[NEWS AND VIEWS]
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November 27, 2003Freedom of expression under threat. A list of booby traps lying in wait at WSIS has been issued by the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC). The WPFC articulates a western free-enterprise view on freedom of expression, media diversity and the role of government in ICTs. The WPFC fear is that, in the WSIS/U.N. "one country-one vote" environment,the developed and richer countries will find themselves in a minority.
WPFC suspects include obvious ones like China which recently announced a programme of standards improvements and quality controls - taken by many to mean buttressing the firewall which insulates China's 68 million-strong web community (the world's second largest) from foreign influences; and Saudi Arabia which, according to a Harvard Law School study reported by the BBC, has - for cultural reasons - blocked up to 2,000 sites.
The Council of Europe (which represents 44 European countries) is also targeted for adopting through its decision-making body, the Council of Ministers, a measure to criminalize "hate speech" on the internet- something which the WPFC, like many libertarian groups, sees as potentially violating civil rights on the internet.
Is the web - unlike other media platforms - a place where "anything goes"?