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Canadians care most about Internet security, access, digital literacy

Internet governance ‘too important to be left to chance,’ CIRA says

OTTAWA – November 1, 2012 – The Canadian Internet Registration Authority, the organization that manages the .CA Internet domain, has consulted with Canadians and discovered that security, access and cost, and digital literacy pose the greatest challenges when it comes to their successful use of the Internet.

These were the findings of CIRA’s latest Canadian Internet Forum (CIF), a series of online discussions and public consultations that took place over the past year as part of CIRA’s Community Investment Program. The CIF, begun in 2010, provides a neutral environment for stakeholders from across Canada to discuss and debate the state and future of Internet policy and governance in Canada.

“The Internet has become the driver of a new knowledge-based economy and has radically altered the ways in which we communicate with each other,” said Byron Holland, President and CEO of CIRA. “It’s much too important to be left to someone else to look after and I thank those Canadians who took the time to contribute their views during the CIF.”

Security

Security relates to those things that impact the stability and safety of the Internet, such as viruses, spam and cyber-crime.

“It comes as no surprise that Canadians identified security as a top challenge,” said Holland. “As the Internet becomes more integral to our social and economic landscape, it is inevitable that there will be greater volumes of criminal activity to exploit that.”

Access and cost

For Canadians, access and cost go hand in hand. There is a clear belief that Canada suffers from an urban-rural divide with regard to access and speed. Urban centres are seen to have better, faster and cheaper access than rural or remote areas. This is a growing concern, considering that the Internet can be a great facilitator of economic development. While mobile was identified as one way in which better access can be provided in more remote areas, it is considered to be very expensive in Canada.

“Cost, access and speed form a nation’s digital currency,” said Holland. “A decade ago, Canada was a digital leader, but various third-party reports have since charted a steady decline in Canada’s speed and competitiveness compared to other industrialized nations. It’s time for us to retake our position as a global digital leader.”

Digital literacy

Digital literacy is the capacity to use the Internet for education, work and entertainment, and to understand digital media content and applications, along with the knowledge and capacity to create digital technology for personal use as well as for the competitive marketplace. It touches on topics such as privacy, parental controls and barriers of language.

“Canadians are concerned that Canada is falling behind other counties in ensuring its citizens have the digital literacy skills they need,” said David Fowler, CIRA’s Director of Marketing and Communications, and a Board member of MediaSmarts, a not-for-profit that specializes in digital and media literacy. “While this may be true, we believe there is also a substantial opportunity here to advance Canada’s social and economic agendas through education and outreach. CIRA is actively working with other stakeholders in Canada’s Internet ecosystem to improve digital literacy among all Canadians.”

Challenges and Opportunities for the Internet in Canada, a white paper detailing the complete findings of the 2012 CIF, was released today and can be found at http://www.cira.ca/assets/Documents/Publications/challenges-opportunities-canada-2012.pdf.

About CIRA

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority is the Member-driven organization that manages Canada’s .CA domain name registry, develops and implements policies that support Canada’s Internet community, and represents the .CA registry internationally.

For more information, please contact:

Leo Valiquette
inmedia Public Relations
(613) 769-9479
lvaliquette@inmedia.ca