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ITU World Telecommunication & Information Society Award goes to President Lula of Brazil, Rob Conway and Deborah Tate

 Queen Silvia of Sweden supports protecting children in cyberspace

Geneva, 18 May 2009 — President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva of Brazil, along with Mr Rob Conway, CEO of GSMA, and Ms Deborah Taylor Tate, former Commissioner of the US Federal Communications Commission were honoured with the 2009 ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Award at a ceremony held in Geneva today. H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden was the patron on the occasion of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.

Announcing the awards, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré welcomed the eminent personalities who have devoted themselves to bringing the benefits of Internet connectivity to every corner of the planet while protecting the interests of users, especially children who are among the most prolific users — and also the most vulnerable. "Protecting children in cyberspace is clearly our duty," said Dr Touré. "ITU’s Child Online Protection (COP) initiative — an integral part of ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Agenda — is in line with our mandate to strengthen cybersecurity and has been established as an international collaborative network for action to promote the online protection of children and young people worldwide."

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) marks the anniversary of the establishment of ITU in 1865. It brings attention to the potential of information and communication technologies (ICT) in meeting the development and economic aspirations of societies and on the importance of the Internet as a global resource. The theme for 2009 is Protecting Children in Cyberspace.

ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Awards

President Lula’s government has promoted digital inclusion programmes such as "PC for all" that aims to provide low-cost computers to Brazil's low-income population. Focusing on school-age children, President Lula has demonstrated deep concern about the safety of children in cyberspace. Last year, he sanctioned a new Brazilian Law against sexual exploitation of children on the Internet, and since 2003, the "call 100" service has been gathering information on child pornography on the Internet.

Accepting the award in a videotaped message, President Lula said he was honoured because ITU has recognized the measures that have been taken in Brazil for digital inclusion while protecting children from sexual exploitation on the global network. "We want to protect, but also expand access to cyberspace, especially for the disadvantaged," President Lula said. "Among the measures taken include distributing computers and other items to about 5,500 Brazilian municipalities. All the country's urban public schools are being equipped with broadband Internet. And we are experimentally distributing 150 thousand notebooks for students and teachers to promote basic public education."

As CEO of GSMA, which has directed the phenomenal growth of the mobile industry, Mr Rob Conway spearheaded efforts to protect children using mobile phones. "It is a great honour for me to receive the ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Award on behalf of the GSMA and its members and particularly in recognition for the great strides made by the GSMA’s Mobile Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Content," said Conway. "We have worked closely with ITU, and its Child Online Protection initiative is clearly a key component in the efforts that the mobile industry is engaged in, to ensure that children can benefit from mobile technology within a safe online mobile environment."

Ms Deborah Taylor Tate was appointed US FCC Commissioner in 2005. A leading voice on issues affecting families and children, Ms Tate was often referred to as the ‘Children’s Commissioner. "For too long we have lived under a myth — the myth of the privacy and safety of the internet," said Ms Tate as she urged strong support for the COP initiative "so that together, we can insure that these miraculous and dynamic means of communication instil and inspire the best and the brightest and provide a safe environment in which children can learn and grow to meet their full potential, whether online or offline".

Ms Tate went on to extol the opportunities afforded by the new digital age. "As nations and as officials, one of our foremost goals is to connect all of our citizens to the internet and establish the policies that allow for innovation and incentives to deploy broadband to the last mile… From tele-health and remote surgery to e-commerce and distance learning, our people can improve their health, enhance their education, attain prosperity and remain in contact with family and friends."

12-year old Lica Guzman, avid user of the Internet and online social networking, brought musical harmony to the ceremony: "I believe that children are our future… let them lead the way", she sang.

Queen Silvia of Sweden, patron of WTISD-09: "Take action to protect children"

"The digital age offers great promise: of learning, of sharing, of connecting with each other around the world. But it also presents dangers that are all too real," Her Majesty Queen Silvia, founder of the World Childhood Foundation, said in her message. "Dangers, which because of the technology of the Internet are not limited by national borders. This means that we must work together like never before if we are to protect our children." Noting that in cyberspace we really are only as strong as our weakest link, she added, "Despite the very real dangers, I believe wholeheartedly that there is a better future ahead of us. If we are bold, if we work in good faith and don’t just talk but take action to protect our children, then all good things will indeed be theirs."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urges efforts to strengthen cybersecurity

"Over the past two decades, the Internet has been transformed into an unmatched global resource that spans the worlds of knowledge and entertainment," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on WTISD-09. "It lies at the fulcrum of our increasingly interconnected and networked societies, driving the world’s economies, fostering trade and commerce and promoting better health care, food production and education."

Mr Ban recognized that these tremendous strides have resulted in the need to safeguard the Internet’s vital systems and infrastructures against attack by cybercriminals. Noting that children are among the most vulnerable to exploitation, he said, "The virtual world has exciting possibilities for nurturing children and helping them grow into creative, productive adults. But we must mind the pitfalls that could scar them for life. I urge policy makers and industry leaders to find the means to make the rapidly evolving virtual world safe for everyone."

Forum takes forward WSIS objectives

In order to maintain the momentum of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and to ensure the implementation of its action lines within the 2015 timeframe, a week-long forum organized jointly by ITU, UNESCO, UNCTAD and UNDP was inaugurated today. The WSIS Forum, which builds upon the tradition of annual follow-up meetings for the implementation of WSIS outcomes, will be held from 18−22 May at ITU in Geneva. It includes activities ranging from meetings of WSIS facilitators and stakeholders, thematic workshops, speed exchanges on critical issues as well as round table discussions.

Six high-level panels will address issues critical to the multi-stakeholder WSIS implementation and follow-up process:

  • ICTs for MDGs
  • Accessing Knowledge
  • Financial mechanisms in the economic downturn
  • Cybersecurity
  • Climate change and ICTs
  • ICT applications for a better life
  • The full programme of the events is available at www.itu.int/wsis/implementation/2009/forum/geneva/agenda.html.

    Information for Media

    Eurovision World Feed will broadcast highlights of WTISD-09 on 18 May from 1600-1630 UTC. All broadcasters will have access free of rights and free of charge in Europe (W3A), the Americas (NSS806), Asia (Asiasat2), and Africa (CFI).

    Press briefing will be held on 18 May at 12:15 at ITU, Geneva. WTISD-09 and the WSIS Forum are open to the Press. UN Press accreditation is valid. Others must seek accreditation at pressinfo@itu.int (subject: WTISD-09).

    Live webcast will be available at www.itu.int/ibs/sg/wtisd/2009/index.phtml

    For more information, please visit www.itu.int/wtisd/index.html or contact:

    Sanjay Acharya
    Chief, Media Relations and Public Information
    ITU
    Tel: +41 22 730 5046
    Mobile: +41 79 249 4861
    E-mail:
    sanjay.acharyaitu.int
     

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    Updated : 2009-07-13