APCNews No. 59 November 2005

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APCNews, the monthly newsletter of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
November 2005 No. 59
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You have been keeping informed about the WSIS with APC. APC covered events on the ground from Tunis and logged it all on our blogs in English, French and Spanish.
English blog: http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog
Spanish blog: http://www.apc.org/espanol/wsis/blog
French blog: http://www.apc.org/francais/wsis/blog

Many, many thanks to all the contributors, remote editors, and translators who made the coverage possible.
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THE CLOSE OF WSIS: The civil society verdict
By APCNews • 18/11/2005 20:00 •

On the afternoon of Friday, November 18, 2005, one of three stakeholders taking part in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) drew a line in the sand. Civil society (CS) representatives from all continents lined up to deliver a stark closing statement.

There were civil society thumbs up for: – the new multistakeholder Internet Governance Forum – the awareness built that people from all walks of life should be involved in ICT policy development, not just technology specialists and government officials – the spotlight shone on state repression and surveillance in the host nation, Tunisia

But thumbs down for: – the UN for choosing a flagrant violator of human rights as the host of a UN summit – wealthier governments which insist that financing for ICT for development should be voluntary only – the vague language on internet oversight – the fact that WSIS follow-up will probably be assigned to technology-focused specialist committee

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[Guest blog] Africa in internet governance and financing the information society * By Eric M.K Osiakwan • 17/11/2005 19:55 • [Internet governance, WSIS implementation]

Africa stands at a very unusual threshold of the Information Society because it is the least developed continent and seeking to use Information Communication Technology (ICTs) to advance its developmental cause but at the same time caught in the web of ideas taking position on not only Internet Governance but financing of the Information Society.

[Guest blog] Open access and financing principles for the information society By Eric M.K Osiakwan • 17/11/2005 19:45 • [Internet governance]

The second priority from the Geneva phases of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) was the financing of the Information Society but the Internet Governance debate has overshadowed this. Given that I have made a submission on the later I feel obliged to contribute my 50 cents to the former – for me financing the information society should take more precedence over the Internet Governance debate.

Latin America, Caribbean and eLAC2007
By Valeria • 17/11/2005 23:13 • [National ICT strategies, WSIS implementation]

During an intense reunion the countries from the region agreed to have a temporary regional mechanism to establish the foundations for the creation of a permanent mechanism to coordinate and follow up the implementation of eLAC2007.

Africa: divide within the divide
By Michel Lambert • 18/11/2005 19:06 • [ICT for development]

Only 11% of African people have a fixed line telephone, 12% of African people questioned have a mobile telephone, less than 3% have an email address… Although one of the WSIS’s main objectives is to decrease the digital divide, 80% of African people today do not have access to any form of communication service. A shocking statistic is that 15% of African people who were questioned would have preferred to buy a cellular telephone than a refrigerator! In Francophone African countries, the statistics, with the exception of Senegal, are worse.

Funding ICTs: where will the money come from?
By Brenda Zulu for GenderIT.org • 18/11/2005 19:36 •

Looking back at the roots of the Digital Solidarity Fund, the responses it evoked, and the linked story of missed opportunities and promises that can still be worked out.

World Bank, Alcatel point of view….
By FN • 17/11/2005 05:35 •

infoDev and Alcatel have issued a joint report on Promoting Private Sector Investment and Innovation: Addressing the Communication Needs of the Poor which is also available here. These are billion-dollar players; they can change the face of telecom and computing, if they so choose. So, what are we all waiting for?]

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Human rights takes centre stage at the Tunis Summit
By APCNews • 17/11/2005 09:35 • [Human rights]

Wednesday afternoon, November 17, the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH) invited the press and NGOs for what was to become a marathon of explicit talks challenging the Tunisian government on its human rights record. While heads of states’ speeches present at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) were pouring in on all TV channels, revolution was just around the corner in another district of Tunis.

Strikes and counter strikes in human rights
By Jac sm Kee • 16/11/2005 08:56 • [Civil society participation, Freedom of expression, Gender & ICTs]

Today was a day of cancellation. The GEM (Gender Evaluation Methodology) Book launch was scheduled to happen at 2:00 pm, but in a demonstration of solidarity, APC decided to withdraw and cancel all of its side events scheduled for today.

Expression under repression – at WSIS and the ‘Net
By maxigas • 18/11/2005 09:00 • [Laws & regulation, Local ICT tactics, Media & ICTs, Censorship, Communication rights, Freedom of expression]

With this excellent title of Havis, an international NGO promoting the freedom of expression organised a whole two-day event, gathering a collection of rather interesting people from all over the globe. All discussions and presentations focused on the “most extreme cases”, the exercise of the freedom of communication under hostile regimes – hence the title. The Tunisian government has asked the organisers to change the topic of the event because they found it irrelevant to the WSIS.
http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2503009 (includes audio)

US slams Tunisia on human rights
By Pavelan • 18/11/2005 08:46 • [Access, Censorship, Civil society participation, Communication rights, Human rights, WSIS implementation]

The US delegation to WSIS expressed disappointment with Tunisia’s failure to secure rights of expression and assembly.

