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<nettime> wsis digest no. 3
geert lovink on Sun, 23 Nov 2003 20:59:40 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> wsis digest no. 3

World Summit on Information Society
Nettime Digest, no. 3 November 24, 2003

1.   A steep climb to the Information Society Summit
2.   Webregulator too American, UN to hear
3.   Casper Henderson: What future for global civil society?
4.   Mbeki Wants Domain Names Discussed (AllAfrica)
5.   US Mediareform Conference Discusses WSIS
6.   Rahul Kumar: ICTs need to focus on marginalised groups
7.   Media: The step-child of WSIS? (OneWorld)
8.   Civil Society Statement, Geneva, November 14, 2003
9.   Iran to Participate in Tech-Summit
10. We Seize! Counter Summit Activities
11.  recommendation to Brazilian WSIS delegates
12. World Forum on Communication Rights
13. Daily Summit
14. IMC/Indymedia  {AT}  WSIS
16. Last Tuesday Zagreb: WSIS?!


1. A steep climb to the Information Society Summit
>From InterPress News Agency, November 14, 2003
By Gustavo Capdevila

GENEVA, Nov 14 (IPS) - Everyone wants to bridge the information and
telecommunications divide - governments, the private sector and civil
society - but with less than four weeks to go before the World Summit on
the Information Society (WSIS), agreement on how to tackle the issue
remains elusive. The final effort, a special session of the preparatory
committee for the United Nations-sponsored summit, ended in failure this
week in Geneva.

Regardless, heads of state are to gather Dec. 10-12 in this Swiss city to
tackle the challenges created by the rapid development and expansion of
information and communications technologies (ICTs). But the documents they
are to discuss and put their signatures to have yet to be finalised.
Dissent afflicts issues that are included throughout the texts of the
declaration of principles and the plan of action that the WSIS is to
adopt, says Mark Furrer, Switzerland's communications minister. Among the
matters of discord are the creation of a fund for reversing the digital
divide, a demand of developing countries, and the inclusion of references
to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the WSIS final documents,
which some governments oppose. The differences grow deeper when it comes
to the role of the communications media, Internet governance, limits to
intellectual property rights, copyright and free software, says Wolfgang
Kleinwaechter, an ICT expert and activist from Denmark's Aarhus

As for human rights, the Chinese delegation objected to the draft of the
summit declaration because it includes binding provisions, beyond the
standards of the United Nations Charter, said an observer of the sessions
who spoke on condition of anonymity. The WSIS civil society media group
issued a statement of regret that the reaffirmation of freedoms of
expression and of the press had not been included in the drafts of the
declaration and action plan.

Nor did the delegates on the preparatory committee agree on including
mention of the communications media as acknowledged actors of the
information society. Failure to include the media would be like convening
a conference on agriculture without farmers, says Tracey Naughton, head of
the communications media group. The drafts of the proposals referring to
the media included a call to promote pluralism of information and
diversity in ownership.  Such a policy would prevent the concentration of
the news media in the hands of the few, according to Karen Banks, a
coordinator of the civil society "content and themes group" in the WSIS

Civil society wants governmental information services to be able to
communicate their messages, but the state-controlled media should be
transformed into organisations in the public interest with editorial
independence, or they should be privatised, said Banks. Activists say they
are frustrated by the difficulties that the governments in the WSIS
preparatory process are having in hammering out agreements. There are some
that lack political will, commented Kleinwaechter.

But the failures of the summit preparatory committee have not cooled the
enthusiasm of the civil society representatives involved. For the first
time in U.N. history, non-governmental organisations are participating
alongside governments and private sector delegates in preparations for a
meeting of this type. "We remain totally committed" to the objectives of
the summit, Renate Bloem, president of the Conference of Non-Governmental
Organisations (CONGO) that hold consultative status with the United
Nations, told IPS.

Kleinwaechter says that civil society has adopted a two-pronged strategy.
The activists will remain involved in the WSIS, but if the governments are
not committed to the process, "we are willing to take on the
responsibility" with other sectors, he said. A special session of
high-level officials from the participating countries will be needed in
order to resolve the pending issues, said Pierre Gagne, executive director
of the WSIS secretariat, designated by the International Telecommunication
Union (ITU), which is sponsoring the summit in representation of the U.N.
The meeting is slated for Dec. 7-8, just prior to the summit, he

Meanwhile, the Swiss government, as host of the international event, will
promote bilateral meetings between the parties that continue to hold
opposing views in a bid to reach some agreement, said Adolfo Ogi, former
president of Switzerland, designated by Bern as facilitator for the WSIS.
Ogi agreed with the activists in identifying human rights, the
communications media and Internet governance as being the issues that have
triggered greatest disagreement. Another critical matter is financing for
ICT infrastructure in developing countries. A proposal from Senegal,
calling for creating a fund for that purpose, has the backing of
delegations from the developing world. But the United States, European
Union, Canada and Japan challenged the initiative.


2. Webregulator too American, UN to hear
>From National Post, November 19, 2003
By Isabel Vincent


A rebellion is growing among developing countries against what they see as
the undue influence of the United States on the Internet. The question of
who should control the Net will be the major point of discussion at the
United Nations' first conference on information technology, which opens in
Geneva next month. More than 50 heads of state are expected to attend the
World Summit on the Information Society to discuss Internet governance, a
contentious subject that has been hotly debated by civic groups,
governments and business leaders for the past five years.

Many developing countries and non-governmental organizations want the
United Nations to manage the Internet, rather than the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private regulator in
California. The five-year-old company, which works with the U.S.
government, oversees how Web sites are named and how e-mail is sent for
the world's more than 550-million Internet users.

Although the ICANN board of directors is made up of representatives from
around the world, many critics worry the organization is too closely
linked to the United States. They would prefer the Internet to be managed
by a more inclusive intergovernmental body, such as the International
Telecommunications Union, the UN agency that is organizing the Geneva
summit from Dec. 10-12.

"ICANN has no real right to hold the power it has been given over the
day-to-day operations of the Net," said Bill Thompson, a British technical
consultant who writes a technology column for BBC Online. "Many people
have come to the conclusion that ICANN has to go. It has never shown that
it is able to represent the majority of interests of Net users."

But many Western countries support ICANN because of its commitment to
minimal regulation and commercial principles. They believe the Internet
should remain decentralized in the interests of promoting free speech and
free commerce.

Furthermore, U.S. and European Union officials say UN organizations are
hopelessly bureaucratic and could never manage the Internet, which moves
at lightning speed. Indeed, the European Commission argues putting its
management in the hands of the United Nations or individual governments
could threaten the flow of information and ideas on the Internet.

But many non-governmental organizations worry about the flow of hate
speech, child pornography and unwanted advertising, or spam. They argue a
new structure needs to be put in place that would address ways of dealing
with such issues.

The Internet Democracy Project, an umbrella group for non-governmental
organizations bankrolled by the international financier and philanthropist
George Soros, says it is seeking to "create Internet government structures
that preserve and promote the principles of a civil society." It is
pushing to make ICANN more accountable to the Internet community.

"Increasingly, ICANN has been setting policies on issues that will have a
significant impact on the free expression and privacy rights of Internet
users, for example, by crafting policies that favour commercial interests
over those of non-commercial speakers."

