12 June 2017

Libraries, Human Rights and the Internet: IFLA Engages in Geneva

Photo of ITU Tower, Geneva

International Telecommunications Union building, Geneva (Photo: Koichi Shibata)

Libraries have a major practical role in giving their users access to knowledge and protecting their intellectual freedom. As well as public access to Internet connections, they offer both the hard technology and softer skills necessary to use and make the most of it. They also give the opportunity for people to undertake research, or read for pleasure, in a way that protects privacy as far as possible.

Yet they also bring a series of core values, which are as applicable in an Internet-enabled modern information society as they were in a pre-digital age.

Free access to information and free expression, transparency about controls or limits in place, a focus on public service, especially to the most vulnerable – all are already at the heart of librarianship. And as Vint Cerf underlined at a recent event in Washington, the values of libraries should also underpin the development of the Internet.

In the coming week, IFLA will participate in both the 2017 Conference of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), and the Human Rights Council.

WSIS covers a wide range of subjects connected to the Internet, from access in villages to global regulation and processes. IFLA will be speaking in sessions on open access in intergovernmental organisations, the role of libraries in supporting development in small island developing states, and on the role of digital literacy skills in empowering Internet users.

The Human Rights Council will include sessions by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Professor David Kaye. Professor Kaye will talk about access to information in intergovernmental organisations, freedom of expression questions linked to the fact that more and more of our communication is digital, and responses to the issue of ‘fake news’. 

IFLA looks forwards to engaging – follow us on Twitter, and look out for blogs about where we’re engaging!

For more information, see the Principles for Public Access, the statement on Privacy in the Library Environment and the IFLA Code of Ethics, and our infographic on fake news

FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Freedom of expression, Internet access, IFLA and the Information Society, Switzerland

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