SG Tuazon Keynotes 7th National Media Conclave

AMIC Secretary-General Ramon R. Tuazon gave the keynote address in the 7th National Media Conclave organized by the Institute of Media Studies of Utkal University, Bhubaneswar in India. Another keynote speaker was Dr. Chandrabhanu Pattayanak, AMIC representative to India.

The theme of the conference was Digi-Tech, Media, and Democracy. AMIC was an academic partner of the event which was held on 21-23 November 2023.

According to SG Tuazon, the theme is most urgent considering that digital technology has emerged as the major disruptor of freedom and democracy worldwide. As a disruptor, it either facilitates or hinders the enjoyment and exercise of inviolable freedoms guaranteed in a democracy.

SG Tuazon described issues related to digital technology and democracy as two sides of the same coin. One side looks at the applications of technology in sustainable development initiatives. The other side examines equity issues including access to digital technology. He lamented that there has been considerable interest in the applications side but not much attention is given to equity issues.  

He reminded conference participants that discourses on the impact of digital gadgets are incomplete if the mobile phone is not included as a “democracy icon” of the 21st century. He recalled that while many social scientists believe that mobile phones facilitated the 2010 Arab Spring that toppled a dictatorship, it has become difficult to repeat this “formula” as many autocratic regimes have developed their own “playbook” to counter-strike or stifle dissent through cyber surveillance, cyber-attacks, online censorship, internet shutdowns and blackouts, and website blacklisting.  

According to SG Tuazon, while digital technology provides enormous opportunities for the common good, the same digital platforms have also been used as vectors for disinformation, hate speech, conspiracy theories, and other content harmful to democracy and human rights. Current regulatory systems have yet to catch up with these challenges. This is the reason why UNESCO recently released the Guidelines for  the Governance of Digital Platforms. The Guidelines are the result of extensive global multi-stakeholder consultations that started in September 2022 including the Internet for Trust Conference organized by UNESCO last February 2023.

SG Tuazon, who is also UNESCO communication and information consultant for Myanmar, encouraged the conveners of the conference to organize another forum to discuss the features of the Guidelines which impact significantly on how people deal with digital technologies in their daily lives and in the lives of their nations.

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