Paul Twomey, ICANN's president and CEO, supports the work of the Geneva
summit and believes what is needed is a balance between ICANN's management
of the Internet and government regulation.

"ICANN brings a lot of expertise to the table," he said. Outright
government control of the Internet would be "killing the goose that laid
the golden egg." Mr. Twomey, an Australian, takes exception to the idea
that ICANN is somehow an American institution, pointing out that it is, in
fact, a non-governmental organization with wide international
representation. Much of the opposition to ICANN, he believes, is really
misplaced anti-Americanism. Many observers expect the summit in Geneva to
accomplish little. Andrew McLaughlin, a Harvard University fellow who
studies global telecommunications policy called the summit "a blabberfest
that is not likely to produce any results." It's a view shared by many
ICANN officials. "The Internet moves at amazing speed," said one who did
not want to be identified. "How can a bureaucratic organization like the
UN manage the Internet? You need a nimble organization that can make quick

Even the organizers of the Geneva summit say they are not expecting much
to be resolved at the meeting. "Probably what will happen is more a sketch
of what needs to be done," said Nitin Desai, special advisor to the summit
for Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General. For this reason, a second
conference has already been set for Tunisia in November, 2005. Internet
governance is only one of many issues the summit will tackle. Another is
the creation of a "digital solidarity fund" that would address the
technology gap between rich and poor countries.

The push for the fund is being led by a group of African countries,
although many international lending agencies, such as the World Bank, fear
much of the money earmarked for the proposed "digital solidarity fund"
could end up funding more bureaucracy. "People are not excited by the idea
of creating a special fund that entails massive arrangements," said a
spokesman for the World Bank. "The bank would never support something that
would generate a few million dollars for African countries and cost the
same amount to manage."


3. Casper Henderson: What future for global civil society?
Reports from the Miami Trade Talks. Being Civil at the UN." Open Democracy
(20 Nov 2003)

Miami Advice

A new drama unfolds in the Globolog discussion forums. Phil Bloomer, of
Oxfam's fair trade campaign, has been writing regular updates from the
trade talks in Miami, where, as this goes online, Phil reckons that "the
1990s neo-liberal model for hemispheric development may be terminally
weakened. The danger is what takes its place". Read the latest reports and
post your comments, questions and criticisms in the discussion.

UN Forgiven

Billy Connolly, a comedian, once observed that Scotland's contribution to
the 20th century was staggering (in British vernacular, 'staggering' means
stupendous; it can also refer to a gait consequent upon the excessive
consumption of alcohol).

Sometimes, it seems, the same can be said of the UN. In spring 2003,
Richard Perle reckoned Saddam Hussein would take the United Nations down
with him. But this institution, created by the United States at a time of
extraordinary farsightedness ("We all have to recognise, no matter how
great our strength, that we must deny ourselves the license to do always
as we please" - Harry Truman, 1945), has a way of getting back on its
feet. Even George W. Bush, in a speech in London on 19 November, said that
the US wanted to promote and strengthen the effectiveness of international

As beasts go, the UN is a starved little number. The total annual budget
for the UN family of institutions is around $1.25 billion - about the same
amount as the US spends every 32 hours on its military.

And its legitimacy and competence are as questionable as its finances. Not
least, this club for sovereign nations has what Ian Williams describes as
a statistically significant number of states which commit major violations
of human rights on its Human Rights Committee.

Nevertheless, stepping ever so gingerly, UN secretary-general Kofi Annan
is trying to strengthen the UN's own picayune apparatus as a force for
good. Earlier this month he set up a panel to review the UN's global role.

Less noticed, however, is an initiatve to review relations between UN
institutions and the multitude of civil society groups, generally termed
non-government organisations. The number of NGOs with consultative status
to Ecosoc is huge (it appears to be lower than Globolog's April estimate,
but the list still runs to 16 pages, with at least 500 NGOs ranging from
the Chemical Manufacturers Association to the Sudanese Environment
Conservation Society).

Annan wants to make more sense out of what looks close to an unmanageable
hodgepodge, to forge an accountability that works. And in February 2003 he
appointed a Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil Society Relations to help
him do so. The Panel has undertaken what it describes as global
consultations with a diversity of constituencies (NGOs, parliamentarians,
local authorities, private sector groups, indigenous peoples
organisations, trade unions, mayors and others) to inform its report and
recommendations to the secretary-general. The six-month consultation
period runs to the end of this year (an online response form gives an
October deadline, but you can write to civilsocietypanel {AT} un.org until the
end of December).

Earlier this week, panel members Malini Mehra from India and Mary Racelis
from the Philippines met with around sixty UK representatives in London in
a consultation organised by the One World Trust and the Centre for Social
Markets. And in a note published on 17 November, the Panel listed areas of
concern coming up in the consultations. At the time of writing, there is
no version of these on the Panel's website so a copy is given in a box

"1.. Concern that High-Level Panel's Report to the UN Secretary General
may not be made public - will be a contradiction of an open and inclusive
consultation process if it is not publicly released.

2.. World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), preparatory process
seen as deeply unsatisfactory in way in which NGOs are being involved. A
step back, not a step forward.

3.. Danger of overload - UN as presently constituted and resourced not
able to deal with increasing NGO demands.

4.. At the moment, the new areas of influence open to those who have power
and money and influence - need to ensure balanced representation on north/
south issues, and recognise important role of youth.

5.. Challenge of getting smaller groups and citizens groups engaged in UN
processes and implementation. Need to ensure pluralism, and avoid vested
interests forming, by ensuring diversity in both size and representation.

6.. Consultative and Accreditation rules need to be reviewed - especially
in context of de-accreditation/ de-selecting groups.

7.. Global civil society needs to connect much more effectively with
national civil society. Mechanisms are needed for this, and both top-down
and bottom-up pressure promoting this.

8.. Profound concern about closure of United Nations Information Centre in
UK. Criticism that this makes little sense in world where the case for
action through the UN increasingly made.

9.. Inadequate learning by the UN internally from best practice on
UN-civil society engagement. For example, Habitat II seen as exemplary.
'Why has the UN - having got it right in Istanbul - now going backwards'.
This seen as part of the dysfunctionality of the UN."

Globolog talked to Panel member Malini Mehra about these concerns. Point
one, secrecy. "This is a private panel set up by the secretary-general to
advise him personally", said Mehra. "It's akin to a number of other panels
he sets up for personal advice. It is not a public panel set up by the UN
General Assembly". There were certain things Annan could be show in
private so that he could make a judgement as to how much political risk
and capital he could put into them. A full version of the Panel's findings
would be given to the General Assembly in April 2004.

Point two, troubled relations between NGOs and governments at the
forthcoming World Summit on the Information Society. WSIS will be reported
and analysed by Solana Larsen in next week's edition of openDemocracy.
Larsen cites William Drake of Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility: "Basically, you have a bunch of dictatorships sitting
around discussing which language on freedom on expression they can agree
with", he tells her.

But information technology is a long way from being the only concern. The
Panel has received hundreds of specific recommendations on every aspect of
UN civil society relations, Mehrato Globolog. Ranking them was hard, but
one of the most prominent was the deselection of some NGOs from
consultative status. The UN, she said, is overloaded with access
expectations and unable to respond effectively. "There is also a
recognition that engagement with the UN does not always have to be through
the secretariats, or through global conferences, but should also be
through national country offices, regional commissions and the like".

