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[Freedom of information]

December 11, 2003

Ask the Iranian Government. Our post about Iranian censorship on the internet has created lots of discussion and comment. Later on Thursday in Geneva, Iran's President Mr Mohammad Khatami is scheduled to give a news conference.

We'll be there on the front row so please, use the comments box and send us the questions YOU would like us to put to him.

Cara Swift @ 11:49 AM | Comments (64) | TrackBack

December 08, 2003

Iranian censorship? Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan, now based in Canada, reports that access to Google's cache has been blocked by Iran's biggest ISP - a way of stopping Iranians getting at Google's copy of sites that censors are preventing them from seeing.

Daily Summit asked an Iranian resident to try out the Google cache from a couple of ISPs (though not the one Hossein mentions). They were serving cached pages with no problem - but we'd be interested to know what you are finding if you're surfing from Iran...

Iranian Minister of Communications,Ahmad Motamedi recently said that Iranian ISPs should only block sites on an 'offical' blacklist.

But without access to a definitive blacklist, it is hard to tell which sites are being blocked legally or illegally. Furthermore, Reporters Without Borders says the Minister warned ISPs to install filters.

BBC Persian Service told us that certain sites, mainly news sites or opposition groups based abroad, have been blocked for some time. Radio Farda (also known as Radio Liberty) and the website for Voice of America were blocked at some point, for example.
Cara Swift @ 04:30 PM | Comments (292)

November 27, 2003

Freedom 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"?
Andrew Taussig @ 11:52 AM | TrackBack

November 22, 2003

Tunisian internet journalist, Zouhair Yahyaoui, whose story we reported here, has been freed...

David Steven @ 07:17 PM | TrackBack

November 16, 2003

The IPR Hot Potato. There's little agreement over Intellectual Property Rights in advance of the summit. As ever, it's hardly surprising that ideas and information (specifically, who owns them and what does it cost to buy them) go to the heart of the "digital divide". To quote the WSIS draft declaration "a fair balance has to be struck between IPR protection... and... its use, and knowledge-sharing".

So, on one hand, WSIS-watchers will be looking closely at the attitude of big "advanced developing" countries like Brazil, Mexico, China and India - who have interests on either side of the IPR digital-information divide. Richer countries see a strict regime of intellectual property protection as essential to encourage innovation and creativity, while ranged between them are those who believe the "fair balance" concept is mean, misguided and based on a false analogy with ownership of physical property. Of course, those who promote communication rights believe "the best way to 'protect' creations of the intellect is to allow them to be used".

Andrew Taussig @ 02:58 PM
Where's the progress? The summit is in trouble, as previously noted. Three more days of talks, designed to sort out gaping disagreements, have dribbled to a close.

By now, we shoud have something to really work with in Geneva - but instead, every time the participants get round a table, more tensions come out.

The draft paper optimistically calls for a "people-centered, inclusive"
information society - something which it wants to get from a hopelessly divided bunch.

There seem to be three main problems:
- Firstly, surprise, surprise, - money. The EU, especially Germany and the UK, and Japan are desperately against even a voluntary fund to pay for ICTs.
- Secondly, freedom of expression and human rights. China have successfully ambushed a complete paragraph on the "free flow of information" - not a good decision for the good of the world's media.
- And finally - Internet governance. China again seems to be causing more trouble than anyone else - it looked like governments would agree on just stating the need for further discussion in the declaration (a bit of a cop-out anyway), but China is blocking progress here, because Taiwan is a member of the ICANN government advisory board.

In addition the Civil Society seems to be generally brassed off with the course things are taking. They also said that terrorism legislation is now clamping down on the freedom of speech - an interesting swipe (especially at the US).

These are pretty complex issues, but Daily Summit is going to unravel them as best we can, over the next couple of posts.
Erin Dean @ 02:35 PM

October 31, 2003

The Christian Scientist is calling on the US to "defend the net from the UN."

In an editorial, it argues that countries such as China and Cuba may use WSIS to impose government control on the internet.

"Some governments seek to use national security as an excuse to control Internet freedoms," the paper writes. "Already, Cuba has tried to include language that would approve government filtering and censorship of private media.

The US delegation must ensure in preconference drafting that the final document defends basic freedoms for Internet users."

Meanwhile, a debate is raging within the US about how seriously to take the summit. The State Department's leading telecom official has told industry representatives that decisions have not been made on who will lead the delegation or what position will be taken on key issues.

The private sector seems worried:

"Some private-sector parties at Wednesday's State Department meeting questioned how U.S. interests will be furthered at the meeting, with one industry representative voicing concern about whether developing countries might unite on telecom-information technology policy principles at odds with the Bush administration, potentially repeating the dynamic that doomed September global trade talks in Cancun, Mexico.".
David Steven @ 11:18 AM | TrackBack

October 29, 2003

Communication Rights. WSIS was discussed in several meetings and workshops during the World Social Forum, in Porto Alegre, January 2003. Notes from two of the workshops were gathered by Sasha Costanza-Chock and Pradip Thomas, who are both involved in the campaign CRIS (Communication Rights in the Information Society).

Ahmed Reda @ 11:09 PM | TrackBack
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