APCNews No. 58 November 2005

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APCNews, the monthly newsletter of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) – November 2005 No. 58 – —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —-
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The second World Summit on the Information Society has started. Today, Wednesday November 2005, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Tunisian President Ben Ali opened the summit which has focussed primarily on the twin issues of financing of ICT for development in developing countries and internet governance since the first summit was held in Geneva in December 2003. A controversial host for an international ‘information summit’ given its well-documented suppression of freedom of expression including on the internet, the Tunisian authorities were openly criticised by Swiss President Samuel Schmid and civil society representative Shirin Ebadi for their repressive acts against local and international civil society prior to the summit opening. The Tunis Agenda and the Tunis Commitment – the two summit documents – were finalised on Tuesday after long negotiations.

APC is producing two APCNews and APCNoticias specials direct from WSIS and for the first time, original content in French. Here’s the first on Day One of the WSIS Summit. The next APCNews will appear on Day Three, the last day of the Summit.

Keep informed about the WSIS with APC. We covering events on the ground from Tunis and logging 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/english/wsis/blog
French blog: http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog

RSS feeds also available:
RSS feed in English: http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/rss.xml
RSS feed in Spanish: http://www.apc.org/espanol/wsis/blog/rss.xml
RSS feed in French: http://www.apc.org/francais/wsis/blog/rss.xml

Detailed coverage in Spanish comes from APC’s Latin America and Caribbean ICT Policy Monitor. Http://lac.derechos.apc.org/wsis

All stories in this APCNews Special are from the APC WSIS blogs.

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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

Who will control the internet? Negotiations appear to be pointing towards a multi-stakeholder, multi-lateral forum [By APCNews]

Heated discussions between governments meeting in Tunisia at the World Summit on the Information Society seem to reaching results which could change the face of how the internet is managed for the next several years. APCNews reports. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2452593

APC… recommendations on internet governance [By APC]

APC crystallizes a set of recommendations with regard to internet governance for the final Summit in Tunis in November 2005 including for an internet governance forum that has become reality in the Tunis declaration. Recommendations available in English, Spanish and French. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2379688

IPS, WSIS and paedophile issues [By FN]

From my RSS-feed, I just came across this story from one of my favourite news sources — IPS filing from Bangkok — that makes a case on why the information society must block paedophiles.

Who gets the credit, and who controls? [By FN]

Here’s an articulate post by a journalist colleague from India -one of the few that makes sense of the issues at Tunis. It was written by Anand Parthasarathy of The Hindu, a prominent Indian newspaper, and reproduced via the One World South Asia network. BytesForAll mailing list, an APC member, reproduced it… and it raised a (brief but interesting) discussion. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2447992

Crucial drafting session in Tunis [By APCNews]

Late on Sunday night, November 13, 2005, an assembly of about 100 people agreed to a series of minimal points of common ground related to internet governance in Tunis. These points were then to be reported back to the general plenary of what is called the resumed PrepCom 3 meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) for definitive negotiation and implementation.

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NEWS ALERT: Censorship by the host of THE UN summit on information? People in Tunisia cannot access a number of websites because they are being blocked. And the Citizens’ Summit on the Information Society has also been taken ‘offline’ for Tunisians. List of filtered websites: http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2436066

Flagrant violation of human rights at Tunis [By APCNews]

Under the incredulous eyes of the participants at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), journalists and human rights defenders were manhandled, insulted, and then violently beaten. APCNews reports from Tunis. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2431813

Many civil society activities cancelled [By Markus Beckedahl]

Many international NGOs taking part in WSIS have collectively decided to cancel their activities planned for today at WSIS. This measure is intended to make government, private sector and civil society delegates aware of the human rights violations that have been adding up since the beginning of PrepCom3 resumed. It is also a clear showing of solidarity with all independent NGOs in Tunisia who
seem to have to put up with police repression on a daily basis. Interview with Anriette Esterhuysen of the APC.
In OGG format: http://www.netzpolitik.org/wp-upload/Interview_with_Anriette.ogg In MP3 format: http://www.netzpolitik.org/wp-upload/Interview_with_Anriette.mp3

Utsumi happy about security… despite attacks on journalists and UN staff [By Pavelan]

The internet should be more democratic and more international, says the WSIS’ chief organizer. More than 80% of the goals of WSIS have already been achieved, says ITU chief Yoshio Utsumi at his opening press conference for the summit’s currently-underway second phase in Tunisia. He however skipped answering whether ITU has communicated concern to Tunisia’s government regarding the safety of journalists and human rights’ campaigners. Utsumi also announced that over 300 parallel events planned. Some 12,000 delegates are meanwhile in Tunis on the eve of the summit opening.

