The world is moving from analog to digital faster than ever before, exposing us even more to the promise and dangers of new technologies. While the digital age has brought many incredible benefits to society, we are also facing many challenges such as the growing digital divide, cyber threats and online human rights violations. World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is celebrated on May 17, 2022.
World Telecommunication and Information Society Day History
World Telecommunication and Information Society Day aims to raise awareness of the importance of the Internet. This day aims to draw attention to the Internet as a global tool that can bring societies together. Attention is paid to information and communication technologies that help bridge the digital divide between people around the world. World Telecommunication Day and Information Society Day were established by the UN General Assembly in two different years, in 1969 and 2006 respectively. In 2006 they were combined into one day. It is celebrated annually on May 17th.
International days and weeks serve as an occasion to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global issues, and to celebrate and consolidate human achievements. The existence of international days predates the United Nations creation, but the UN has used them as a powerful advocacy tool.
As we all know, the digital transformation in our continent requires a holistic intervention to address all issues, including the digitization of critical sectors to enable the expected transformation and cross-cutting themes such as cybersecurity, digital identity, new technologies, among others. This year, the AU Commission has focused on digital health, digital education, digital agriculture, digital identity and data policy as priority areas.
The long name of this day marks the merger of two almost identical official days in 2006 by the United Nations. One of the two days, World Telecommunication Day, has been celebrated annually on May 17 since 1969. It marked the founding of the International Telecommunication Union on May 17, 1865.
As already mentioned, each year a different theme is chosen for the celebration of World Telecommunication Day. The first theme chosen in 1969 was ITU: Get to know ITU. Since then there have been a number of different themes, for example, Telecommunications and Health was chosen as the theme for 1981. In 2018, the theme was the Possibility of positive use of artificial intelligence for artificial intelligence. In 2017, the theme was Big Data for Big Impact. Women and girls in ICT was an important topic in 2012 and we also had Child Protection in Cyberspace as our 2009 theme. As you can see, there are some really diverse but equally important topics that are the focus of this day.