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 16, 2003The 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
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
October 31, 2003The 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, 2003Communication 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
October 25, 2003Why the summit matters to Latin American journalists:
"Why all this fuss about yet another United Nations chat fest? Because Latin American journalists have learned through long and bitter experience that the obtuse blather issued at these international jaw-jaws is often used by their governments back home to justify censoring and closing newspapers and fining or imprisoning journalists."
David Steven @ 10:51 AM | TrackBack