G7 ministers to tackle digital divide, push for free internet freedom

| Saturday, April 30, 2016 - 14:49
First Published |
G7 flags

The plan is to enable 1.5 billion more people to have internet access by 2020

Tokyo: Information technology ministers of the G7 countries, during a meeting in Japan on Saturday, agreed to tackle the digital divide by bringing internet access to more people, and pushing for policies free of political censorship.

The plan set out by the ministers of the G7 countries - Japan, the US, Germany, Britain, France, Canada and Italy - and European Union officials is to enable 1.5 billion more people to have internet access by 2020, EFE news reported.

It is believed that around 4 billion people, representing 60 percent of the world's population, still lack internet access.

"We believe that global digital connectivity should in particular contribute to improving the quality of life for all people everywhere, to generating economic growth," they said.

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Meanwhile, in a message to countries such as China and Russia where governments censor web content, the ministers called for a free flow of information.

"We continue to support ICT policies that preserve the global nature of the internet, promote the flow of information across borders and allow internet users to access online information, knowledge and services of their choice," a joint statement issued after the meeting said.

The group also called for the active participation of governments, the private sector, civil society, the tech community and international organisations in matters concerning internet governance.

The meet emphasised the need to strengthen international and public-private cooperation to bolster cyber security and combat cyber terrorism.

Japan, which has the current rotating presidency of the G7, also proposed the development of a barometer to assess cyber risks.

The information and communication technology meeting of the G7 is the first to be held in 21 years, and its conclusions will be taken up in the upcoming G7 leaders' meet on May 26 and 27 in Japan.

The participating ministers of the world's seven most industrialised countries also pledged to follow up on the agreements at a meeting in Italy next year.

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