8 July 2016

Stanford Report Finds Public Internet Access in Libraries Top Rated Solution to the Digital Divide

In a new report, Stanford scholars James Fishkin and Max Senges et al. have explored how to actively involve different kinds of stakeholders in internet governance discussions. The researchers’ pilot project on Deliberative Polling, a crossover of modern social science and ancient Athenian democracy, focused on the topic of how to increase internet access for the world’s next billion users who are coming online mostly from developing countries.

During the 2015 Internet Governance Forum in Brazil, the 61 deliberators considered 13 specific policy proposals and rated them on a scale ranking top to bottom, and at the top were two proposals to “facilitate free public access” at schools or libraries, and also by local businesses and user communities. This result strongly supports IFLA’s view that libraries have a role in national development through providing access to information.

Zero rating, i.e. not charging users for accessing a number of specific website and applications (e.g. provide access only to selected parts of the internet such as Facebook and certain other services) was also discussed, and scored bottom as a means of connecting the next billion. It is a controversial topic, given its impacts on the open internet, and an important issue for libraries in general. The IFLA FAIFE committee arranges a session on net neutrality and zero rating at the World Library and Information Congress in Columbus, Ohio, Monday 15 August.

A full disclosure of the method can be read in the final report Piloting the use of Deliberative Polling for Multistakeholder Internet Governance.

More reading

Internet governance is the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet. IFLA is involved in global, regional, and local internet governance, advocating especially public access in libraries.

LDP (Library Development Programme), Access to information, Access to knowledge, Democracy, Digital divide, Freedom of information, Information policies, Internet access, IGF, Internet governance

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