Digital Cooperation Day One: What values and principles should we bear in mind when taking decisions about the internet?

In the first of three blogs about the questions the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation is asking in its call for submissions, we’re focusing on values. Which values should lie behind any effort to build agreements and decide on actions concerning the internet? We’ll be incorporating your answers into our final submission to the Panel!

As we often underline in IFLA blogs, libraries are institutions built on values. Their mission – to preserve our heritage and give access to information to all – is not based on a drive to maximise profit or power, but to ensure that everyone has the possibility to learn, grow and live fulfilled lives.

These values feed into the approach libraries take to their own decision-making, and into the positions they take in broader political debates. This of course includes discussions about how the internet should be governed.

It is therefore good news that the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation has given such attention to the importance of values. This is why our first question is about the values which should steer decision-making about the internet – for example how to protect data, deal with content that some people do not like, or promote connectivity and digital skills.

Which of the values promoted by libraries are applicable? What can the experience of libraries tell us about how to balance conflicting rights and priorities, such as between free speech and privacy? Does the internet, given its role in empowering individuals and its multistakeholder nature (i.e. governments, individuals, businesses and civil society all have important roles to play) mean anything is different?

Let us know what you think! We look forward to seeing your views in the comments box below!

You can read IFLA’s initial submission to the High Level Panel on our website. See all of our blogs on Digital Cooperation here.

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