Information and communications technologies (ICTs) are regarded as an essential tool for virtually all of our social and economic activities. ICTs make it possible for us to accomplish goals and create new values that were once considered impossible because of the constraints of time and distance. We need to take full advantage of the potential of ICTs in order to make our lives more convenient and prosperous and our industries more vibrant, and to achieve sustainable economic growth. The fact that many countries and regions, including Japan, are devising and implementing e-strategies reflects their awareness of the strategic importance of ICTs.
Today individuals, businesses, and NGOs are crossing borders to be active in every corner of the world. We need an environment in which we can have access to ICTs anywhere. Efforts to realize this goal will help to improve the living environment for people in countries and regions that currently lack basic information and communications infrastructure.
Against this background, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) [http://www.itu.int/wsis/] will be held in Geneva from 10-12 December, 2003. The Summit is expected to adopt a declaration of principles and a plan of action, which will together constitute an e-strategy for bridging the digital divide. The growth of communications through ICTs will promote cultural diversity while reducing the distances between countries and regions and facilitating mutual understanding. We hope that world leaders will share their realizable visions and work with all stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society, to set forth concrete policies for the achievement of the goals described below while respecting cultural diversity and avoiding duplication of existing initiatives by international organizations and other entities. The WSIS will thus be a significant step toward building an information society based on the free and entrepreneurial activities of the private sector.
Governments should pursue pro-competitive and technology-neutral policies in order to encourage private sector activities including investment in information and communications infrastructure and research and development of ICTs. With a view to creating a ubiquitous network environment to improve access to information and knowledge, more effective utilization and international harmonization of the radio spectrum should be promoted.
The liberalization of trade in ICT-based services and of cross-border movements of natural persons should be strongly promoted during WTO negotiations in order to facilitate the distribution of information and knowledge.
With a view to ensuring user confidence not through government regulation but through private sector efforts based on the principles of self-sufficiency, self-help and self-responsibility, governments should promote a "culture of security" among all participants in the information society and encourage them to adopt appropriate measures proportionate to the importance of transactions and procedures.
Governments should support the continued leadership by international private sector organizations, rather than intergovernmental organizations, of the management and coordination of the Internet in order to ensure prompt and appropriate responses to frequent environmental changes, such as technological advances.
Governments should themselves be early adopters of ICTs, taking measures like promoting e-government in order to stimulate demand for these technologies in a wide array of economic and social activities. The use of ICTs in the public sector should also be promoted.
With a view to transforming the digital divide into "digital opportunities" that lead to improvements in living conditions in developing countries, governments should utilize ICTs, including broadband networks, to make the best use of limited human and financial resources in existing international cooperation schemes in such fields as health care and education.