The digital revolution is enabling human rights and human development, said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Daniel Sepulveda. Speaking in Mexico City at the Fifth Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean, he noted that the region has become a leader in Internet issues.
The United States values the partnerships it has co-built across the Americas to support and strengthen the modern global information and communication ecosystem. This region has demonstrated a strong capacity and commitment to lead the world in promoting and protecting the free flow of information in the digital sphere, which fosters commercial innovation and facilitates fundamental freedoms, such as the rights to freedom of expression and association.
At its core, said Ambassador Sepulveda, “this region is committed to democracy and freedom. And a healthy information society is the key to the preservation of those values and the promotion of shared prosperity.”
It is estimated that by 2018 there will be more than 378 million Internet users in Latin America bringing Internet penetration to 60 percent.
Despite that progress, there is work left to do, said Ambassador Sepulveda. “Too many people in the region are still on the wrong side of the digital divide and too many lack skills and opportunity to make the most of the access available to them.”
In November, Brazil will host the tenth annual Internet Governance Forum where one of the themes will be “Policy Options for Connecting the Next Billion,” and there the U.S. will continue to promote an approach to Internet governance that includes all stakeholders in these important discussions and decisions.
As Ambassador Sepulveda said, “We are advocates for the preservation of open, inclusive, and multi-stakeholder processes for examining and addressing questions and constructing policies for the digital economy.”
Governments should take steps to empower their citizens to participate in the evolution and growth of the Internet. Policies should likewise respect human rights and social groups that are too often excluded from participating in the Information Society, including women, minorities, and rural and poor communities.
“When the history is written about the 21st Century,” said Ambassador Sepulveda, “it will tell a story of how collaborative . . . approaches drove innovation that launched the digital economy. The Americas are leading that story.”