"We're not yet world citizens", said Mehra. And that being the case, NGOs
should, wherever possible, put pressure on and work with the governments
of their own countries. There were examples of this working in practice,
said Mary Marcelis. In the Philippines civil society groups had worked
closely with elected officials to see that the full implications of
meeting the Millennium Development Goals were worked out and costed.

There are, of course, deep and complex questions about the degree to which
citizens and non-state actors act internationally and independently or in
defiance of the nation-state from which they come. Some believe that civil
society should create new institutions beyond the reach of the
nation-state, even a World Parliament (in Globolog's view a good idea .
for the 23rd Century; but if we must have one now then Mary Robinson
should be president).

How far one should go with such Altermondialism was a lively topic at last
week's European Social (ESF) and it's likely to continue to be so at the
World Social Forum (WSF) in India in January 2004 (some UN Consultative
Panel members will be participating in the WSF.

But hefty chunks of the world are not included in this conversation. Among
them, as Globolog noted during last year's ESF, is China. There, as both
Jeffrey Garten and The Economist describe, there's a long way to go. In
some other countries [take Saudi Arabia (see, for example Roula Khalaf in
the Financial Times, November 17, subscription only) or Mary Kaldor's
recent article for openDemocracy on Iraq], the prospects of a constructive
role for civil society may seem even more remote, but are no less crucial.


4.Mbeki Wants Domain Names Discussed

The issue of administering Internet domain names should be discussed at
next month's world information summit in Geneva, "otherwise the world
continues to be governed by California law", says president Thabo Mbeki.
Mbeki addressed a media conference yesterday, after a meeting of the
President's International Advisory Council (PIAC) that deals with IT
issues relating to this country's and Africa's development.

"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 said. "It may be the current way it is governed through ICANN
is the best way, but this has to be examined."

The World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) is due to be held in
Switzerland from 10 to 12 December. The issue of Internet governance has
been a major sticking point between government and non-government
organisations in the run-up to the event.

Many of the poorer nations such as Brazil, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and
China would like to see the administration of Internet domain name
registrations moved from the public private company ICANN, which is
incorporated under California law, to a multinational organisation such as
the United Nations. However, the US and the European Union staunchly
support the ICANN model.

Speculation within some international media is that the poorer countries
may try to coordinate joint action, as they did at the recent World Trade
Organisation talks in Mexico, to get the more developed countries to agree
to their demands.

According to Department of Communications minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri,
at the same news conference, the WSIS will address a number of other
issues that have developed into sticking points between the more developed
and less developed of the world's economies. These are human rights, the
protection of intellectual property, Internet security, the media and the
Internet, and financing to get poorer countries up to speed with
connecting to the Internet.

"Internet governance is just one issue that will have to be discussed,"
Matsepe-Casaburri said.

SA will have three delegations going to the WSIS, although the exact
number of people has not been decided yet. There will be government, civil
society and business delegations.

The government delegation will contain representatives of the other two
delegations and from a number of government departments.


5. US Mediareform Conference Discusses WSIS


Perhaps one of the greatest opportunities to support democratization of
media on a global scale is the World Summit on the Information Society and
the related conferences that will occur alongside it. Under the auspices
of the International Telecommunications Union and the United Nations, this
summit is scheduled to take place in two phases, the first in Geneva,
Switzerland from December 10-12, 2003. The stated goal is to bring
together the key players of the world 'information society' - governments,
international organizations, the private sector and non-governmental
organizations - to formulate policy regarding new communications
technologies and how these relate to socio-economic development and other
cultural and ethical concerns. This conference will lay the groundwork for
future discussions as to how technological access is obtained, who will
have access to the 'information society,' and how such a worldwide
'information society' will be utilized.

It is ironic that in the most wired country in the world very little
discussion relating to this summit is taking place. In contrast,
preparatory meetings are being held or are planned in Asia, South America
and Europe, covering such issues as the utilization of new technologies as
instruments for the advancement and empowerment of women as well as
preserving free speech on the Internet. This summit provides a grand
opportunity to bring media issues to the forefront of debate here in the
United States and should be leveraged as such. It is vital that we ensure
a loud voice for the people that the 'information society' should
ultimately serve as this international debate officially commences.


6. ICTs need to focus on marginalised groups

Rahul Kumar (OneWorld South Asia)


      The founder of Datamation Consultants, Chetan Sharma speaks to
OneWorld South Asia about information society and its impact on the
developing world. He says that traditional civil society organisations do
not yet believe in the potential of information and communication
technologies for development.

      Are you satisfied with the response of the Indian government on the
World Summit on Information Society (WSIS)?

      I am absolutely dissatisfied with the government's response. I
understand the IT Secretary has represented India at the PrepCom3. However
it has been a keen-jerk reaction given the stakes and implications. It is
a pity that the government has not understood the implications of the
WSIS. As with earlier UN summits - Rio and Beijing - the outcome of WSIS
will have a major influence on the policy and attitudes of governments,
multi-lateral organisations and the civil society. The market can also be
expected to pick up vital cues and thus be influenced substantially.

      Is the Indian civil society playing a major role?

      Unfortunately not. A few members from the civil society have
participated in the deliberations at the PrepComs, but have neither
created awareness nor sensitised the government about its responsibility
regarding WSIS. We have been working on an awareness strategy as part of
which we are in contact with the Ministry of Communications and
Information Technology and the Department of Administrative Reforms &
Personnel Grievances. We, along with a number of civil society members,
government officials and the private sector have prepared a draft National
Gender and ICT paper for WSIS. We hope our inputs shall constitute a vital
constituent in the WSIS declaration in Geneva 2003.

      What do you want the WSIS to achieve?

      We want the information society to include the marginalised sections
- youth, women, elderly and minority groups. We have also tried to draw
the attention of the Planning Commission of India and members of the
National Committee on E-Governance so that they understand the enormous
impact of the WSIS for the country and become proactive.

      What is the response of Asian countries to the summit?

      Better than the Indian response. Most south Asian and Pacific
governments along with CSOs have taken the summit seriously. One reason is
that they have already established their development gateways, even as we
struggle with ours. Had this development portal existed in the country
earlier, we would not have been washed out in WSIS awareness, advocacy and

      How will the summit outcome impact India?

      WSIS will address the broad range of themes concerning the
information society and adopt a Declaration of Principles and plan of
action, addressing the whole range of issues related to the information
society. India is a country of one billion people. To speak for the
Indians is to almost speak for one-ninth of humanity. Surprisingly, there
is a rather weak representation for this big section, as we prepare to lay
down the vision and guiding principles of a new world. This large part of
humanity is distinctive in many ways, generally, as well as in its
position with respect to the emerging information age. India is a
developing nation, and a strongly tradition-bound society. But it is
progressing fast and its social and civil institutions are well developed.
India is also a global IT powerhouse. Though most of this power is
oriented to fuel growth and development on foreign shores, a positive drag
effect on the Indian society is building steadily. Experimental
initiatives in the area of Information and Communication Technologies for
development are fairly advanced in India and would certainly have a faster
impact than many nations similarly placed.

      Will WSIS help the marginalised or increase existing inequities?

