United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a human-centered digital future based on a resilient internet that is open, inclusive, and secure for all in line with his proposed Global Digital Compact.
In a video message he delivered at the 17th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) being held in the Ethiopian Addis Ababa Guterres told participants that while digital technologies were transforming lives and livelihoods, they were outpacing regulations and exacerbating inequalities around the world.
“The safe, secure human-centered digital space begins with the protection of free speech, freedom of expression, and the right to online autonomy and privacy,” said Guterres.
He went on to emphasize governments, private companies, and social media platforms’ responsibilities to prevent online bullying and misinformation that undermines democracy, human rights, and science.
“We need to work for a safe, equitable, and open digital future that does not infringe on privacy or dignity,” Guterres urged.
The forum which attracted global leaders underscored the importance of digital technologies as tools for enhancing development across Africa.
“The internet’s contribution to social development is immense,” Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in his opening remarks at the IGF 2022.
Ahmed has listed out the democratization of knowledge and communication, access to entrepreneurship skills and job opportunities, health care, and education among “a few noteworthy ones”.
However, Ahmed said there is a need for cautioned optimism around ownership of critical digital infrastructure, data governance, and cyber security as data governance was about harmonizing roles of the digital ecosystem to spur economic development while protecting individual rights.