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South Korean NGOs Statement to Asian Regional Conference for WSIS

25 December 2002

This document is the input of the South Korean NGOs to Asian Regional Conference for WSIS.

Source  :  Korean NGOs for WSIS


Information and communication societies should be based on human rights, peace, social justice and sustainable human development.


○ Protection Of Human Rights And Social Marginalities
Human rights must be the cornerstone in information and communication societies. Particularly, we should recognize violation of human rights caused by newly introduced Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and examine how present informatization process affect human rights.
And special consideration should be given for protection of social marginalities including women, youth, disabled and migrant.

○ Understanding Knowledge, Information And Culture In Information And Communication Societies
Knowledge, information and culture in information and communication societies should not be understood narrowly as 'information commodities', but recognized from the viewpoint of human development and cultural prosperity of communities.
Moreover, we should deeply consider the impact of informatization on the production, circulation and enjoyment of knowledge and examine the role of intellectual property regime in this context.

○ Democratic Governance
The governance in information and communication societies should be transparent, democratic and based on full participation of all related communities. We should examine the system to secure democratic governance and how ICTs can contribute to it.

○ Global Cooperation
Global order in information and communication societies should not be subordinated by unilateralism, militarism and economic interest of developed countries, but based on fair cooperation and participation of all stake-holders. Particularly, development of developing countries should be prioritized to the interest of developed countries.

○ Evaluation Of The Social Impact Of Information And Communication Societies
We should recognize and evaluate the real impact of present informatization process to human rights and democracy. We should recognize that informtization is not just the introduction of ICTs, but transformation of social system toward free communication, human rights and democracy.


○ Bridging Digital Divide And Guarantee Of Public Access
Digital divide is the major challenge of information and communication societies. It includes not only the gap between North and South, but also that based on sexual, physical, regional, economic, social, political and cultural discrimination.
Therefore, bridging the gap does not only mean equal access to network, but also includes promoting technical and intellectual capacity to use it, access to software, access to contents and production of contents based on communities, for real and equal access to information.
In these contexts, we should consider all possible barrier to equal access to information such as lack of infrastructure, affordability, educational environment, and information commons; restriction of access to software and contents by intellectual property; all kinds of discrimination; economic structure worsening economic conditions and ownership and control of media.

○ Freedom Of Expression
Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental human rights in information and communication societies. Particularly, digital network has the potential to enlarge freedom of expression by helping easy access to media for individuals and marginalized communities.
Moreover, digital network has different characteristics from old media such as mutual communication and spontaneity of users. Therefore, regulation model of old media can't be applied to new media such as internet. Especially, we should consider that the effect of regulation of new media on the individual rights is very serious because the subject of expression in the new media is every individual (potential) user.
Moreover, anonymity should be protected as basic rights considering the diversity of expression and unequal power structures.
Moreover, the regulation of expression should be based on strict judicial decision, and the censorship of the government should be abolished. We should examine the effect of censorship not only by the government, but also by private entity like Internet Service Provider.

○ Privacy
Privacy is one of the most fragile rights threatened in information and communication societies. Surveillance technologies and personal information databases that has grown very rapidly due to the development of ICTs make common people exposed in the monitoring system very easily in their daily lives. The Surveillance in information and communication societies is usually introduced for the purpose of special reasons such as efficiency or prevention of crimes. Moreover, the observer is hardly conceived by the public. As a result, common people are not easy to be aware of the surveillance system.

We should examine thoroughly how is the influence of newly introduced ICTs on privacy. Moreover, the effect of ICTs which will be introduced in the future should be investigated before it is adopted in the society. The government should monitor the affairs of violating privacy, and establish the regulation system such as a legislation to protect the privacy. We should recognize the threat to the privacy of every citizen and worker caused by the development of ICTs such as surveillance technologies introduced in the workplace, monitoring system established by the government for the national security, monitoring system on the Internet users for the network security, databases of consumers' individual information established by business, databases of every citizen's individual information established by the governments, national ID card system, databases of bio-information, and bio-metrics technologies. Efficiency or prevention of crimes cannot be used to justify the adoption of the surveillance technologies.

○ Understanding Knowledge, Information And Culture In Information And Communication Societies, And Intellectual Property Regime.
The development of ICTs, particularly digital network, has fundamental influence on the way to produce, circulate and use the knowledge, information and culture. For example, digitalized information is easy to be modified, merged and reproduced, which has consequently changed the meaning and environment of intellectual creativity. And the development of digital network and computer technology also changes the circumstances to use or enjoy knowledge and culture.

We should examine, on the one hand, what is the actual influence of these changes on the balance of the rights holders and users, and, on the other hand, on the traditional IPR regime. Moreover, We should consider what is the effect of regulations to protect IPR on the rights of users such as equal access to information or privacy rights. We should examine the influence of the unified standard of IPR regime all over the world on the diversity of knowledge and culture, and also the effect of present IP regime on the development of developing countries, prosperity of communities, and social welfare such as public health.
Extending public domain can provide an important means to bridge the digital divide and also be a resource to make diverse intellectual creations. Special consideration should be given to promote open contents and open source software.

○ E-Government And Democratic Governance
To establish the democratic governance in information and communication societies, everyone should be able to participate in every process to make policies. One side policy of the governments should be eradicated. To guarantee the transparency and democracy, all the public and governmental information have to be open just except for minimum such as national security information.
The policy-making authorities should not be monopolized, but distributed. The government needs to intervene only when to protect human rights, to guarantee the public interests and to recover markets failure. The purpose of E-government should be toward to realize the value of democratic governance rather than efficiency.

○ Education
Education in information and communication societies is not just limited to use ICTs, but to come true the value of information and communication societies in the whole process and contents of the education.

Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet

2003 / -0 / 1-
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