Hungarian neo-avantgarde research center on Tunisian IP black list
By maxigas • 16/11/2005 23:51 • [Censorship, Communication rights]

It is a well-established fact that censors in all times in history were just stupid. However, the finding that the Tunisian government feels it important to censor a Hungarian research center on avantgarde art is a surprising discovery.

Updated list of censored sites
By Neila Charchour Hachicha • 17/11/2005 20:12 • [Censorship]

This is an update on an earlier story about Tunisian websites that are currently blocked in Tunis. Please see the list below of additional sites. Once again it is not a complete list but it is a very significant one.

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The Tunis Commitment almost signed [By APCNews]

APCNews writing from TUNIS, Tunisia, 16/11/2005 09:15 — By 10 pm Tuesday, the chairperson, ambassador Khan, had concluded negotiations on chapter 3 on internet governance and received a standing ovation from all attending delegates. The outcome of the internet governance process is to have a forum that will take up broad public policy issues on the one hand, and a process of cooperation on the narrow principles that relate to domain name, numbers and the root zone file on the other.

“This outcome has to be evaluated in terms of the balance of power in the community of nations,” said Willie Currie, APC’s Communications and Information Policy Programme Manager. “The U.S. clearly saw that its strategic interest with regard to the war on terror and its dominant role in the global economy meant that it had to retain its oversight over the primary form of communications in the world, which today is the internet,” Currie added. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2466414

WSIS deal… and internet rights
APCNews • 18/11/2005 08:17 • [Internet governance, Communication rights]

What actually brought about the WSIS deal on internet governance, in the way it evolved? An explanation from Canada… And, from Italy, a demand from the Greens for a Charter of Web Rights.

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APC blogs are open to anyone in Tunis or around the world who wants to write or comment on the World Summit on the Information Society. While the official summit is over, our blogs stay open for comment and discussion. Here are some highlights.

Free… as in tee-shirts
By Emmanuel Njenga • 18/11/2005 16:12 •

Free, as in free speech… not free beer — that’s the message of those campaigning against free software. But what happens when it becomes ‘free as in tee-shirts’? And, no. We’re not talking about the Ubuntu approach here —which not only offers you free CDs, but free shipping as well… if you know where to get it from.

For those of you not in Tunis
By Shahzad (Bytesforall, Pakistan) • 18/11/2005 13:20 • [WSIS implementation]

Tiring, long walk around the exhibition area. Given the crazy schedules here, it is very difficult to spare time and get a comprehensive outlook of the exhibition, however, am posting few links which may be of interest to some of you. Apologies for not putting these in some order. But there are some potentially useful links below…

Unesco links… only a little handicap
By FN • 18/11/2005 13:04 • [Access] (0 Comments)

Am sitting in Goa, at one of those fast cybercafes scattered across India, that charge about US 50 cents per hour, and am accessing a set of links sent across by the Unesco about their webcasts on events held in the WSIS at Tunis. It’s very slow in downloading, and the speech is jerky, but it works. See the links below….The links are to a Workshop on ICT and persons with disabilities, Case presentations: ICT and people with disabilities, UNESCO High-Level Round Table on the occasion of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). All of these can also be viewed at this site.

Overview of gender-related language in WSIS documents
By Jac sm Kee • 18/11/2005 17:05 • [Gender & ICTs]

The WSIS process is almost over, and I am wondering about what we have achieved in terms of integrating gender as a relevant dimension into the building of an ‘information society’ after seven years. What do we have?

eRiding WSIS straight from Africa
By Rudi von Staden • 17/11/2005 20:11 • [Training & education]

One of the focuses of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process has been on the cross-cutting nature of technology, and how it can act as an enabler of other development objectives. In a workshop session on eRiders at WSIS, Toni Eliasz from Ungana-Afrika today presented a “replicable and low-cost ICT capacity building and support model” uniquely suited to enabling technology within this under-resourced sector commonly referred to as civil society.

The same old strangers
By Dafne Plou, APC women’s programme • 17/11/2005 23:05 • [Communication rights, Human rights]

Why is that plain-clothes cops look the same the whole world round? Why do they cut their hair and comb it the same way? Why do they use the same black glasses and same gold chains? Why do they like those tropical shirts that in the long run become a uniform? In Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, Tegucigalpa or Tunisia, you can spot them a mile away.