      I am certain the WSIS will help the poor provided we succeed in
re-orienting our decision-makers and then the international lobbies.
Traditional civil society organisations have a good influence in policy
formulation, apart from having a good impact in other areas of the
society. But the problem is that much of the 'traditional' development
sector still does not share the vision of an emerging information society
or its relevance to ground level issues of development. Agencies which are
so strong in representing and fighting for these issues do not believe
that a new society is being built at all. And if it is, they find no
reason to believe that this new society holds a promise for a better
accomplishment of the very goals that they have set for themselves. And it
is this disassociation that we have to bridge in India. ICTs will have to
rely on community-centered strategies and ensure the inclusion of the
marginalised sections. The right to equal opportunities, to information
and to communicate freely may today have to be mediated by a right of
equitable access to the new technologies.

      Can the meet go the way of the World Trade Organisation, in that it
benefits the rich only?

      Certainly not. The African and Latin American civil society has been
active for the past several years; consequently WSIS draft declarations
are far more "inclusionary" and "realistic." I don't envision the summit
to go the same way as the WTO.


7. Media: The step-child of WSIS?
Nalaka Gunawardene
OneWorld South Asia
13 November 2003

      In his 1992 book, How the World Was One, Sir Arthur C Clarke
described a bizarre vision of the near future: Ted Turner is offered the
post of World President, but he rejects it - because he didn't want to
give up power!

      Well, the founder of CNN no longer runs the network and spends time
popularising bison burghers and supporting the United Nations. But Clarke
was once again uncannily perceptive when he prophesied the emergence of
media moguls whose power far exceeds that of nation states or political

      The media has always been a manipulator of power, in both politics
and commerce. But it is only in the past two decades that this power has
been amplified by new information and communications technologies - ICTs
for short. These, and deregulation policies that opened by many national
markets, enabled a handful of trans-national corporations to build truly
global electronic empires that press barons of the past could only dream

      Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch are only the best known faces of this
industry that runs wide and deep. And it is no longer a western monopoly
either: countries like India, Thailand and Mexico have produced their own

      The implications of this have been slow to sink in, and not
surprisingly, these issues are hardly discussed in the media itself. We in
the media love to turn the spotlight on everyone else - except ourselves.

      Take television, for example. Viewers across developing Asia were
euphoric when, in the early 1990s, trans-boundary satellite television
ended the monopoly of dull and propagandistic state owned television. Not
even the Great Wall of China could stop satellite television transmissions
from 36,000 kilometres above the Earth, cooed one advertisement for STAR
which ushered in this change. (China found ways of coercing STAR, but
that's another story.)

      Shortly afterwards, many of our countries allowed private sector
participation in the media - which transformed the entire mass media
landscape in a very short time. Most parts of Asia moved rapidly from an
average of 2.4 television channels in 1990 to several dozen by the
decade's end.

      A similar proliferation has happened in radio, where a cacophony of
FM channels now crowds the airwaves.

      Good news and bad news
      A decade on, there is good news and bad news.
      As the 2002 Global Civil Society Yearbook, published by the London
School of Economics and Political Science, noted: "Liberalisation and
diversification, particularly in Africa and Asia, have transformed both
print and broadcast media from a largely government-owned, monopolistic
and uncreative media environment to a more dynamic, popular, democratic,
creative, commercial and complex one."

      That good news is also bad news - for some. Media liberalisation has
not been matched by a corresponding increase in the public sphere - the
area that accommodates and nurtures wide ranging discussion and debate on
matters of public interest.

      Commercial media tend to ignore both poor people and those living in
rural areas. Broadcasting has become a market-based activity where profits
are being made - mostly in cities, attracting advertisers and audiences
with a mixture of music and light entertainment catering to lifestyle
needs of the middle class. Even in South Asian countries with widespread
malnutrition, such channels would much rather talk about how to lose

      News has taken a particular beating in the business plans of media
empires run at a profit. "Infotainment is a commodity and today's news
coverage reflects market forces and the desire of media moguls to rule the
airwaves," says Kunda Dixit, editor of the Nepali Times and leading media
commentator. "The public service role of media is being usurped by
businesses for whom the definition of news is very simple: news has to
sell, otherwise it is not news."

      Meanwhile, the former monopolies have fallen on hard times and
completely lost their way. State-run broadcasting systems have found their
audiences migrating to newer channels and government subsidies reduced or

      Struggling to survive, they have abandoned their earlier remit for
public interest broadcasting, and are trying to outdo private competitors
in their own game. If they have to reduce transmission capacity in rural
areas or cut down on programmes on health, education, environment or
agricultural topics, so be it.

      Media ignored by WSIS?
      For many who are poor or living away from cities, there is now less
information, fewer programmes on their concerns, and less chance to make
their voices heard. As the Panos Institute has warned, without the
capacity to seek information, to debate issues, and to make their voices
heard, poor and rural people risk becoming more and more marginalised from
their nation's and the world's economies. The 'dot com' has not come to
them - and is unlikely to arrive anytime soon either.

      The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) provides an
important opportunity to raise these critical issues about North-South and
rich-poor gaps in media ownership, content and access. Unfortunately, the
official preparatory processes - and even civil society consultations -
have focused too much on computers and Internet, ignoring the fact that
the mass media have far greater outreach and power over people's lives and

      In fact, the widely accepted definition of ICTs - also used by the
United Nations - covers the conventional communications technologies of
telephone, radio and television as well as the newer ones - personal
computers, mobile phones, satellite and wireless technologies and the

      The reality is that we have far more radio and television sets on
the planet than computers. The electronic media still provide the most
effective - and often the only way - that people can access information to
make sense of their lives, livelihoods and the choices they have to make
in the complex and globalised society.

      The crux of the matter is not technology but information itself -
how much of information is available, in what relevant and timely manner
to how many people at any given time. Immersed in digital hype,
governmental and civil society participants at WSIS risk missing this
crucial point.

      They cannot afford to do so. The media are likely to remain the
principal source of outside information for a majority of humanity for
years to come. Media are also a critical way through which the people can,
in turn, express their views and concerns in national discussion and
debate. Consequently, the current status and on-going changes in the
structure, content, ownership and access within these media is of equal,
if not greater, importance in any discussion on how the Information
Society affects the majority world.

      Media pluralism in the globalised world
      A key concern of the 'Information Society' is media pluralism - a
situation where all people in society have access to information on issues
that affect their lives and have a way of making their voices heard in
national public debate.

      Genuine media pluralism implies: diversity of ownership, including
media which explicitly serve a public or community interest; media that
are accessible and intelligible to all citizens, particularly in relation
to literacy and language; and media that reflect diversity of public
opinion, particularly of the marginalised in society.

      When these criteria are applied, the global trend is that we are
moving away from, not towards, real media pluralism. Media freedom is
necessary, but not sufficient, for media pluralism. While the past decade
has witnessed many advances in media freedom and a growth in the number of
radio and television outlets, they have not necessarily enhanced media

      This is because media ownership - at the global, regional and
national levels - has been concentrating in fewer hands, squeezing out
independent players. This now threatens to replace the earlier
governmentally controlled concentration of media with an increasingly
narrow commercial and political one. This has serious implications for the
diversity and accountability in the media.

