Panel considers internet access and freedom of expression
Graciela Selaimen of APC member organization RITS (Information Network for the Third Sector) was one of three panellists invited to speak about Connect Your Rights! Campaign ">internet rightsduring the session Know your rights: Article 19 in cyberspace, on 7 October 2007, the first day of the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) conference. IFEX) conference. The week-long conference is being held at the city hall in Montevideo, Uruguay.
The two other panelists were Robert Faris from OpenNet Initiative and Gamal Eid of HRInfo.
Graciela focused for the most part on the issue of internet access in Brazil and how lack of access limits freedom of expression. She presented several compelling statistics on the lack of access in Brazil, for instance:
- More than 2,400 municipalities have no local access to the internet (almost half of which are in the north and northeast regions of the country, the poorest areas)
- Less than 6% of Brazilian public schools have access to the internet
- 54.35% of the population of Brazil have never touched a computer
Graciela posed this important question: although the Brazilian government is not currently restricting access or censoring material on the internet, what kind of freedom of expression exists in a place where so many do not have any access? In Brazil there is no unified or articulated national policy to leverage access to the internet. The economic interests of the private sector become primary, leaving the market to decide what type of content people can receive and publish.
In the latter half of her presentation, Graciela talked about the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and the importance of the meeting in Rio for the Latin American participants, many of whom could not attend last year’s meeting in Greece. She outlined some of the recommendations that Brazilian civil society
has put together --with the faciliation of RITS policy and research
centre NUPEF-- in a letter to the IGF, on topics such as security,
diversity, training and access. One of the suggestions is for the IGF to
pressure the international telecommunications union to publish an annual
price difference list of international connections.
A copy of the presentation is available here [powerpoint].