Maroon, pink, turquoise and grey
By Shahzad (BytesForAll, Pakistan) • 17/11/2005 20:12 •

There is something very special about WSIS Tunis, which we didn’t witnessed in Geneva. Yes, very special indeed… Like any other UN conference, or we can refer to WSIS Geneva too, this event is also full of colors, multi-national, multi-cultured and great mix of men, women, old men, old women, young boys and girls and frankly, I have seen a 3-4 month old baby attending the event with his mother ;)

Civil society reporting WSIS, the translation chain
By Valentina Pellizzer • 17/11/2005 20:11 • [Media & ICTs, Civil society participation, Content & language, Freedom of expression, Human rights]

Oneworld Southeast Europe team choose to contribute to the event translating some of the articles, comments, opinion coming from APC WSIS Blog, in its language edition: Albanian, Macedonian and South Slavic language group. The reason is simply that we believe that what is happening in Tunis is about us.

Off site and in focus: measuring ICT access and use in Africa
By Anriette Esterhuysen • 16/11/2005 11:05 • [Access, National ICT strategies]

My day started with a failed attempt to check in at the APC stand in ICT4all. Crowds of people were queuing to make it inside in time for the opening of the Summit. Having read Jac’s diversity blog I cast an analytical eye over them. Only one category stood out. Suits.

Everyone leads their own WSIS process
By Milena Bokova • 16/11/2005 10:55 • [Civil society participation, Environment & ICTs]

There are so many different caucuses and groups and everyone leads their own WSIS process. It’s a pity that civil society couldn’t find its way to consolidation for stronger influence on the process. As a result such an important issues as environmental sustainability, impact of the ICTs on the human health, unification of standards in different parts of the world, different systems compatibility are barely covered by the WSIS process. For the full text of the BlueLink’s impressions from the WSIS in Tunis so far see the link below at the Bulgarian ICT policy monitor.

$100 laptop: hope or hype?
By FN • 18/11/2005 08:49 • [Access, Training & education, ICT for development]

Prototypes for a $100 laptop for Third World schools are out… what does it look like? What can it do? Is there a catch? And, hang on, there is still discussion on whether the internet is a friend or foe of education….

Voices from Africa, HANA
By FN • 18/11/2005 13:25 • [Internet governance, Media & ICTs, ICT for development, Civil society participation]

Highway Africa runs the Highway Africa News Agency. (Interestingly, its work is put out under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License.) They’ve got some interesting stories in their e-dispatch which just reached mailboxes earlier today.One story is about African delegates boast of ICT success stories. Perhaps the most catchy title is No teeth but can still chew the fat and it’s a radio script for a radio report on the Internet Governance Forum and who controls the internet… You need to login to access these stories, but there’s no commercial barrier (or, involuntary sign-up fee) needed to gain access.

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Continuing our short on-the-sport interviews with a variety of participants in Tunisia.

Felix (Bolivia)

“It is nice to see so many technologies here, but I don’t think we will ever have this in Bolivia, much less in our communities (pause) This summit is incommunicado, in Bolivia people go to telecentres and connect to the internet there. Here everyone has a laptop and connects that way. Those of us that don’t have one cannot connect and send information to our radio stations — which is my case. On the other hand, here everyone speaks English, so language is another limitation.”

Snapshot: Jose Jara (Peru)

“Internet for personal development, that should be the key axis of the debate. In Peru, there is still many people who have no access… having a laptop like this one is a luxury for most people there…” This Peruvian TV journalist finds the debate to be too general, and without practical outcomes. There should be less discourse and more action, he feels. “Rich countries should state clearly how they will facilitate the access of the poor to the internet.”

Snapshot: Taurai Maduna (Zimbabwe)

“I am not that interested in what governments came to say. They come with messages that are not negotiable. On the contrary, it is great to listen to people from the NGOs and exchange ideas with them.”

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We’ve seen blog posts picked up and/or translated in Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Australia, Finland, Argentina, Chile.. the list goes on. And there were recommendations to read us…

“The APC blog is your front row seat to the event [WSIS].” – From Pakistan
“In addition to the copious news reporting [on WSIS], bloggers are hard at work. Be sure to follow WSISblogs.org for the latest. The APC WSIS blog is also excellent.” – From the USA

“If you are interested in keeping up with the WSIS meeting, there are several blogs and news services to watch…* WSIS-Wire: aggregation of stories from a range of blog and commercial sources * APC blog: commentary on the official meeting’s agenda (mostly)

  • Panos I-Witness blog: commentary from Panos reporters * Infosud: commentary in French and English * Technorati: search for latest blog content” – From the ICT for Development Weblog
    [LONG URL]

Did you find the APC WSIS blogs useful? Which language did you read most? Please tell us by posting to the blog or writing to communications@apc.org. It will help us in our future planning. Thanks for reading! We hope to hear from you in the future.

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APCNews, in English, and APCNoticias, in Spanish, are distributed monthly by APC — a worldwide network supporting the use of internet and ICTs for social justice and sustainable development since 1990. APCNews Archive:

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