With digital communication growing rapidly and policymakers in many countries developing digital infrastructure and governance models of the future, WACC believes that it is critical to move beyond the issue of access in order to address structural and rights issues.
WACC applauds the UN Agenda 2030’s focus on access to information and communications technology (ICTs) and Internet services. However, questions about ownership, regulation, privacy, and illegal surveillance of civil society actors must be central elements of the conversation about ICTs in development. Access alone will not contribute to sustainable development.
Even further, we need to apply existing rights that should ensure freedom of expression, linguistic rights, gender equality, media diversity and more in a digital communication sphere that is challenged by disinformation, hate speech and growing media monopolies.
In 2020-2021, WACC, in partnership with the Just Net Coalition, is working with the following organizations to increase digital media literacy and to promote a more democratic approach to today’s digital transformation.
WACC is also engaging with practitioners, academics, media and other partners to reflect critically on the fundamental issues of accessibility, affordability, accountability, participation, equality/equity, diversity and connectedness. Digital tools must be developed and promoted in such a way that oft-excluded communities can achieve greater participation, and push governments to implement public policies that contribute to greater equity and inclusion.
The use of digital platforms must occur within a framework of rights that help generate genuine opportunities for free and informed participation to promote true sustainable development. This is crucial amid the alarming trend of shrinking space for civil society, which often manifests itself online, as well in the form of online surveillance and Internet shutdowns.