Secretary-General Calls for Collective Action towards Safe, Inclusive, Accessible Digital Arena, in Message to World Summit on Information Society

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the World Summit on the Information Society, held in Geneva today:

Nearly 20 years ago, the first World Summit on the Information Society presented its vision for a future in which everyone has the opportunity to create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge.

Today, digital technologies are transforming our lives, changing the very fabric of society.  But they are also outpacing regulations and aggravating inequalities.

One third of humanity is offline.  We must bridge the digital divide and ensure that everyone has access to the Internet in this decade — in particular women and girls.

At the same time, we must prevent and reduce the dangers of digital technologies:  Stop the spread of mis- and disinformation and hate speech; end the abuse of personal data, which is being used — often without our knowledge or consent — to boost profits and manipulate behaviour; and promote a humane Internet.

That is why I have proposed a Global Digital Compact on an open, free, inclusive and secure digital future for all.

We are aiming for this Compact to be agreed by Governments at next year’s Summit of the Future — with input from the private sector, civil society, academia and others.  We are also working with a wide range of actors to advance a Code of Conduct for information integrity on digital platforms to reduce harm and increase accountability while defending the right to freedom of expression.

I urge this forum to help carry these goals forward and together, build a free and fair information society for all people, everywhere.

For information media. Not an official record.