      WSIS is not going to resolve these major concerns, but it can draw
attention to them. Media globalisation is not just fodder for academics to
churn out papers - it affects us all, every minute of the day. We ignore
these issues at our peril. One day soon we might wake up to find - on the
morning news, where else? - that we do have a World President whose
arrival we never noticed.

      Nalaka Gunawardene worked in print and broadcast media in his native
Sri Lanka before pursuing a career in non-profit media organisations in
the region. He is a director of Panos South Asia and heads TVE Asia


      8. Civil Society Statement
      at the End of the Preparatory Process
      for the World Summit on the Information Society
      Geneva, November 14, 2003

      I. Where do we stand now?

      We have come to the last day of PrepCom 3a. This extra week of
      preparatory work was neccesary after governments failed to reach
      agreement during the supposed final preparatory conference in
      2003. In spite of the extra expenditure of time and money, the
      continues - and sets in already on the very first article of the
      declaration, where governments are not able to agree on the
      Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, as the common
      of the summit declaration.

      Through our observation of the process we have identified two main
      problem areas that impede progress in the WSIS:

      1. How to correct imbalances in riches, imbalances of rights,
      imbalances of power, or imbalances of access. In particular,
      do not agree on even the principle of a financial effort to overcome
      so-called Digital Divide; this is all the mor difficult to accept
      that the summit process was started two years ago with precisely

      2. The struggle over human rights. Not even the basis of human life
      in dignity and equality, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
      support as the basis for the Information Society. Governments are
      able to agree on a comittment to basic human right standards as the
      basis for the Information Society, most prominent in this case being
      freedom of expression.

      These are the essential conflicts among governments, as we see them
      There is also ongoing fight over issues such as media, internet
      governance, limited intellectual monopolies such as copyright, Free
      Software, security and so on. This underlines our assessment that
      is a lack of a common vision.

      II. Realpolitik or New Vision?

      The underlying struggle we see here is the old world of governments
      traditional diplomacy confronting challenges and realities of the

      We recognize the problems governments face in trying to address a
      of difficult, complex and politically divisive issues in the two

      But this situation just reflects power struggles that we are seeing
      around the world. A number of governments realize that much is at
      and they are responding defensively and nervously. They have noticed
      that they can not control media content or transborder information
      anymore, nor can they lock the knowledge of the world in the legal
      system of so-called "intellectual property".

      Some governments are not prepared.

      They fear the power of new technologies and the way people are using
      them to network, to create new forms of partnerships and
      to share experiences and knowledge locally and globally.

      This, combined with the fear and security paranoia of the past two
      years, compounds political uncertainty and is also played out in the
      WSIS process.

      But: Do we want to base our vision of the information society on
      and uncertainty or on curiosity, compassion and the spirit of

      The WSIS process has slowly but constantly been moving from
      "information" to "society". It was started with a technocratic
      infrastracture-oriented perspective in the ITU. We are proud to say
      we were crucial in bringing home the idea that in the end, the
      information society is about people, the communication society is
      social processes, and the knowledge society is about society's
      In the end, it is not digital - it is dignity that counts.

      The whole process has shown a lack of interest among some
governments in
      forming a common vision for the information society. It is not clear
      this was ever the agenda. Probably governments are just not prepared
      draft a vision anyway. They are not good at that.

      III. The limits of good faith

      This is the first time that civil society has participated in such a
      in a summit preparation process. We have worked very hard to include
      issues that some did not expect to be included. We have had some
      successes, while in a number of areas we were not heard or even

      If the governments want to agree, they can agree in 5 minutes. We
      have the feeling that there is no political will to agree on a

      Therefore we will now stop giving input to the intergovernmental
      documents. Our position is that we do not want to endorse documents
      that represent the lowest common denominator among governments - if
      there will be anything like that.

      We have produced essential benchmarks - our ethical framework - of
      we present the latest version today. The governments risk
      these key issues in the hairsplitting and compromise of negotiations
      they do not take into account our input more seriously.

      The current stalemate deepens our belief in the need for the
      of all stakeholders in decision-making processes. Where rulers
      reach consensus, the voices of civil society, communities and
      can and should provide guidance.

      IV. Bringing back vision into the process

      We don't need governments's permission. We take our own
      Someone has to take the lead, if governments won't do it, civil
      will do it.

      We have now started to draft our own vision document as the result
of a
      two-year, bottom-up, transparent and inclusive online and offline
      discussion process among civil society groups from all over the

      We will present our vision at the summit in Geneva in December 2003.
      invite all interested parties, from all sectors of society, to join
      in open discussion and debate in a true multi-stakeholder process.

      New mechanisms and structures are possible and can resolve these
      impasses and enable people to work together globally and

      V. Looking beyond Geneva

      Without funding and real political commitment from governments,
there is
      no real Action Plan today. But the present draft provides an agenda,
      list of issues of common concern.

      Governments know they cannot address these issues alone. Any
      for the period following Geneva that does not closely associate
      society and other stakeholders is not only unacceptable in
principle, it
      is also doomed to fail.

      Like many other actors, including some governments, we do not want
      opportunities offered by the unique gathering in Geneva to be
wasted. We
      hope to find substantial improvement for the phase leading us to the
      second phase of the summit in 2005.

      This process is going so badly, someone has to take the initiative
      save it from destruction. If governments don't - we today declare
      ourselves ready to assume this important responsibility with all
      sharing our concerns.

      Irrespective of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information
      Society in December 2003, civil society will continue what we have
      doing all the time: Doing our work, implementing and renewing our
      vision, working together in local and global bottom-up processes -
      thereby shaping a shared and inclusive knowledge society.


      9. Iran is to participate in tech-summit
      www.iranmania.com, November 12, 2003
      TEHRAN, Nov 15, IRAN NEWS -- Iran is to take part in the first phase
of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva, Switzerland
December 10-12, Gary Fowlie the Geneva-based WSIS Chief of Media and Public
Information told IRAN NEWS in a telephone interview.

      Over 50 heads of state or government have so far committed to
participate in the first phase of the WSIS in Geneva along with more than
6000 delegates from governmental and intergovernmental organizations, civil
society, the private sector and the media.

      Tunisia is to host the second phase in November, 2005. Media
accreditations have been issued for over 400 media representatives "mostly
from developing counties" in Africa and Asia, Fowlie said maintaining that
the WSIS expects to accommodate a throughput of 1000 from the media yet.

      The Iranian mission will be presumably headed by President Mohammad
Khatami, a director general in the Iranian Post, Telegraph and Telephone
Ministry, who preferred to remain anonymous, told IRAN NEWS. Though
discussions are still underway about the mission members representing the
Iranian administration in Geneva, he added.

      The Summit will endorse a Declaration of Principles for the
Information Society and a plan of action to bring the benefits of
information and communications technologies for social and economic
development to the global community.

      The WSIS is being held under the auspices of the UN Secretary General
Kofi Annan and organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU),
the UN specialized agency for telecommunications.

      "The commitment of so many heads of state to participate in the Summit
is very important as it will be the first opportunity to address in a global
forum and at the highest political level the challenges that lie ahead in
the Information Society," Yoshio Utsumi, ITU Secretary General was quoted as
saying in a press release from the WSIS Media service on Tuesday.

