After postponing the decision on management of the Source: TechSoup Glossary and GenderIT.org">internet, Source: APC ICT Policy Handbook and APC Annual Report 2005.">WSIS negotiators have put the digital fund on hold. Will the idea for a digital fund end its life gathering dust on a bureaucrat's shelf? That's the question many delegates must be asking themselves after Tuesday's press conference detailing the
outcome of talks on the matter.
The WSIS Civil Society Plenary unanimously adopted the Civil Society Declaration to the World Summit on the Information Society this week. The document “Shaping Information Societies for Human Needs” sets a landmark in the type of consensus-building that envisions the priorities to which civil society should commit to in order to develop a people-centred and an inclusive approach to the Information Society. Civil society representatives came together to produce this declaration in order to overcome the narrow understanding that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) mean telecommunications and the internet, marginalising key issues of knowledge and technology development.
The squabbling over whether industrialised countries should help pay for technology infrastructure in the South continues to deflect attention from the potential of ICTs in development. Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who is pushing for the creation of a fund to help developing countries bridge the digital divide. Industrialised states are said to be firmly opposed to the idea, claiming that programmes to make up the ICT backlog should be financed by existing aid funds.
However, poor nations question just how far these amounts can be stretched – and whether information technology will receive the attention it should in a world where humanitarian crises often clamour for attention.
As the WSIS opens, the international community finds it self drawn into the debate over whether the Internet’s core infrastructurethe domains should remain managed by industry or be taken over by governments, via the United Nations.
Stories in English and French from the IPS news agency and InfoSud agence de presse about media, communication and technology. During the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) this website will carry daily, electronic versions of the TerraViva Conference newspaper from Geneva.
Policy decisions being made today will impact on the peoples of the world’s ability and potential to use ICTs as tools in their work tomorrow. At the United Nations’ World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held December 10-12 in Geneva – governments will sign a declaration that will enhance or hinder access to ICTs for the vast majority of the world’s population. APC has been actively participating in the WSIS process and helping others get involved by producing resources, websites and guides. APC is at stand 842 in the Human Capacity & Empowerment street at the ICT4D Platform in the Palexpo, Geneva. Come and meet us!
APC’s member in Brazil, RITS, set up the OPPI site as a web-based tool for monitoring, analyzing and undertaking projects and policies which contribute to infoinclusion, as well as covering other issues related to democratization of ICTs in Brazil.
The meeting theme was inspired in APC action areas and the preparatory work for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to take place in Geneva in December. Participants were APC members from around the world, ICT and ICT policy experts, trainers, local partners and the other representatives from the APC community who took part in intensive training on ICT policy. In addition, APC membership defined APC’s Strategic Priorities for 2004-6 and elected a new executive board for the next two years. Out-going chair, Stefan Hackenthal, praised the “good regional distribution and a much better gender balance (than in the previous board) with women now making up almost half the number”.
On October 19th, APC member in Rosario, Argentina celebrated the first anniversary of the launch of their community information portal Enredando. "Enredando" means "I’m part of a network" as well as "weaving a web". In addition, TAU has recently been honoured by their city government – their networking and ICT activities have been declared ‘of municipal interest’ in an official decree. APCNews covered Enredando’s launch last year and we spoke to coordinator, Luis “Pipo” Martinez about how Enredando has evolved since 2002.
CEPES is a registered non-profit based in Lima, Peru which serves the economic and social development needs of campesinos and small farmers. CEPES’ most significant current project is a local development project in a coastal valley
the Chancay-Huaral near Lima. The project will eventually directly benefit 6,000 subsistence farmers through the implementation and operation of a local online agricultural information system. "CEPES is convinced that to have some sort of political impact, we needed to become part of a worldwide movement which focuses on ICTs. The issue demands a global approach, because it goes beyond local and national boundaries," said Maicu Alvarado, head of the ICT for development office. "This was one of the primary reasons we sought APC membership."
