizens
communicating by Internet or mobile phone, tomorrow’s losses can be devastating.
Just one word change on a patient’s medical file in a hospital could kill that
patient, and hackers who can thwart sophisticated banking systems have no
trouble breaking into a hospital’s network," said Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU
Secretary-General. This is becoming a major concern for public authorities.
The Global Cybersecurity Agenda, which will have a two-year timetable, rests
on five pillars:
Finding technical solutions for every environment
Developing interoperable legislative frameworks
Building capacity in all the relevant areas
Establishing appropriate organizational
Adopting effective international cooperation
Turning to the need to fast-track the UN Millennium Development Goals, Dr
Touré announced Connect Africa, a massive effort aimed at achieving the
connectivity goals endorsed by world leaders at the World Summit on the
Warning participants that, with the 2015 targets of the UN Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) only eight years away, the Secretary-General said that
it has become imperative leverage ICT to rapidly mobilize the human, financial
and technical resources required to connect all cities and villages.
To meet this challenge, ITU, the UN Global Alliance for Information and
Communication Development, the World Bank, the African Union, the African
Development Bank, the African Telecommunication Union and the UN Economic
Commission for Africa are joining to launch Connect Africa, the first of
a series of regional initiatives to help achieve the WSIS connectivity
goals. Connect Africa will be launched at a high-level gathering to be
held in Kigali, Rwanda, 29—30 October, under the patronage of President Paul
Kagame of Rwanda.
Connect Africa will aim to accelerate partnerships and the roll-out of
ICT infrastructure and connectivity, including broadband, as an essential
pre-condition for ICT access and services needed to boost social and economic
development in the region. This collaborative effort will attract a range of
stakeholders, including the Government of China, G8, OECD and other countries
active in the region, major ICT companies, international organizations and civil
society. It will complement and reinforce existing public and private sector
initiatives and investments in the region by placing a special emphasis on
filling in major gaps and enhancing coordination between stakeholders on the
implementation and allocation of resources, based on regionally established
priorities. It will target progress on several "quick win" projects of
significant, catalysing impact that can be realized in the short-term, in
addition to longer-term initiatives.
In order to stimulate the needed investment in ICT infrastructure and
services, Connect Africa will also help expand efforts to develop an
enabling environment across the continent, through policy and regulatory
modernization and harmonization, strengthened cybersecurity and enhanced support
for migration to next-generation networks.
The Secretary-General also announced that ITU, InfoDev and the World Bank are
working on a Global Capacity Building Initiative for regulators to expand
training opportunities for ICT policy-makers and regulators in developing
countries, which will be launched at the Connect Africa event in October.
This initiative will empower regulators with tools to establish an enabling
environment to stimulate investment and innovation and build confidence in the
telecommunications and ICT market.
Starting with Africa — and then expanding to other regions — the Global
Capacity Building Initiative will build on the highly successful ICT Regulation
Toolkit, which ITU and InfoDev launched in 2005 to improve access to training
materials on key policy and regulatory issues in the ICT sector.
Digital opportunities for the young
On the same occasion, HRH Sheikha Al-Mayassa Bint Hamad Al-Thani, Princess of
Qatar, launched a campaign along with ITU to secure CHF 2 Million to support 250
new scholarships in addition to creating 1000 new internship opportunities in
the field of information and communication technologies within the next three
years, by 2010. She was represented at the World Telecommunication and
Information Society Day ceremony at ITU headquarters in Geneva by Dr Hessa Al-Jaber,
Secretary-General of ictQatar.
World Information Society Day, 17 May 2007 is dedicated this year to making
available the benefits of the digital revolution to young people everywhere. The
World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) recognized the young as the
future workforce and the earliest adopters of ICT, and called for their
empowerment as key contributors to building an inclusive Information Society.
World leaders stated their commitment at the Summit in Tunis to actively engage
youth in innovative ICT-based development programmes and widen opportunities for
UN Secretary-General Mr Ban K-moon, elaborating on the theme of this year’s
observance of World Information Society Day "connecting the young", said "Young
people are among the most prolific and knowledgeable users of ICT. But the
digital revolution is out of reach for many of them, especially young girls and
women and people living in remote and underserved regions. I therefore urge
policy-makers and industry leaders to put their minds together, and to work
cooperatively with children and youth to produce suitable technologies,
applications and services to facilitate access to information and communications
"ICT are powerful tools to empower children and other vulnerable groups with
information and knowledge and act as a catalyst in ensuring their rights within
the comity of nations," ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré stated. "It is
clearly our duty today to provide the opportunities of ICT to all children and
youth, particularly to those who remain unconnected from the ongoing digital
Three laureates honoured by ITU at ceremony in Geneva
At a ceremony at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, the First Lady of the Dominican
Republic, H.E. Dr Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, Professor Mark Krivocheev,
Chief Scientist of the Radio Research Institute in Moscow and the Mozilla
Corporation represented by Ms Mitchell Baker, President and CEO were presented
with the ITU World Information Society Award by the ITU Secretary-General.
Accepting the Award for her outstanding personal contribution towards
building an inclusive and equitable global information society, Dr Cedeño de
Fernández stated, "Our commitment has been to promote a development that is
human and inclusive for Dominican families, which we implement by way of social
and educational strategies that allow for the empowerment of each family member
so that they may assume the responsibility for their own future well-being.
These strategies are strengthened through the effective use of ICT as an
efficient and expeditious tool that permits us to develop by transforming the
lives of our citizens." Explaining that the goal is to build a Community
Technology Centre in each and every municipality and village, Dr Fernández said,
"We have focused on establishing Community Technology Centres in the pockets of
poverty in the Dominican Republic, where we have put ICT at the hands of the
most disadvantaged. Currently we are working in the poorest municipalities and
communities in our country."
Professor Krivocheev, who received the Award for his lifetime achievements in
the technical development of television services and systems, said that he was
overwhelmed that his work in developing worldwide digital standards for
television has served "as an impulse for the creation and development of the
global information society". He added that progress in signal compression and
processing for digital interactive TV broadcasting and multimedia and in the
areas of mobile TV and Internet, microelectronics and imaging systems have
allowed us to move towards new frontiers in the information society.
Speaking on behalf of Mozilla, Ms Mitchell Baker said that the mission of the
Mozilla project is to empower people to participate more fully in online life.
"We enable people to build software, to make that software fit local
circumstances, to vet the quality of our software, and to modify and improve
that software," Ms Baker said. "We create infrastructure through which groups of
people organize themselves to improve the Internet." The Mozilla Corporation
received the Award for its outstanding contribution to the development of
world-class Internet technologies and applications.
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Information Society Day
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