      "There have been many benefits in the explosive development of
information and communication technologies, especially in terms of creating
jobs and wealth creation, but it is also creating legitimate concerns, such
as ensuring access to information and communication technology, while
preserving fundamental freedoms and human rights, security and privacy,"
Utsumi said.

      The participants are brought together to foster a clear statement of
political will and concrete plan of action to shape the future of the global
information society and to promote the urgently needed access of all
countries to information, knowledge and communication technologies for


      10. WSIS - We Seize! News

      Call: http://www.geneva03.org/display/item_fresh.php?id=1&lang=en
      Website: http://www.geneva03.org/
      Wiki: http://www.geneva03.net
      Mailing List: http://lists.emdash.org/mailman/listinfo/prep-l

      a. Polimedia Lab
      b. High Noon
      c. Strategic Conference

      As an intervention into the reorganisation of power, communication and
information, we propose a media and communication laboratory during the
World Summit on the Information Society as part of the Geneva03 initiatives
and as a counter-event to the WSIS.

      We propose a media and communication laboratory as a counter-event to
the WSIS. Based on the experiences of the Hub in Florence in November 2002,
the Polymedia Lab will be a temporary space of experimentation and
confrontation for alternative and grassroots communication projects. It will
serve as a platform to develop and experiment with horizontal communication,
to share experiences and knowledge, to create networks of alternative
communication projects,and present an alternative vision of information

      Polymedia Lab will focus on horizontality, emancipation, openness,
creativity and freedom, where WSIS will be about hierarchy, exclusion, and
control. It will present practical projects by those who actually develop
information society on a grassroots level. While WSIS will be busy
presenting dry documents by those who use, exploit and repress the work of
others, we will engage in an act of communications insurgency.

      What would we envision? What could take place at Polymedia Lab?

      - Indymedia Centre with public access terminals

      -pirate TV and pirate radio

      - video and radio streams (global, multidirectional, and in
interaction with streams being produced elsewhere)

      - presentations on issues around the information society : media
concentration, intellectual property rights, infowar, ISP and media laws,

      - skill sharing workshops on technological aspects of communication:
Linux, pgp, WiFi, satellite transmission, hacking, streaming, etc.

      - permanent workshops on non-technical aspects of communication :
horizontal, non-hierarchical ways of communicating- network meetings of
groups and individuals involved with free TV, free radio, Indymedia, video,
etc. to develop and facilitate cooperation

      The Polimedia Lab aims to counteract the summit agenda, and show the
value of information and communication systems based on freedom,
horizontality and cooperation..

      organize yourself! Post your Proposals and join the mailing list:
https://lists.nadir.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/wsis. Also check the


      Please don't forget to include in the form: What equipment are you
bringing? What else do you need as technical equipment?


      b. HIGH NOON
      A World revolution in form of a netcast for three days. Spin round
independent media activism and community media projects across the globe

      The idea of HIGH NOON is to seek the direct confrontation with the
official summit program on a virtual level. Instead of or in addition to
local protests and activities in Geneva during the days of the actual summit
we are trying find out about new ways of protest that are in fact based on
the autonomy of the struggles all around the world, and not just quoting
them as something that happens remotely.

      The aim is to find images and narratives that run through the local
and therefor may constitute a notion of the global, that is no longer a
synonym for overexploitation and hypermisery, but a social potential, as the
experience of enormous creativity of the multiplicity and diversity of all
creative and productive practices.

      The idea of HIGH NOON is to cast a net around the globe that explores
and presents, researches and provides access to a thousands of independent
and community media activities all over the world.

      HIGH NOON consists of a grid of parallels and meridians that are based
on timezones. Each mesh opens up a new time-window which subscribes to a
global netcast. This netcast then moves hour by hour from region to region.
It is fed with the reports, interventions and contributions by local
activists, where ever they might stay in that moment, either in geneva at
home or on the way.

      HIGH NOON depends on an as strict as equal conceptual framework, which
is driven by a database with an interactive interface that allows the upload
and download of all sorts of material: live footage, videostreams,
audioprograms, text messages, and even objects.

      The database should be filled starting in october. During the WSIS
from december 10 to 12, we will create an output of what has been collected
so far in form of a 24-hours, three-day continuous live stream that is mixed
from the up to that date uploaded material. But the project will make sense
beyond this and may easily turn out as a syndicated archive of new media

      HIGH NOON can be projected and picked up in many contexts in Geneva
but also in various other places and at different occassions.



      Taking place as part of the WSIS? WE SEIZE! events and actions in
Geneva, the WE SEIZE! Strategic Conference (S-CONF) will take the form of
two days of open discussion and short presentations. S-CONF welcomes local
Genevans, WSIS delegates, NGO members and info-activists alike to join the
debate. The conference is intended to provide allow everyone involved to
explore the key issues involved in information politics today and to gain a
better understanding of this fledgling movement.
      Facilities at the sconf will include a wireless network and a local
IRC channel for a second, parallel layer of discussion- bring a laptop if
you have one, but some open machines will also be available, and the IRC
channel will be projected. The discussions will be streamed and viewers will
be able to use the IRC channel to intervene and take part.

      There will also be a temporary library of texts, videos etc at the
s-conf for people to inform themselves and get a grip on the things being
talked about. There is a plan to document these two days of discusssion and
publish the result, perhaps during the WSIS or later.

      For the two days of the s-conf at Usine, we will try to create a
pleasant surroundings in which people can discuss and formulate ideas with
each otherAt regular intervals, for those physically present, there will be
meals and refreshments.

      S-CONF will take place at Le Theatre de l'Usine, Places des
Volontaires 4, CH-1204 Geneva on the 9th and 10th of December, from 10 am
until 6pm and with coffee and lunch breaks. Please check
<http://geneva03.net/moin.cgi/StrategicConference> for the latest details on
location and time.

      There will be two days of preparation meetings for S-CONF, held in the
Usine on in the studio on the fourth floor (see the address above.) These
open meetings will be used to discuss the main topics (see below) and
identify key areas for discussion. All those taking an active interest in
the shaping of the discussions should be present at these preparatory

      The fluid structure of S-CONF allows for involvement by those who have
not yet heard of this alternative forum or found time to involve themselves,
so expect ad-hoc presentations and discussions as people present in Geneva
get involved. The S-CONF team will be making contact with interesting
members of the Civil Society and WSIS delegates. If you would like to get
involved, please send mail to the organisational list: prep-l {AT} geneva03.org.

      The S-CONF working group welcomes suggestions for short presentations
on project, issues and ideas.

      December 7th & 8th: Preparatory days, open to all, to discuss the
topics and sub-topics that should be tabled for debate within the following
s-conf. Studio, fourth floor, Usine.

      December 9: The following debates will be scheduled throughout the
day. Check later versions of this document for exact times.

        a.. INFORMATION POLITICS 101: What are the major issues in the
emerging information politics movement? Catch-up time for those who want to
get up to date with the issues with a variety of 'expert' speakers and a
good long question and answer session. No controversy: just for people to
inform themselves.
        b.. IP & IP LAW: USE, REFUSE, ABUSE. While developing our
understanding of the inequities of IP policymaking and law, should we also
develop a strategy and attitude for dealing with it? Are other circuits
'outside' the jurisdiction of the lawmakers developing in, for example, peer
to peer and wireless network communities?
        c.. WORKING WITH OPENNESS. How can openness help us in research,
organisation and practice? Are there problems associated with open
organisation? What are the major benefits? Can truly open practice still be
radical? How does open practice work with secret or closed organisation?
      December 10: The following debates will be scheduled throughout the
day. Check later versions of this document for exact times.