Obstacles …and whose security? [By Jac sm Kee]

Took a cab to the Kram Palexbo, where the Summit and IT 4 All exhibition was happening[…] When we finally got to the site, we were stopped 5 times at security checks at every turn of the road and I had to flash my registration card and a big smile to calm the security that I was indeed, a legitimate subject to attend this conference, accredited (somehow) and all. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2447599

Cause for concern: how free is free? [By FN]

IFEX Action Alert Network, the International Freedom of eXpression Clearing House has come out with a statement quoting Article 19 to point to attacks on journalists and others at the WSIS by the authorities. This statement is being distributed on behalf of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Civil Society’s Media Caucus.

Online protest … an alternative home [By Neila Charchour Hachicha]

Since the official website of the Online Protest is censored as you can check for yourself here http://www.yezzi.org. I copied all pics from the protest on flickr cause I thought you might like to discover this online protest http://flickr.com/photos/yezzi/sets/1366354/. It is a virtual online protest to say “Yezzi…Fock” which means “Enough is Enough”. They just cannot say we are disturbing the public order and protesting is a constitutional right. The Keyboard Revolution is doing its way so help us keep the internet free from censorship. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2438705

In Tunis, internet governance rhymes with state control [By APCNews]

Today, the website of the Citizens’ Summit on the Information Society (CSIS) was effectively off-line for all web users in Tunisia. It appears that Tunisian authorities have started to intensify their crackdown on legitimate initiatives related to the World Summit on the information Society (WSIS). Blocking the access to the www.citizens-summit.org is the latest in a series of measures introduced to silence voices critical of the government and its human right record. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2436066

Don’t take pictures@WSIS-Tunis [By Shahzad BytesForAll, Pakistan]

Maxigas — a friend from Hungary — and myself had the opportunity to go to the Tunis City Centre last afternoon, just to have a feel of the city and get to know a little more about Tunis. The atmosphere seemed quite festive, and preparations for the WSIS are in full swing. Green plants are being transported in numbers and transplanted on roadsides and important squares, large pictures of the Tunisian President are installed everywhere, and even most of the banners also carry his pictures welcoming the WSIS delegates ;)
But questions remain…. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2415647

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Making the ride to cyberspace affordable [By APCNews]

En route to the promised global village, the information superhighway is plagued by poor access and high fares that the bulk of this planet simply cannot afford. Reducing international internet costs is an important priority, underlined in a set of recommendations from the APC made to the WSIS stresses. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2427753

Some figures… and hard facts [By FN]

Some figures, and hard facts, from a Highway Africa article, titled ICT4 All expo to attract 40,000 participants: “According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the 942 million people living in the world’s developed economies enjoy five times better access to fixed and mobile phone services, nine times better access to Internet services, and own 13 times more personal computers than the 85 per cent of the world’s population living in low and lower-middle income countries. ITU also estimates that 800,000 villages still lack connection by telephone line, the internet or any other modern ICTs.” http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2418346

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Programme of APC events in Tunis: http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/apc_wsis_programme.pdf (pdf to download and print out)

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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. Here are some highlights.

WSIS II: A walking dead [By maxigas]

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a pseudo-transcript of the proceedings of the Civil Society press conference held on November 15, 2005 (Tuesday) at 16:30. The second round of WSIS has not even started yet but hearing the pronouncements below one would think that it is already over!

ICT for All? Really? [By Jac sm Kee]

At the end of the day, Maxigas and I decided to take a walk and survey the images of women, men, elderly people, young people and disabled people at the ICT 4 All Exhibition hall. Afterall, the claim is that ICT is for all right? So who is this ‘all’ we are talking about. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2447600

Hope remains forever… Tunis vignettes [Shahzad BytesForAll, Pakistan]

Have just gotten out of the Global Knowledge Partnership or GKP’s partnership building workshop at the El-Hana Hotel in Tunis City Centre. It indeed was a pleasant experience. Frankly, had no clue earlier that how GKP works and what kind of partnerships they have all around the world … http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2439181

It’s another world out there… [By FN]

