Public policies for the information society: a shared vision?
Spanish version available at the Library
The rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICTs), in terms of access to mobile telephony and Internet services, the incorporation of computers into everyday activities and the development of electronic services and applications, took Latin American societies and governments by surprise, as their sudden proliferation in the second half of the 1990s called for a new public policy focus when areas traditionally considered as development priorities had not yet been fully addressed. Although the countries of the region acknowledged ICTs as a means for economic and social development, their approach was mainly to ensure widespread access to these technologies, rather than to incorporate and assimilate them into society's various activities. This meant that an ICT development approach took precedence over an ICT-based approach to development.For Latin American countries, the implementation of public ICT policies has been a learning process that is still ongoing and has not always been smooth. It calls for the maturing and reformulation of traditionally-designed policies, in order to tackle a very fast evolving issue that poses challenges for public administration and institutions and is affected by a variety of factors both endogenous and exogenous to the process.In order to ascertain how this development has occurred in the region, part one of this document starts by identifying the reasons why ICTs have been made a public policy objective, illustrating the situation in the region in terms of existing gaps not only between Latin America and the developed countries of Europe, but also among countries in the region. It goes on to identify the special characteristics that distinguish ICT policies from traditionally-designed ones, rounding off part one by defining the factors governing progress with digital agendas in the region. Part two describes the state of progress with ICT policy implementation in Latin American countries - as well as Spain and Portugal - identifying national and regional efforts in promoting ICT actions, that is to say the countries' individual digital agendas and the Plan of Action for the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean (eLAC). Next it identifies different elements for characterizing them, before making a comparative analysis of these elements.