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.
Third regional Latin American and the Caribbean preparatory meeting for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)
APC, the NUPEF Institute, and the Regional Internet Address Registry for Latin America and the Caribbean (LACNIC) are pleased to announce the Third Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) which will take place on 3-5 August 2010 in the city of Quito, Ecuador.
APC starts research into spectrum regulation in Brazil, India, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa
Every thirty months the amount of information that can be transmitted over a wireless internet connection has the potential to double. Wireless could be the way to provide affordable broadband to millions of people currently living with poor connectivity. However the policy and regulation related to spectrum is often inefficient, secretive and ill-informed. APC’s new research will examine how spectrum is assigned, who assigns it and what policy or regulatory framework they use.
Pakistanis woke up on Thursday 20 May to find sites like Facebook and YouTube blocked after a government crackdown on “blasphemous” websites. “We consider this ban unnecessary, based on wrongful accusations against civil liberties and it will further instigate hatred among international Muslim and non-Muslim communities,” APC member Bytes For All tells APCNews. In an update, we are told that more than 1000 sites are now being blocked. “We are in the midst of a major crisis,” says Bytes For All.
Not even a year after APC member Digital Empowerment Foundation set up a centre in the small town of Chanderi, where weavers could create new designs on computers, lives like those of young Mohammad Furqan have take an unexpected turn for the better. The town and initiative have become an inspiration to reproduce throughout the entire country.
For four days from March 31, fifteen women gathered at the Feminist Tech Exchange in the Brazzaville (Congo) Digital Campus. Participants and trainers alike came from human and women’s rights organisations, the media and politics to learn more about how to use technology to end violence against women and girls. APC member Azur Développement was involved in putting on the event which talked about the hows and whys of blogging, using video, audio and mobile phones, as well as social networking. The FTX is a part of the APC’s Take Back the Tech! to end violence against women project in twelve countries. Watch the video of the event (in French).
While the Indian government attempts to include gender on the official agenda in traditional sectors like health and education, gender within the technology sphere is a relatively new concept in India and one that government officials are just not ready to take seriously. They are not convinced by recent findings on the disempowerment of women into rural e-governance in Chhattisgarh, India’s poorest state, and this has been a challenge for lead researcher Dr. Anupama Saxena, a political scientist. Saxena tells APCNews about the struggle to be taken seriously and how the GEM, APC’s Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM), has given her the credibility and confidence to tackle policy makers head-on.
Last year, rural non-profit the Fantsuam Foundation trained almost six hundred locals in computing to improve their livelihoods – but only one was a person with physical disabilities. Now incorporating JAWS – a Job Access With Speech screen reader – Fantsuam will open their basic and advanced computer skills classes to people who can’t see.
The United Nations Summit on the Millennium Development Goals is coming up from 20-22 September in New York. APC member SANGONeT is holding an e-consultation open to all African citizens interest in reviewing progress made and setting priorities. David Barnard, executive director, talks about the African agenda and how your opinion is crucial.
South Asia is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing mobile markets, surpassing traditional media like television, radio, printed press and newer media like the internet. And mobile platforms are becoming the natural choice for extending digital services – SMS and basic voice to smart phones and enterprise workflow. Mobile is the choice for new content and services. APC member Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and the Government of India launches a new award to recognise the best mobile applications in the region with awards in ten categories “Find out more about the mBillionth award”:http://mbillionth.in/.