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IP/05/1424

Brussels, 15 November 2005

EU pleads for freedom of speech as instrument to bridge the digital divide at this week’s World Summit in Tunis

The question of how the worldwide web is run, and how it can best safeguard basic freedoms and drive economic growth around the globe, will dominate the second World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) that starts tomorrow in Tunis and will end on 18 November. The discussions of more than 50 Heads of State or Government, or their representatives, and of many non-governmental organisations and representatives of civil society, will also focus on financial mechanisms to bridge the digital divide.

I hope that Tunis will mark an important step forward in the internet’s long evolution away from government control and towards truly international governance”, said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, who is leading the Commission delegation in Tunis. “We are almost there. We already have consensus on more than two thirds of the package and I call on all participants to make sure that this agreement is not called into question. A policy agreement in Tunis is within our grasp and it would be an important signal that democratic nations are genuinely committed to bridging the worrying divide between the world’s digital ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, and to building a genuinely open and inclusive global information society.”

Background:

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) that officially starts tomorrow is a formal UN Summit at the level of Heads of State and Government. The EU is represented at the WSIS by the EU Presidency and the European Commission, with Members of the European Parliament included in the EU delegation. The process is divided into two phases (Geneva, 10-12 Dec. 2003; Tunis, 16-18 Nov. 2005). The talks in Tunis this week will focus on internet governance and financial mechanisms to bridge the digital divide. For the EU, discussions with civil society and private industry will parallel the official summit.
Further information:
See MEMO 05/428

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/internationalrel/global_issues/wsis/index_en.htm


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