New beginners' handbook aims to get more people involved in ICT policy
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, 18 December 2003
"How information and communication policy is decided today will shape the future of contemporary societies," says APC in a new book presented at last week’s World Summit on the Information Society.
Information and communications technologies (ICTs) have become essential tools for development and the degree of access to ICT, as well as affordability of access, is largely determined by policy decisions taken at the national, regional and international levels. APC’s new book "ICT Policy: A Beginner’s Handbook" lays out the issues and dispenses with the jargon to encourage more people to get involved in ICT policy processes.
"ICT policy is not just about ICTs. It’s about the kind of society we want to live in," says book editor, Chris Nicol. "ICTs are determining what kind of society we, and our grandchildren, will live in. It’s up to us to make sure they shape a better society, one that allows the enormous benefits of ICTs to be shared by all."
"People and organisations can inform the debate with their experiences and can in fact influence ICT policy decisions. We all have day-to-day concerns about ICT policy, for example how much we have to pay for phone calls and internet access," explains APC deputy executive director, Sonia Jorge.
"The APC handbook is not a map of the ICT policy terrain," stresses Nicol, "but it is a compass."
Who is this book for?
This book will help people who feel that ICT policy is important but don’t know much about it. Readers will be non-specialists such as a government official worried about a gap in her technical knowledge of how the internet works, a human-rights worker concerned that his need to send secure email is being challenged by national government policy, a citizen fed up with paying exorbitant rates for dial-up internet access, a journalist looking for background material, an activist who is unable to perceive the real consequences of possible changes in government policy on her online campaigning work, or anyone who wants to find out about these new ‘information society’ debates that are beginning to make the news more and more.
"The handbook is intended to encourage people to speak out and ask questions about ICT policies. Greater public participation in policy processes does not only lead to better policy, it involves citizens in the implementation and monitoring of those policies," says APC Executive Director, Anriette Esterhuysen.
What does the book include?
"ICT Policy: A Beginner’s Handbook" takes the mystery out of ICT policy. The handbook identifies those issues and addresses them without using technical jargon. It provides concrete examples of recent policy landmarks and debates, as well as background knowledge that will serve as a basis for further investigation. Contributors include but are not limited to Sean O Siochru, Kate Wild, Russell Southwood, Karen Banks, Natasha Primo, Paul Hamilton, Anriette Esterhuysen, Chris Nicol, Paul Mobbs, Claire Sibthorpe, Teresa Peters and Peter Benjamin.
"ICT Policy: A Beginner’s Handbook" is produced by the Association of Progressive Communications (APC). It is part of our efforts to ensure that communication and internet rights are upheld and protected as fundamental rights throughout the world.
In 2003, APC has produced a training curriculum, carried out training in (so far) Latin America and Africa to educate civil society about ICT policy, and produced several publications aimed at getting civil society involved in ICT policy.
Next year, we are planning to continue our advocacy work in the policy area, globally and regionally, and will focus on increasing civil society awareness and capacity to engage in policy processes at their own national level. We will focus our efforts on specific issues of importance to civil society, including access and connectivity, free and open source software, intellectual property rights, protection and expansion of the public domain, and secure online communications. We will conduct several ICT policy courses in Africa (under the CATIA project) and planning similar activities in Latin America, Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe.
"ICT Policy: A Beginner’s Guide" would not have been possible without the generous support of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO). www.cto.int.
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is an international network of civil society organisations dedicated to empowering and supporting groups and individuals through the strategic use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), especially Internet-related technologies. APC and its members pioneer practical and relevant uses of ICTs for civil society, especially in developing countries.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Download the book from: http://www.apc.org/books
Find out how to order a printed copy by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Nicol, Editor
Anriette Esterhuysen, APC Executive Director
Tel: +27 11 726-1692 (South Africa)
Fax: +27 11 726-1692