The Open Forum of Cambodia established the first connection to the internet from Cambodia in 1994 and has played a pioneering role in ICT in Cambodia ever since. They have developed tools to allow Cambodians to use their native Khmer script
which in unique in Asia in e-mail and mailing lists and to read Khmer-language web pages which automatically download the Khmer font for Cambodian readers. The Open Forum was formed to provide, as the name suggests, an unrestricted space for communication amongst people of different backgrounds and opinions – not an easy task in a complex war-torn society.
ArabDev is a non-profit based in Cairo, Egypt dedicated to spreading information and communication technology (ICT) knowledge and skills among poor communities in Egypt, particularly women and youth. ArabDev aims to help these communities find better livelihood opportunities, through improved access to information and its use in skill development as well as small and micro-enterprises. ArabDev joined APC in September and is APC’s first member from both North Africa and an Arab state.
Unimondo is an independent non-profit media network based in Padua, Northern Italy and founded in 1998. Unimondo’s more than 300 partners
most of which are small to medium non-profit organisations from the centre-north of Italy include environmental organisations, international solidarity NGOs, peace groups, women associations, and human rights advocacy campaigns. "Unimondo wants to be an APC member to work on common projects and campaigns, to reach, communicate and exchange with organisations and social movements worldwide," said Unimondo executive director, Jason Nardi.
At the beginning of October, Econnect launched a long-awaited internet project called "Kormidlo" – a directory-type comprehensive information source on the civic society sector, how it works, activities and topics of interest.
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (www.cnib.ca) today launched an innovative service for its members, allowing them to access articles from daily newspapers on the day of publication. The CNIB chose APC member in Toronto, Web Networks, to produce and host their site to ensure newsfeeds were automatically fed to a private website page, and that visually-impaired users could easily convert the text to voice using standard software. Find out more about Web Networks.
THE WINNERS OF THE APC BETINHO COMMUNICATIONS PRIZE 2003: Recognising people-centred technology initiatives in LAC
At a ceremony held in Colombia last night, APC announced the winners of the 2003 Betinho Prize – three remarkable information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives that are improving the lives of people and communities in Latin America.
The Betinho Prize winners in 2003 are:
-ICTs as Tools of Sustainable Development in the Cotahuasi Basin, Peru
-Indigenous Information Network (Red de Información Indígena), México
-Tiflolibros – First Electronic Library for the Visually Impaired Spanish-Speakers, Argentina
On October 19th, APC member in Rosario, Argentina celebrates the first anniversary of the launch of their community information portal Enredando. "Endredando" means "I’m part of a network" as well as "weaving a web". In addition, TAU has recently been honoured by their city government – their networking and ICT activities have been declared ‘of municipal interest’ in an official decree! APCNews covered Enredando’s launch last year.
A legal opinion of Communications Data Retention in the United Kingdom commissioned by Privacy International questions the legal
Privacy International reports: "The Opinion, which relates to the EU framework directive on the retention of communications data, has ramifications for ten EU states that have implemented, or are planning to implement, measures to place communications users under blanket surveillance. The UK is in the early stages of implementing such measures." The Opinion, provided by a prominent global law firm, has unequivocally concluded that the government’s plans would be unlawful.
The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) maintains its recommendation to ISPs that they do not subscribe to the voluntary code of practice under the Home Office’s data retention proposals, says GreenNet.
APC’s Latest Annual Report: Strategic use of ICTs by civil society and engaging civil society in ICT policy
The use of ICTs by civil society has been central to APC since our founding and we have been working on ICT policy issues since 2000 when APC members identified ensuring internet rights for civil society as a priority. But in 2002 we started to delve beneath the surface of the challenges our communities confront and instead of responding to the symptoms, find ways to help civil society anticipate and plan for the challenges in their policy environment at home or in their use of ICTs in their workplace.
After months of hard work and negotiations, the CRIS campaign can see some light at the end of a long, dark, eighteen months long WSIS tunnel. Paragraph 4 of the Draft Declaration reads: “Communication is a fundamental social process, a basic human need and the foundation of all social organisation. It is central to the information society.” Sean O’Siochru, spokesperson for the CRIS campaign says: “We welcome the progress that has been made but call on all governments to ensure that communication as a central and crucial human activity remains in the final Declaration that will be presented at the Summit in December 2003.”