Conclusions of the InfoEthics : Asia 2000
October 25-27, 2000
The meeting resolved:
A. That the interpretation of Universal Declaration of Human Rights should be expanded to mean
and include the right of information and the right to access information within the context of the
B. That there is an urgent need to impress upon nations to incorporate the right of information as a
legal, enforceable right in their national jurisdictions.
C. That member states are encouraged to provide universal access of information to their citizens.
D. That there is an urgent need for reaffirming the relevance of the principles of equality, justice and
mutual respect to advance the cause of "human dignity" in the digital age.
E. Countries need to be impressed that the protection of Fair Use should not be curtailed in the
context of the emergence and robust growth of the digital age and cyberspace.
F. That the member states recognise the urgent need to legislate effective appropriate cyberlaws
addressing the relevant aspects of preservation of human dignity and privacy.
G. That there is an urgent need for countries in Asia and the Pacific to have constant inputs and
information on various aspects of cyberlaw so that they can develop appropriate cyberlaws in
their national jurisdictions.
H. That the principle of “Fair Use” should be extended to include the multilingual nature of Internet
and the dissemination of information across various cultures and mindsets.
Theme A. The Role of Public Authorities in Access to Information
Member States are encouraged to:
1. Create an awareness among policy makers of the need for multilingualism on the world wide
web, including allocating resources and giving high priority to the development of translation
software and systems.
2. Ensure that public authorities demonstrate leadership in making government and official
information (subject to their national laws) available electronically to their citizens.
3. Ensure the production of digital content, which reflect their own culture, language and heritage.
4. Ensure that all ICT training within their national jurisdictions includes training on ethical
awareness and standards and not just technical competencies.
5. Consider enacting a legally, enforceable right to information including access to information
6. Ensure that universal access to information are enshrined in national laws and in international
instruments as a fundamental value. Universal access should be the presumption, while
intellectual property protection should be the exception which requires justification in terms of
the economic incentives for innovation.
7. Ensure that public authorities facilitate the availability of "public domain" content on the world
wide web and further encourage generation of new "public domain" content.
8. Ensure that national copyright laws promote the maintenance of a robust "public domain" as a
necessary condition for maintaining intellectual and cultural heritage, and negotiate to amend
international copyright laws to reflect this principle .
9. Advocate the special role that the information commons or “public domain” information must
play in the fabric of the knowledge society.
10. Promote partnerships between the public and private sectors to find means of funding or
providing incentives for knowledge-creation. Where such partnerships include public funding,
ensure that core knowledge must subsequently be placed in the “public domain”.
11. Endeavour to adopt and develop a national information strategy which includes:
(a) specific measures to address the "digital divide" as between advantaged and disadvantaged
communities within their own countries (including paying specific attention to the rural,
impoverished and indigenous communities);
(b) developing awareness at the “grass roots” level and among community leaders of the
significance of ICT and its relevance to their community’s development.
12. Cooperate internationally on global measures to address the "digital divide" as between
information "haves" and "have nots" countries.
Suggested Actions on Theme A.
a) Member States should endeavour to develop international consensus on web content by
promoting a comparative survey on the different approaches by countries to what they regard as
"unacceptable” or “undesirable” Internet content.
b) Member States should facilitate a survey to obtain comparative date on Internet connectivity
costs particularly ISP connections and domain name costs.
c) Member States should encourage collaboration with civil societies (including any national and
local library and information associations) and their public authorities to develop the appropriate
standards and systems to facilitate the inter-operability, digitization and availability of their
library collections for the public benefit.
Theme B. The “Fair Use" Concept in the Information Society.
Member States are encouraged to:
1. Promote concepts of intellectual "proprietary" rights and to resist notions of property, because the
language of "property" leads to concepts of absolute ownership, transferability and control and
does not recognize the need to balance competing rights or interests.
2. Resist measures which in effect create a "pay-per-view" global digital library.
3. Support credible and professional research efforts on the differing economic models for valuing
4. Encourage the investigation of alternative methods of promoting and incentivizing innovations,
(such as the "copyleft" movement, with particular emphasis on its efficiencies and economics),
and of alternative approaches to rewarding innovation based on sharing, open access and
5. Enter into a global dialogue to develop a consensus on whether or not there are categories of or
certain information which are a "global public good" and therefore should not be available for
patenting (eg. in the area of biotechnology or the outputs from mapping the human gene).
6. In order to respect indigenous heritage and a country's legal rights to biological resources, ensure
that national legislation recognises "community intellectual rights" (CIRs) which define and
protect the rights of communities over their traditional knowledge.
“International Property Rights (IPR)”
7. Promote research which uses empirical evidence to investigate the links between IPR protection
and innovation for example to assist in resolving the current debate over whether or not patents
are still the best way to promote innovation in new technologies and reward content creators.
8. Encourage national organizations to take a role in collecting data and developing comprehensive
databases on IPR protection, including analyzing the implications of specific types of IPR under
different country and sector specific circumstances.
9. Ensure that reviews of existing national and international IPR legislation (including any WTO
review of the TRIPS Agreement) include an assessment of the social and economic implications
of the increasing use of patents, and that they address the need to recognize the "fair use
10. Ensure that developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region are encouraged to participate actively
in international negotiations and trends on IPR issues.
11. Encourage the adoption and/or the application (to the fullest extent permitted by international
obligations) of exemptions known as the "Fair Use" doctrine in national laws on intellectual
proprietary rights (including copyright) and extend the doctrine so that it has statutory
recognition in contract law.
12. Extend exemptions of “Fair Use” to all education and research related activities in cyberspace
and the digital environment for analysis, criticism, quotation, parody, news reports, private use
13. Dispel the fear and suspicion about the applicability of “Fair Use” principles.
14. Create more awareness about the wide interpretation and applicability of the principles of “Fair
Use” in the context of the digital age.
Suggested Actions on Theme B.
a) Member States should facilitate a Standing Committee on Cyberlaw to be constituted for the Asia
Pacific Region which should work along with the Regional Adviser for UNESCO in the Asia
Pacific for the propagation and dissemination of relevant information for the countries of this
region. The Committee shall be a standing focal point of reference on Cyberlaw and other legal
issues of Cyberspace in this region.
b) Member States should ensure that the said Standing Committee on Cyberlaw consist of experts
in the relevant field so that the distinct need of the countries of Asia and the Pacific relating to
cyberlaw inputs be satisfied. The main aim of having a Committee is that Asian countries and
governments do not need to reinvent the wheel and that they can benefit from the information
provided by the said Standing Committee on Cyberlaw.
Theme C. Protecting Human Dignity in the Digital Age.
Member States are encouraged to:
1. Make a cyberspace free of cybercrime.
2. Recognise the need to promote legal instruments and legislation concerning privacy especially in
the developing countries of Asia and the Pacific.
3. Cooperate with various international initiatives in bringing about appropriate international legal
instruments aimed at preserving privacy in cyberspace.
4. Formulate and implement the National policies and information awareness on ethical issues in
the digital era.
5. Refrain from excessive or inappropriate use of personal information by data matching and protect
personal privacy in cyberspace.
7. Recognize the existence of human dignity in cyberspace and the need to respect and preserve the
8. Pass appropriate cyberlaws addressing the relevant aspects of preservation of human dignity and
9. Take appropriate steps for arriving at an international consensus of uniform international
community standards and norms in the context of the digital age.