Rozi Bako reports that after researching the state of access to online information for extending democracy in Romania “we are now advocating for open e-government”. Bako of the StrawberryNet Foundation found that technology in Romania is far more advanced than information dissemination practices, and that if Romania is to become a transparent, participatory society, government initiatives and a business community drive have to be backed up by opinion-makers and citizen action groups.
Fishermen from coastal villages in southern India can now access information on weather conditions and the market in their own language via mobile phone. This has not only improved the standard of living for their entire communities, but it has also saved the lives of a number of fishermen who would have died at sea. This article from Global Information Society Watch 2009 – Advancing human rights and democracy looks at concrete examples of how access to information through mobile phones and technology is adding to the wallets of the poor. Photo: “Carl Parkes”:http://www.flickr.com/people/friskodude/
In a strongly worded blog post on APC.org, an anonymous blogger from Pakistan has named and shamed political actors and the courts as responsible for the recent “Facebook ban” which blocked over 10,000 websites in Pakistan. “We knew that it’s not blasphemous content which is depriving citizens from using the internet. We wanted to dig deeper to uncover the political motives of politicians that are taking a whole nation hostage for their own vested interests,” says the text. Essential reading for anyone following internet rights in South Asia.
Google has launched a world-wide campaign on how the internet can be used for peace in support of the worldwide network’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 on the basis that “the Internet is a powerful tool that promotes freedom of expression, while fostering the global spread of democracy”. Support the nomination by selecting your country and adding your name to the list of supporters, or take part on the debate as to whether the prestigious Nobel Prize should to go the internet and its users or not. APC is a campaign affiliate.
EngageMedia has been working hard over the past five years to establish itself as “a leading distribution platform of social justice videos from the Asia-Pacific Region.” Come share with EngageMedia before 6 August what you think of their services and give suggestions on what you think they do best, what they should do more of, and help them create their strategic plan for the next few years.
In a unique study, researchers from the Netherlands asked, if you type the word “rights” into Google.co.uk, do you see the same types of rights in the top ten search results as if you type “derechos” (rights in Spanish) into the Argentinian Google? The answer is no. The search results showed that the “rights of the over-indebted” is unique to Ivory Coast as was the “right to education in a native sign language” to Finland. The results –which have been turned into a unique rights-map— together with an analysis of tweets during the 2009 Iranian election crisis are published in Global Information Society Watch 2009 which highlights the use of online information for advancing democracy and human rights.
APC member in Budapest, Green Spider, is challenging Facebook and YouTube by offering a home-grown Web 2.0 suite for Hungarian activists. “In the face of the overwhelming monoculture of corporate social networking tools, the service has taken off amongst grassroots activists, community organisers and charities in the Hungarian social and environmental movement,” says Green Spider.
A campaign to expose illegal logging is a new wall against the extinction of forests in Bulgaria. The campaign combines digital tools and green activism in an online system for filing whistle-blower alerts.
As part of its plan to bring an end to violence against women in the country, Cambodia’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs will set up a Gender Issues Observatory, the first of its kind in the country. According to the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Dr. Ing Kanthaphavi, the centre will study the challenges that Cambodian women face to prevent further violence.
Ever want to help shape a national ICT policy? Now is your chance to help formulate Bangladesh’s digital strategy. One of the oldest information and communication technology networks for development in South Asia, BytesforAll, has partnered with UNDP Bangladesh’s Access to Information (A2I) programme and the national government organise a global online consultation, in order to shape the “strategic priorities of digital Bangladesh”. The discussions, which started on 6 July 2010, will run until 13 September 2010, covering a different topic every week. Don’t miss your chance to “participate in the discussion”:http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/bytesforall_readers.
A draft Bill proposing a ban on sexual content on the internet and cellphones submitted to the South African Department of Home Affairs in May 2010 claims to have the best interests of women and children in mind but has set alarm bells ringing in the women’s movement. “The Bill equates women with children –taking a protectionist approach to the rights of women— and promotes state censorship,” says Sally-Jean Shackleton, director of Women’sNet, a feminist technology organisation based in Johannesburg.
A draft Bill proposing a ban on sexual content on the internet and cellphones submitted to the South African Department of Home Affairs in May 2010 claims to have the best interests of women and children in mind. The Bill was submitted to the Department, which oversees the Film and Publications Board, by a non-profit organisation called Justice Alliance of South Africa (JASA).
From 5 – 16 July 2010, a special online forum being hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization’s e-agriculture.org initiative, and will discuss the issues surrounding gender, ICTs and rural livelihoods. The forum will also be moderated by the APC’s Jennifer Radloff as part of the Gender, agriculture and rural development in the information society. (GenARDIS) project. Join e-agriculture and GenARDIS for this forum, which will look at what has and has not worked, good practices, as well as the critical area of capacity building and what can be done to empower men and women to play a bigger role in ICTs for agriculture and rural development.
The pioneering work of APC founders in the mid-1980s helped establish the internet as a public and open platform for global communications and the decisions they took created an open network, years before the first web page was written. “We would open up the networks at a time when commercial operators were intent on keeping their systems as isolated islands,” says founder Mitra. By 1992, APC was connecting non-profits in over 90 countries. Frederick Noronha and Karen Higgs delve into APC’s past to commemorate APC’s twenty years networking online for social justice and sustainable development.
NOW IN FRENCH AND SPANISH: Do you have a right to online knowledge? Report shows open internet in danger
A major report that reveals how vulnerable the internet as we know it is, has just been published in French and Spanish by two global civil society organisations. The annual report, called Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch), was in November by the Association for Progressive Communications and Dutch-funder Hivos. GISWatch 2009 is entitled Access to online information and knowledge – advancing human rights and democracy. The full publication is now available in French, and an abridged version in Spanish.
Confidential Pakistani document reveals plans for stricter control of the internet and freedom of expression
Since May 20, Pakistan has experienced a wave of strict internet content control with thousands of web pages blocked following a Facebook campaign inviting users to “Draw Muhammad”. The Facebook campaign pushed Pakistani authorities to actively engage in blocking and filtering internet content, leaving Pakistani citizens powerless against the online blanket ban. Further plans by the government to continue to filter any content it considers “objectionable” have been revealed in a confidential document obtained by APC member Bytes for All. “These new guidelines will give Pakistan’s government the power to cripple Pakistani citizens’ access to information and freedom of expression over the internet,” say internet rights activists.
Registration for the third Latin American and the Caribbean Internet Governance Forum is now open. The event will take place from 3-5 August in Quito, Ecuador. There will be financial assistance for representatives of organisations active in internet issues from LAC.
After lifting the nationwide Facebook ban on May 31, the Lahore High Court directed authorities to devise methods to permanently block “blasphemous content” on the internet in Pakistan. “We believe that this order will be misused by the government to block citizens access to online activism and curb voices against corruption and corrupt practices by the government functionaries and that an open internet is essential in the fight for transparency,” says internet rights defender Bytes For All.
Coinciding with World Environment Day EngageMedia is launching a curated compilation of videos that deal with climate change issues from an Asia-Pacific perspective. Time for Reel Action (T4RA) is a video compilation of climate change stories that explores the impacts, the action and climate solutions emerging from the region.
The Republic of Korea has one of the highest percentages of broadband internet connectivity in the world, yet it trails miserably behind on internet freedoms, said a UN Special Rapporteur on a recent visit to the country. APC member Jinbonet reports that “Freedom of expression on the internet in South Korea is facing a serious crisis.” Koreans who criticise the government have to be prepared to allow articles be deleted or face prosecution.