      HACK_IT! Hacklabs & intervening in information/media regimes with
tools, technologies and skills. What are hacklabs, and what are their
possibilities for redistributing information power?

      IN/OUT? What approach should we take to confronting issues like media
concentration, patent and copyright inequities and the role of labour?
Should we be working autonomously or within existing 'policy' structures?
You can SMS or call the S-CONF working group on 00 44 7931 537717.


11. From: "Graham Seaman" <graham {AT} seul.org>
To: <list-en {AT} oekonux.org>
Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2003 1:00 AM
Subject: [ox-en] recommendation to Brazilian WSIS delegates

The participants of the


meeting in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil rom the 8th-9th November, declare:

That the initiatives of the Brazilian Federal Government, co-ordinated by
the 'Technical Committee for Free Software Implementation' for the
e-government have our full support.

These initiatives, endorsed by the decree of President Lula of the 29th
2003, consolidate the e-government policy launched by the Minister for Home
Affairs ['Casa Civil'], Jose Dirceu, and constitute a milestone in the
development of a new, inclusive information society based on free knowledge.

That we give broad support to the initiative of the Brazilian National
led by the President of the National Congress, Senator Jose Sarney, and
by the President of the House of Deputies, João Paulo Cunha, who organized
the 'Week of Free Software in the Legislature'. We also support the creation
the 'Joint Parliamentary Front for Free Software' (FRENSOFT), which
to date, 135 deputies and 26 senators. The width and scale of FRENSOFT,
headed by Senator Serys Slhessarenko, is shown by the fact that it is the
only parliamentary front which has as honorary president the President of
the National Congress. This also reflects the feeling of national unity
in support of a new model which fights the digital divide and allows the
development of a national industry, free from the restrictive barriers
by obscure proprietary licenses.

That we support the initiative creating the 'Free Software Brazil Project'
and the projects at state level as necessary intermediaries between the
diverse actors in the Brazilian free software community: governments,
universities, private initiatives, user groups, and free software

That free software is an integral part of the creation of a free, just,
ethical, and inclusive society, in which people have the possibility of
mutually helping one another in solidarity.

That free software respects the need to preserve multilingualism and
cultural and sexual identities in cyberspace.

That the freedoms granted to the users of free software allow the
of them escaping from the simple role of consumers of technology to become
active participants in a knowledge society.

That the license policy of proprietary software is unsustainable for the
economies of developing countries.

That the model of free licenses represents an opportunity to reach an
equality of rights in the technological field, shrinking the digital divide,
favouring users with fewer economic resources.

That the development achieved by free software and the potential that it
represents are a clear proof of its strategic function on the way to a
knowledge and information society.

That the training of people with free, just, ethical, and inclusive thought
is fundamental for society, and free software is a great catalyst for such

THEREFORE, we propose to the Brazilian Government, to civil society, to
the organizations of the third sector, and in particular, to our delegation
which will represent Brazil at the World Summit on the Information Society,
to take place in Geneva from 10-12 December, the following:

1. The composition of the delegation, as well as the position they take,
necessarily reflect the undertakings which the Federal Ececutive Power,
National Congress, and Brazilian free software community have defended
publicly, in favour of freedom of knowledge and of free software;

2. That the Ministry of Foregin Affairs and the organizations of the Third
Sector seek to articulate and form a block of countries aligned with our

3. That Brazil, through its delegation, takes on the role of protagonist and
leader of this block, satisfying the expectations of the international free
software community;

4. To recognize, support and promote the advantages of development and use
of free software as an integral part of the building of a knowledge and
information society;

5. To create within the states the political conditions for research and
development which allow the appearance and adoption of measures favourable
to the free sharing of software, algorithms, formats, protocols and other
requirements of an information society which is sustainable and egalitarian;

6. To promote legislative norms which tend to create a new international
juridical paradigm which favours the development and use of free software.
In the building of this new context, there must not exist barriers to the
development of programs which respect the four constituent principles of
free software;

7. To give priority to free software in Education and Health to win
scientific training which has values which are ethical and show solidarity;

8. That free software guarantees a collaborative space, creating effective
action for the digital inclusion of women in the information society while
preserving respect for gender differences;

9. To guarantee the adoption of frameworks of public use which can be
implemented by free software in the network and public service

10. To make use of the advantages of free software in guaranteeing the
security, privacy, and permanence of information, in particular with respect
to critical infrastructure;

11. To guarantee the training of professionals for the support and
of the information society, and in particular of free software;

12. To develop innovative mechanisms for the egalitarian inclusion of poor
and developing countries in the information society. Treaties of economic
cooperation and integration should be updated with this perspective.

13. That the Admininstrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) should be
aware of practices of unfair competition and 'dumping' carried out by
companies interested in maintaining the market share held until recently by
proprietary software in the Brazilian public sector;

14.To consider that the change of paradigm which includes the free software
movement is essentially cultural.

Unnofficial translation by Graham Seaman (graham {AT} seul.org)




Registration for the World Forum on Communication Rights is now open.

The Forum is a one-day event taking place in Geneva on 11th December at
Palexpo alongside the World Summit on the Information Society.  Its goal
is to explore some key issues ignored by the World Summit on the
Information Society, and to open the agenda on what "communication rights"
really mean on the ground. A multimedia and multilingual event, the Forum
aims to set the tone of the debate on issues that are real to the
majority, from poverty in the media, to Human Rights, to knowledge, to
peace and conflict.

You are invited to join us in this celebration of promoting the concept,
recognition and realisation of such rights.

The level of interest in the event is high, so we advise you to register
early to avoid disappointment.

Registration forms are available in English, French and Spanish on the
World Forum Communication Rights website. To access the forms, simply go
to:  <http://www.communicationrights.org/form_en.html>

For more information on the Forum, please visit the Forum website:
www.communicationrights.org and download our online brochure.

Why not also register to our information list so as to keep updated with
the latest on the Forum? To do so, simply go to:


13. The blog The Daily Summit will be at http://www.dailysummit.net/
"unlocking WSIS for the world".
Last year, they reported from the World Summit on Sustainable
Development from Johannesburg.
Their WSIS linklist is impressive.


14. IMC/Indymedia  {AT}  WSIS

This mail is a call to all imcistas with an interest in WSIS:

- to browse the email archives, websites and wikis listed below
- to spread the info to friends, comrades and collectives who might make
good use of it
- to subscribe to this mailing list for further discussion:
- to think about ways to report/get involved

from the ad-hoc imc-uk-wsis-group :-)


WSIS is an UN summit about the global commons. Big Network Providers and
government representatives are meeting to map out the future landscape of
information and communication. The WSIS debates affect the core of the
indymedia project.

Today, the internet still holds the promise of forever multiplied shared
knowledge. A space where you don't own, sell or buy knowledge, but share
it. At indy, we are running about 130 indymedia websites, about 800 email
lists and a twiki with more than 800 topics with a minimum of money. The
coding doesn't cost us anything, and many tech volunteers are constantly
working on it. We control our own servers.

