The stark gap in the digital divide between the developed and developing world needs to receive global attention, said Santosh Jha, Director General, Ministry of External Affairs. He said that despite significant advances, half of the world's population, mostly from developing and least developed countries, continues to be denied access to Information and Communications Technology.

Speaking at the the First Session of the review by the UN General Assembly on the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) here, he noted that the growing gender digital divide, which has become even more sharp and acute, is a related area of concern and needs to be specially factored into the review agenda.

"There is also a need to go beyond access issues and focus on affordability and multilingualism for inclusive growth and development. The formal launch of the 'Digital India' programme by the Prime Minister of India seeks to address these and other issues related to digital empowerment of all its citizens," Jha stated.

Flagging key issues in areas for incorporation in the WSIS + 10 review process, Jha said there is need to recognise the importance of building a common understanding on the applicability of international rights and norms, particularly the freedom of expression to activities in cyberspace.

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