[In the news]
December 18, 2003In the news, ZDnet discusses the outcome of the open source debate at WSIS, the Declaration of Principles are available on the official WSIS site along with the arrangements for Tunisia and some interesting facts on number of attendees at WSIS. The Cato Institute discusses Who Rules the Web?, whilst allAfrica joins in on the reviews of the summit.
December 16, 2003In WSIS news, summit organisers are attacked for sloppy security, and for too much security, but still Switzerland pats itself on the back. Our Iran investigation is followed up here and here, but strangely, ignored here. Finally, the BBC sums it all up, and has a bit of a think, Infoworld looks to Tunis, and the International Herald Tribune declares that the 'World' part of WWW is a misnomer.
December 12, 2003In the news, dissenters feel ignored, Africa projects win awards, China will spare no efforts to accelerate the information society, and IT-literate children are "respected like village elders."
Also: a campaign for equal access to scientific knowledge, Zambia wants to build a self-renewing society, Geneva is agog (allegedly), and India's teaching software is revolutionary.
And, finally, no-one knows who uses the internet...
December 11, 2003In the news, Kofi Annan thinks "a lot of web-based information is simply not relevant to the real needs of people;" Protestors, Polymedia have finally found a new home (their old one was repossessed); and the EU describes the summit as "a new adventure" (rumours that Hollywood plans to make the film can probably be discounted, though).
Meanwhile, Egypt's Mubarak has used the summit to discuss Palestine with Iran's Khatami and co-operation with Bangladesh's Zia; regulators have said competitive markets are need to widen telecoms access; and Saudi Arabia has promised a "comprehensive national plan for the development of the sector of communications and information."
Finally, civil society detects backsliding, Sri Lanka wonders what it can gain from the summit, and Pakistan PM Jamali believes "the enormity of the digital opportunity is marred by a vast digital divide."
December 10, 2003In WSIS news, the gender caucus wants a fund set up to help women use information technologies; the Linux community is showcasing an open source translation system (the Economist explains why this matters); and others are noticing the US's strange defence of Status Quo.
In the news, the Financial Times previews the summit, and highlights the Swiss Government's success in getting almost all groups "inside the tent" (although, frankly, the strain within the tent is starting to show). The Guardian promotes the role of the UN in a leader devoted to WSIS - but claims that "in this case it (the UN) starts with a clean sheet and an ocean of goodwill. Really?
Also, Wired News reports that Kofi Annan "reaffirmed media freedoms and the rights of ordinary people" in his address to WEMF. Plus Taiwan berates the UN for kow-towing to China, Open Democracy debates the summit, Botswana an ICT leader, and Switzerland is an honoured host.
Aaron Scullion @ 06:03 AM | Comments (0)
December 08, 2003In WSIS news, the Register and BBC catch up on progress on negotatiations (but you read that here first).
The excellent SciDev.net, meanwhile, reports efforts to get governments to support "initiatives that offer free access to research results published in the electronic versions of scientific journals."
You can read SciDev's coverage of the summit here - or divert to the BBC where SciDev director, David Dickson explores the digital divide, concluding:
"One of the most significant achievements of the WSIS could be an international commitment to significantly increasing the effort dedicated to research on ICTs for the poor.
This could have the same appeal as calls to shift the emphasis of medical research towards often-neglected tropical diseases.
Finally, more effort is needed in providing high-quality content directly relevant to the needs of the developing world.
The great promise of ICT is that it can deliver such information in a timely and efficient manner.
But that is only helpful if useful information is there to be delivered, and presented in a way that allows potential recipients to find it easily."
David Steven @ 01:26 PM | Comments (0)
December 07, 2003In WSIS news, there's little interest in the summit in the Philippines, despite the country's role as an exporter of software professionals, while Israel and Jamaica are gearing up for the summit.
December 05, 2003In WSIS news, the ITU is determined to wring every last drop of publicity from their flagship World Telecommunication Development Report. After one release last month, yesterday saw a re-release (what next: a re-mix?).
The focus this time is on the Millennium Development Goals. The news is unsurprising - ICT's biggest contribution is to MDG#18, which deals with access to ICTs and information. The news is dutifully picked up here and here, though this takes a different angle).
Bizarrely, the report itself doesn't yet appear to be online...
December 04, 2003In the news, online women demand better access, while the US has no intention of giving ground on control of the Internet or the digital solidarity fund.
December 02, 2003CHOGM news - Will India use CHOGM to continue to campaign for Pakistan's exclusion from the Commonwealth? And how will a "livid" Robert Mugabe react his exclusion from the Abuja meeting?
