A Telling Account of WSIS

Maria Farrell, who works as a lobbyist for an undisclosed international membership organization based in Paris (OECD? ICC?) writes a great account of WSIS at Crooked Timber. Below I include a sampler, but it's worth clicking the link to get the whole thing.

Other interesting WSIS links include:

[Links snagged from all over, espeically Lextext]

Here are some choice quotes from Maria Farrell:

The developing countries, led by Senegal, came to the table wanting a Digital Solidarity Fund, and went away with their begging bowls empty. …

… I personally believe a proposal to control the DNS which both China and Egypt can agree on is not something those who value freedom of communication could support. …

Finally, freedom of expression. Well, here’s where I lost my remaining patience for the WSIS as a worthwhile political process. The final summit declaration was a wash-out which you can read for yourselves (page 8). But let me describe a high level round table I attended which gives an idea of just how these things run. It was called ‘diversity in cyberspace’(list of participants available here) and was chaired by the president of Latvia and moderated by BBC newsreader Nick Gowing. President Freiburga said the 2 hour session would cover three aspects of diversity; cultural diversity (preserving and digitalizing cultural heritage, diversity of languages), freedom of expression and media ownership, and law and ethics on the internet (censorship).

After an hour or so on cultural heritage and language diversity, Gowing said that he’d get to the other two topics in 20 minutes. He didn’t. No one objected. At the 90 minute mark, he still hadn’t. And, with 20 minutes to go, Gowing finally introduced the broad area of freedom of expression as one topic, at which point the Chair left the room and skipped half the remaining discussion. The discussion consisted of the journalists’ federation piping up on press freedom, and the governments of Morocco, Tunisia and Uganda rejoining that it was all very well, but just not for them, thank you. So a three-topic round table was chaired to ensure there was no meaningful discussion on two key topics that might prove uncomfortable to the country delegates. No one apart from civil society representatives spoke in favour of freedom of expression. A shaft if ever there was, and a telling one too.

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