UNESCO consults RightsCon stakeholders about implementing Internet Universality Indicators

“The Internet indicators will give all stakeholders, especially civil society, a leg to stand on and help governements align themselves with international standards,” was the key message from UNESCO’s session on Internet Universality Indicators held at RightsCon 2018 in Toronto, Canada.

“Throughout the development of the project to define Internet Universality Indicators, we have identified a need to adopt a holistic approach to human rights online by considering all ROAMX categories and their interlinkages. These principles stand for an Internet based on human Rights, that is Open, Accessible to all, and nurtured by Multistakeholder participation,” said Xianhong Hu from UNESCO who introduced the session held on 17 May 2018. Anri van der Spuy, representing the Consortium helping UNESCO to develop the indicators, presented the project as well as the draft Internet Universality Indicators.

UNESCO took the opportunity of RightsCon, the world’s leading conference on human rights in the digital age, to consult with RightsCon stakeholders, including business leaders, policy makers, general counsels, government representatives, technologists, and human rights defenders from around the world, about the application and implementation of the Internet indicators at national levels.

“Due to the difficulty of measuring and finding evidence in some countries, implementing indicators could be very difficult in practice,” said Smitha Krishna Prasad from the National Law University Delhi. Expressing her ideas on some of the possible challenges in further implementation of these indicators, she also emphasized the importance of including more contextual indicators to the framework.

Sharing the same concerns, Eman Jaradat from the Jordan Open Source Association, added that “the main challenge lies in data gathering and the availability of data since countries have different levels of data and ICT development.” In order to promote regional development, Eman Jaradat suggested that “UNESCO enhance exiting initiatives, especially platforms that measure Internet rights”.

Edmund Chung from DotAsia shared his experiences of launching the youth mobility index which well refers to UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators. “These indicators provided a strong referential framework to which countries should apply,” he said. He also suggested that “proxy measurement for the multistakeholder approach should include broader participation”.

“Indicators are timely as the Internet evolves and issues are emerging around governance,” said Konstantinos Komaitis from the Internet Society. Expressing the support from ISOC for the development of these indicators, he also called for “further integration and interrelation between the indicators since one indicator informs the other”.

After acknowledging the importance of the consultative process which UNESCO is following to develop the Internet Indicators, Dhanaraj Thakur, senior research manager at World Wide Web Foundation, addressed the Accessibility Indicators. “In low and middle-income countries, different business practices are at play in these regions and have impacts on the costs and uses,” he said. He also recommended to consider the A4AI (Alliance for Affordable Internet) metric for affordability in further adjustments and encouraged UNESCO to publish the data gathered for the project on open platforms.

The co-moderators then gave the floor to the audience who made interesting comments on methods of data collection in small island developing states, as well as on the consultation process. Xianhong Hu from UNESCO concluded the session by mentioning that the final phase of preparing the report will include the validation of the proposed indicators, as well as an assessment of the viability of collecting and analyzing data and evidence in diverse national contexts. The indicators will be pre-tested, and pilots carried out in different countries. Subsequently, they will be considered in November 2018 by the Intergovernmental Council of the UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

All important information and updates regarding the project can be found online at the following address: