ICTs and Inclusive Sustainable Development-Digital Divide

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) extends beyond Information Technology (IT) by stressing the role of unified communication that allows all users to access information. Due to rapid globalization and profound technological advancements in recent decades, it is increasingly important to ensure that all community members in developed and developing nations can access and participate in the opportunities that technology provides. Unfortunately, there is a digital divide across and within societies around the world. The gap exists between geographical, geopolitical, and social lines. Digital disadvantage can take many forms such as poor connection, difficulty obtaining technical assistance, isolation from services, expensive utilities or products, and more. Governance of these technologies has become an increasingly important issue due to the variety of stakeholders involved.The NETmundial Initiative seeks to provide a platform that fosters “practical cooperation between all stakeholders in order to address Internet issues and advance the implementation of the NETmundial Principles and Roadmap.” The stakeholders include actors from civil society, academia, government, the private sector, and the technical community. The initiative supports principles concerning internet governance, human rights and shared values, protection of intermediaries, cultural and linguistic diversity, unified space, security, stability, and resilience of the Internet, open and distributed architecture, and sustainable innovation and creativity. It is important that every stakeholder engage in meaningful and accountable participation. The Internet is such an expansive and uncontrollable resource that ensuring this kind of participation is difficult. Further, countries have different ideas about how the Internet should be governed. For example, China has strict privacy laws that ban many freedoms that citizens of other countries are provided. However, if international multi stakeholder organizations and initiatives such as NETmundial continue to promote inclusive policies that will foster development and equality around the world, I believe that the Internet, specifically ICTs, can effect positive change. ICTs will bring great progress to developing nations and communities. For example, mobile banking in Africa has made an enormous positive impact. With this new technology and information available, individuals are able to send money to support their families, children at universities, etc. Unfortunately, many people and communities around the world are becoming disheartened by the Internet, seeing its negative and dangerous possibilities. However, I hope that positive change and development will prevail.