Inter-Press Service, the alternative news agency, has these stories related to the WSIS. Given its alternative perspective, it reminds us of some diverse perspectives which the first-to-break-the-news Western media often overlooks… or simply prefers not to highlight. One interesting piece is Media Enemies to Share UN Spotlight by Marty Logan. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2436316

Groggy at Tunis… another view [By Jac sm Kee]

The plane ride was as all plane rides become after awhile, uncomfortable and far too long. Once getting off, there were large posters everywhere advertising WSIS, especially about the IT 4 All exhibition, where the tagline — complete with pictures of multi-gendered and ‘raced’ children smiling at a computer screen – promises to forefront the human dimension of information communications technologies development. I think I snorted audibly. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2431649

Gender voices from Tunis [By Katerina Fialova]

Here’s some information about GenderIT.org coverage planned for the WSIS at Tunis in mid-November 2005. See details of what’s expected via websites, blogs, RSS feeds and more, to keep cyberspace informed about what’s emerging. http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2386770

Looking for environmental activists [By Milena B.]

Just curious whether environmental sustainability and ICTs is taking place somewhere in the WSIS docs at all ;-) It will be good to know if apart from BlueLink, whether there are other NGOs interested to stand up for the issue of environmental sustainability in Tunis.

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[Thanks to maxigas of Hungary, you can read more snapshots on the APC WSIS blog and here http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml?x=2452532]

Jeanette Hofmann (Member of the German Civil Society Coordination Group):
The U.S. is not willing to talk about internet government oversight. Most likely the Summit will ask Kofi Annan the Secretary General of the U.N. to set up a Forum on internet governance and the U.S. is expected to participate. The Forum would take up a range of issues including Information Technology for Development and political oversight.

Rikke Frank Jorgensen (Civil Society Human Rights Caucus):
“Many have asked about the human rights situation. […] 10-15 of us were to hold a coordination meeting at the Goethe Institute yesterday. The Tunisian civil society people were not allowed to enter, and were kept out by men in civilian clothes who introduced themselves as “security personel”. I am not sure what kind of police it was. When myself and other members of the international civil society stayed outside in solidarity, we were forcefully removed. Then we walked around the city to find another place to peacefully gather – to exercise our right for peaceful assembly. Each time we were removed again, we were pushed, and some people were even tried to be taken into cars and taken away. In the end the German ambassador arrived and tried to enter these premises with his guests of his own choice but he was not allowed. After that each of us contacted our respective delegations, and asked for support from the governments to basically provide for a space where we can have this Citizens’ Summit.”

Parmindeer Jeet Singh (Coordinator of the Civil Society Caucus for Follow-up and Implementation):
“I am presenting the specific disappointment of the civil society. The Tunis round was presented as a “Summit of Solutions” by its organisers. We did not find any effective solutions to the problems that brought us here, of using the new communication opportunities for more adequate development in the developing countries. Countries of the North did not show the political will to getting forward with the policy of internet governance and did not establish any follow-up process. Financing ITC4D (Information Technology for Development), which is a very important issue, was not addressed at all and no commitments were made. At present the governments are trying to cover up the possibility of a complete failure of the implementation of the WSIS process.”

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Indepth: WSIS by Choike

RWB presents electronic dissidents at the WSIS

Humanity will survive information deluge ?·Sir Arthur C Clarke

Who owns and controls the information societies? FSF Europe 2003

WSIS and Beyond : A dialogue between Soenke Zehle & Geert Lovink

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The WSIS documents:
Tunis Agenda:http://www.ngocongo.org/ngomeet/WSIS/TunisAgenda.htm
Tunis Commitment: http://www.ngocongo.org/ngomeet/WSIS/TunisCommitment.htm

Citizens’ Summit on the Information Society
This website has been blocked in Tunisia since Monday November 14, 2005. It is only accessible from WSIS Media Center but the rest of us around the world can still visit it.

WSIS official site from the ITU

United Nations Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships

Summit Newsroom, Tunis Phase

IPS on WSIS – the progressive Global News Agency


ITU’s ICT success story home page

Unesco WSIS publication series

Gender at Tunis: from GenderIT.org

The World Summit on the Information Society Civil Society Meeting Point

Germany-based site on WSIS (also in German)

Heinrich-Boll-Stiftung (German Greens Party-linked foundation) on WSIS. Some sections of the site in Spanish too.

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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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