On 3-5 June 2015 the IFLA President’s Meeting was held in Istanbul. I was invited to present a paper on Access to information and the enhancement of civic engagement.
During its early years, the internet was promoted as a ‘virtual community’ with an open structure. But then internet was discovered as as serious place for doing business and enterprises build their services around advertising and personalisation. Due to the data policies of enterprises and governments, as well as a number of obstacles for the availability of information, internet is functioning rather as a private mall than as a public square. There is a serious lack of public oversight which should be repaired by imposing social and ethical requirements on the internet. Here is a central role for government and internation governmental institutions.
In order to make the internet a serious platform for the enhancement of civic engagement, the availability and accessibility of information should be enhanced and the role ofthe internet as a public square should be promoted. The paper formulates a number of specific lines of actions and also specifies the possible role of libraries in this.