(No.203) Information Ethics and Internet Governance - Identity, design, preservation and data

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Workshop Theme: 
Access and Diversity
Theme Question: 

Question 1: What are the policy challenges around free flow of information, freedom of expression and human rights and the Internet as they relate to access?
How can policy makers be supported in addressing current and emerging ethical challenges of information and communciation technologies? How can a better understanding of the explicit and implicit changes that result from the ongoing interplay between social processes and technology be facilitated? How can the multi-stakeholder model and approaches be harnessed to inform reflections on these development and contribute to outcomes that advance the full expression and realization of human rights?

Concise Description of Workshop: 

The notion of cyber and information ethics has emerged from the interplay of human interactions and values with the emerging technologies. The new modes of interaction bring opportunities for advancing human development but also risks for increasing inequalities. They are also giving rise to new forms of social organization which impact governance and behaviour on the Internet.   This session will examine some of the opportunities and challenges from the perspective of cyber and information ethics that impact on Internet governance in three areas namely,  identity, design and digital preservation. Questions to be explored include during the session are: What are the societal impacts and implications of changes in our notions of time, space and identity both as individuals and collectively? How can we better understand the changes and design appropriate measures within the governance framework to manage them?   If e-services do not cater for a range of user needs and limitations this may bar some citizens from effectively participating. How can we incrorporate human rights goals as a design criteria?   What are the considerations and tradeoffs in the selection of content to be preserved? How can we ensure diversity, authenticity, inclusion and the viewpoint of disadvantaged communities in digital preservation efforts?

Organiser(s) Name: 

UNESCO's intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa ECA

Submitted Workshop Panelists: 

Session Chair - Mr. Andrejs Vasiljevs, UNESCO's Intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP)
Mr Rafael Capurro, Mr Michael Eldred, International Center for Information Ethics (ICIE) - CONFIRMED; Mr Peter Lor, Department of Information Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa - CONFIRMED; Mr. Mike Hinchey, International Federation of Information Professionals (IFIP) - CONFIRMED; Ms Eskedar Nega, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa - CONFIRMED; Ms Myriam Bennani, Hajji & Associated - CONFIRMED.

Name of Remote Moderator(s): 
Mr. Cédric Waccholz / Mr. Paul G. C. Hector
Gender Report Card
Please estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session: 
About half of the participants were women
To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women's empowerment?: 
It was mentioned briefly in the presentations and discussions
Reported by: 
Paul G C Hector
A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were raised: 

The session, entitled “Information Ethics & Internet Governance - Identity, design, data and preservation”, was part of UNESCO’s ongoing efforts aimed at raising awareness of and reflecting on the legal, societal and ethical dimensions of the use and application of information and communication technologies (ICT).
In his opening remarks, Mr Andrejs Vasiljevs, session moderator and Chair of the IFAP Information Ethics Working Group, characterized the current situation as “a race between three competitors – ICT and their applications in the lead; national and international ICT regulations and policies a distant second; with societies’ understanding of the social and ethical implications and impacts of the technologies and their uses lagging far behind”. He therefore underlined the need to enhance understanding in order to improve policy responses, reduce the current gaps and improve societal outcomes.
Panelists drew on global and regional experiences that brought together the perspectives of actors involved in intergovernmental policy-making, both in academia as well as the private sector.
Director of the Irish Software Research Engineering Centre (Lero), Mr Mike Hinchey spoke about his organization’s work aimed at embedding rules that promote human rights into technical architectures. He explained how this approach could address the needs of persons with disabilities and protect security and privacy online.
Another panelist, Ms Eskedar Nega of UNECA, shed light on the regional cyber-security convention being developed by UNECA at the request of Member States of the African Union to create an enabling legal and institutional environment for e-commerce, cyber-security, cyber-criminality and the protection of personal data and privacy. According to Ms Nega, “these efforts are bearing fruit with an increasing number of countries currently engaged in formulating and enacting the required cyber-legislations for a safe and trustworthy cyberspace in Africa".
The challenges around preserving digital content were addressed by Professor Peter Lor of the University of Pretoria.
“Digital content is growing at a rapid pace but is also very fragile… so its cultural, historical, legal and other important roles make its preservation urgent,” said Professor Lor. “Nevertheless, this raises ethical questions around how content is collected and consent, how are permitted uses of content, privacy of records, as well as their authenticity and completeness.”
UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, Mr Jānis Kārkliņš, was the final panelist and presented UNESCO’s strategy toward ethical dimensions of the information society, as approved in October by the Organization’s Executive Board. The strategy will further orient and enhance the activities being undertaken through IFAP and UNESCO’s regular programme. “Given the complexity of these issues, varying levels of understanding and needs, we will be exploring all possibilities, and engaging with research institutions and our global network of partners to develop methodologies and best practices in this field,” Mr Kārkliņš said.

Conclusions and further comments: 

An interactive session with both the live audience and virtual participants followed the panelists’ presentations. The discussion served to provide additional perspectives, as well as to reinforce awareness of the urgent need for understanding of information ethics among all citizens.
Some of the issues discussed included:
* The need for mechanisms that could address cross-border resolution of privacy disputes
* Including information ethics awareness as a mandatory component of the academic preparation of all students and continue professional development of ICT professionals and policy-makers
* Exploring how  different traditions of ethics, could be integrated into the current information ethics debate as currently much of research and policy discussion were taking place in North America and Europe. Initiatives such as the African Network for Information Ethics (ANIE) were providing entry-points for non-western perspectives and research. Intercultural dialogue and exchange  also has a vital role to play in advancing understanding and inclusion in the debate.
Attention was also given to exploring how further collaboration between stakeholders could be advanced bearing in mind the documents "UNESCO and the ethical dimensions of the Information society" (http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002173/217316e.pdf) adopted at the 190th session of UNESCO's Executive Board  and an ongoing UNESCO-commissioned research study on current and emerging information ethics that will be presented at the upcoming WSIS+10 Review Meeting (http://www.unesco.org/wsis2013) in February 2013.