Ronda Hauben on Tue, 4 Jun 2002 15:28:42 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Re: I strongly disagree with your policy

I thought it would be helpful to respond to the recent ISOC official 
explanation about why they wouldn't give a press pass to the Amateur
Computerist editors for INET'2002.

First it is interesting to note that the original reason given, has
now changed. The original reason was the Amateur Computerist was
not a media like WSJ or Newsweek or CNET which were the media that
ISOC was saving it "limited" press passes for.

Now there is a new explanation. The explanation is that  Amateur
Computerist editor(s) in the past did not behave appropriately
at a previous INET meeting. Two events are cited, one speech at the
end of INET '96 by the FCC lawyer who substituted for the original
speaker on the program who couldn't attend, and the second event cited
is the press luncheon at INET'98.

I have looked back at the Amateur Computerist coverage of both those 
events and would like to refer anyone interested to those
articles. They will help to illuminate the events of INET '96 and 
INET '98 and the coverage in the Amateur Computerist that is really
the issue here, not the activity of any of the editor(s). The Amateur
Computerist has consistently challenged the privatizing of the Internet 
and the Internet's infrastructure. And the Amateur Computerist has
publicized this activity for a number of years.

At the end of this post, I have included the url's for the articles that 
covered these events in the Amateur Computerist at the INET meetings in 
1996 and 1998.

Also Michael gave a paper at INET '96 about the potential effect that
the Internet would have on the press.  His talk was printed in
vol 7 no 2 of the Amateur Computerist. I will also give the url for
his talk as hopefully it will put the discussion we are having over
these issues in a broader perspective.

Following is a section from the editorial in the Amateur Computerist 
referring to the denial of press credentials to INET '99.

>From The Amateur Computerist vol 9 no 2 Special issue 1999
"Lifting the Veil of Silence from ICANN"


ISOC silencing the press

This special issue of the Amateur Computerist was planned to be
available in time to be distributed at the Internet Society Conference
INET99 held in San Jose, California in June 1999. As we have done 2
years in the past, editors of the Amateur Computerist applied for
press passes to report on the meeting in the Amateur Computerist.
In applying for a press pass, we were told we had to send a print copy
of our newsletter to those at the Internet Society who decide on press
credentials. In the previous two years, 1996 and 1998, when we
attended INET meetings and covered them, it was adequate to send an
online issue and press credentials were issued. After we sent the
print edition as requested, we waited quite a while. There was no
response. Finally we wrote and asked what was happening. It was only
then that we got e-mail saying our press credentials were refused.
The supposed purpose of ISOC is to educate the public about the
Internet.  At the INET98 meeting, however, there was a concerted
effort by some officials of the Internet Society to mislead the
public, by way of misleading the press. There were important changes
being planned for the Internet by the U.S.  government, other
governments, and the Internet Society itself.  At the press luncheon
held at INET98 the press was told that there was no reason to be
concerned. But these changes will give control and ownership over
certain essential functions of the Internet to a small number of
behind the scenes players who are unknown and hidden.
The public has been kept deliberately in the dark about this plan and
the players who are creating the plan. And the press has been kept
deliberately in the dark as well. When there is an effort by someone
from the press to uncover what is happening, ISOC denies their editors
press passes to attend any further functions.
Denying a press pass to a publication under such conditions is a
violation by ISOC of its own purpose which is to educate the public
about the Internet. The Internet is a significant scientific and
technical phenomenon. It is particularly important to educate the
public and the press on issues involving science and technology
because these are hard issues to understand. Thus there is a special
need for those computer scientists and technical people who have some
understanding of such issues to be open and welcoming of public
interest and concern. In the development of the Internet, it was
learned that users had to have an ability to participate in creating
their side of the interface to the network. Similarly, in important
issues concerning the development of the Internet, it is crucial that
the views of users be welcomed. It is not that these issues can be
left to experts, just as the development of the Internet could not be
left to a dictatorial process. Instead the Internet grew up and
flourished through a scientific process involving grassroots
participation. This is the kind of process needed to continue its
growth and development today. . . . 

Though this issue of the Amateur Computerist could not be circulated
at INET99, we hope those in the Internet community who care about the
Internet and its future will help to circulate this issue to people
both online and off to inform them of the problem represented by
secret government activity creating a private corporation to control
essential functions of the Internet.  Moreover there is the need to
stop this secret activity and to open up the dialogue to be able to
find an appropriate institutional form to make it possible to protect
the integrity of the Internet for its millions of users around the

Following are the url's for the coverage of the events referred to
by ISOC officials as reasons for denying press passes to the
editors of the Amateur Computerist.

1) article 1 about the 1996 meeting in 7-2.

Report from INET'96 Part I

2) article 2 about the 1996 meeting in 7-2 (this is the report on the 
FCC talk)

Report from INET'96 Part II

3) editorial in 9-2 about the denial of the press pass only after
ISOC asked for and received written copies of issues 7-1 and 9-1 of 
the Amateur Computerist.

The Internet Society Trying to Silence the Press

4) articles about the 1998 meeting in 9-1

Report from INET 98 and IFWP

Report from the Front

5) The Effect of the Net on the Professional News Media: the 
Usenet news collective - the man-computer news symbiosis


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