APC, the network of civil society organisations pushing for a pro-people thrust to the internet and ICTs (information and communication technologies), is gearing up for participation in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). This UN-sponsored conference about information and communication gets underway later this year.
Just after the United States made clear it intention to retain control over the internet’s root-servers, an ICANN meeting took place in Luxembourg. ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is a California-based non-profit corporation created in 1998 to take over a number of Internet-related tasks earlier performed on behalf of the US Government by other organizations, notably the IANA.
When civil society from Brazil and France got together recently, they focussed on exchanging "experiences in digital solidarity". Their mid-July meet in Paris saw them also look at the possibility of cooperation in fields like Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).
ICTs, or information and communication technologies, offer immense possibilities to reduce poverty, improve governance and advance gender equality in Africa. But, cautions an APC-produced paper on the role of ICTs in the development of African women, this will happen only if these technologies are made more accessible and consciously applied to achieve these objects.
Wireless networks is attracting growing attention across the globe, as a plausible way of providing internet access in marginal areas or in cases where costs are prohibitive. Cristo Redentor Telecentre co-ordinator Cristina Ojeda joined a workshop on wireless networking organized by the Latin American School of Networking EsLaRed) in Mérida, Venezuela and narrates her experience.
How’s this huge, influential and potentially-useful beast called the internet to be governed? Who is to call the shots? Brazil-based RITS’s strategy director Carlos Afonso takes a close look at how control of the internet is sought to be transformed, before a crucial crossroad comes up in the next few months. This 50-page paper in PDF format, commissioned by APC member Instituto del Tercer Mundo (ITeM) as part of its WSISpapers series, also provides useful historical background on the current internet global governance system.
Why do intellectual property issues matter to civil society? Because they affect the public’s access to knowledge in the public domain and to copyrighted work, and infiltrated into the domain of food and medicine, threatening the sustainability of indigenous knowledge and biodiversity. What can be done to protect the global commons, and culture and life forms in the public domain that are the heritage of humankind? What can civil society do locally to ensure that IP legislation responds to social and cultural needs rather to the needs of international capital? These questions are looked at in the latest edition of “Chakula”, the APC Africa ICT policy newsletter.
The WSIS Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus has supported and voiced its appreciation for the process and outcome of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG). The Caucus has welcomed the adoption of a broad working definition of Internet Governance, and believes that the high quality of the WGIG final report is the result of both the multi-stakeholder collaboration and the open and inclusive consultation with the wider WSIS community.
What happens when wireless, Free Software and the internet reaches the Amazon? APC’s member in Brazil, RITS, gives an update of their project in Pará, a territory covered mostly by jungle, and the Amazon Rainforest.
Producer and artistic director Andrew Garton of APC´s Australian member organisation has left for Seoul, for work on a joint Creative Commons project. Over two weeks, he plans a "fairly daily blog from Seoul".
Travelling down seven tracks, an estimated 220 participants from Latin America and the Caribbean take the fast-road to picking up essential tech skills that promise to make it easier for the region to communicate with less hiccups, and help build the much-needed not-for-profit networks and content-sharing links that serves the people of this continent.
Wireless Technologies for Development has just got a new focus online — and that too in the planet’s third most widely spoken language, Spanish — with the launch of an information portal, WiLAC, that focuses exclusively on this theme. It is designed to support individuals, organisations, municipalities and businesses currently implementing community wireless connectivity projects, or those about to launch on this road.
The belief that technology is gender-neutral is still rife. At Rio’s recent regional World Summit on the Information Society meet, this point was driven home once more. Representatives of international organisations, financing institutions, and government representatives too simply overlook gender concerns in ICTs (information and communication technologies).
APC’s member in Uruguay ITeM has been participating in the World Summit on the Information Society through its WSISPapers project it has developed. This project grew from the realization that in WSIS’s first phase, many Southern government delegates faced severe roadblocks in negotiating effectively. They found grappling with certain information and communication technology issues a puzzle, largely due to the lack of specific information resources to support their positions. The WSISPapers project is supported by IDRC’s research initiative PanAmericas.
Issues highlighted in the latest Chakula newsletter, dated July 2005 focus on the World Intellectual Property Organisation and its ‘Development Agenda’. Chakula traces the background to calls for reforms at WIPO, outlines the key issues of the proposal for the establishment of a ‘‘Development Agenda’’ for the organisation, and the developments so far after a series of meetings this year. Chakula is the Swahili word for ‘food’. This Africa Policy Monitor newsletter got its name to reflect its intended nature as a "form of nourishment" for organizations working in the field of ICTs for development in Africa.
What happens when popular media takes on the political class? In Thailand, it resulted in a $10 million civil suit, and a criminal libel suit, slapped on the young lady-campaigner who leads that country’s campaign for popular media reform. You can add your voice to an online campaign gaining momentum and drawing support from some prominent global campaigners.
Magaly Pazello is the only Brazilian feminist who is been active in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process since its inception. A member of the WSIS Gender Caucus, she is also a member of of the DAWN network (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era). In the Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Conference, held in June 2005 in Rio de Janeiro, Graciela Selaimen interviewed Magaly Pazello, speaking about the participation of Latin American women in the WSIS process, urgency to address the gender perspective in the information society, her expectations about the Tunis WSIS Summit and other themes.
No participation of civil society as observers in the governmental delegations’ meetings; no gender working group in the final regional action plan for the information society (ELac 2007); almost no women, black people or indigenous people as panelists. Although the Rio WSIS Regional Meeting opened two slots for civil society statements in the plenary and produced documents which were fairly positively received by NGOs and social movements, there was a step back regarding women’s participation in the regional action plan.
When I was a trainer at a media and gender workshop in 2002, the only male participant there confessed, “Our organisation is not prioritising gender actually. We are more concerned about other issues – issues which are political”. This statement reveals much about the stand that most media institutions take on gender.
What are the critical issues around intellectual property rights (IPR) for Africa? How does one understand the context of the existing legal processes and tools? Can Africa discuss alternatives to the current situation? And, can all concerned build collaboration among themselves? For a month between late June and August 2005, an e-debate gets underway over these key issues.