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Internet Governance Forum Meets In Athens

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

31 October 2006

The first meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) began on Monday in Athens. It represents an important milestone agreed last November at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis (WSIS) as part of the drive to internationalise internet governance, to safeguard freedom online and to bridge the global digital divide.

"The possibility of worldwide communications via the internet is definitely one of the most positive aspects of globalisation," observed Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, who opened the meeting in Athens with a keynote speech.

"However, the internet can only continue to drive democracy and economic development if freedom of expression and the freedom to receive and access information are guaranteed. This is why the European Commission calls on governments and industry around the world not to tolerate public restrictions on internet access or cyber-repression.”

The meeting is taking place from Monday to Thursday. It aims to transparently discuss a broad range of governance topics with all stakeholders.

"Internet Governance for Development" is the overall theme for the inaugural meeting, with the debate focusing on:

  • Openness: Freedom of expression, free flow of information ideas and knowledge.
  • Security: Creating trust and confidence through collaboration.
  • Diversity: Promoting multilingualism and local content.
  • Access: Internet connectivity, policy and cost.

In Athens, the European Commission is being represented by Commissioner Reding. A delegation of members of the European Parliament are also attending the Internet Governance Forum.

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