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IRIS 2003-1:Extra

Parliamentary Assembly

The Digital Divide and Education

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Tarlach McGonagle

Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam

On 18 November 2002, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted its Recommendation 1586 (2002) on the digital divide and education. It was adopted to re-establish the balance (including through the adoption of legislation) between “the need to reward intellectual property owners for the use of their works, and the need for society to make some of these works available to a larger public” in the digital age.

The PACE recommends that the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers (CM) collaborate with other international organisations also working on access to online content, “in order to establish the public service principle in the digital environment and in particular to develop norms for the use of such material for educational and other socially necessary purposes”. It calls on the CM to pay particular attention to the following issues in relevant norm-setting activities:

a. providing citizens with a certain amount of basic information as a public service;

b. limiting access only for reasons of privacy, confidentiality, security and law-enforcement;

c. providing  public access points staffed by trained personnel;

d. developing special tools to help access for the disabled in concrete terms;

e. harmonising, clarifying and making user-friendly national and international copyright legislation applying to digital material;

f. encouraging the production of culturally and pedagogically suitable digital material;

g. facilitating quality appreciation of digital information”.

“The digital divide and education”, Recommendation 1586 (2002), Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, 18 November 2002 EN