World information summit closes on pledges but little action

The World Summit on the Information Society has finished with agreement on the broad objectives but little in the way of specific action to attain them.

The World Summit on the Information Society closed on 12 December 2003 with the adoption of a declaration of principles and plan of action that left many with mixed feelings.

The 29-point plan of action states that by 2015, half of the world's population should be connected to the Internet but without giving details on the means to achieve this objective. And by the same date, all should have some sort of access to a television or radio. The two most controversial issues - setting a digital solidarity fund that would allow poor countries access to ICT and regulating the Internet - were left for a UN committee to report to the second stage of the summit in November 2005 (see EURACTIV

9 December 2003).

CommissionerLiikanensaid he was sceptical about setting up a digital solidarity fund because similar experiences in the past had not delivered the results envisaged. He added that public funds could end up financing monopolies which sell their services at high cost. This would make a country lose its competitive advantage of being part of the information society, he said.

The declaration of principles states that the information society should be accessible to all and based on shared knowledge while asserting freedom of the press and the individual's right to freedom of expression.

Most participants agreed that the real benefit of the summit was the pressure it exerted on governments to push the Information Society up their agendas.

 

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