Meanwhile, Nigerian troops say that they will "decisively crush" anyone causing trouble at the summit; the Commonwealth Business Forum has been opened, while the African diaspora (which sends USÃ‚Â£3 billion every year) is being discussed; and President Obasanjo cannot escape domestic troubles - he is defending himself, as the naira continues to slide.
December 01, 2003Can the 'Can-Spam' Act work? The New York Times casts doubt on the effectiveness of the US's recently up-dated 'Can-Spam' Act, although bill sponsor, New York Senator Charles Schumer promises that the bill will mean that "if you're a spammer, you could wind up in the slammer." The senator also calls for an international approach, with spammers pursued with the same vigour as drug dealers or money launderers
Meanwhile, the Australian Government's Spam Bill is expected to face a set-back tonight, before being passed later this week.
Claire Regan @ 03:03 PM | TrackBack
November 28, 2003In the news, TeleDoc is an Indian tele-medicine project that will receive the UN backed World Summit Award (WSA) for e-Health at WSIS on December 10. The project is run by Jiva Institute and uses mobile technology to deliver healthcare for India's rural population.
Ahmed Reda @ 06:43 PM | TrackBackIn the news, Marc Furrer, who leads the Swiss delegation, has been talking to the Swiss press about Switzerland's role as an "informal mediator during last-ditch talks with individual countries, aimed at ironing out lingering differences over the draft declaration and plan of action" (more here).
He's playing his cards close to his chest, "optimistic that we will find a way with China," but not wanting to say anything that could jeapordise agreement with Russia.
David Steven @ 12:25 AM | TrackBack
November 27, 2003Civil society organizations drafted their own "vision document" to counter what they see as an "inability of government representatives to agree even on basic questions."
Ahmed Reda @ 04:08 PM | TrackBackIn the news, a Chinese human right activist, jailed by the Chinese, but freed after intervention from George Bush, looks like she's now on her way to a jail sentence in the US - for smuggling microprocessors back to China... (link via Instapundit)
David Steven @ 09:46 AM | TrackBack
November 26, 2003In the news, the Washington Times reports that the "UN could restrict content on the internet", in its take on the ongoing battle between supporters of ICANN and those who want a UN-regulated internet.
In the UN corner are a number of big hitters from the developing world, including Brazil, China and India, complaining about US hegemony, and rising levels of junk mail and fraud.
Standing up for ICANN, those who think UN control could threaten the idea of free speech on the Internet. As Diane Cabell of Harvard's Berkman Centre for Internet and Society puts it: "You might get the lowest common denominator instead of the highest common denominator, and before you know it, you're restricted in terms of what content you can put online".
(Link via Lextext.)
David Steven @ 08:06 PM | TrackBack
November 25, 2003In the news, the India Economic Summit is receiving plenty of coverage. With 1 million people employed, the ICT sector is being touted as a model for other industries. However, there are worries about a backlash from rich countries losing jobs (some US comment here).
Meanwhile, Disney and Rupert Murdoch's Star India have plans for the sub-continent, with Star's CEO claiming that India "could become an important destination for production of entertainment software." Bollywood film makers agree, with one predicting that 70 percent of global revenue in the entertainment business will come from Asia over the next 10 years.
No summit is complete without demonstrations. In New Delhi, Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, is being compared to Hitler.
David Steven @ 08:10 AM | TrackBack
November 22, 2003In the news, Shashi Tharoor (snappy job title: UN under secretary-general for communications and public information) argues that "The information revolution is inconceivable without political democracy."
David Steven @ 07:12 PM | TrackBack
November 21, 2003In the news, One World East Asia carries an interview with Chetan Sharma on Indian preparations for WSIS. Sharma is "utterly dissatisfied with the government's response," but remains "certain the WSIS will help the poor."
David Steven @ 05:40 PM | TrackBack
November 20, 2003In the news, among plenty of reaction to the ITU's new ICT index (see below), the Koreans are planning to jump further up the table, Bahrainis are pleased, but Kiwis, Aussies and Brits are depressed.
David Steven @ 03:51 PM | TrackBack
November 19, 2003In the news, the FT reports on the perilous state of the negotiations, Angola prepares for the summit, and Pakistan plans 2,000 Internet labs planned for state schools.
David Steven @ 08:06 AM
November 17, 2003More news "The "ICT for Development Platform" is heading for a major success. Two hundred organisations and businesses from 80 countries have already announced their intention to participate in the largest summit event at WSIS. Covering an area of 16,000m2, the Platform, which runs from December 9 to 13, will show how information and communication technologies Ã¢â‚¬â€œ from simple transistor radios to high-tech computer systems Ã¢â‚¬â€œ can be used innovatively to reduce poverty and promote development.
