OSCE supports 7th Forum on Internet Development in Central Asia

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ALMATY (TCA) — The OSCE Programme Office in Astana, in cooperation with the International Centre for Journalism MediaNet and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Kazakhstan last week held the seventh annual Central Asian Forum on Internet Development in Almaty.

The two-day event brought together some 100 government officials, parliamentarians, representatives from civil society, media-related non-governmental organizations, professional associations, experts and journalists from Armenia, Germany, France, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. During the Forum, participants discussed problems and development trends in the Internet space of Central Asia, as well as shared their opinions about the latest challenges on the Internet, including xenophobia, hateful propaganda, the language of intolerance, information wars, the manipulation of facts and ways to counter such harmful content.

Mikhail Chirkov, a Member of the Kazakh Parliament said: “Equal access of citizens to information resources is ensured within the framework of five institutional reforms. Nevertheless, harmful content in social media might cause threat to state national interests. In this regard, the important decision on establishing the new Ministry on Information and Communication [in Kazakhstan] aims to serve as interaction model between the state and the population.”

“A free and open internet is essential for the realisation of fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression,” Andrey Rikhter, Senior Adviser from the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, said. “Internet users must be empowered through Internet literacy programs and self-regulatory mechanisms and regulation must be kept at a minimum.”

“Enhancing the Internet’s role as a major media and communication platform, security challenges in cyberspace, such as countering content that promotes hatred and intolerance of others while protecting freedom of speech have become crucially important. It was important to discuss at the forum the effective public instruments to prevent and counter this threat,” said Mariya Dubovitskaya, National Political and Media Officer of the OSCE Programme Office in Astana.

As a result of the discussions, participants developed a set of recommendations related to the forum’s topics, which will be disseminated among government agencies and other stakeholders in Central Asia and the Internet community at large.

Sergey Kwan

TCA