Who are Digital Citizens?
If you use the internet, you are a digital citizen.
Being a digital citizen means you belong to a group of people that use technology to communicate and access information. As of 2019, approximately two-thirds of all people globally use cell phones, and more than half the world’s population is connected to high-speed Internet. By 2020, more than one third of the world’s GDP will be generated by the digital economy – and the pace of change is increasing.
Kyrgyzstan is on the threshold of digital transformation. At present, just under 50% of citizens of Kyrgyzstan are connected to broadband Internet at home and nearly 100% have mobile subscriptions – 44% of them are mobile Internet users. Social media use is increasing at a rapid rate, with a 48% increase between 2018 and 2019. A small but expanding segment of the population is starting to use online services for purchasing goods and services. Citizens of Kyrgyzstan are becoming digital citizens.
Digital citizens are connected to a wide range of Internet resources, from electronic government and banking services through to social media and information communication platforms, through to e-commerce sites. These many channels and services greatly expand the reach and potential of digital citizens, but they are also owned and operated by many different actors, each with its own rules and regulations, and many of which collect lots of information about their users (what sites their users access, what things they look at or buy, what services they use). Our emerging digital world has lots of challenges, that transcend our traditional borders and ideas of society and governance. What does citizenship mean in a digital world?
What is Digital Citizenship?
Citizenship is not new. Digital citizenship is the application of principles of citizenship in an Internet world without borders.
As Digital Citizens engage across the internet, they are using a system that works globally and across invisible national borders. A digital citizen may live under the laws of Kyrgyzstan but be part of digital ecosystems run by google or facebook or others which collect their users private data, and where national laws do not necessarily apply, and where their rights as citizens of Kyrgyzstan are not necessarily protected. New businesses create new opportunities. Collection of personal data is considered the “new oil economy” of the digital era because of its value, and is a new kind of business that requires new rules and laws that protect the interests of both citizens and governments.
Digital citizens simultaneously become subject to a complex set of rights, rules, laws, and regulations locally and globally. But what are those rights and rules and what do they entail? Who has the responsibility to ensure all citizens have equal access and protect them from exploitation? What governs the way that global and national digital business operate? How do governments respond to the challenges of providing digital services to their citizens, creating new rules that balance safety, security and trust on-line with economic opportunity; and defend the rights of their citizens from global digital corporations?
Good Digital Citizenship requires engagement on these many questions to better define the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in the digital age. Digital Citizens and their governments need to better understand the opportunities and risks of the digital environment and work to define the rights and responsibilities for good digital citizenship.
Trust, Access, Accountability, Safety and Security, and Transparency are all essential elements of citizenship in the digital era. This requires governments to set rules and protect the rights and safety of citizens online, including the right of everyone to have equal access and benefit to digital opportunities. It requires digital citizens to know their rights and to seek accountability through the legal system when required. It requires businesses to act in a manner consistent with protecting the best interests of digital citizens everywhere.
Why does Digital Citizenship matter in Kyrgyzstan?
As more and more citizens of Kyrgyzstan go digital, and as Kyrgyzstan leaps ahead to embrace the global digital economy, the need to define and uphold good digital citizenship becomes ever more critical. The opportunities are many; so are the challenges. One thing is clear: all sectors of society — government, citizens, businesses — need to work together to understand the opportunities and risks and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in a digital era.
Digital transformation is more than a business or technical process – it is a new philosophy and ideology. It is an opportunity for Kyrgyzstan to define its place in the global digital economy and develop national identity in the digital age. At the heart of this new philosophy is a “citizen-centric approach”.
In September 2019, the Government of Kyrgyzstan launched a Digital Transformation strategy – “Digital Kyrgyzstan 2019-2023”.
Now is the time for all Kyrgyz citizens to define their digital future.
Digital Me! Sanarip Men!
Be digital! Sanarip Bol!