Ahmed Reda @ 07:17 PMWorld Press Freedom Committee says "The summit presents a potentially serious threat to press freedom, as it is seen by numerous groups as an opportunity to introduce restrictive proposals. Coalitions of these groups have met, stated their goals for influencing the summit outcome and have embarked on plans of action."
Ahmed Reda @ 12:34 PMIn the news, New Zealand civil society is being funded to send a one-person delegation to the summit, while a three day national consultation for the summit has started in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, President Mbeki of South Africa has argued that, with ICANN administering internet domains, "the world continues to be be governed by California law."
"We need to discuss the possibility of putting in place a multilateral mechanism for Internet governance and the summit is a good place to do it," Mbeki told the media yesterday. "it may be the current way it is governed through ICANN is the best way, but this has to be examined."
David Steven @ 08:27 AM
November 16, 2003In the news, Reuters analyses the progress of the negotiations, but reports that developing countries are making some progress on the"digital divide" fund they have been pressing for. It looks like they're going to get... more talks!
According Pierre Gagne, head of the summit secretariat: "No decision will be taken on the establishment of a fund, but I think that there will be agreement to establish a mechanism that will come up with specific recommendations on what to do."
David Steven @ 11:36 AM
November 15, 2003In the news, ABC reports that control of the internet was the key obstacle blocking progress at this week's prepcom, quoting Pierre Gagne, head of the summit secretariat, as saying that ""Unless there is a miracle, no draft declaration will be adopted" during the preparatory talks this week."
Gustavo Capdevila, meanwhile, provides a more detailed run down of the state-of-play, reporting that high level officials will meet in special session on Dec 7-8 to try and resolve the issues. Finally, IranMania brings news of Iran's participation in the summit.
David Steven @ 12:52 PM
November 14, 2003In the news, Steven Lang reports that arguments over the role of the media are stopping consensus being reached on a draft declaration to be considered by heads of government in Geneva.
"China argues that since the WSIS meeting is about the Information Society, it is purely a technical meeting," he wrotes, "and as such, the media certainly has no special role to play."
Chinese delegates are blocking proceedings every time press freedom is raising, supported by Venezuela, Mexico and Egypt. They are "effectively wearing down other delegates who believe that media has a key responsibility in the Information Society. An observer at the proceedings noted that even the United States, one of the more vocal supporters of press freedom, appears to have lost its passion for including media as a stakeholder."
David Steven @ 08:46 AM
November 12, 2003In the news, the International Federation of Journalists is furious that freelance journalists will only get press accreditation if they have a confirmed assignment from a media outlet.
"This process is another form of censorship," according to their General Secretary. "Freelancers who show a regular press card should undeniably be allowed in the Summit discussions. Public information and adequate coverage of the Summit are essential, particularly at a time where summit negotiations have been suffering from a lack of transparency".
David Steven @ 03:34 PM
November 11, 2003In the news, Associated Press reports that the French Prime Minister and German Chancellor are among 56 world leaders committed to attending the summit, while the World Bank is resisting plans proposed by Senegal for a special fund to address the digital divide.
According to a Bank spokesman: "It's a very powerful concept, [but] generally people are not excited by the idea of creating a special fund that entails massive arrangements. The bank would not support something that would generate a few million dollars for African countries and cost the same amount in managing."
David Steven @ 09:09 AM
November 10, 2003In the news, the FT reports that "an attempt by developing countries to put management of the internet under United Nations auspices is likely to be shelved" - at least for now.
Developing countries are unhappy with the way internet registrar, Icann, operates, but the US and EU are defending what they believe is a successful model "based on minimal regulation and commercial principles."
UN officials believe this issue will not be solved until WSIS part 2 - in Tunis in 2005.
Update: More on Icann at Icann Focus.
David Steven @ 09:35 AM | TrackBack
November 07, 2003In the news - Nitin Desai, the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for the Summit, briefs journalists. US Ambassador Gross argues that privatization, human capacity, and IT security are the fundamental bulding blocks "crafting an ICT-for-development agenda." Malawi, meanwhile, is holding a consultative meeting in advance of the summit, with the government promising to "establish an integrated infrastructure programme that will help link the different facets of communication, including transport, telecommunications and other services to enable the growth of an informed society." Finally, NGOs are angry at not being included in the Indian delegation.
David Steven @ 09:32 AM | TrackBack