As the COVID-19 global pandemic spreads rapidly around the world, our collective dependence on internet connectivity and digital technologies has become more apparent than ever.
As millions of people are asked to stay at home, they turn to their phones and computers as a lifeline and a necessary tool to substitute in-person activities. People have turned to digital tools and platforms to seek critical policy directives and public health information; for human connection – to stay in touch with loved ones; to work and learn from home, and for basic services like banking and to enable telehealth.
At the same time, we are confronted with technology’s potential for misuse – from cyberattacks on health institutions to misinformation – and its possible perpetuation of inequalities – such as “leaving behind” those who do not enjoy the luxury of the internet or have jobs that allow for remote work.
This unique moment in time brings into stark relief many critical questions about the digital divide, digital literacy and capacity, the value we place on digital public goods, data protection, digital rights, how we manage disinformation and cyber security, digital trust & safety.
These were the very same questions raised in the report of the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation. Fortunately, eight roundtable groups have been meeting virtually over the past several months, continue to work on taking forward the Panel’s recommendations and are currently submitting their inputs and contributions to our office. The UN Secretary-General will then present a Roadmap on Digital Cooperation to Member States in May 2020.
The Office of the Special Adviser, UN Under Secretary-General Fabrizio Hochschild thanks our partners – Member States, the private sectors, civil society organizations, experts and all others – who continue to work at a quick pace to discuss and propose actions to accelerate digital cooperation.
There has never been a moment more critical for all of us to come together and rapidly accelerate progress on how we collectively govern, manage and secure the digital age for all.
In the meantime, we hope for the health and well-being of all.