IFLA issued a Position on Internet Governance in 2005 in connection with the second phase of WSIS in Tunisia. As WSIS enters a review period in the run up to its assessment by the UN General Assembly in 2015, the IFLA Governing Board endorsed a revised statement in January 2013 to ensure that IFLA’s thinking on Internet governance reflects current thinking and issues.

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The IFLA Position on Internet Governance (2013)

  1. As the foremost international professional association concerned with information and library services, IFLA represents associations and institutions worldwide that endeavour to provide access to all publicly available information today and in the future, whether factual or fictional, and regardless of media or format. The Internet is a critically important platform for the information services delivered by libraries, and in many countries public and educational libraries are the major or only agencies that provide the general population with free or affordable access to these resources. In doing so, they make a huge contribution to cultural, social and economic development. IFLA therefore has a direct interest in the future governance of the Internet, and in contributing to the debates, mechanisms and processes shaping its future.
  2. IFLA opposes any measures which would lead to control of information access and freedom of expression by commercial, governmental or sectoral interests, or hinder the development of the Internet as an enabler of human rights. Measures which may be necessary to ensure the reliable operation of the Internet, ensure its security, and enable individuals to protect their privacy must not be used to limit the rights expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially those in Article 19. IFLA therefore endorses the free flow of information on the Internet, rejects any discrimination by network operators between different types of services, content and applications transmitted by their networks/infrastructure, and supports balanced copyright frameworks that facilitate the widest possible public access to digital information resources.
  3. IFLA supports the development of the Internet as a reliable multilingual system which will be available to all and will facilitate unrestricted access to information by all peoples in their languages and scripts of choice.
  4. In regard to the governance of the Internet and related public policy issues, IFLA supports a multistakeholder approach which involves governments, civil society, business, academia and the technical community and which offers an opportunity for increasing participation by those interests in all countries as the capacity to participate develops.  IFLA consequently endorses the principle and spirit of the multistakeholder approach under the UN aegis and supports the process of enhanced co-operation in relation to critical Internet resources. In this context, IFLA emphasizes the need for effective representation of all stakeholder interests and the broader involvement and participation of stakeholders from developing countries in particular.
  5. As a voice for more than one billion registered library users across the world and an United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) accredited international professional organisation, IFLA is resolved to contribute to the development of effective multistakeholder models for Internet governance. IFLA therefore encourages the participation of library and information professionals in Internet governance at all levels.

Endorsed by the IFLA Governing Board, January 2013