This could change. If software is declared "intellectual property", and
software patents are introduced, Free Software Development will become very
difficult, if not impossible. According to Richard Stallman, developers
will constantly run the risk of illegally including a patented bit of code.

The claim for internet privacy in combination with new tracking methods
gives raise to repressive cyber-security regimes. The definition of "safe"
and "unsafe" communication would be up to the state.

The dream of the internet as an anarchic place where everybody gives and
takes is long gone anyway - most websites are for commercial purposes.
Newspapers have started to charge for access to their online archives. Many
companies are starting to set up their own, private networks instead of
participating in the internet. Privatisation and liberalisation of the
communications infrastructure leads to corporate control of the information
channels. The internet as we know it might shrink. The right to communicate
and access to a global communications network, so crucial for imc, might
see serious restrictions.

WSIS is a major forum for governments and big business to come together and
invent ways to control the global commons - of course for the best of
the consumer. Civil Society in the form of NGOs is invited to watch the
process, but excluded from the decision making.

We have yet to find appropriate forms of political articulation to make
our voice heard in such an abstract issue. Few protests have been held
under the banner of communication rights. Let's use WSIS as an experimental
ground to explore creative use of our day-to-day IT-knowledge!


1. The event.
WSIS is an unusual event for indymedia reporting. So far, not many
street-actions are expected. Other than the usual summits, the WSIS
organisers included big business and "civil society" in the preparations.
Soon it became clear that participation of "civil society" was very
restricted. As a result, a variety of "half-official" events was set up.

2. reporting what?
Reporting about WSIS could cover the debates themselves, especially those
that happen outside the official event. Reporting can be an action in
itself. And it is a chance to raise awareness within the indymedia
community and beyond.

3. reporting where?
in the local imc middle columns as usual. How about dispatch? In the UK, we
are thinking of setting up a WSIS topic, i.e. a dedicated WSIS mid column,
which could be used collaboratively. See

4. coordination
To coordinate reporting, imc would need to establish the communication
channels as they have been used for previous reporting (dispatch etc). As
usual, we'd need irc-ers, translators, writers, updaters... The Polymedia
lab could be the meeting point on the ground. # wsis on irc.indymedia.org
is well frequented. A wsis twiki was started:
http://docs.indymedia.org/view/Global/WsisImc. Please subscribe to

5. decentralised WSIS presence
imcistas don't need to fly to Geneva to participate. organise local
screenings of the video stream (see High Noon) or even just the
newswires. Keep in touch and advertise many local events in different
places together - the old global movement trick of synchronisation.


From: "Théo Bondolfi" <move {AT} cooperation.net>

Hello netizens :-)

First let me present Ynternet.org network, as there is only information in
French about us currently. We contribute to definition, promotion and
project management in _Libre Communication_

Our vision is based on 4 pilars of communication (used in each communication
project ) : technologies, methodologies, profiles and knowledges.

More details, download the ViCo report

Ynternet.org is composed of members who's philosophy is to try always to be
inside the head of the neoliberal monsters, as well as radically outside.
Outside for WSIS, we proposed a conference and a videodocumentary projection
(see hubproject.net). Inside for WSIS, we are organizing 2 conferences the
11 afternoon (13h30-16h30).

There any openspace (60m2) reserved by Wolf from www.comunica-ch.net for
Ynternet.org network, for the 11 december all day (thanks again Wolf).
We'll use it as a meeting place for netizens, simply for sharing information
and stocking our documentation material, also maybe for improvised debates
in the morning time 'cause afternoon.

We know that a lot of participants of the WSIS feel right about WSIS
imposture, but are not able to link it to "Libre Communication" Culture (GNU
& other participative project management ecosystems).

In that sense, we propose to netizens & hacktisvists to contribute in
extracting from WSIS Monster civil society participants one by one, by
spreading WSIS-WSEIZE vision and programme within the Palexpo building where
(palexpo is the confernece center where official WSIS will tkae place

Let us know if you're interested to be physically (you or somebody of your
team) in this "openspace within the Monster" the 11th of december.

Who (your personal profile and the profile of your org)
What (your project, even simple ones such as stocking flyers of WSEIZE
during that day)

freely yours


Théo Bondolfi - profile at www.ynternet.org/move
Ethical, visual & electronic free Communication
UN consultant & CEO Ynternet.org
Pl. Tunnel 18 - CP 584 - 1000 Lausanne 17 -
Switzerland  -  Mobile phone + 41 76 3769776


16. Last Tuesday Zagreb: WSIS?!

From: "Zeljko Blace" <zblace {AT} mi2.hr>

Yesterday  {AT}  net.culture club "mama" in Zagreb, we organised a round table
on the WSIS topic (http://www.mi2.hr/lasttuesday/).

We had 3 guests that are taking part in official WSIS in Geneva: person
from Ministry of Science and technology (participated in 2 pre-conf
meetings and most likely part of Croatian delegation), person from
Culturlink Network + CIRCLE (bigest cultural  research network in
Europe) and a guy from ZamirNET (fairly well known ICT NGO in Balkans).
We managed to get 10-15 people interested to come to a meeting and started
presentations/discussions with only 30minutes  delay (Bravo for us ;)...

At the begining it was interesting how all 3 had different positions
within summit.

The woman from Ministry was involved and was well informed of all
"official" information... very sure that she will be in official
delegation (on previous events she was very distant when presenting this
topic), on the other hand also coming from the  academic background was
guy from Culturelink (very talkative profesore) that was less informed and
shocked that he didnt got  his accreditation still since his 2 culturel
networks dont exist as leagal entithies at all... and third guy was coming
from NGO  who is more less pasive member of APC and therefore CHRIS
initiative (kept away from discussion) was least informed.

After my critical intro to the events preparation proces and fake
participatory structure in which NGOs are separated and only  State
representatives get to vote at the end, to my very suprrise representative
of the Ministry was very supportive and  continued in same tone. Obviously
friustrated with the whole (de)organisation of WSIS preparation (comming
from the field of  Mathematics do you can imagine the level of frustration
with all the administration and political talk), she mentioned few
interesting informations and remarks. Continuation of preconf 3 is
happaning 10-14 December as naither of 2 documents have  been writen to
the level that declaration or action plan can be voted on (actually she
said that thay spent ours on commas and  synonims with doesnts of
non-native english speakers, only to decide that Irish represntative
should re-do it :).

She also mentioned that few obvious blocks have been created (Canada-US,
South American countries, EU+/-UK, some  pan-African coalition...) with a
few minor deviations on specific issues. A number of people like Stallman
were already speaking  to the state representatives... but very few
countries have really "sane" and "brave" representatives who would support
such  strong opinions (I think she mentioned Moldova had official
representative who was profesor working in NGO field who was really  for
FLOSS issues).

After discussing topics like: What is possible and how? Does it make sense
to be proactive in such framework?, joint conclussion (from all 3
"representatives") was that we should focus on local issues and reasing
awearness + globall  networking with people of similar interests/focuses ...
which sounds really "funny" when someone from state body says that.

Hearing all this made me appreciate our choice to ignore official program
even more than before ;)

... that is all from Croatia from now.

Best, Zeljko


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