Need for broad access to information

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IN today’s rapidly-progressing information and technology age, the availability of and access to information have become crucial elements that shape societies and empower individuals.

Recognising the significance of information as a driver of social and economic progress, the United Nations, UN, established the International Day of Universal Access to Information, IDUAI, on September 28 every year. This day serves as a reminder of the fundamental right of all individuals to access information and the role it plays in building inclusive and sustainable societies.

The creation of IDUAI demonstrates the recognition of the importance and in fostering technology, democracy and empowerment. In an age where information is power, universal access becomes imperative to ensure that nobody is left behind. By celebrating this Day annually, the United Nations encourages governments and individuals to ensure the realisation of this basic right.

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Rapid advancements in technology have fuelled an exponential increase in the amount of available information. However, this access is not evenly distributed, leading to the exacerbation of pre-existing inequalities. Universal access to information highlights the need for overcoming these disparities and ensuring the equitable access for all members of society, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds and geographical locations.

There are several advantages to creating universal information access. It enables informed decision-making at both individual and community levels. Access to accurate and comprehensive information empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their education, health, economic and overall well-being. It fosters transparency and accountability in governance. When citizens have access to information, they can hold the government accountable and contribute towards good governance.

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Encouraging free flow of information allows for the exchange of ideas and knowledge, enabling new solutions and opportunities. 

It plays a crucial role in bridging the information gap between different segments of society. Universal access helps the preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage, promoting diversity and understanding.

To make information access more inclusive, the various stakeholders must contribute. The UN can continue its role as an advocate, providing the platform for discussion, sharing best practices and encouraging technology transfer. Governments should enact policies and legislations that can guarantee universal access to information while investing in infrastructure, digital literacy programmes and manpower.

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Corporate organisations can also participate through ensuring reasonable access to their data and supporting initiatives that increase information accessibility. 

Communities and interest groups can build libraries or public centres offering free internet access, while individuals can educate themselves and others about the power of information access.

The information age has crept on all of us. Access to it, just like the technology that comes with it, has become a human right because those left behind or left out will settle at the bottom of the social ladder. No matter their occupation, people must be given full access because information is power.

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