Internet use continues to flourish worldwide, promoting economic and social development

  • 10 May 2010

Despite the recent economic downturn, worldwide use of the Internet and other electronic communications tools has continued to expand, benefiting users and fostering freedom of expression, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) told a United Nations gathering here today.

ICC attributed this continued growth to forward-looking, pro-growth policies on the part of many governments and to continuing innovation and investment by business.

Speaking on behalf of the world business organization and its Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) initiative, Art Reilly, Senior Director for Strategic Technology Policy with Cisco Systems, noted that some 1.7 billion people now subscribe to the Internet worldwide, up from 1 billion in 2005, while 4.6 billion mobile telephones are in use, from two billion just five years ago. Mr Reilly was prevented from attending the event due to unforeseen travel problems. His remarks were delivered on his behalf by John Davies, Vice President of the Intel World Ahead Program for Intel Corporation.

“We have made tremendous progress despite the global economic challenges of the past few years,” stated Mr Reilly. “Public policies that promote innovation, investment and international trade are critical, as is development of human capacity to make the information society even more inclusive.”

Mr Reilly’s remarks were delivered at an annual forum of government officials, business executives and other stakeholders, organized by the International Telecommunications Union in cooperation with several other UN agencies. The forum provides interested parties an opportunity to discuss progress in implementing the “action lines” agreed at the UN’s 2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), in particular the application of information and communications technologies to move forward on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

Mr Reilly, who chairs the Information, Communications and Technology Committee at ICC’s US affiliate, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), stated that global business continues to play a significant role in the growth of the global information society. He said business is actively working to bring the benefits of information technology to more people worldwide – not just through products and services, but through partnerships with other stakeholders, including human capacity building.

Progress in achieving the WSIS goals requires cooperation among all stakeholders, according to Mr Reilly. He reiterated ICC’s support for the continuation of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a UN-sponsored platform for multi-stakeholder discussion of Internet topics. The continuation of the IGF’s mandate beyond its initial five-year existence will be decided this autumn.